“I am the Lord your God. You were slaves in Egypt. You were bent low from the heavy weights you carried as slaves. But I broke the heavy weights that were on your shoulders. I let you walk proudly again.” Leviticus 26:13 ICB
Have you felt more than tired under a heavy weight? I have. The weight of regret. The weight of sin. The weight of fear. So many weights…
But God is a weight-lifter. Not in a gym—though that would be fun to see—but in our lives! He can carry your burdens. He wants to take them. All you gotta do is turn to him and ask him to take whatever is weighing you down. He will do it.
Jesus said in the book of Matthew, “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Ok, this is confession time. I have had an affair going on for years—not against my husband but against my Savior. And the only person it’s hurt has been me. It’s not an affair with a man; it’s an affair with something even more tempting.
Yep, this is embarrassing to admit, but I have struggled with this affair since I was about ten. I remember starting my first diet (consisting of trying not to eat the whole family size bag of M&M’s myself) around that time. By the time I hit high school I was committed to daily exercise and only eating 20 grams of fat a day (of course, fat free chips were free game). In college, after purposefully getting myself addicted to Diet Coke, I increased the exercising and graduated to Slim Fast. I was able to keep my weight down until my second child was born (when I was around 30) and since then the struggle has been more obvious (on my waistline).
I’ve realized, however, that the struggle isn’t truly with my weight. And it isn’t really with the rules of my diet. My struggle is with myself.
My biggest problem is that I don’t want to deny myself. I want what I want when I want it.
Ok, yes, I do believe that sugar and carbs are addictive and that I have an emotional connection to food. I know that I am an emotional eater, that I’ve established bad habits over the years and that I would feel much better to go gluten free. I know I get in the shame cycle of addiction and eat more when I feel hopeless because of the four pizza slices I ate last night.
These are all what I would say if someone told me this was their problem. I would “diagnose” them with so many typical eating issues.
But the real problem is my heart. I am a sinner saved by grace, and, while I don’t struggle with stealing or violent crime, I do struggle with saying “No” to myself. This is the age old struggle of humankind: the desire to be our own god. We want to control our lives without God, the “cosmic killjoy,” telling us what to do.
But Jesus tells us in His Word, “If anyone comes after me, let him deny himself and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He goes on to say that if we want to save our lives we must lose our lives. This doesn’t really mean dying; it means giving up our selfish desires.
That is my problem. A daily struggle with giving up my desires minute by minute, for what God desires for me.
And we know what God desires for us is good. (If you doubt that read Psalm 34, Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139.)
So, I would appreciate your prayers and comments if you are struggling with this too. Or with anything else pulling you from God’s best. We can fight this day by day with God’s Word in our hands.
Please feel free to contact me if you have a question, comment or need prayer! Lnewsom77@protonmail.com
That was always how we were supposed to dress on Sunday mornings.
Going to church was a big part of my childhood, and I’m so thankful for that. But sometimes I tended to think that “Sunday best” is how I’m supposed to approach God.
That I’m supposed to be perfect. Supposed to have washed behind my ears all the thoughts I struggle with, to have ironed away all my desires that aren’t in line with the Bible, to have cleaned under my fingernails to the point that there is no attraction to sin and I am prim and proper and ready to meet His approval.
But that’s not how it is.
He wants me to bring my messiness to Him. My imperfection. My struggles. My failures. My flaws.
Recently I put myself in a situation that I shouldn’t have been in. I should have run far away from this situation, but instead I stood there with the tip of my toe barely touching the water. Thinking that I could stay right there with no consequences and no temptations dragging me into the deep.
Oh, so risky.
Thankfully, the Lord prevented me getting dragged under. But just allowing my toe to come into the vicinity of that water brought a storm of repercussions.
Those around me misunderstood the situation. Fingers were pointed. Rumors were whispered. Those closest to me were confused. I was humiliated and my explanations didn’t go too far. Although I was 99% innocent, I had put myself on a canoe headed for the rapids. And the rapids tore my canoe to shreds.
I made a mess. Lost my job. Lost friendships. Lost respect of so many people I cared about.
Lost my pride…Oh, but that is a good thing. The pride had led me there. Thinking I could get so close to the darkness but not get scarred by it. Thinking I had become so good at my job and so well-respected that nothing could touch me. Ugly. Stinking. Pride.
I made a mess. How could I bring that to God?
But that is what He wants. He wants our messes. He wants the true, raw me. The me that I don’t want anyone to see. No pretense. No perfection.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 the Bible says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” He wants to use us. Messy, basic jars of clay. Nothing fancy on the outside. Probably cracked or chipped. Dusty from the long walk bringing water from the well. Back then clay jars held oil or water mostly. They were useful but not usually pretty. The treasure, the life-giving substance, was inside.
Just like He lives inside me.
This treasure He’s put inside me makes me beautiful. He sees my messy and he makes beauty. He makes beauty from ashes. He redeems everything He touches. That’s the business God is in now. He started out in the Creating business, but now He’s in the Redeeming business.
I’m so thankful.
And now…do I still have a mess to clean up? Yep. It’s not fun. It’s a bit lonely and a lot embarrassing. I’ve got a lot of work to do and I don’t know where God is taking me next. But that’s ok. I know wherever it is, whatever happens, He will be there with me…taking my messy and making it beautiful.