Warning: This blog post is totally honest and totally gross-
Read at your own risk.
A few weeks ago I was sitting on my front porch, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful Florida weather while I was rudely interrupted by my dog, Desi. Desi must have eaten something the night before that had upset his stomach because he started vomiting in the corner. If you have a dog, then you know what happened next. After vomiting his breakfast, Desi sheepishly walked towards me then headed right back to his vomit, hoping to eat up what he just threw up. This is totally disgusting and I was unaware that dogs do this until I became a dog owner. This is not just a horrible and disgusting trait of Desi- most dogs will try to eat their vomit after losing their cookies. Watching this unfold before my eyes, it made me think about how many times I do this in my life. No I don’t eat my own vomit but how often do I vomit up my junk before the Lord- all my sin, shame, doubts and fears- to turn right around and start to lap it back up? When I confess my sin to God, God receives my confession, cleans me all up and presents me back as new but am I like the dog attracted to his vomit, allowing sin to make its way back in?
Recently the pastor at my church spoke about obstacles that prevent us from receiving abundant grace from God. Many Christians live small, powerless lives because these obstacles block us from receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit. Sin, pride, legalism, spirit of fear and bondage, and thought life all play a part in hindering God’s Spirit from fully working in our lives. Ephesians 1:18-20 speaks about a “glorious inheritance” for the believers as well as “incomparably great power for us who believe”. It goes on to say “that power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand”- this power that God used to raise Christ is available to believers. Christ was physically raised from the dead but when we live our lives so that others can know Christ then we too help to raise the dead to life- a spiritually dead person becomes spiritually alive. In Luke 12:12, Jesus tells the disciples that when he goes to be with His Father that believers “will do even greater things than these”. Jesus is saying that believers in Christ will have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit which allows us to do greater things than Christ. I am not sure if I will individually do anything greater than Jesus did while He was here on earth but collectively as a body of Christ we can reach more people with His message of love, hope and salvation. This concept is radical and hard to understand but I believe that Jesus is telling us to trust in the fullness of His power to do great things for His glory.
My major obstacle to grace is legalism. Legalism is defined as a list of rules and regulations that I should follow if I love the Lord or for God to love me. The latter point does not resonate with me- I know that God loves me because He does- not because I have done anything right to earn that love. The part of legalism that I struggle with is my image to others because I am a believer. The pastor’s sermon made it very clear to me why I am still struggling with some strongholds in my life. To break these patterns of sin, I say “I can’t do this” or I shouldn’t do that” instead I need to let God change my heart to say “I don’t want to do this”. When you tell yourself that you can’t do something, what do you find that you do? You focus on what you can’t do and it becomes so unbearable that you usually do it anyways. For example, if you are trying to give up sweets, most likely you will focus on the fact that you can’t have that cookie for dessert and end up eating 5 cookies because your thoughts are so consumed about what is off limits. Instead, I need to let God fill me with His Spirit and trust that God will close the gap for me between who I am and who He is calling me to be. I don’t have to do anything but allow God to work to change my heart and draw closer to Him through prayer and studying His Word. The changes that need to happen will take place because God desires the change for me- His Word says that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”. As God draws me closer to Him, He will show me what is beneficial for me and will draw others to Him through my life. As a Christian, we are trying to mold our lives after the image of Christ but we need to allow God to mold us through the power of His Holy Spirit so that we can be used for Him with His unique purposes and plans. There is no one-size-fits-all Christianity- each of us are created in the image of God but God chooses to mold and shape us into our unique individual purposes as He grows us up in Christ.
The goal of my life is to be in a daily relationship with God and to bring Him glory and honor through my words, actions, thoughts and deeds. The “perfect” Christian does not exist and will never be attained on this side of heaven. All I can hope for is that God will continue to finish in me the work He has set out to do and that I will faithfully trust in His plans and purposes for my life.