Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Engaged or engulfed?

I attended Fellowship Raleigh on Sunday with my friend Jared and their pastor Matt Schoolfield really got me to thinking with simple question. “As a Christian, are you engaged with the world or are you engulfed?”

In all honesty, I struggle with it. I want to only engage. I want to be a part yet be apart. I want to stand out as someone different. But, then, trials come, I fail and I am engulfed.

The CYC girl’s bible study has just started the book of James and last night, as I was studying, I learned that the Greek word for trials in the verb form means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose or discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. Lately, God’s been putting me to the test with the purpose of weaning me from being engulfed in the world and being strengthened in my trust of Him. And, as a believer, I have responded wrongly exposing my sinful nature and allowing the test to become a temptation. I become what James calls a “double-minded man” (James 1:8) – a literal translation of the Greek expression that denotes having one’s mind and soul divided between God and the world. I am a hypocrite – failing to trust Him.

So, I fail. I am ashamed. And, the father of lies is stealing my hope of being good enough - leading me to believe that I should give up. I’ll never be perfect. Cursed are the ones who can’t abide he whispers.

Why do I fail? Why do I allow it to happen? I scream inside. Why can’t I trust Him fully knowing that in the end I will receive the ultimate blessing? Shouldn’t it be easy? And, then I recognize again that I am a sinner. And, being engulfed is so much easier than being engaged. I am haunted by my God who has the right to ask of me what I by my sinful nature cannot give and the world looks so much better sometimes. Satan knows where the footholds are and where my personal desires are heavy. And, I realize that I haven’t headed the words of Timothy to train like I should for godliness and ultimately am not able to press harder into Him when the trials come. I need to train for the marathon ahead of me and dig deeper into His word and His presence so that I can pass the test when it comes again. Otherwise, this world’s going to eat me alive.

Abba – I’m so distressed sometimes when it comes to the difficulty of being like you and not like the world. Help me to not be engulfed. I fall so easily and feel so ashamed and upset with myself. I want to give up. Help me to press into you when I have sinned. Help me remember that with you there’s forgiveness, redemption and healing. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Create in me a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.

1 comment:

Brantley said...

Ashely, This was written really well. This really reflects what I'm going through right now and after trials, you really see the areas God is trying to stretch you in. Keep going strong though. We will never be perfect but I can all see God at work in your life. As you grow, I think you'll become more sensitive to the areas that aren't completely given to God. Don't let that discourage you but know that as you draw closer Satan watches that with envy. He is the one who attempts to draw you away but God uses those trials to draw you to him.

I've heard this analogy that I think is kind of appropriate. You can look at God like a flash light light bulb. As we begin to draw closer to Him, we start out far out. The light isn't that bright there and there isn't a huge difference between light and dark. We have a lot of room to move and still be in his will. The closer you get to the source of light, the brighter the light is and the darker it is out side of that beam. Also, you have less room to stray before you are out of the light. It is at that point one might become most discouraged but just keep seeking him and you will not be disappointed. You already know this so I guess my point is to say we can see God at work in you so be encouraged.