In my last blog I talked about being aware of the ways Satan trips us up. But sometimes we get tripped up by the load we are carrying. Hebrews 12:1-2a says, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Do you have sins in your life that you are hanging on to even though you know you shouldn’t? Those things you keep doing time and time again, and you know they hurt you and those around you? Asking ourselves these questions can be troublesome. Actually answering them is even more challenging. We don’t usually like those answers that come up, and it doesn’t generally feel good to confront our issues either. However, these issues can be like dripping water eating away at our hearts, and keeping us from being the lights that God wants us to be. When you think of the damage a continuous drop of water can do, you might change your mind about confronting those things. The joy and freedom that can come from growth and change are very much worth it.
It sounds very simple, but it sure isn’t easy. One of my issues is getting angry quickly. I have always said I’m like a microwave because I heat up quickly and usually cool down just as fast. I constantly have to work on biting my tongue when I get upset. I try to think through the situation to see if I have misunderstood something, trying to see the other person’s point of view, but it doesn’t always work. Because I know there are going to be times I fail, I have become much better at apologies. It’s still pretty hard, but they come much more easily because I know they are necessary. If I’ve made a mistake, I need to apologize. Simple as that. Needless to say, it would be much easier if I could just snap my fingers and suddenly be perfect. It’s hard work. I have to carefully cultivate the grace, patience, and being “slow to anger” James speaks of in James 1:19.
Thankfully, we have a Master Gardener Who will help us grow and cultivate the good fruit in our lives. We cannot bear fruit apart from God (John 15:4) and remaining in Him means reading His Word and doing what it says. We have to let Him work, and some branches and weeds will need to go. We can’t keep holding on to those sins that are dragging us down. They have to be thrown in the fire, and, unfortunately with some sins, we have to do that daily. Did you think of something immediately when you read that? Let it go. As Pastor Chad said on Sunday, “The Gardener is not content with sick things.” He will clean and prune, and, while it may not be a pleasant process, we can be assured it is imperative and good. Even better news is that God never tires of us asking for help. We can ask God every day to help us be better than we were the day before. He will always answer when we ask with open and seeking hearts.
In the middle of our struggles, God is there, and when He is quiet perhaps it is because we are being too loud or we are too busy to stop and listen. How can we quiet ourselves right now and listen to what God is speaking to our hearts? What things has He been asking us to let go of, but we keep clinging to them? We need to let them go and cling to Him instead. We must cling to the Vine that gives us life and loves us dearly.