What if the lines in the sand just keep shifting?
What if the boundaries we set up keep slipping?
What if the truth we’ve been seeking keeps drifting?
What if we don’t make it through all of this sifting?
What if our reach leaves us grasping at air?
What if our longing finds no one there to share?
What if our damage seems too much to repair?
What if we outrun those still willing to care?
But, what if we make our way into the clearing?
And what if we reject all the lies we’ve been hearing?
What if we surrender the things we’ve been fearing?
And, what if we let someone else do the steering?
What if we truly believe what He told us?
What if we allow Him to mend us and mold us?
And what if we let His great grace so enfold us
That we could be free from the “what ifs” that hold us?
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. — Romans 7:19
Why does evil so often win the want-to war?
When I look back on the many opportunities I’ve had to “do the good I want to do,” and done it not, but instead, with a less-and-less-trembling hand chose the more harmful but seemingly more momentarily-satisfying evil, I am startled at the efficiency with which that evil, almost unimpeded, made its way through my life, hacking away the tender shoots of hope which dared to break the dry and packed down soil on which I trod in search of fleeting satisfaction.
That’s if I look back. Evil would have me not do even that, but instead let bygones be bygones, memories resting in disrepair, miserable failings masquerading as best intentions. Oh, well. What could I have done differently, anyway? We are who we are. Right?
Wrong. Like evil.
I faced temptations common to man and gave in to them. I faced choices and, with measured but dismissed reluctance, made bad ones. I saw the risks and took the leaps and left loved ones behind on the outer bank. I knew good and wanted it . . . but did bad and hated it . . . and still wanted it.
I do indeed believe in forgiveness and repentance, healing and cleansing . . . a new beginning. But what to do about what was done before . . . or . . . even worse . . . since? The truth is, even in the best of us, evil lies in wait and trips us up and leaves us pining away or clamoring after the lesser things. We are not beyond being base again. Sometimes we still decide we want to be who we were instead of who we have become.
Thank God for conflict. It pulls us back; it pulls us forward. It should put us in permanent pursuit of peace.
And then, there’s the “enlightened” culture. Addicted to conflict, culture slyly applies it, selectively, succumbing to the seductiveness of evil. And culture just keeps on keeping on, while the church, ever-trying to be relevant, resists taking a stand, protecting the payments on the pews over the people sitting in them. Heaven forbid. Please.
Even the conflicts between church and culture that do go on are elevated to a higher plane, almost like a no-fly zone, while the combat goes on down here on the ground, in the conflicted hearts of Christians closer to the exit than the pulpit. We counter-attack culture with committee reports and resolutions, as it marches on and over us, gaining more and more territory, redefining truth and seeking to make everyone feel good, every sense titillated and satisfied. If culture wins, we’ll all love ourselves and love our neighbors, but not exactly in the way God intended when He said we should.
As the church sits, dependent on divine intervention, culture chomps on at the pillars of life. Reluctant to be the tools of the Divine, we look on in dismay. Somebody, we say, should do something. We need to be ready to put feet beneath our prayers.
Distancing ourselves from the dirty deeds around us is not enough. We may find ourselves with clean hands, but those among us who are melding with the mud need someone daring to pull them out and steady their feet as they slowly walk away from the slippery bank.
Why are we more willing to raise funds and lift prayers for trips to foreign lands than we are to lift those around us out of the darkness. If you’re sitting in the light because of God’s grace, use it to help vanquish the shadows that surround you.
Again . . . thank God for the conflicted heart. If it did not exist within us, imagine how many more Christians would yield to the siren call of culture, the promise of acceptance, a place to openly go, no more hiding. At various times in life, it appealed even to me. My conflicted heart would look upon those in the gay community who seem to be so secure in who they are. Always going out, laughing, meeting for breakfast, taking in a movie, off on a trip somewhere . . . ever-smiling, smug in a greater enlightenment and understanding of what it means “to be.”
Whatever unhappiness invades their lives is not their fault, they say, but just a result of the oppressiveness of culture and the ignorance of Christians who adhere to a skewed version of scriptural truth. Culture and pro-gay advocacy are so intertwined now that they are truly inseparable. They espouse a life of “surely God meant,” instead of “surely God said.” Lives based solely on want can never be satisfied, for there is nothing greater than what I need, what I think and my freedom to do whatever I choose.
They not only want no conflict; they don’t want you to have any either. Like a mermaid sitting on a rock, they call you into drowning with promises of the best swim of your life.
Only when we, as Christians, begin recognizing the afflictions of our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, fellow reflections of the image of Christ, will we make any inroads against the unrelenting march of culture.
Are we brave enough?
Do we care enough?
Can we love enough?
As we stand warily by, culture’s vultures descend on the wounded among us and mock our truths with shades of such, offering their own brands of courage, caring, love, acceptance and believe-in-yourself messages that sound all-too-appealing to the downtrodden hiding behind the hope of praise songs, wishing someone would take their hand and keep them from sliding from the pew into the pit.
We can do this, you know?
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:3.
That’s not a verse for selective application. It says “all.” Yes, it applies to the struggler who needs to resist temptation. You can’t imagine how many times it has been repeated in prayer in the dead of night in the midst of great conflict. But it is also a verse that needs to be applied to the silent Christian who has by the grace of God escaped sexual brokenness, but who folds his hands in the very shadow of the struggler and fails to take a stand — not just on the truth — but on the love of Christ. Instead, too many just stand by, unwilling to walk with the broken one, side-by-side, aware of the cost of conflict, but ever-sure of the outcome when we trust and obey.
We could set an example there: “trust and obey.”
The line in the sand is shifting. Where do you stand?
(If you would like to better understand the issue of sexual brokenness among Christians and better-equip yourself, I hope you will order a copy of Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do from Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, or through your local bookstore.)