So-o-o-o today I started physical therapy because I’m not healing as well from my foot surgery as I should. The therapist found places to hurt I didn’t even know I had. But it felt good afterward and I am hopeful I will learn some exercises that will ease the discomfort.
But it got me to thinking.
Right now I’m working on a series of posts about some dimensions of faith and spirituality that I find challenging.
So today as the therapist was doing some deep message on my legs (Sounds great, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. I was “crying uncle” in a matter of seconds.), I thought about the pain that comes when God reveals things in our lives that need to change.
Do you suppose if we really meant “Search me, oh God”,(Psalm 139:23), would we say “ouch” as he revealed areas where we need to grow in our faith? Areas we didn’t even know about?
As we grow spiritually we can become complacent. We think we’ve matured about as much as we can because we’re regular church attenders, we faithfully pray and read our Bibles, we tithe, we help others. We’ve sponged up every bit of information about spiritual growth that we can.
But like my hidden muscles, we probably have damaging habits, behaviors, and thoughts that remain well below the surface until we feel the pain that comes from the consequences of hanging on to them.
There have been certain behaviors in my life that God has revealed over time that needed changing because they were hurting my relationship with him. These areas would’ve probably seemed very insignificant to most of you, but God saw it differently.
As I narrowed my lifestyle choices more and more, my life became “freer”.
Let me explain.
It seems that God is requiring me to give the ole’ heave-ho to more and more in my life. For example, years ago I would watch some “R” rated movies. Now the only exception if the “R” is for violence is a war movie because war is violent. If a movie is rated “R” for language, it’s a no-brainer; we don’t watch it. Same with “R” for explicit sex scenes. I’m not a prude but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why a continuous barrage of crude language and explicit sex is the least bit enjoyable.
But the more I let go of some things, the more freedom in Christ I feel. That’s because:
the more we let go the more we receive.
This is so true. The deeper our relationship to God the more freedom we experience.
We give up some things but we gain much more.
And isn’t that true of every area of our life? And didn’t Jesus say that time and again?
Physical therapy hurt. It narrowed in on my pain. But after it was over, I had so much more freedom of movement.
If giving up a few things is all it takes, I find that an easy path to take.
I don’t want to give examples for fear of causing some of you to think you have to do the same thing. While God’s definition of holiness is the same for all us, as we grow deeper in our relationship with Him, we open ourselves to further scrutiny. And that scrutiny often results in God requiring changes in our life. These changes, if they are directed from God, are always for our benefit and free us to be used by Him.
Jesus makes it clear that mercy is always better than sacrifice. We don’t arbitrarily just give up things as a kind of self-punishment. There have been those through the ages that have done just that but that behavior was never directed by God.
It still isn’t.
New International Version
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
New Living Translation
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
English Standard Version
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
New American Standard
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
King James Bible
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
To me when God asks me to restrict or give up some things in my life, (the narrowing part) I know the blessings will certainly outweigh the sacrifices.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.