I’m back home. Been here for eight full days. I was out of the country for almost one hundred days, and if I learned anything, it’s that the days add up.
I went to St. Lucia with every intention of changing, inside and out, but it took me the better part of three months to see that I had already changed. It was so easy to think I was unpleasant in reaction to my often annoying family (love you guys! :P), as opposed to unpleasant, full stop. Too easy to think I was too tired or busy (or idle) to talk to God, rather than admitting my heart was nowhere near Him. Too easy to admit a problem and tack on an external “because”, rather than admitting responsibility for where I was in life.
For the first time in my 15 years as a Christian, it became difficult to talk to God. I had more free time than I knew what to do with, no children to look after, no one to annoy me (during my sister’s work hours, that is…once she got home… :D), and lots of space. Still, having devotions was a struggle. Sure, I’d skipped devotions before, sometimes for days, but I’d never before felt as if I were just going through the motions.
It didn’t hit me until close to the end of my time there that the consequences of sin are often not what we think they are. Sin is degenerative. However “little” or “big”, it costs us. Like, Jesus and I were cool, and I knew He wasn’t holding my actions against me, but I didn’t understand that they were changing me.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in how much God hates sin that we forget it is linked to His love for us. He knows what sin does to us. He knows it leads only to death. He knows the death is often slow and escapes our notice. It’s for our own good. Think about it: how does God benefit from us not sinning? He doesn’t. He’s still God, anyway, but there’s no doubt that our lives are better when we live God’s way. So, it’s not that God warns us from sin so that He will love us, but because He loves us.
I have a huge collection of “little” sins and a few “big” ones. Even though I know there’s no ranking system where this is concerned, I tell myself it’s not such a big deal. But, you know something? These not-so-big deals kill us…one day at a time. One day at a time, my heart drifted from Him…and I didn’t even notice. For the most part, I was quite fine…happy, even. That’s the scary part.
Thankfully, the days add up for the better as well. When I, by His strength, fought through and spent the time I needed to with Him, the distance gradually decreased…until I ran away again. But, it screams hope. One day at a time, one situation at a time, we make choices that either lead us to or away from God. Nothing’s neutral. Anything that isn’t helping us draw closer to God is pulling us away. We may never have one huge consequence, but there are worse things. For too many of us, the price is our affection for God.
Is anything or anyone worth that? The reality of our choices often reveals that question is nowhere near as rhetorical as we think it is.
Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. Judas could not face his shadow; Peter could. The latter befriended the impostor within; the former raged against him.
– Brennan Manning