At the beginning of 2013 I was motivated for the year, excited about the new challenges & lessons I had to learn. 2013 was/is my year to discipline myself so I had a resolution-type list of things I needed to do/overcome to build myself in self-discipline.
It’s March & I’ve kept to nothing.
I spent a long time being disappointed in myself, constantly beating myself up, so much so that it felt like I began to lose faith in myself. See, when I created this list & prayed over it, I dived in ‘fro first & the landing put me in a coma. I expected immediate change, after all our God is a God of instant change, answer, & love, however He is also works according to His timing which (I’m learning) may not be what we consider instantly.
Somebody asked the poet Alysia Harris about how she combatted her porn addiction & she gave a very interesting answer, I can’t remember exactly what she said but she mentioned giving yourself grace. And just like that, I had been woken up. One of the things on my list was to give up porn (I’ve been watching it since I was nine – yes, almost 12yrs), and anyone who’s trying to give up porn/masturbation will know that it isn’t easy. But Alysia made me realise that if God knows what hides behind every crevice of my heart better than I do and can STILL give me grace, who am I to counter that?
I’m beginning to realise more what Jesus meant by “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Jesus did not skip down to Golgotha, neither did he run (like I initially wanted to), He couldn’t bare the weight of it. Ellen White gives a detailed account:
The Saviour’s burden was too heavy for Him in His weak and suffering condition. Since the Passover supper with His disciples, He had taken neither food nor drink. He had agonized in the garden of Gethsemane in conflict with satanic agencies. He had endured the anguish of the betrayal, and had seen His disciples forsake Him and flee. He had been taken to Annas, then to Caiaphas, and then to Pilate. From Pilate He had been sent to Herod, then sent again to Pilate. From insult to renewed insult, from mockery to mockery, twice tortured by the scourge…Christ had not failed. He had spoken no word but that tended to glorify God…But when after the second scourging the cross was laid upon Him, human nature could bear no more. He fell fainting beneath the burden… They taunted and reviled Him because He could not carry the heavy cross. Again the burden was laid upon Him, and again He fell fainting to the ground. His persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They were puzzled to find anyone who would bear the humiliating load. The Jews themselves could not do this, because the defilement would prevent them from keeping the Passover. None even of the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross.
At this time a stranger, Simon a Cyrenian, coming in from the country, meets the throng. He hears the taunts and ribaldry of the crowd; he hears the words contemptuously repeated, Make way for the King of the Jews! He stops in astonishment at the scene; and as he expresses his compassion, they seize him and place the cross upon his shoulders. – Ellen White ‘Desire of Ages’ p742
The cross was representative of a ALL of the sins of the WORLD, Jesus carried my addiction to porn, my laziness & procrastination, my guilt, my lies, my lust, all on His shoulders & it sent Him to His knees. If not for Stephen, He would’ve probably died. Now, although in the beginning I prayed about my list, what I didn’t (initially) pray for was strength. My prayers were more like “Lord, these are the things I wanna do/give up. Help me, bless it. Amen” instead of “Lord, give me strength” Carrying one’s cross, abiding God’s law, loving, being patient – all of these things require strength. Now if Jesus, the Son of God, needed help carrying His cross, why on earth did I think I didn’t need help carrying mine? If Jesus could barely walk with His cross on His back, why did I think I could run with mine?
And this is where God’s strength comes into place, because when I do mess up, it takes His strength in me to be gracious to myself. It takes His strength to forgive myself. I mean, we’re forgiven by faith, right? So how faithful of me is it if I ask for forgiveness from God but don’t forgive myself? Not very.
One more thing I’ve learnt through this all, is I need a lot more patience so that God can thoroughly and effectively work through me. And one of my favourite verses puts it so nicely:
Here is the patience of the saints, here are those who kept the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. – Rev 14:12
It’s going to take patience to be faithful & obedient, & when you’re faithful & obedient you’ll be left with patience.