By Patrick Hawthorne
Now began the conversation with myself….
“Ok Patrick, you know the routine… Let’s begin the cycle of self condemnation followed by sorrowful repentance. When you have reached the point where you feel you have sufficiently berated and belittled yourself, you may subtly glimpse into the eyes of Jesus…not too quick though. After all, you must deem yourself worthy to call upon Him as Lord. After a sufficient amount of time for whining and self pity has passed you may once again stand firmly in the knowledge that you are worthy of His grace.
Does this sound a bit dramatic? Maybe, but it pretty much sums up the way I used to approach God’s forgiveness. It made for a miserable existence, but a truthful existence. Of course, all the mental agony I put myself through was of my own making. I knew from the Word that my pathetic approach to self forgiveness was not God’s modus operandi. Yet, it made me feel better because I had sufficiently suffered for all past and present mistakes; it was my personal brand of penance. However, that all changed when I began to understand the true message of God’s grace.
For anyone who knows me very well, two of my favorite verses in the Bible are Titus 2:11-12. It was through these two verses that I learned that God’s grace is a teacher and I am His (…yes His) student.
I learned that all of the lessons of grace, though simple and easy to comprehend, are impossible to execute on my own apart from the power of God. You might be thinking, “That’s what you learned? Well, that was a ton of help!”
Well, there’s more to it than that. The Word tells us that God’s mercy is fresh and new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). What I learned is that I only have to be concerned with today. In other words, I only need to take one step at a time and one day at a time. Let me give an example.
I have always been blunt. I believe in the old adage of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. However, bluntness combined with a nasty temper makes for a dangerous combination. Too many times, while in a fit of anger, I would say most anything without regard for the recipient’s feelings. Of course, I always felt an incredible amount of remorse after I had cooled off mainly because I knew I had just lost my witness for Jesus.
One day I told the Lord, “Today Lord, with your help I refuse to lose my temper. I can’t do anything about yesterday and I’m not concerned about tomorrow. However, today I will behave.”
You know something…it worked. I made it through the day without opening my big mouth and saying something I would regret. To me it was a major victory. Eventually, by concentrating on only one day at a time, the Lord was able to change my behavior.
Do I still mess up? Of course I do. But now, I don’t get all full of self condemnation. I just pick myself up and say, “Lord, for the rest of the day I choose to not mess up.” Is there is something in your life that seems impossible to overcome? Just lean upon the grace of God and put one foot in front of the other in your quest to live a God like life. Be blessed.