Conversion and the spiritual life

This week I’ve been working on a Sunday message focusing on the conversion of Paul in Acts 9.  I’m taking time out to be a little reflective with you.  I’ve been thinking about the church formula many grew up with: (1) before Christ my life was a mess, (2) I met Jesus, and (3) now life is great!  If that is your story, God bless ya.  One thing I have learned from my recovery friends is that even after we deal with our coping mechanisms, life is still in session.  Now we have to feel and deal with emotions.  No wonder so many of us go back to what used to work, even if it doesn’t work any more.

I spend my vocational life these days with people whose spiritual life doesn’t fit into our church formulas.  Oh, if it was that simple.  Life in God’s grace is not always predictable.  The bondage of sin does not cease to exist after one accepts Jesus.  Through the glass of the visitation booth in the jail I meet very repentant hearts.  When released there is that tug to go back to what is familiar.  When I sought recovery I lived that tension.  I had known Jesus my whole life and yet Jesus didn’t take away the desires or temptations.  Honestly, I still feel that tension every time my heart judges or my words cut into others. Someone tell me you know what I mean.  Sin is always “crouching at the door.”  (see Genesis 4:7).

“The sinful  nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”  Galatians 5:17 NLT.  Funny, we don’t often quote this verse.  Somehow it  doesn’t seem to fit on an inspirational plaque.  It helps me remember that often the call and conversion to faith might be as messy as life itself.  Two steps forward, and sometimes one, or two, or even more steps back.

I don’t have anything brilliant to share.  Just an observation.  Oh…and this.  Thank you God for your unconditional grace and patience with me.  With my friends.  And to my church friends; let’s stop trying to fit everyone else into our church box.  God’s grace, forgiveness and love has captured my heart and changed me.  Sometimes a lot.  Sometimes a little.  And often I go backwards.  But not God.  He is always there to pick me… and you up.  To dust us off and say “My grace is sufficient.”  In others words, its enough for today.  It is God’s grace and love, often demonstrated by Jesus’ followers, that changes a life.  It continues to change mine.

See you at the Lighthouse,

Dale

 

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