Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seeking Him Is Hard

Monday night I blogged about Chapter 8 of our Seeking Him bible study (in sidebar at left.) The lesson for the week was about dealing with offenses that I have committed against others.

It wasn't an overly taxing process for me to think of my list. As I shared Monday there were 2 definite offenses that truthfully have been on my heart/ mind/ guilty conscience for all the years I've held them hidden.

So when the Bible study challenged that these kinds of things need to be dealt with in order to allow the Lord to bring revival to my heart, I can honestly say the instinct to run screaming from my study book was never stronger. (Let me clarify, it wasn't the first time the instinct came, it was just the most powerful and intense episode of it... fact of the matter is it seems to get stronger with every passing week... so if you should seem me running from a small blue book in the next 4 weeks, don't be shocked.... Why did I agree to start over again IRL?) Ahh, I digress.

So if you go back and read the previous post you will know that I really had some strong arguments (at least in my own mind) not to confess the offenses. But God wasn't inclined to let me off the hook that easily. I am happy to say that one of the two offenses has since been dealt with. (Giant sigh of relief.)

It's interesting though because as I remembered it, it was "just a little white lie." Part of me actually thought my friend might not even remember it. I was wrong. I had blocked out the part of the memory where my friend had called me on the initial lie. I forgot about the way to cover up my sin I had actually not only perpetuated the lie and insisted it was true, but I had actually made my friend feel really bad for doubting my honesty. I made her cry in guilt and shame and really put her through the wringer. I forgot all that.

It's interesting because the other situation I had minimized in my mind, is becoming more detailed in memory too. And I'm feeling pretty ashamed of myself.

It's interesting how we do that, minimize our sin. "White lie." Makes the lie that led to deception that led to wounding a lot easier to live with, at least for me.

I am blessed to say that my friend was very forgiving. As I started to share she started to cry, and I thought I was wounding her all over again (my justification for not confessing) but turns out they were tears of relief. When she called me on the first lie she really felt like the Lord had told her I wasn't being honest. And I made her doubt the voice of the Lord. And I made her feel like the bad friend. It wasn't worth it. Confessing my sin to her on the other hand? Was totally worth it. Easy to say, I know, since she forgave me and let me off the hook, but honestly it was like the proverbial leaven in our friendship. The lie, deception and wounding I committed against her was polluting a very precious friendship in my life. The hook she let me off of, had been weighing down our friendship. How much more so does sin that's not dealt with pollute and corrupt our relationship with the Lord and weight us down? I was fortunate and blessed that my friend forgave me, but the Lord is always willing and able to forgive us when we confess our sins and truly repent from them. So is it worth it? There is no question.

I do still have that other situation out there looming. And I'm pretty sure the Lord's not going to allow it to be left unresolved either. I'm open, watching for the Lord's timing, praying that friend is able to be as gracious as the first one, but knowing that doing the hard stuff, and walking things out the Lord's way - totally worth it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Seeking Him - Do I Offend?

Groan... I was a little relieved when our week 8 hostess mentioned that this week was a struggle for her, because, well, it's true when they say, "misery loves company." I don't actually know that she was miserable, but I like to imagine that she was because I feel a little less alone.

The title of this week's chapter is "Dealing with Offenses Toward Others." My schedule was crazy and I must confess that I sat through all 5 days worth in a single afternoon. The kids were outside with dad and I spent my Sunday afternoon going through all the lessons. It was like swallowing a big giant horse pill of medication - without the spoonful of sugar to help it go down. (Yes it's been barely 24 hours and the weight was so heavy, I feel justified in claiming misery!)

I do have broken relationships in my life, but they don't fall in this week's simple formula. And I think next week's chapter may come in to play (forgiving those have offended you - especially because I may be crossing a particular path next week... cringe.)

However, when asked to consider an offense I have committed against someone, I had two that came to my mind immediately. Two "white lies" told, quite some time ago even, but ones that have taken up residence in my conscience. They rear their ugly heads from time to time, like when the two wonderful people I told them to are around me, and when asked to consider offenses I've committed, they stood up in my mind and cried out, "Hellooooo.... remember us?? You chose us in lieu of the hard way, and now we're here to remind you of what a rotten person you can be." They weren't hard to recognize, they visit pretty frequently.

I'd like very much to just put them under the blood, and hold them there till they drown a horrible death, but they keep fighting the good fight. I am in a quandary though, by world's standards these would definitely qualify as "white lies" nothing earth shattering or even overly significant, but my conscience is seared. The other problem is that I sincerely believe it would only wound the people I committed the offenses against for me to confess it. The only good thing I can see coming from it is clearing my conscience, but it would hurt them unnecessarily, and I really don't know if that's the right thing to do. I might feel better, but they will not, and for one person it will even force them to revisit a topic that is extremely painful that has nothing to do with my lie. Ugh, I know I'm being vague... but it is sincerely because I don't want to wound on top of the offense.

And then sweet His Girl, Amber decides to ask just one question this week in, ahem, kindness...

Q: Discuss this statement from day 3 "Revival and reconciliation are inseparable. You cannot be right with God and not be right with your fellow man." Why do you think there is such a strong connection between our relationship with God (the vertical) and our relationships with others (horizontal)?

The fact of the matter is, how we treat others, is how we are treating God. To "the least of these" whether I am kind or horrible, it's unto Him. So when I wound another, I wound the Lord. In a moment, I took the easy way out, and I offended the Lord. The other lie had more intention in it, and so when I told it, it was like a stab at the Lord, right at His heart, at my hand.

It's interesting to me, in the body, we talk about being the "hands and feet" of the Lord to others. When we serve others, give them a drink, feed them, wash their proverbial feet,binding up their wounds, we consider ourselves being an extension of Christ. It takes it to a whole other level when we consider others being the extension of Christ, it is His thirst we are tending to, His hunger we are satisfying, Him we are serving, loving, caring for. It is Him we are honoring when we honor another, each one loved by God (even if they don't know or acknowledge it) and each one created in His image.

Tonight in the car on the way to watch Neal play softball Ethan and Victoria were arguing in the backseat, it's a common scene. So snotty to each other, they were in full swing and Ethan replied to me, "What did I say that was wrong?" I replied to him, "It's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it.You are so rude to each other" And I sighed in exasperation. There was a moment of silence and then Ethan asked me a question that he had asked me about 419 times already today. Immediately I barked at him and replied with sarcasm about how many times I had already given him the answer. "It's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it." Ouch. That which you do unto the least of these you do unto Me.

This is the scripture I have been pondering. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. 1 John 2:9-11

I'm going to be honest, I don't know what I'm going to do about the "Energizer" offenses, if they keep going, and going, and going... I don't know if they are the
stop sign between me and revival, or the caution tape to remind me never to revisit the scene of the crime. I do think it's interesting that now that I am doing this study over again in my home with "real life friends" all of these questions will have to be revisited in another 6 weeks.

No other chapter has challenged me as hard as this one, to the point of considering a bail out. Funny how that 2nd visit to the study was already in place before I could make my escape.