I know last year was a time of great sifting for me. Sifting isn't the same thing as refining. It's a work of the enemy, not of God, though He allows it. It's a test against temptation. The things that I was tempted with, and the level I was tempted by them was far beyond anything I have ever fully confessed, to people anyway, but not to God. I know there were times when my faith walk and my character were in real jeopardy. Thankfully God did not let me slip, no matter how close I came to the edge.
This year my priority has been the Lord, and time with Him, unlike last year when I even actually stated I knew He's be there when I was ready to return. Don't get me wrong, I didn't fall away, and I didn't even give in to the temptations I battled, but I did move the Lord down my priority list, and I dwelt on temptation far more than I should have.
To be honest, I feel far greater a struggle now, in choosing rightly, than I ever felt the struggle of pulling away from God. There was very little struggle at all walking toward temptation. It's sort of scary to realize just how easy falling away could be. It's frightening really. What is even more frightening is how easy it would be to put on a "show" of piety and give the false sense of continuing in the faith. I fear it's far more common than I ever realized before.
I remember one very prideful moment last year where the thought crossed my mind, "No one would ever believe I would do such a thing," and I knew I could have gotten away with it because my reputation was strong enough to mask my choices. It was a crossroads for me. And I will be thankful to God until my dying day that He pulled back the veil on that day and showed the depth of depravity in that thought alone. It was a defining moment, and a moment of decision. Would I continue to feed my temptation or would I turn from it.
It would have been an "easy birth," but it would have brought about destruction and devastation. And I am grateful that God spoke a warning to my heart.
Don't be deceived my beloved daughter.
No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:8-10
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
I thank God for opening my eyes to the deception. I have seen others fall, and I have wondered, "How?" And I now know. None of us is beyond the fall. In fact, a fall is far easier than a climb. There is no struggle to just letting go, and there might even be a thrill in the fall, but the bottom is there, and isn't worth it.
The struggle is in holding on. It's in standing against temptation. It's in standing against discouragement, against fear. The struggle is in standing against judgment, or hurt. The struggle is in not letting go of hope, of faith. The struggle is in holding on to God's word when everything you see around you is contrary.
I am weary, and worn. I am discouraged and disheartened. I hurt. But, I am holding on. I am in the struggle because I know whatever God wants to birth, will be worth it. I want to let go, but I won't. I've heard my Father's warning, and I will not be deceived.