losing power

Walking and talking with friends.  I love it!  There’s no better way to spend a couple of hours with a friend than getting fresh air, sunshine, and a good old heart to heart!

~walking buddy~

As my walking buddy and I ventured on a 5 mile “excer-talk” (I’m trademarking this phrase BTW!) this week, the topic of our discussion made its way to sin.  Sin is an uncomfortable and not very Politically Correct 2021 word, but it’s not something we should ignore, or sugar coat. 

Sin is something that we don’t like to admit.  We tend to gather with friends and talk about life, and family, fun things, and even the good things that God is doing in our lives.  And there is NOTHING wrong with that.  It’s all part of building relationships and connecting with others.  Something I feel very strongly about and encourage.

But, if we’re honest, we don’t often talk about sin in our lives.  We shy away from the truth of it to protect what we think should be our image as a believer in Jesus.  But sister, we ALL have sin in our lives.  We are humans, living in a broken world, waiting for Jesus to take us home.  And until He does, sin will be part of our existence.

So, what is sin?

Sin, by definition, is anything we think, say, or do that displeases God.  Well, alrightythen!  When you put it that way, I guess it’s easy to admit that we’re all guilty of sin. I know I am.  Every day.

I wish it weren’t true, I wish I was able to please God all the time, every day, and never hurt the Lord again with my sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  Did you catch it?  Everyone. 

I have the most beautiful places to walk

Scripture is FULL of verses that lead us as to what to do about our sin.  The theme is always the same, no matter the verse.  Confession.  Confession is the answer to breaking the power of sin over us.

Imagine this for a moment if you will.  Imagine you have gone to bed for the night, you are cozy and comfortable in bed, the lights are out, and you are ready to really relax.  And then you hear it.  In the dark you hear something scratching across the floor in your room (ok, you also have to imagine that you have a wood floor if you have carpet but stick with me here).  You don’t know what “it” is really, but you can hear something scratching and crawling its way toward you.  In the dark, you can’t deal with or understand what “it” is.  Is it a bug, a snake, or a dragon (*wink*) coming at you?  There, in the dark, alone with your thoughts, the fear and power in your head just grows stronger.

You have two choices here.  You can lay there in the dark, hoping that you are wrong about whatever it is, hoping that it will crawl OUT of your room, and not into your bed.  You can continue to lay there, paralyzed by the thing that is holding you prisoner to your own fears, and letting it rule over you there in the dark.

Or…

You can do the brave thing, pull back the covers, find the lamp by your bed, and switch on the light!  Only then will you be able to really deal with whatever “it” is. 

Shining light onto whatever is holding you hostage has a way of breaking the power of darkness.

I really took that!

Think of it this way. 

I have sin.  You have sin.  Sin is not something we are proud of, so we hide it.  We don’t talk about it with anyone. 

We keep telling ourselves that “today is the day that I will get a handle on my sin.  I can do it.  I need to do it.  I will beat it, so that I don’t have to admit it or tell anyone else about it. I need to continue to hide it so that I don’t disappoint people by letting them know the truth about me.  I will be a better witness of faith when I fix it, and THEN I can share my faith.  I am different than other Christians because of my sin.  I don’t see them struggling with this sin; therefore, I need to handle this myself.  Then I will fit in with them.  I am only good enough once I have this is under control.”

LIES.  LIES.  LIES.

Straight from the enemy.

Let’s not forget what 1 Peter 5:8 says.  “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  The best way for the enemy to keep power over us as believers is to keep us in the dark.  And there we are afraid to admit our sin, even to God and especially to each other.  The enemy wants to keep us believing the lie that we need to live this way and be ashamed. He wants us to think that we need to fix our sin before God or people will love us. In this way, he can continue to hold power over our lives.

The truth of sin and forgiveness is all over God’s word.  Scripture is loaded with the solution to our struggles if we will just read and follow what it says.  I submit to you that in order to win the battle going on inside our minds and hearts about sin, that we must bring it into the light!  If we will bravely admit our struggles to one another, (a trusted friend or a spouse or a pastor, whomever you feel is most deserving of your trust) sin immediately begins to lose its power over you.  Immediately.

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

And this one.  Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Confession is like shining a light on that thing crawling in your bedroom at night in the dark.  The light causes it to lose the power and stronghold of fear that the darkness creates.  Are you with me yet?

this lake is a favorite place to walk

Sin loses its power over us when we confess and let it into the light.

What is your struggle?  What is your sin? 

Is it overspending?  Overindulging?  Lying?  A sexual sin?  An addiction? A critical spirit? A bad temper?  A foul mouth? Constant fear? Continual worry?

Sin is anything we think, say, or do that displeases God.

Keeping it exclusively to yourself is only furthering the power it holds on your life.  I encourage you to talk to someone about it.  Not everyone, but someone.

I hope that you have a trusted someone in your life, with whom you can be honest about your struggle.  You will want to pray about this for a while before you choose that someone.  Naturally, you will want to share only with someone whom you feel will love unconditionally and who will keep you accountable.  Someone who has your best interest in mind.  Someone who will pray for you. Someone spiritually mature. 

And it’s scary.  It’s scary to admit your sin and your struggle to another.  Keeping it secret feels safer, but it isn’t always.  Only when the secret is out, does it lose its power

I encourage you to confess it first to God, and then pray, pray, pray about who you will trust with your struggle. 

I hope that you will choose to be free of the power of sin in your life!  Listen, we will not be able to completely stop sinning this side of heaven, but we do not have to live under the power of darkness.  Romans 8:1 reminds us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Christ did not save us to leave us the way we were.  He came to give us salvation through Him and a full life!  John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!”

One of the many steps to living a full life is confession. First to God and then in honesty to another Christ follower. Sin most often loses its power when we bring it into the light of the love of the Lord.  There, He can begin the healing and strengthening process.  There, He can work with us on the freedom we have in Christ.  We do not have to be trapped and powerless.  We can be FREE!

Heavenly Father, I am sick of my sin.  I am sick of hiding it and letting it rule over me.  I was foolish to think that, on my own, I can stop.  That alone I can somehow win this battle.  Father, I confess I need your help. I also know that being honest about it with another will help break the chain.  Lord, show me who I may be able to trust with my struggle.  I know that in You and through confession, sin will lose the power it holds on me in the darkness.  Thank you that because of Jesus in my life, I do not have to live this way any longer.   Amen.

clouds are a favorite of mine to photograph

Luminosity

Darkness is a powerful thing. 

I had the opportunity once, to be deep down in some caverns, and it was beyond dark.  So dark that I could feel it.  Deep underground, there was nowhere for even the tiniest fraction of light to get in, and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  I held on tight to the handrail, waiting for the lights to come up, and when the light from a single flashlight came on, it shone brightly!  I couldn’t help but to look straight at it and be drawn toward it.

Have you ever been in total darkness like that?  Have you ever been in a time of life that felt like that?  No light from anywhere to help you see your way?  Holding tightly, desperate for the smallest glimmer to guide you out of the dark hole you were stuck in?

Heavy and silent darkness.

Matthew 5:14-16 says “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Let your light shine before others. 

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When we know God, and we know His son Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we have a light inside of us.  That light is from God, and is meant to be used to draw others out of darkness and into the true light.  To be a beacon when they  feel lost, scared, and overwhelmed.  To bring hope to their heart in a time of discouragement.

I have been in this kind a situation.  I was scared and overwhelmed, and in need of hope.    

In January of 2015, my third grandson was born, and what a glorious day that was!  We rejoiced with his parents after a difficult labor and delivery.  His daddy was so proud that he took the first selfie of his life, so he could show off his first-born son!  We stayed FAR into the night to be able to visit with his mommy after recovering, and the exhaustion on her face was only masked by the joy she felt over her first born baby!

But 3 days later, things drastically changed. We all had to come to grips with a diagnosis for the baby.  A congenital (or from birth) heart defect, one that required he be immediately airlifted to a children’s hospital 100 miles away.  He would be facing almost immediate open-heart surgery.  Mommy was overwhelmed and grieving. Daddy was scared and doing everything in his power to support his wife. And as grandparents, we were all in shock, literally groping in the darkness for a way to be a help and support.  All the while, each of us was suffering anguish over what our new grandbaby, as well as his poor parents (our own children!) would be facing.  It all seemed to much.  Our hearts were heavy.  We moved as robots.  We prayed, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other, with no other options.

Darkness.  Thick and silent.

John 12:35 says that “whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going”  Simple truth.  When you are in darkness, all you see is darkness.  You can’t see where you are going, because there is no light. 

In that time of darkness, there were those around us, who chose to be a light.  They brought their flashlight of love into our dark day, and shone it brightly toward us, so that we could follow the light, and would not be alone in the dark. 

They stepped out of the comfort of their own lives, and plunged into our despair, and they shone the light of love brightly!  That light was a beacon of hope and focus that we needed so desperately to see our way through that time. 

They texted encouraging words, they sent cards, they called (remember when people used to do that?).  They brought meals, they gave financially, they did laundry, they brought groceries, and they brought gifts.  But mostly, they loved richly. 

They shone their light on us. 

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People in a dark situation feel trapped.  Their normal is completely disrupted.  Their days are uncertain and unstructured.  They don’t always know what to do with their own feelings.  They try to pray but they don’t know how.  The want to believe that God is good, but they hurt.  They want so badly for the darkness to go away, and they worry it will overtake them.  Often times, the words don’t come.  They are replaced with tears of frustration by the people closest to them who are struggling and suffering with the same feelings. Perspective becomes difficult.  It’s like the blind leading the blind. 

Matthew reminds us to “let your light shine before others”.  

Lights in a dark place give:

  • Focus
  • Hope
  • Direction

In our humanity, we can sometimes think that reaching out is intrusive.  We feel like others can encourage better than we can.  We assume that someone else is already helping.  We are “afraid to say the wrong thing” or “bring it up” if they are doing ok right then.   We hold back, sometimes out of misguided pride or fear.  But I am here to tell you that these are lies from the enemy!  If God tells us to “be a light” then that’s what we need to be doing. 

As someone who experienced people shining light into my darkness, I can promise you that I appreciated every single person.  I didn’t wish they had “left me alone” or felt that what they said to love and encourage us was “the wrong thing”.  It all felt like love.  Every bit of it.  And, collectively, it was THE most loved I have ever felt in my life.  Each text, message, card and phone call came out of love and was received with love.  The bright light of loved reached into the deepest recesses of my darkness, and chased it away.

And I learned something.

I realized that I had been that other person in the past. Not wanting to intrude, not knowing what to say (so I said nothing), thinking someone else was going to help them, feeling like what I had to say probably didn’t matter that much anyway. Or that others had something “more” to give than I did.  So I didn’t shine my light.  I held back.  I let pride tell me that those people might be better loved on by someone else.  And I missed out.  I missed out on an opportunity to bear light.  A light that brings peace.  A light that chases darkness away.  A light of love.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage each other and build each other up…”  The lord knows that we need a boost of love and encouragement from each other.  He understands our human frailty.  Jesus, being fully God and fully man, understood our hurts and our need for courage giving words.  So don’t be afraid to give them. 

Reach out.

Say the words on your heart.

Love with meaning and timely purpose.

Help.

And shine brightly into someone’s darkness.

When you or I follow our heart toward the need of another, we are always blessed, often as much as they are.  Face it, it just plain feels good to make a difference in someone’s hurt!  To bring hope and love.  When we do, we are functioning as the church, the body of believers, the family of God.  We are fulfilling our purpose.  We are doing something here on earth to ease the pain of another.  That is something that is not necessary in heaven, but is SO necessary here.

So my question to you is, whose darkness are you choosing to shine your light into?

Isaiah 58:10   “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”

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