At church yesterday, Rich preached on being filled with the Holy Spirit. I'm glad and irritated that he did. Why? It's wise, it's good, it's powerful... and it's terrifying.
To ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to surrender, to give up all the selfishness and ways of the world. That surrender means that I might end up going down a path that scares the s**t out of me. It might mean giving up my independence. It might mean accepting that all my dreams (marriage, a career, etc.) might not come to pass because He has other plans. They may be better plans (actually, there's no "may" in this situation), but they're different than I have in mind for myself. And that, my friends, is scary.
I'm just going to be totally and vaguely honest here. I've got some pet sins. These are the sins that I don't like controlling my life, but I enjoy when I commit them. That sounds horrible, right? But that's the thing about sin. It wouldn't be tempting if it didn't feel good in the moment. But I know what it does to me, and I see the wall that's gone up over the past two and a half years in which I've lost a certain amount of control over that sin. I felt guilty (still do) and embarrassed. Too embarrassed to do anything more than turn my head slightly to the side and upward and say, "Um, sorry, God. My bad. I'm a jerk," and then do the same thing a few days later.
I need to pray that the Spirit fill my soul and defeat this sin, but I'm not going to lie. I'm afraid to. It's silly, I know, since God's grace is so abundant and His love so much better than my little made-up world. But here I sit, knowing what I need to do, but holding back for a little while more.
I'll give in soon, I promise. I don't like being controlled by these unholy desires. In God's grace is freedom, and I do still remember that.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if I could just give up on my faith--just accept that I have so many doubts and say, "Nah, I don't really believe." I've even tried. Yeah, this is the first time I admit that. I've tried to not believe. But here's the thing: I can't help it. My spirit has seen too much. He's real, He's there, and He's... God. I can't NOT believe. I can choose to ignore Him, but that doesn't change His existence or my belief.
I don't like struggling with these sins, but as in all things negative, God has a way of working them into greater miracles. I grew up a goody-two shoes. Being a "good kid," though I theologically understood the need for grace, I didn't necessarily feel it (except for a few brief spurts during adolescence). However, in facing doubts and intense temptations (and failing miserably at times) I fully understand Grace now. I can recognize my wretchedness in a way I did not before. The fact that He can still love me after all I've done in my heart to shut Him out just shows the scandalous extent of His love. So, in a way, I'm glad that I've struggled. I hate the guilt and consequences, but I'm grateful for the chance to appreciate His grace.
I'm a writer... so it helps me to write out what I'm feeling before I act on it. I have a feeling things are going to be different soon. It's a good thing... but I'm still terrified.