Beginning Prayer: Show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 7:1-6
Paul starts our reading today with an analogy, which is just a sort of fancy word for using something familiar to explain something complicated. So, while he’s not actually talking about marriage (he’s not setting up any sort of mandate or rules about divorce or adultery because he’s not speaking literally here), I love that he uses the idea a complicated relationship to describe our complicated relationship with change.
Let’s break it down a little.
So, this new way of life, of freedom, gives us new hope for change. If we are no longer trying to earn our way back to God by our good behavior, then we have new access to His power and presence in our lives that allows us to live by a new obligation that Jesus describes in John 8:36, if the Son sets you free, you will be really free.”
So, if we’re under this new freedom way, we ask our question with Paul again, “Why are we still stuck?”
I think one of the biggest things that keep us stuck is that maybe we’ve never had permission to FAIL. Did you know that a caterpillar has to shed its skin FIVE times before it even makes an actual chrysalis? I love this because it gives us this amazing picture that failure actually isn’t failure at all, it’s just part of the process of change.
See, if we’re going to have permission to try, like we talked about yesterday, we also need to have permission to fail. Sometimes it feels safer not to try because if we don’t try, at least we won’t fail, and while not trying can be frustrating, trying and failing? Well, that’s terrifying because then it will prove that there is no hope. But today, I want to remind you that the point of transformation is not to finish; the point of transformation is actually the process.
The best thing we can do when we’re in the midst of our failures is to ask ourselves: what is it that I need that I’m not getting? Is it security? Approval? Control? Attention? Love? Chocolate? What is it that I need that I’m not getting? Of course, we might think it’s chocolate, but it’s never really chocolate. When we fail it gives us this beautiful opportunity to discover what is really down there that is a creating a need that’s sending us back to that old habit to be fed.
My friend Cathy Dye puts it this way, “A healthy person knows what they need and how to ask for it.” That’s a two part process. We have to take the time sometimes to dig down and discover what our real need is, then we have to find help. If we will do that every time we try and fail, we will actually make huge progress; we’re just shedding one more skin getting that much closer to our chrysalis.
One of the biggest things the enemy of our souls tries to take from us is progress; if he can convince us that none of the things we’re trying are ever going to work, then we will stop trying, and he’ll have us right where he wants us. When you fail...you figure out what it is you really needed...and you take that need to God and see where he takes you. Louie Giglio once said, “If you’re telling yourself you don’t deserve a second chance from God, remind yourself you didn’t deserve a first one either.” He is here to guide and help you, and He’s the God of second chances (and third and fourth and fifth and sixth…), and it’s not because we are good, but because He is. Failure is not the end of the story, it’s actually one of the best parts of it.
God, as I try to learn to walk a new way, it’s inevitable that I am going to fail, that I’m going to fall, that I’m not always going to get it right. So, when I do, will you use that experience to teach me? Show me, Wonderful Counselor, what it is that I really need, and help me find the help I need to walk a different direction, even if I have to try again and again and again. Today, I let go of being perfect. I release being all or nothing. Today, I take another step, with you, towards freedom.
Today, your challenge is to watch the movie Meet the Robinsons. No, I’m actually totally serious. If you have kids, or if you consider yourself a kid, that will make it less awkward (probably) if someone walks in on you and sees you, but I love this movie. I am not going to spoil it and tell you why it’s your challenge today, you just have to watch it and see. There is a big lesson in it that I want you to get, and it’s told in such a pure, tender way. See if you can find it. And if you think I’m crazy, that’s OK too, but I want to encourage you engage with God in all areas of your life, and never underestimate the way He creatively speaks, and if you’ll let him, I bet He’ll use a cartoon.
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember, this verse this week.)
“We have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” (Romans 7:6, NLT)