For over ten years, my younger sister was incarcerated in a facility here in Texas. She was in love with a young man who was drug dealer. He introduced her to not only selling drugs, but using as well. When he was arrested for drug trafficking, she was arrested along with him. After she served her time, she was brought before the review board who determined she was ready to be released and brought back into society. The documents were signed and she was set free… but only on paper.
After a few months back into the free world, it became obvious to me rather quickly that my sister was still in prison. It’s what they call being institutionalized. She quickly started using again, becoming very reckless with her body, which turned into her using it as a means to pay for her habit.
But what about the papers that were signed offering her freedom and a new life?
Why was she not able to embrace the freedom the documents offered?
Because the words on the paper did not possess the power to give her what she truly needed: new data or a new mind. Basically she couldn’t experience the written word to be the living word, so she continued being a slave to her past.
I write this to everyone who is on the edge of seeing the Christian life as a joke… a broken promise that is not your reality. You do not experience the ink on each page lifting to unlock handcuffs and open cell doors to a freedom that has your name on it. You would say these things publically if you could, but you fear your character and integrity may be questioned by the “holy of the holiest” church members and coworkers who have Bible verse stickies all over their cubicles. And so, you keep your mouth shut while your frustration and doubt puts the fire out of your soul.
I’ve been there, friend. I’ve written songs without feeling the love or hope that life would get better. I’ve questioned why I couldn’t get over certain sins. I’ve wondered why prayers would just bounce off the ceiling and never become a transformative revival deep inside of me. I lived confused for many years as a born again believer. It was a hallelujah moment when I realized that the life I read about and heard about was waiting for me in my diet.
Yes, my diet.
I needed to do something that didn’t tickle my emotions. Something that required a new kind of work. Something that would unlock the change I needed.
Can I just keep it simple?
I needed to sit my butt down and read the Bible. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. God has given us a tool which renews our thinking. It reprograms us to receive everything that is ours. It shows us that we are heirs and joint heirs. It cuts down the weeds that have grown in our minds.
And this tool just happens to be thousand year old writings, passed down to us. A sword.
I have seen with my own eyes, through my friends and being in church ALL of my life: the majority of Christians DO NOT discipline themselves to private personal devotion to the love letters of God. We want the pastor to read, study, and give us what they got so we can get the quick version, eat off of their labor, shout, cry at the altar, repent for all of the nasty things we did that week, and repeat the sad little dance Monday morning.
Nobody can go to the gym and burn calories for you, and no one can gather the word that God has especially for you EXCEPT you. You can always tell the new gym member. They have a matching work out outfit from head to toe, and everything is new. They get on the treadmill for a few minutes and then they’re out. But they complain that they’re not losing weight.
Why? Though the outfit may be attractive and designed for working out, it does not possess within itself the ability to get you in shape without your involvement and self sacrifice.
We must make time to sit, read, and wait until God speaks back. We must let the Bible interrupt the lives we have created for ourselves. We make time for our favorite shows, but we cannot get away with the murder we’re doing to our spirits. If we’re not careful, our lack of attention will turn into a scandal brewing deep in our souls [not bad hunh!]
Getting into God’s word allows us to receive new data and give us access to the life of Christ. It won’t come easy. Nothing good ever does.
When I work out hard at the gym, sometimes I will diet so I can lose a few pounds. When I’m on my diet, the worst thing in the world is to go out to eat with people that are not on one. They can order whatever they want, while I’m left to bland non-exciting foods. It’s frustrating until they see me a few weeks later and compliment the new look or the guns poking from under my nice fitting sweater. And they always say the same thing: “I’ve gotta lose weight.”
I tell them, “watch what you eat.”
You want a new mind?
You’ve gotta do the same.
Shout out to my sister!
I love you. Let me know when you’re ready to grab a bite!