04 August 2009

Sin that clings

Hebrews 12: 1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Introspection, when guided by God's word, frequently illuminates pockets of sin in my life. Thoughts and behaviors once unrecognized as contrary to God's will enter my awareness and demand action. Sometimes, God allows me to deal with these sins quickly and decisively. I am able to confess them, recognize their negative effects in my life, seek forgiveness from the Father, and move on. Sometimes, though, when sins come into focus, I do not want to deal with them or even acknowledge them as sinful. These are sins that cling.

Consider this picture of ivy growing on our trellis. Notice how, even though it appears delicate and fragile, it accomplishes its amazing growth through repeatedly weaving itself in and out of the slats. If you have ever attempted to remove ivy, you understand the power that it has--it pervades. Even when you succeed at removing much of it, there can still be small tendrils, which initially go unnoticed, but when left can grow back as strong as before.

Although I could probably start a blog entitled A laundry list of Jason's sins, I will provide a single, but chronic sin from my life--my ivy--gluttony. Nearly as long as I can remember, I have struggled with food, specifically with eating too much of it. When I entered college, I gained weight rapidly for the single reason that I ate more than my body required, failing to respond to God's perfect design for me. After Grace was born, I lost weight through my own power. I maintained it for a few weeks. Then I gained some, lost some, gained some--always through a process of self-discipline contrasted with an utter lack of control. I have followed that same pattern for over 5 years. I still feel a lack of mastery over food.

In a broader context, I think we conceptualize big sins and little sins. For example, we may see murder as a "big" sin, but gossip as a "little" sin, though even our righteous actions are filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). It is probably more relevant to our lives if we try to think about the sins which cling to us, because they reflect our heart and our relationship to God. As we read in Hebrews 12, the only way we will be able to deal decisively with these sins is to look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Moments after I wrote this, I read a prayer in Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. "Jesus, I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can't do it, and I need you. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe You are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don't, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way with me."

No comments: