Sustenance

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Sometimes it’s all I can do
Just to keep on trying,
Just to get up when I fall,
And continue on with You.

Sometimes the path ahead
Seems too daunting.
Sometimes it seems as if
I’m on this path alone.

But most often I feel
That You could never love
Someone as shameful as me;
I’m a blemish on Your reputation.

And yet You look down
On me in love.
You are always smiling
Because above all, I am Yours.

Help me remember this
In these times when it’s so hard:
When all I ever do is fail You,
You try ever harder to reach me.

You are the One that sustains me;
You are the One who catches me
When I fall, and who holds me
In His mighty hand.

Your face is what I seek;
Though I struggle and strain,
Remember that my only desire
Is to know You more and better.

Hold me in Your outstretched arms.
Let Your love shine ever down on me.
And though I am weak and frail,
Your strength will sustain me always.

Which is better: to make a promise that you know you can’t keep, or to never make the promise and keep on doing what you wanted to promise to avoid? I ask this because I truly don’t know. Often I’ll sin, and then I’ll realize it as the Holy Spirit convicts me; however, as I sit there in the knowledge of my sin and ask God for His forgiveness, I don’t know what to say. I know His grace has covered my sin, so asking for forgiveness is more for my sake than for His. He already dealt with it 2000 years ago in human terms. But then what do I do? Do I promise to never do it again, knowing full well that I can never live up to that promise, or do I hold it off at forgiveness and not have that solid backbone that might help keep me from doing it in the future?

The poem I wrote up above is not the best poem I’ve ever written, nor is it supposed to be. It’s something just straight out of my heart, and if that means no rhyme scheme and awkward stanza structure, so be it. I just wish I knew how to stand up once again without knowing that I’ll continue to fall in the future. It all seems like a hopeless prospect, and yet if Christianity gives us anything, it gives hope. But what’s the point of making a promise to God that you know you can’t keep? It’s setting yourself up for failure. However, at the same time, if I don’t commit to fighting my sin nature, I’m never going to get anywhere. So now I’m at a loss at what to do about the whole situation.

I guess the whole process is a learning one. I realize that victory over sin doesn’t come all at once, witnessed by the fact that Christians a whole lot older than me still struggle with the same things that I do. I understand that God teaches us things in His own time and in His own way, but I also understand that He doesn’t want Christians to be living sin-filled lives, nor can he excuse our sins as “inevitable.” He knows it’s possible for us, or He never would have told us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) God wouldn’t tell us to do something we couldn’t do, because He’s not one of those that would simply lead us on with bait on a stick. If He is, then He’s a God I don’t want to serve. But I believe that is not the case. Certainly our sin nature stays with us for our duration here on earth, and perfection is only possible once we get into heaven – but surely I thought the process would be sped up so much quicker than this. I mean, I’m willing to change, and I pray for God’s help and strength to conquer the areas in which I struggle, and yet I see no progress at all. All I see is a big chain of continual failures strung together by willpower and sheer desperation.

I understand where my help comes from. I understand where my source of strength is; God’s taught me to rely on Him. I’ve learned that my ways are hopeless and that God always has our best interests at heart. But surely spiritual growth is in my best interest, is it not? Surely the removal of my old self and the putting on of the new self is good for me, right? If that’s the case, then why do I not see any change, though I seek after God’s will? How come all I see now is my own failed efforts, even though I’ve seen God’s power in the past?

I’m sorry if I’m rambling. I’m just trying to make sense of this whole thing. It’s bugging me, and while that’s likely a good thing, it’s frustrating. I do my best to put God first in my life, and though my sin drags me down, I’ve never given up hope that the God I serve will get me through. But there comes a point when you get so lost on the path that you have to stop and ask, “Where are You, God? You’re the one with the map, so how about a little help here?” And I know, the classic answer is that God has given us our roadmap in the Bible – but that doesn’t explain how I know the answer that the Bible gives and yet it doesn’t seem to be effective. I refuse to give up, and yet it’s the only option I haven’t tried. Perhaps sin is like quicksand; the more you struggle, the faster you sink. If you just calm yourself and stay still, you won’t sink as fast. But honestly, what’s the difference if you struggle or not if no one seems to be holding out something for you to grab onto? I guess it’s just discouraging that nothing seems to be happening.

Now that I think about the quicksand imagery at bit more, though, perhaps it makes sense. Maybe my intentions weren’t correct. Perhaps I thought I was seeking God, when really I was trying to fight off the sin. Maybe instead of struggling against the sin that’s dragging me down, I should try to call for help instead. I’ve done it before, but perhaps a more dedicated cry for help would be more fitting. It seems like I’ve been doing it quite fervently, but I suppose it’s my best and only option right now. Everything else has led to failure, so the best idea is to just continue in the thing that has worked in the past, only with redoubled efforts.

Anyways, I can’t say I have all the answers, because I most certainly don’t. Just by reading this entry, that’s clear. But I’m searching, and as I keep seeking God, He keeps revealing Himself to me just a little bit at a time. I suppose that He knows best, considering that He’s God and I’m not, but it sure makes for some frustrating times when you need guidance, and God doesn’t seem to quite show you enough of the path in front of you. I suppose that’s His way of getting us to rely on Him, and I also suppose that it works quite well now that I think about it. I guess that’s what you get when you try to outthink God; however, just for the record, if it were up to me, I’d have just left the tree of the knowledge of good and evil out of the Garden of Eden in the first place and avoided this whole huge mess that the world is in right now. It seems so much more sensible to me, and yet God decided to go ahead with it and give us free will anyway, even though He could look into the future and see this massive ball of rock with despair and hate written all over it. Then again, I suppose He also sees the end a lot better than I do – the part where everyone who followed Him gets to go to heaven, where everything is perfect and we spend eternity with God. I suppose in light of that, perhaps all this huge ball of hate and rebellion was worth it after all.

One response to “Sustenance”

Random Surfer

This has to be one of the most sincere, heart-felt pieces I’ve ever come across. And I’m glad I did. You write really well and this was just brutally honest.
However, I feel it’s not heaven I really want.
Say, you were god? Would you like people to love and worship you so you give em goodies? Or would you rather see who looks through all that and loves you for you, yourself?
Id prefer the latter. 🙂
Read up on Sufism, Jess. I’m sure you’ll be enlightened.
I just saw this post dates back to 2005. Much may have changed. Yet, I feel I should comment nevertheless.

Rabia Basri

I carry a torch in one hand
And a bucket of water in the other:
With these things I am going to set fire to Heaven
And put out the flames of Hell
So that voyagers to God can rip the veils
And see the real goal.
O Lord,
If I worship You
From fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.
O Lord,
If I worship You
From hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.
But if I worship You for Yourself alone
Then grace me forever the splendor of Your Face.
Rabi´a al-Adawiyya, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut – ‘Perfume of the Desert’

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