June 18, 2012

First Aid 101



He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved... ~Jeremiah 17:14
As mentioned last week, when we're roaming and wandering through the wilderness we become vulnerable to the elements. At the same time, we're also at a greater risk of becoming injured. (Or once we're in the desert we find that we've been lugging around injuries from the past that we hadn't ever stopped to "examine.") The injuries we carry are the result of ourselves being rebellious towards God and what He's asked us to do, or they are the result of someone else's rebellion against God and what He's asked them to do (bearing the consequence of someone else's sin). 

Injuries We Bear

Hurts. Hurts and/or wounds are those things which have "marked" us. Hurts can be the result of an unhealthy relationship, abuse (of all kinds), and/or anything that has "bruised" us. We often play our hurts over and over again in our heads like a broken record. It's easy to withhold forgiveness, thus giving room for bitterness to grow, it taints your heart, which then taints your words, thoughts, and actions towards yourself and others. Thick, high walls are built, preventing us from having deep, meaningful relationships with others.

Habits. Habits are addictions (of all kinds), which is having a dependency on someone, something, activity, or a substance. A habit is characterized by obsession. It's all you think about... all the time. Just the thought of it being taken away is upsetting, scary, and depressing. Addictions often feel like they give us sense of control and manipulation, but it's counterfeit. They give a false feeling of ownership, when in reality it owns you. And the "crazy cycle" ensues: "If you continue to do what you've always done, then you'll continue to get the same results you've always gotten."

Hangups. Are an entanglement of past sins and pain that one can find themselves in over and over again. The saying, "same song, second verse, same as the first" best describes it. We're walking along in life, then something triggers us and leads us into that same sin that we'd thought we'd dealt with previously. We think to ourselves, "Seriously?! This again?!" Thoughts that enter into our minds tend to be from the "If only" and "If then..." variety. Hangups prevents us from getting total victory and healing. It's a lot like tearing a scab off of a cut that hasn't been given ample time to heal or re-hitting a bruise, consequently making it worse.
It reminds me to ask myself what I'm doing to push past my own pain... to create the illusion of healing without actually giving the wound time to breathe and heal. The more we apply the wrong bandages, the more we delay the process by refusing to put the pain in God's capable hands. -Tara Leigh Cobble
First Aid 101

Seek Him. First and foremost, we must go to Christ, our Great Physician (Luke 5:31), with our wounds. We're to cry out to Him. Maybe you can relate to this, but if you're me, when you've messed up or sinned, you don't rush right to God. Nope, you like to run in the opposite direction, you like to "clean yourself up" a bit before you go to Him. But, let me just clear the air here: That never works. I know, because I've done it more than I'd care to admit. It's futile. Operating out of that mentality flies in the face of the gospel and prevents us from getting the grace we desperately need. All it accomplishes is exhaustion and depression. As one pastor said (whom I can't remember now), "as soon as we realize we've sinned [or been sinned against], we need to get ourselves to the cross ASAP" (paraphrased). The gospel has never been, and will never be about you and I cleaning ourselves up. The gospel is about Christ, who was perfect, stainless, unblemished, sacrificing Himself on the cross, so that we may stand before God as perfect, stainless, and unblemished. The gospel is about Christ absorbing God's wrath that you and I were (justifiably) meant to have. The gospel is about enjoy His presence and fellowship for eternity. We can do absolutely nothing to earn it. It is a gift. Neither you nor I can live the perfect life on this side of eternity, but the good news is that Christ came and lived the perfect life for me and you. Once we understand the enormity of this truth, then we can let go of the white-knuckle-try-harder life. We're no longer struggle to be free, but are free to struggle. When we stumble and fall, we can rest in the fact that grace covers us. We can freely and confidently run to Him every time we fall (Hebrews 4:14-16), and that He will forgive and heal us.
A mark of spiritual maturity is that when you do mess up you run towards God, not from Him. -Matt Chandler
Get Help. If we're harboring unforgiveness towards someone then we need to wrestle through that and work towards forgiveness, because withholding forgiveness is poisonous to our hearts and prevents us from living in freedom (10 Things Forgiveness is Not). If we're struggling with habits and hangups, that means we need to place healthy boundaries around our lives and get accountability. If there are deep wounds and hurts in our lives then we need to seek out professional, biblical counseling. And because we're part of the body of Christ, we need to be living in community. (And by community, I mean people who are marked with a mentality of graciousness and who live and breath the gospel. Surrounding yourself with people who operate with a legalistic mentality isn't going to go well.) We need to bring our struggles and injuries into the light, because if they remain in the dark they're just going to fester and decay our hearts. They won't get better, they'll get worse.

Tend to The Heart. Hurts, habits, and entanglements are often tied back to the idols we've constructed in our hearts. John Calvin referred to our hearts as idol factories. In the desert seasons, God lovingly reveals to us those idols, because they're stealing away our affections, desires, delight, and worship that rightly belongs to Him, and Him alone. "He bows our hearts." (Check out these previous posts: Heart Matters, What's in Your Hand?, How's Your Heart?, and Legalism Hurts Your Heart.)

Give It Time. We're living in a day and age where we want everything to happen immediately and on our timetable, but that's simply unrealistic and unhelpful when it come to healing and sanctification. Healed wounds (requires the grieving process) and total sanctification (being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ) doesn't happen overnight, in fact it can take years before our hurts are cured and sanctification is a race we run until we die. It's all a process, and if you've ever tried to rush a process you know that it usually doesn't turn out well. Keep persevering, but be patient with yourself.

2 comments :

  1. The last point is definitely a point for me. We need to learn to administer grace to ourselves as well as others. Thank you for sharing this, Natalie, and taking the time to type it all up :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. So real. We are raw before God.

    ReplyDelete

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