When I was young, I used to sing this song by Psalty the Singing Song Book called "One Step at a Time". In fact, my sister and I would belt it out in the car, much to the joy of my parents. I always hit the harmonies that were slightly out of my 10 year-old reach. The words went like this:
"When something seems too hard to handle, too big to conquer, too far away to touch. When all your dreams begin to shatter and deep inside you, you're hurting oh so much, that's when it's time to say. I'm climbing my mountain, step by step. I'm climbing my mountain day by day. I'm climbing my mountain all the way. I'm climbing my mountain, I'm going to make it one step at a time. One step at a time. One step at a time with Jesus by my side. One step at a time. One step at a time, I'm climbing this mountain one step at a time."
Fast forward 15 years to where I sit today. I don't know about you, but there have been some serious times in my life when I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my own sin. I've felt trapped by temptation and incredibly broken by my perceived inability to conquer this mountain of imperfection. And recently, I had been (have been) walking through another season like that. And in the midst of it, I cried out that the Lord would show me Life and help me in my ridiculous addiction to the momentary pleasures that this world has to offer.
I've been going to this amazingly wonderful church in Santa Monica called Risen. Each Sunday, we take communion to celebrate and remember the Lord's death and resurrection on our behalf. This week before we began, he spoke of how God forgives us over and over and over again because of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. And like Paul talks about in Romans, this is by no means a license for us to sin, but rather a gift that demands a response of authentic obedience. The gift is overwhelming and incomprehensible.
So I took that into the beginning of my week when I met with my newfound friend Leah for breakfast on Tuesday morning. While I was talking with her about this process I've been going through, she reminded me that God has called us to be perfect, yes, but knows even better than we do that attaining that call is a process- sanctification. It takes one step of obedience to lead to the next, to the next, to the next. And if you're like me, that first step out of a sinful habit is most often the most difficult.
Furthermore, I tend to approach my sin as something that has to be purged immediately and in totality-and that that purging is dependent on my own strength. I make these promises that I will never ever go back to X. And then depend on my own will to make sure that happens. When will I learn? It is not I, but Christ who has conquered sin and death. I must call upon His strength given by the power of the Holy Spirit to forsake temptation- to throw off sin. If I am not in the Word, immersed in accountability, and doing things that make me constantly aware of God's character and beauty- I am not able. Period. But the amazing thing is that if I do those things, I will find freedom because of Him.
It really is amazing how dense I can be sometimes. I stop reading the Word and then wonder why things are just so darn difficult to put off or why temptation seems unbearable. It is because I forget who He is. If I were aware of even a fraction of the holiness of God on a daily basis, my life would reflect it.
So my prayer becomes, "Lord, have mercy on this wretch. I receive your grace and ask that your Spirit alive in me would bear fruit of faithfulness and obedience to your law. Give me the strength that I may pursue a knowledge of your holiness in my thoughts, words and deeds-one step at a time."