Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard


Several years ago, during a sobering church service, I was disturbed that my mind kept wandering. While some around me wept, moved by the preached Word of God, I struggled with my wayward thoughts.

Standing there, needing a jolt from above, the Lord spoke Galatians 6:7 to my mind: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Although I generally applied this scripture to those living sinful, riotous lives, I began searching for its relevance in my own.

Having been raised in a pastor’s home, going to church was a big part of my life. Unless deathly ill, hospitalized, or lying in the morgue at room temperature, I dared not miss. In my young mind, this unfailing practice equaled salvation. If I was faithful to church, I reasoned, I would be saved.

However, standing at the pew that night, my error became evident: I had become a “hearer only,” deceiving myself. It was time for a soul-searching mission.

With Galatians 6:7 still ringing in my ears, important questions demanded answers. What kind of seeds was I sowing?

Did I attend church in hopes of being saved, yet spend my time away from church selfishly? Was I living for this life only? Were my thoughts often centered around this present world—its political, financial and moral woes? Did I often seek self-gratification with material things, sowing seeds to my flesh?

The answers weren’t good. Promising to change my ways, I soon discovered that old habits are hard to break.

With a little extra money in my pocketbook, I couldn’t resist a good sale at Marshall’s. Browsing through the endless racks of clothing, I spotted a lovely jumper, ideal for hiding a few extra pounds. Delighted with my find, I hurried to the dressing room and slipped it on. I wasn’t disappointed; it was perfect. I almost looked skinny!

As I carried my beloved bargain to the car, something very strange happened: Conviction hit me like a ton of bricks.

Standing in the parking lot, the Lord reminded me of my promise to change my selfish ways. He instructed me that the money I just spent, could have helped a needy family buy food to eat. I knew such families existed within my own congregation.

Immediately, I asked God to forgive me, and once again, resolved to change my selfish behavior.

Over the next few days, I looked for ways to sacrifice my time, sowing good seeds, doing the work of Christ. I mailed thinking-of-you cards, miss-you cards and appreciation notes until every stamp was gone.

I telephoned a friend, encouraging her to put God back in her life. I gave money to a homeless man beside the road. I helped a friend coping with unemployment.

I purchased cases of food from Sam’s Club for the care closet at church. The more I did, the better I felt. Church attendance became a welcomed time of refreshing. A place of instruction and nourishment for my soul. My mission of giving was producing much needed change in my life.

James 1:22 reads: “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Clearly, hearing the Word of God isn’t enough. Attending church isn’t enough.

The Bible says that faith without works is dead, being alone. There must be a balance of hearing and doing. After all, it is the kind of seeds we sow outside the sanctuary walls that will decide the harvest we ultimately reap.

Yesterday found me clumsily pushing a large box—filled with enough clothes to make a fortune at a garage sale—down the hall and out the front door. A charity organization would pick it up later that day. I smiled. Although old habits are hard to break, my metamorphosis was, indeed, underway. ♦
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I'm reposting Wednesday's blog and linking to Spiritual Sundays.
Wednesday's blog linked to Ann's Walk With Him Wednesday.
Theme: Cultivating the Life God Desires.

12 comments:

  1. So true. So convicting. Very needed. Thank you, sis. You hit the nail on the head.

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  2. That you took the conviction seriously was the largest act of all. Much love to you this week, Cherie

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  3. Words that speak to this heart...

    Just getting around to reading all the WWHW posts.

    Thank you for your honesty and for sharing with us.
    Blessings.

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  4. I think we all struggle with these same problems. I know I do. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I'm glad God doesn't give up on us when we slip and fall into old habits.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  5. I agree with my wife, Charlotte she does struggle with this problem. (Just teasing) I say this only because I know WE all do. I needed this. Thanks for posting.

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  6. So true Gayle - I struggle daily in this area.

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  7. A thought provoking post! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  8. We all struggle at times with this I am afraid. Thank you for your honest and wise words here. God bless.

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  9. Thank you for such honesty. I think we can all relate to your post, having been like that at some point of our lives. So glad we have Spiritual Sundays to encourage each other in our walk with the Lord.

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  10. Great post! I am always working on my habits...

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  11. I always feel like I don't do enough or give enough of my time. Thank-you for this post I needed this today.
    God Bless,
    Ginger

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  12. We all can get caught in that trap. Then my mind hears "relationship, relationship, relationship!" What is my relationship with the Lord?
    I know its much easier to do the deeds almost mindlessly, than to really walk led by the spirit. Yet putting the past, old habits, behind me I will press forward!

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