Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you haven’t made any progress at all in your Christian walk? You know you shouldn’t complain about little things, but you do it anyway? You know you have to let go of anger and bitterness, and you thought you had, but there it is again? You struggle with any one of a hundred different sins that humans struggle with and wonder if you have really changed at all?
I’ve had days like that, and I know some of my Christian friends, both in the real world and the blogosphere, have had those days, too. The feeling is encompassed wonderfully in the Casting Crowns song “East to West.”
Here I am, Lord, and I’m drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don’t want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You’ve cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I’ve never sinned
But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way
Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
’cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
’cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way
I know You’ve washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel, but by the truth Your Word reveals
I’m not holding on to You, but You’re holding on to me
You’re holding on to me
My favorite line in this song is “I can’t live by what I feel, but by the truth Your Word reveals.” It reminds me that when I am struggling, when it seems like I just can’t let go of some behavior or feeling that I know is wrong, I need to turn to His Word. When I feel like maybe I’m not really changed at all, maybe I haven’t truly taken hold of my Savior, I need to remember that I trust in the One who does not lie. And His Word says that if I confess Jesus is Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, I will be saved. Romans 10:9. His Word says that God loves me so much that if I believe in Jesus I will have eternal life. John 3:16. His Word says that He will send His Holy Spirit to dwell in me to guide and teach me. John 16:13.
Some days everything goes well and I’m on top of the world. Other days I struggle. I sometimes see my Christian friends struggle, too. But on those days when we struggle with our own sinfulness, with not yet being perfect, I think of what Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:3-6.
It is that last part that really helps. It reminds me that it’s okay if we are not perfect yet, if God is not yet finished with the good work He has begun in each one of us. Why? Because His Word says that He will be finished on “the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Since that day has not yet arrived, I know He’s not done and hasn’t given up on me.
So, my friend, if you are feeling like you are a failure, like you are just one mistake away from God leaving you this way, remember that He has promised He will finish the good work He has begun in your heart. And God always keeps His promises.