The idea of this “Forgiven Much” series is to post short reflections on my sinfulness for the purposing of marveling at how much Jesus has forgiven me. You can read previous posts below:
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During my recent mission trip, I remember sitting with one of my teammates on the Japanese subway. We had just flown in from Beijing where we had spent a week and a half crammed into a small apartment in the hot polluted summer. My teammate and I were talking about some of the struggles and difficulties of the trip. We both shared something to this effect:
“At home, if you’re annoyed and frustrated after a long day, you can go out somewhere. You can go to your room and spend time alone. The difficult part of the trip is that there’s nowhere to hide. You’re being stretched by really long days. But you’re constantly around people so you don’t have time to really rest. There’s really nowhere for your flesh to hide”
My pastor in Irvine is fond of saying, “You never know what’s inside of a sponge until you squeeze it”. I think the reason why we as affluent Americans often have difficulty realizing our sinfulness is that we never get squeezed. For many of us, a good deal of our sinfulness is hidden by our comfort. If we’re feeling angry or frustrated, we can go to some quiet space. We can blow off steam by playing games or surfing the web. But what happens when those outlets are taken away? What are we really like under pressure? For me, I know that’s when my carefully hidden flesh comes roaring out–in the form of irritability, anger, unthankfulness, self-centeredness, and many other sins.
I’ve been seeing a lot more of my sin since moving home to Sacramento. Currently, I am without a room. I have no quiet space to isolate myself when I feel like being alone. Combine that with a 6 year old sister who loves to talk and play more than any human I’ve ever met, and I’ve been having some growing pains. I’ve been seeing sin in myself that I never really had to deal with when I was away at school. I’ve been seeing how selfish I am with my “free” time, and how frustrated I get when people infringe on my comfort.
I suspect that’s why marriage and family are so difficult. Yes, you get increased privileges, but with those privileges come added responsibilities. A loss of privacy and places to hide our flesh. A loss of the ability to freely use our time as we choose. Before I rush naively toward the benefits of marriage and family, I pray that God would continue to cultivate in me a heart that is willing to take on the added responsibility. I’ve got a long ways to go.
As I seek to grow in character and love, would I find rest in the truth that God knows my heart. My comfort might hide my sin from others and even myself, but he knows the ugliness of what I’m truly like when the sponge of my heart gets squeezed. Praise God that he loves me in spite of all my shortcomings.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV)