One of the topics of my blog periodically will be faith. I can’t escape that I am an unusual creature faith-wise, and I find that my faith permeates everything I do and say, sometimes intentionally and sometimes accidentally.
I currently identify as charismatic catholic, and I tend to eschew the more traditional catholic expressions not because I find them morally wrong but because I have found they don’t reach me or do anything for me. I know they say you get out as much as you put in. However, to mangle badly the words of MeatLoaf:
I’ve prayed it on and I’ve prayed it out. I’ve tried to show you just how much I pray. But it’s been cold for me so long I’m crying icicles instead of tears.
Add to that the constant, gentle, formidable influence of my Pentecostal maternal grandmother, her Pentecostal sister, and her two Pentecostal sisters-in-law. What you get is whatever it is that I live today.
Unfortunately, the faith walk I have today isn’t what I’ve always had. I’ve made some unwise decisions. Out of those unwise decisions arose all kinds of complications not just for me, but my children and my extended family. As I tried to stop wallowing in the muck and start climbing out of the mire, I found that focus was incredibly difficult.
At the suggestion of my husband’s pastors (a married couple who happened to be my mother’s pastors at the time before my second marriage), I began to study the book of Romans (New Testament), particularly chapter 8. I want to share some of the life lessons I’ve gained through my past and carefully considering the words of that chapter. Hence, why my blog has that passage in the title.
Do feel free to challenge me if ever I post anything contrary to that passage 🙂
DISCLAIMER: Feel free to tune out if religion or theology just isn’t your thing; even though I have no formal training, I tend to get passionate, exuberant, and downright energized with this kind of thing.
Verses 1-3: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
This is so powerful. When I was a child, most standardized tests said I have an above average intellect. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. As I learned more, my test scores went up. The higher my test scores went, the more attention I got without having to put forth any effort that I perceived.
The problem was this set up a vicious cycle. I would study and aim for a high grade. If I got a low grade, I felt I’d failed and should have known to put forth more effort. If I got a high grade, it wasn’t good enough. Basically, I set myself up to make unwise choices out of frustration, and then be hypercritical and depressed because I wasn’t achieving the perfection I felt driven to attain.
The answer was to realize that the faith I’d been given as a child had the answer all along. If I truly love God and live His way, I should not condemn myself because His Son took my place to cover my mess. The trick though was to rely more on God and less on my own skills and abilities.
This is the ultimate daily wrestling match in my heart, soul, mind, and strength. If I choose to live God’s way with sincerity as I perceive it, I have life and peace, two things that are so critical to staying sane in a broken world. If I take my eyes off the prize of God’s way, I tend to focus on the things the world things are important. It will suck the life out of me and put me at odds with God.
The decision to follow God’s way put me on a new path, and as a result, His Holy Spirit lives within me. I will still struggle with sin (which I define as simply saying no to what the Holy Spirit asks of me), but the Holy Spirit gives me life through Christ’s righteousness. I will never achieve perfection in this life, but if I faithfully and sincerely follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as I understand Him, I will one day open my eyes to an eternal future far too glorious for my feeble words to describe.
These verses are one of the many pinnacles of the passage. So much Truth is packed into so few words. If I am following the Spirit who leads me into all Truth, I am doing the will of God the Father. That makes me his child. My Daddy (a modern translation of the old Aramaic and Greek Abba) created the whole world with His Words; He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; and He has called me, a mere mortal woman of flesh and blood, to be prophet, priest, and king.
If something within you doesn’t thrill at that thought–that the God of all the universe has decided you’re His precious child–I would be speechless, and as a writer, that doesn’t happen to me too often.
There are two caveats in this passage.
The first is there is no glory without suffering; in the modern era, we’d say, “No pain, no gain.” I don’t know what that means in your life. For me, it’s the constant stress of juggling my schedule, my kids’ schedules, my current husband’s schedule, and my ex’s schedule. It’s choosing to close my mouth and give a gentler answer rather than tear to shreds a man who has not acted wisely. It’s accepting that I have physical limitations and choosing to learn how to better care for my body. It’s choosing to carve out some time to be still in silence.
The second is that the Spirit is about freedom from negative thought patterns like fear and anxiety that can weigh us down and hold us back. If there is fear, there is probably a need for greater connection to the Holy Spirit.