I LOVE to read. It is one of my great pleasures in life. I enjoy getting lost in novels, reading God’s Word, Biographies, Christian non-fiction, a good magazine, blog posts and my Facebook feed. I’ll pretty much read anything I can get my hands on! Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. If I didn’t ever watch TV, or go to the movies…or sleep, I might get a few more pages in, but I have 2 part time jobs, a special needs child with doctors appointments and therapies, a typical kiddo who loves her sports and activities, and church and volunteer commitments. I also have a loving and tolerant husband who enjoys me looking in his direction occasionally. So what is a busy story-lover to do?
I’ve taken to audio books. They are entertaining and convenient. By downloading them on my phone, I can listen while I do chores, shower and dress, and put thousands of around-town miles on my car. No, it’s not as relaxing as sitting in an over-stuffed chair with my feet up devouring an old-fashioned paperback (you pictured a delicious cup of coffee in my hand too didn’t you? Just me?), but it keeps my Good Reader “want to read” list in the hundreds instead of millions.
I recently finished listening to “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman (on the recommendation of my BFF Jen Hatmaker). In this period piece, a childless couple (having endured 3 miscarriages) lives isolated on an island where they tend the lighthouse. When a small boat crashes on their shore, they find a dead man and an alive newborn on board. In their grief over the loss of their last unborn baby (not 2 weeks before), the couple jumps to the conclusion (without bothering to research) that the baby’s mother must have died at sea as well. They take her in and raise her as their own.
They had not yet informed friends and family of the latest miscarriage, so they passed her off as their flesh and blood. They eventually hear of the child’s mother, still very much alive and mourning her husband and baby, not really sure what has happened to them. The mistress of the island won’t hear of giving up the child they have come to love and convinces her husband that it is in their best interest and the interest of the baby to leave her where she is. The guilt eats the lighthouse keeper alive until he confesses – sending the child back to her biological mother and himself to prison.
The baby, now an older toddler at the time of her return, does not know her biological mom and resents being taken away from the only parents she has ever known. She was finally free to live the life she was born to live, but she yearned for the life she knew before. A doctor advised the new (old) mom that the best thing she could do was to help the child make a clean break from her previous family. She must not see them or talk about them.
This reminded me of Romans 6:12-14. “…you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time – remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! – into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.” (The Message)
The tragic central character in the book was freed from isolation on the island. She was reunited with a mother who loved her and a wealthy family who could offer her many privileges. But she could not rest in her new identity and position as long as she was trying to run away to her old way of life. Oh, how I see myself in this scenario.
When God convicts me of sin that is keeping me from full fellowship with Him, I so often continue to run errands connected with that old sin. I persist in relationships that place me in temptation’s path. I just “happen” to drive my grocery cart down the isles that house Cheetos and ice cream. I watch TV shows broadcasting the very language I need to eliminate from my vocabulary. I go to lunch with that friend that I KNOW likes to gossip. I could go on ad nauseum. But I will stop before I physically experience “nauseum”.
The point is that when we confess and repent of our sins, we should do everything reasonable to keep from committing the offense again. Sometimes we tend to draw a line in the sand on confession day and then dance around it like a Rockette the very next day (or minute) – stepping on the line so often that it becomes blurry and we eventually lose sight of it. We need more than our resolve! God’s grace is sufficient, but he often requires us to cooperate with the process.
Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (NASB) That’s an infinite line. He doesn’t throw them like a boomerang to come back around, and neither should we. We must strive to follow His example. I’m not pretending that it’s easy to avoid sin and temptation in the world we live in. There’s a fast food restaurant on every corner with a store across the street! Or we can stay in the comfort of our own homes where a wi-fi connection can wreck havoc on our relationships with others and God. It’s a moment by moment struggle, and I know that I need to lean into the Lord’s strength to do better. Do you?