Recognizing The Battlefield
I didn’t pray or read the Bible first thing this morning, I looked at Facebook instead! As I was driving to meet a friend for breakfast I tried to pray along the way, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t seem to focus and I began to condemn myself with thoughts like, “You didn’t pray first and now you can’t even focus enough to pray. You don’t deserve to be in God’s presence.”
Over breakfast, my friend and I talked about this battle that goes on in the mind. It’s on this battlefield that we criticize ourselves and run circles around things we’ve done or not done. It sounds something like, “If I would’ve just prayed first, If I could just keep my mouth closed, If I would just do what I’m supposed to do…” This ongoing battle in the mind keeps us feeling defeated and our thoughts consumed with worry and condemnation. The battle keeps our thoughts focused on us – on our emotions and failings, rather than on God’s kindness and mercy towards us.
When these condemning thoughts take us to the battlefield, let’s go to right to God. There, we can ask for His forgiveness, receive it, and move on. It’s up to us to take Him at His word!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
Receiving the Truth
On the way home, the Holy Spirit revealed something to me. We assume that God is like us, we assume that He thinks like we think and acts like we act. We beat ourselves up with the assumption that God feels and responds the way we would, but He doesn’t.
He doesn’t hold grudges or punish us by holding Himself back from us. He doesn’t want to get even, or make us feel what He feels when we push Him aside. Instead, He extends grace and mercy toward us, always waiting and ready to forgive. Our thinking is not yet complete; we are weak and imperfect, but He is perfect and holy. He truly is greater than we are! Isaiah 55:7-9 says,
Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; he is merciful and quick to forgive. “My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. GNT
Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God–what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. GNT
It can be hard for us to understand and believe that God has unending grace and mercy for us, but He tells us this over and over in His word. He provided the sacrifice that made a way for us to come to Him as His daughters and sons. He gave His only Son as a sacrifice on our behalf. Now that’s love, that is mercy.
A new way of thinking must be created to fully take it in. As we renew our minds through reading His word, we begin to believe and receive this love, mercy, and forgiveness. Instead of beating ourselves up for not getting things right, we can find freedom to make mistakes inside of His mercy.
God Is Merciful
But the Lord our God is merciful and pardons even those who have rebelled against him. Daniel 9:9 TLB
This is how we need to believe in our Lord – as merciful and always ready to forgive us as we ask Him. Although we surely deserve for our sins to be held against us, God forgives when we ask and removes them from us. He loves us, truly. He is our example of what unconditional love looks like. Although it totally goes against our self-serving way of thinking, this is the truth we read about in God’s word in Ephesians 2:4-6
But God’s mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. GNT
Instead of beating ourselves up on the battlefields of our minds, let’s choose to take our sins and failures directly to God’s presence. He is our loving Father and closest friend who waits for us to come to Him first. Hebrews 4:16 assures us of this.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. NLT
Let’s dare to believe that God loves us as much as He says He does! Let’s live like we believe it. As our Father teaches us a new way of thinking, we will begin to see ourselves – with all our inadequacies and failings, as forgiven and seated with Christ Jesus, fully welcomed by Him and completely loved.