Out of the Muck and the Mire

Your eyes are like marbles. Clear, lucid windows. Behind them is a storm of thoughts.

                The wind howls: what do I need to do today? What tasks have I put off?

                The waves crash in their violence: what must I do tomorrow? That deadline is coming and I have nothing done.                 The clouds grumble with thunder: how am I going to make time for this? I promised I would go and see them, but I have so much to do.

                The rain splinters your skin: I can’t believe I did that. I’m never going to get over it. What was I thinking?

                And on and on. The brain never truly turns off. Not even when we sleep. We torture ourselves with these thoughts. A twisted carousel of skeletons and creeping monsters. It never stops turning. Stress follows you around like an unborn child. At night you lie awake, impossibly awake, but you are so tired.

                Come. There is a message I have found for you.

                The only way to spend your time wisely is by adhering to God’s plan for your life. If you live for him you will have success.

                “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

                “He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:7-8

                “In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14

                “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

                Do you know why you will have success? Because you have set out to accomplish good things. Such tasks are pleasing to God. It’s not that he needs anything from us, but it’s that he builds us up in Christ through such things. Every day we become more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:15). That is what God wants.  

                Of course Christians are instructed to tell about the gospel. We are to be disciples; going out into the world and preaching the Good News.

                “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

                That’s all well and good, but what about knowing God’s plan for your life? That’s specifically about you. A good place to start is the dreams that you have. What do you want to do? What excites your heart and fills you with passion? What could you ramble on and on about if you could? Find out what your dreams are and commit them to God. He, after all, gave you those dreams. They’re not bad.

                It’s always important to say to God that your future belongs to him. This is the best possible thing you could do with your life. It’s not something you will regret later because living for God is the best you can do with your time on earth. This good life means helping yourself and others. That’s pretty wonderful. That’s pretty damn fulfilling too.

                “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

                “‘Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.’” John 14:10

                Distraction is your worst enemy. Whatever consumes the most of your time is what you really worship. Humans worship addictions, food, sex, school, work, spouses, media and just about everything else in existence besides God. Even something good, like a husband or wife, can be turned into an evil thing because you put them as priority over God.

                It’s inevitable that you will worship worldly things. It is guaranteed that you will fail. You will commit so many sins over your lifetime that they outnumber the stars in the whole entirety of outer space. Your faults will measure on and on.

                Cue depression and shame and guilt. This is where you have to be careful. Your past sins and mistakes come creeping. They might tempt you to sin again in the same ways (everyone in favor say “aye”). Humans are terrible in this because we are born into sin (Psalm 51:5). The temptation to break down in anguish or in self-hatred is overwhelming. Words that break down and accuse are on our tongues. To see ourselves in the mirror is disgusting. Have you ever looked at yourself that way? Like you were the scum of the earth because of your actions?

                It happens all too frequently in my own life. Where there is sin there is guilt looming, but pick up your face. Remember Jesus died for you. You have forgiveness of your sins. All you have to do is tell him you’ve done wrong, ask for forgiveness and repent. Repentance means to stop doing the wrong thing that you were doing before. It means to turn away from sin. This may seem contradictory because humans are innately sinful. However, you will always sin so this process repeats with the wrongdoing either changing or being the same. For example, one week you particularly struggle with anger. Maybe next week you struggle particularly with greed. Cycles of sin, yes, but you always need to confess your iniquities to God and ask for forgiveness.

                “This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” Ecclesiastes 9:3

                So be free from your guilt because Jesus already paid the price.

                “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-34, 8:37-39

                Come on, let’s keep moving. Our God doesn’t stand still and neither should we. With joy in our hearts let’s get going.

                “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

                Yes, indeed we are running a race! This life never slows down. Death, illness, frailty and shock…no the world is merciless and obstinate and it will not stop for you. It will leave you well behind. There is a scene in the movie True Grit where Rooster Cogburn rides his horse until it is exhausted. To make the horse keep running he stabs it with a knife. This makes the horse run until its heart gives out. The world is just like that horse. It will run until death takes hold of it.

                Despite the swirling, chaotic mess of distraction and sin and everything else that weighs you down…keep looking ahead. Keep going.

                “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

                Don’t let your past destroy your future. Be healed in Christ. Let go of the horrid thoughts that dog you during the day. Pray and ask God for help. Let only good thoughts stay (Philippians 4:8). Think positively and seek God for protection when your mind abandons you to treacherous thoughts. The sick thoughts will always be lurking. Be ready to fight for your future because Satan will try to steal it away from you. Stay rooted in God’s word and in prayer and let your Father keep you in security. I may have said this before…but when you became a Christian you directly spat in Satan’s face. He hates you even more because you know God. The darkness wants nothing to do with the light (2 Corinthians 6:14) so I’m not kidding when I say Satan is hell-bent on your failure.

                If you skip reading your Bible or praying for just one day you will notice a difference in your life. Darkness and sin will come closer to you. Faith is your shield and you need it because Satan will always attack you. Oh, if there’s one thing I know for certain in this life it is that Satan will never leave you alone. He will never rest.

                Faith without works is dead (James 2:26)! Don’t think that you can skim by in your Christian walk without doing anything. Jesus will stand in front of God testifying that he knows you if you stand before others and testify that you know Jesus (Luke 9:26).

                “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”


                “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

                “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-11

                If you set your heart on God and fulfilling his word then you can expect an incredible life. Really, it’s not as dull as it seems. God can set your life on fire.


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