For several weeks, I had been deep in the first three chapters of Romans. Up to my eyeballs in storing up God’s wrath and being given over to a depraved mind and doing the thing we want not to do. It was a lot.
At the same time, my kids were doing their absolute best to push every button and make me so, so, so crazy. Skillet wouldn’t get dressed when I asked him too. Saffron dropped a Christmas ornament shattering it into a million pieces in the garage. They were fighting like rabid animals over who got to play the bus driver in the pretend game of school. What in the actual world?
Oh, and Dr. He was not putting his plates away and not hanging his robe up and letting that one random sock fall off the gigantic pile of laundry. I just didn’t get why he wasn’t reading my mind and helping me more. Why is that so hard?
One Sunday, Dr suggested maybe I go somewhere quiet after church to work on my bible study or write. You know, just get out the house for some you time. Loosely translated, he was actually saying, “GO AWAY, YOU CRAZY CRAZY WOMAN.”
But I went. Even though I knew he was banishing me so the other members of the family could be messy and fight and break stuff without invoking the wrath of CRAZY.
I parked under a tree in an empty parking lot because when I want quiet, I want literal quiet. Without people. And especially children. The last question in our bible study is always, What did you learn about God this week? And I answered that what I learned is I am the worst of the worst, the sinning-est of sinners, the Mommy Dearest-est of Mommy Dearests. My mouth spewed poison and my tongue was death. I had been murdering everyone everywhere with my angry, vile, impatient words.
Plus, I’d been yelling at my people a whole lot.
My prayers for weeks, in this Romans study, went something like this…
Oh Lord, I am the worst. I do the things I don’t want to do. I yell at the kids and I get angry with Dr and I talk in lies everytime I open my mouth. Help me be less angry and do less yelling. I know I am a hopeless case and that’s why I need you so please forgive me for being the worst version of myself all the time.
Woe is me.
And I was praying this all the time. Every time I opened my mouth, no joke, I really was awful. I WAS being the absolute worst version of myself and continuing to think about that over and over and over again. In that one little prayer above, I used personal pronouns 13 times. I said Lord once and you once.
I became a slave to myself and my sin.
As I was praying all that…again…after finishing my study and answering a question ABOUT GOD by discussing myself, I heard God say this…
“Why are you wallowing in the things I have already redeemed you from?”
And all the lightbulbs in my heart and my mind flipped on.
In a study about sin and our sin nature, I kinda left out the part where God saved me from that. I was focusing on myself. On my failures. On my sin.
Believe me, I am a full-blown sinner. My sins nailed Jesus to that cross as much as Peter’s and Paul’s and John’s. But my sins, past, present, and future, are not bigger than God. And hear my heart when I say, a study on sin is necessary and good because God really, really, really dislikes sin.
So much so that he sent Jesus to make it right.
What I had done, in my prayers and study, was put myself, even my sinful, angry, failing self, above God.
My sin became an idol with my behaviors and actions reflecting that truth.
Changes were made and my prayers became more…Father, through you there is forgiveness, through you there is kindness and patience and joy and self-control. Through you, I have victory over the things I don’t want to do. Today, Jesus, I am joining you in loving and guiding and serving the kids and husband and friends you’ve given to me. You are righteousness and love and grace and I praise you for what you have done in our lives.
The KJV says this, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” ~2 Corinthians 10:5
Every high thing, everything that we exalt higher than knowing God, every thought that runs through our mind we take captive and lay it at the feet of Christ.
And here’s the truth…
I don’t know about you, but I do this a lot. Basically, my whole life. I get myself all wound up in something and before I even realize what’s happening, I end up being the center of that thing. The focus is on me.
Those years before God asked me if I was grateful, each month after month after month when we were not pregnant, every time I missed something at work and punished myself with deprivation and exercise, when my momma friends sat at tables sharing birth stories, I was the center of my thoughts.
My pain, my suffering, my failures, my brokenness, my isolation.
Me, me, me.
There was no room for God.
You know what I mean? Have you ever found yourself smack in the middle of your own struggles? Ever wondered where was God while you were hurting?
Is it possible we don’t see God or feel God or recognize his glorious works because we’ve exalted ourselves above him? So far above him, we can’t see anyone but ourselves?
Let’s all agree, that ends today.
Today, we are taking our thoughts captive. We own them, they don’t own us. Jesus already hung on the cross for your freedom, for your victory. Today, we stop nailing him to the cross over and over and over again by allowing our thoughts to be higher than his sacrifice, his grace, his redemption.
Today, we stop wallowing in the things Christ has already saved us from.
Here’s how we do it…
We exchange “I” for “You.”
We take captive the thoughts of our own actions, our own pain, our own failures and we exchange it for gratitude and worship and praise for a Holy, Righteous, Loving God.
No more, I did but now, You are.
The end of I can’t, but now, You can.
Throw off, What I Don’t Want to Do and put on, What You Have Already Done.
The exaltation of me exchanged for the exaltation of I AM.
If you find yourself wallowing in your sins, your struggles, your longings, your loneliness, it’s time to take every thought captive and trade in our wallowing for worship, to the Savior who redeemed you and set you apart and loves you enough to die.
Take captive every thought.