Saturday, February 6, 2010

Valentine Cookies and Christ's Reign

"What are the areas where Jesus does not have full reign in your heart?"

This is the question the Holy Spirit has been pressing gently upon me as I've studied Matthew.  Thankfully, this hasn't been a frustrating, guilt-ridden activity like it once could have been.  Instead, I've found it intriguing, even when the Spirit spoke the word, "food" and I knew I was in for it.  Eating healthy has always been a struggle for me.  First of all, I hate the taste of anything green, unless it's mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Second, for all sorts of social, familial, emotional and physical reasons I am addicted to sugar. I have spent no small amount of time and money trying to overcome this. I even wrote my own personal blog for a few months once, trying to hold myself accountable.

But as I've been pondering the promise that the kingdom of heaven is near, it came to me that the truth is I've never really BELIEVED that this was hindering the joy of Christ's reign in my heart.  And I want THAT JOY more than anything else. 

The kingdom is near, so why do I miss it in various areas of my life?  It all comes down to the issue of repentance, a topic which has been sorely misunderstood in our Christian culture.  So here are a few truths I've been processing, and which are helping me press into this with hope:
  • Repentance is not so much a decision, but a process. There is that initial decision to turn around, but that is only the first step.
  • There is a highway in my heart that either opens the way for Jesus to go deeper or hinders me from fully receiving Him in fresh ways. I must  travel that road first, rooting out rocks, smoothing rough places.  This is the process of repentance.
  • Change has to happen in attitudes and actions and change takes time.  I haven't stopped repenting just because I've failed.  I only stop repenting when I give up completely.  But even then I can always begin again! Altering life-long habits and attitudes (which is the biggest part of it for me), never happens all at once.
  • Everything is possible only by grace, and thus repentance is no self-improvement program, but a way to allow Jesus  to work for His glory and our joy.
I have a whole new appreciation for John's call to "Repent, for kingdom of heaven has come near."   That I can experience more and more of the reign of Christ is an awesome and holy truth, for His rule is my joy, even when I may not feel it.  It is.  This is what I reminded myself last night when I helped my grandkids decorate Valentine cookies and was sorely tempted to stuff my mouth with those frosting laden beauties.  But now that I've shared with you, I guess there's no turning back-- and that's a good thing!


  1. Tricia, I so appreciate your post... honest and yet so full of hope. I hear you about addictions to sugar/food. I just blogged about about my own food sins this week! Was it hard for you to write it? I felt so exposed after writing about it... (yes, a very good thing) I have always called it "my 13 year old girl sin"---felt like living in this maturing heart and mind there was this 13 year old girl still struggling with such a immature and stupid thing! Anyway....

    I want you to know that I joined up to follow your journey because I have been deeply impacted by your book Intimate Intercession. My husband is getting sick-to-death of my "Oh, love, you HAVE to read this book!!" comments from my living room chair :). And it was fun to hear you are in CA--- I am a CA girl, myself (although not living there now). Anyway, thank you for writing from your heart. God has used you prfoundly in my life already.

  2. Stephanie-- thanks for sharing. Yes, I feel exposed but that's partly why I wanted to share. I think we could all benefit from a little more transparency because we all struggle in the same ways. And it does motivate me to know others are with me in the battle.
    Piper's definition of sin as "a suicidal exchange of infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitute" has helped me immensely in many areas. Part of my ongoing repentance here is to ask the Holy Spirit to drive this reality home in a fresh way with every temptation to overindulge. It is the beauty and worth of Jesus that I long to uphold and experience more...