I Can’t

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I had followed Christ from the time He became my Savior instead of taking the detour I took. Would I still be married? Would we be in some form of service or ministry together? I have looked back over my marriage, over the sin that we invited into it, and I can still remember feeling helpless against it. The phrase “I can’t” has resounded in my head so many times I’m sure it was chiseled into the rock that is my skull.

I can’t fight against this. I can’t change this. I can’t make this different. I can’t stand against this sin. I can’t maintain peace in my home and go against my husband. I just can’t. There were several times at the start of the trip into sin where I could hear God calling me back. I never wanted to go where we were headed. It went against everything I believed and knew to be true. I know that God called me to be the salt and light in my home. And I just couldn’t. What He asked was not just too hard, it was downright impossible. I would lose everything if I did.

I compromised. I argued. I battled back and forth. But I couldn’t stand. Sometimes I feel like a fraud in the Christian Life department because I didn’t take a stand against the evil that was coming into my home. I know where I am now, I know what I believe, what I live out, but I also know I didn’t live it out when it counted, when it could have changed the entire trajectory of my life.

Something that I found to be very sad, when I realized it, is that I could have. I could have stood against the sin. I could have stood for Jesus. I could have done everything I said “I can’t” to. No it wouldn’t have been easy. As a matter of fact it would have been brutally hard. It would have been terrifying and grim and painful. It would have caused numerous fights and angry words and cold shoulders. It would have caused blame and division, derision and scorn. It would have been ugly.

The saddest thing is that it was all that anyway. Everything I thought I would gain by giving in, I lost in the end. Everything I thought would be fixed broke in my hands.

Looking back, I know that God was telling me that wasn’t who He made either of us to be. That wasn’t the best He had for us. It was life and death set before me, and I chose death. I said “I can’t.”

Hindsight is of course 20/20. I can look back and know that if I had surrendered to Him, if I had trusted that He is good, that He had His very best in mind for me, He would have given me everything I needed to stand for Him. It still would have been brutal. I would have had to rely on Him every minute of every day. It would have taken supernatural love and commitment and faith. And He would have given it. I still may have lost everything, but I may not have. I can look back and see the hard we both went through as our marriage was ending and wish that I had listened, that I had surrendered. I can look back and know that either way would have been hard, but at least if I had followed Christ I would have been fighting for something worth having. Instead I fought for something that turned to dust in my hands.

My “I can’t” opened the door to my own sinfulness. My compromise compromised me. My defeat was more than just giving up the fight against something outside me, I gave up the fight against myself. I gave myself permission to abandon everything I believed in. I’ve often heard pastors say that sin will take you further than you meant to go and keep you longer than you meant to stay. I have found that to be profoundly true in my own life. One compromise here leads to another there. One step to the side leads to another and before you know it you’re miles away from where you started.

I didn’t realize where the path would end when I started down it. No one ever does. Slowly but surely I became aware that what I had wanted all those years ago when I was saying “I can’t” was never going to happen. I gave up on that too, that “want.” There was a moment towards the middle of the end where I knew we were both making choices that weren’t sustainable. As hard as either of us could try it would never work, and neither of us were trying very hard. It was too late by then. I could see the end coming, and I was angry and bitter and full of blame. I thought the end was the worst thing, but after the end came rock bottom.

I’m thankful for it now. It was painful and felt like something being ripped from me, but I’m thankful for it. God has given me another chance. He has given me the opportunity to be who He made me to be. He has given me love and tenderness and kindness and correction. He didn’t allow my rejection of Him, my “I can’t”, to be the end of His story. I broke every rule, I spit on everything I knew to be right. I set my husband up as the god in my life and worshipped him. I turned my back on Jesus, on His work on the cross, on the life and light and joy He came to give. And He still reached for me. He still redeemed me. He still welcomed me home.

In this new life with Him, there are other things He has asked me to do, to accept, to embrace, to surrender. My default cry is “I can’t!” I wish that wasn’t so. I wish that wasn’t true of me. I pray that one day it won’t be. I pray that one day I will so completely and utterly trust Him that whatever He asks of me I will step into without hesitation. I’m not there yet, and He knows that. But every day is another opportunity to trust Him, to learn Him, to believe Him. He hasn’t given up on me. He didn’t give up on me when my “I can’t” took me to the wilderness and left me. He met me there and led me back to Him. I know that He will lead me forward into His grace, His strength. I know that every time I say “I can’t”, He will agree. He never said I could.

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