Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Volleyball Games

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15 NIV

Say what?

Kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Paul could be delightfully convoluted sometimes. You can practically see his two hands, gesturing back and forth, as you read this verse and the subsequent verses. It’s like watching a volleyball game of words and will.

Volleyball is a fun game, whether you’re a spectator or player. It’s suspenseful, particularly if the ball is kept in the air for a long period of time. It bounces from player to player, across the net, back and forth, and the stakes grow higher the longer the ball remains in play. Who will dive for it? Who will miss? When this happens, players and crowd alike will often react with each hit.

The internal struggle Paul described in Romans 7 isn’t much fun. We go back and forth with sin. We willingly participate, hating ourselves for our own weakness, questioning how real our faith is, wondering if we are really saved. We have periods when we feel like giving up and giving in, and sometimes we do. But God doesn’t. He knew in the beginning, and knows now that we need a Savior.

Still, there are those times when, regardless of what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come, we want to bounce back over. Maybe life was more exciting then or you were having more fun, or making more money, or had more dates, or ... or ...  Maybe if we just take a little taste of what we’re missing, then we’ll bounce back over to the other side of the net? Just a quick visit. After all, if Christ took care of the game point already, why should we be concerned?

Thankfully, Paul covered this in Romans 6 by asking a very important question: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?” (v. 21 NIV). Now, be honest with yourself and your Lord as you answer this question: How does that “benefit” compare to a peaceful mind and heart in the present? How does that choice to sin show gratitude for the eternal life in the future?

We can take heart that Paul struggled as we do, and was honest enough to write down the crazy game that plays out in our minds, hearts, and actions. But, honestly, aren’t you tired of playing?

Lord, lately I’ve been wondering if I’d be better off going back to __________. It just seems like life was more __________ back then, but I know our relationship would suffer. I ask, first, for forgiveness and, second, for strength and patience as I want You to work on my heart and mind so that I may overcome this urge. And because I know You’re You, please take this part of my past and use it toward Your glory.

Excerpted from Devotions for the Beach by Miriam Drennan. Thomas Nelson ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. www.thomasnelson.com.

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