Revisiting Bad Habits

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day that I couldn't resist the urge to do some of my work outside.  With notebook and pen in hand, I set up my outdoor chair in the sunshine and sat down to do some serious writing.

The work session would have been more successful, I dare say, if Mitch had not decided that he wanted to be a clown.  Excited to be outside in the beautiful weather, he ran and jumped and danced and, of course, rolled over and over again in the dirt.  Mitchell is all boy!

After one of his rounds of "dirty dancing," he walked over to me, presumably to show me how filthy he was.  Needless to say, I was not amused.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I was actually quite amused at his antics, but I wasn't pleased with the amount of grass and leaves he had managed to acquire in his coat.

Setting my work aside, I rubbed my hands repeatedly down his back and sides, ridding him of as much of the loose debris as I could.  Then I grabbed his face in my hands, placed a kiss on top of his head and told him to go play so I could finish my work.  Evidently, we have different definitions of the phrase "go play," for as soon as I issued the command, he dropped down on the ground and proceeded to roll around in the dirt again.  Then, just as quickly, he jumped up and ran in the house before I could stop him.  Guess what I found all over the couch when I finally decided to go inside!  Rotten dog!!!

But truth be told, I don't have any room to talk because I've been known to do the same thing.  Not roll in the dirt--yuck!  But return to my dirty habits.  How many times have I run to Jesus, ashamed of something I'd done, only to have Him wipe me clean and send me back on my way?  And how many times does my way lead me right back into the very thing that brought me trouble to begin with?  Let's face it, some habits are really hard to break.

Take, for instance, the habit/sin of worry.  I know it's wrong.  I don't want to do it.  I don't even mean to do it.  But, just like Mitch, no sooner have I been cleansed of my lapse in trust than I return to the same old ways.  Fretting over the bills.  Fearful whether or not Jason will have work tomorrow.  Wondering if my health will ever improve.  Anxious over every decision.  It's enough to make the Charlie Brown in me shout, "Good grief!"

But this post is not intended to make you feel guilty or ashamed.  If you're anything like me, you're already there.  Instead, I believe we could all use a blessed reminder of how God handles our relapses.  Is He pleased with our behavior?  No, just as I wasn't pleased with Mitch's return to the dirt pile.  But do you know how I handled Mitch's second round of "dirty dancing"?  I went in the house, brushed him down (again) and cleaned up the mess He had made on the floor. . .and the blanket. . .and the couch.  I didn't fuss.  I didn't give him the silent treatment or explode in anger.  I loved him in spite of his wrongdoing and cleaned up both him and the mess he made.

Now, I cannot assure you that God will always clean up our messes.  Sin has consequences, and often we're left to face them.  However, despite what we've done, God's love for us never falters, and He longs to clean us up and set us back on the right path.  Knowing this doesn't give us a license to sin, mind you, but rather it helps us to understand how much our Father loves us and how far He's willing to go to help us succeed.  I don't know about you, but that makes me want to try that much harder to please Him.

Now, if you'll excuse me, another beautiful day is beckoning me, and I fancy a walk with my Lord.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - I John 1:9