With all of these realizations (though I already knew all of them — but I didn’t really know them), I essentially wanted an altar. I wanted to submit it all to Jesus and say, “From here on out, I will trust You completely with everything.” As a very dear friend noted when I was telling her about it, it’s because I hate unresolved things. And she’s right. I wanted this whole thing to be resolved, neat, and tidy. But I realized that can’t be — because humans are messy. This has to be an every day, every hour, every moment decision to trust Jesus with everything, no matter what. Due to being inherently sinful apart from Jesus, and having my old man constantly warring against my new man, I can’t expect to just be perfect in this area (or any area) from this day onward.
Yet I wonder if the mindset of thinking we must have “altars” of a sort in our Christian walks is why many people get discouraged and disheartened in their relationships with Jesus. They subconsciously think, “Oh, I’ve sacrificed my will now; it shouldn’t be a bother any longer,” but lo and behold, the next morning it rears its ugly head and they wonder what happened.
In Romans 7, Paul tells of his struggle with sin — one that I’m sure every follower of Jesus can relate to:
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me….For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. – Romans 7:15, 18-20, 22-25
It’s constant war. In you. Between good and evil, light and dark. Shaun Groves has a song entitled “Twilight” and the first verse echoes this truth:
Like the sky before the dawn
While the night is holding on
Sun and moon together in the gray
So my soul is shared by two
The worst of me, the best of You
Saint and sinner mingle in my veins
And I pray You’ll end this twilight
Yes, it’s twilight — one that is hopefully every day becoming more light than dark. But it won’t be completely light until we’re finally Home. And by making “altars” at key points in our spiritual lives we can feed the lie that after this breaking point,we won’t ever struggle with this particular sin again. Granted, that particular struggle hopefully taught you something and drew you closer to Jesus, but chances are, that temptation will come up again. And again. And again.
And the only way to combat it is to constantly be coming back to Jesus every time. Broken, needy, hopeless without Him. The only way we can fight anything is through Him, for in our weakness, He is strong. Without Jesus, we can do nothing.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” ~John 15:5