Last week as I read my devotional, I glanced over the 10 commandments, not expecting to see anything new. However, the 10th commandment struck me as if I had never seen it before. This is the one that says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Suddenly in reading this verse, I felt a surge of freedom, which is hardly my normal reaction in confronting my own sin. While I don’t struggle so much with coveting my neighbor’s oxen, it finally occurred to me that I had a bad habit of coveting something so many of my friends had but I felt I had yet to attain…normalcy! Often times, I would find myself comparing my life with others’ lives and craving what I perceived as “normal”. I had actually been coveting friends’ lives because they seemed more “normal” than ours.
For a few years ago, my daughter had a rare autoimmune disease that caused her to be mostly isolated from other children for 2 years in order to limit her exposure to bacteria. Our lives were anything but normal and oh how I craved doing normal things.
Until now, I have pictured life in two parallel continuums – one path is the one we were on with the “abnormalcy” that a rare blood disorder brings. Then, the parallel continuum was the one everyone else was on, living their normal, happy, and healthy lives. I thought as soon as my daughter’s remission started, our life would suddenly be “normal” too and we would jump on over to the normal continuum, as if nothing had ever happened. This false view of reality was quickly shattered recently when I found out my daughter has a learning disability called Auditory Processing Disorder. It hit me hard because I realized our lives may never be “normal, like everyone else”.
God has been faithful to show me that this is a completely non-biblical view of how our world works. First of all, it is not our world, it’s God’s. If we look to the world for our standard of living, it will fail us every time. The only true standard to cling to is God and His Word. Isaiah 30:21 states “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” If we look to Him, He is faithful to guide us through life’s trials and struggles. Hardships, sickness, disabilities and the tragedies life brings are a product of the Fall, but in spite of that, God still uses those trials for His good and, in turn, our good. He will be faithful to show us how to navigate those circumstances on the only true path, which is the one He set out for us. The path that the world promotes is simply an illusion that the enemy uses to distract of from what is real.
No one has a “normal” life; some of us just hide life’s difficulties better than others. Yes, this applies to that mom in Chick-Fil-A with the perfect hair, flawless makeup and two perfectly well-behaved children who don’t seem to be picky eaters at all. Believe it or not, she has many struggles too although hers might be different from mine. So, no one really lives a “normal, happy, healthy, “let me lay in the hammock among my English-style garden while my perfect children play” type of life. We all have adversity to deal with. Know that although you can’t see it, it’s there.
In Acts 17, Paul preaches from Mars Hill, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” God has marked out our appointed times so we will seek Him and be a light to others in our situations. Nothing happens by accident. Although we sometimes wish we had a normal and carefree life, our adversity has a purpose in this appointed time.
As I said, the realization of this bad habit was quickly followed by a sigh of relief. I have realized in my many hang-ups that we come to repent (turn away) from sin in our lives, we are given freedom (not condemnation) in that area of our life. Sin in our life is like a closed door that hinders us from living the way He intended, on the normal path He intended for us. When we invite God to take over that area of our life, He doesn’t just open the door but he rips it off the hinges. God showed me this illustration as I was looking at my decorative blue door that I have mounted on the wall. Through Him and only Him, we have the capacity to overcome this sin. As the verse on the door states, they key to opening it is seeking Him and He is always faithful to answer. He is always faithful to take us by the hand and fight our battles for us, leaving us with a stronger relationship with Him. All we have to do is ask.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
Do you need freedom from sin in an area of your life? What sin in your life is getting the way of the freedom God wants you to enjoy? Ask forgiveness from this sin and His power to help you overcome it.