Romans 8:26 - Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
A time-worn discussion starter asks, "If you were to be marooned on a desert island and could take with you only three books, which would you select?"
These days, this would be termed a "values-clarification exercise," and we would be asked to select our three favorite DVDs or TV shows to take on a 1,000-year journey to Alpha Centauri.
However, the question is posed, our answers reveal much about what we're like as individuals -- our values, our ideals, our tastes.
Yet, our responses to such questions give only the fuzziest picture of our true, underlying character. This is likely so because as we answer we have ample time to reflect and consider our options. Such luxuries are only allowed to armchair philosophers. Unfortunately, there are no armchairs provided for us in the furnaces of crisis and adversity.
Many Christians have wondered how they might react under the pressures of persecution, personal crisis, or extreme temptation. Probably most of us have felt concern at one time or another about what we might do. Obviously, we cannot prepare in advance for every conceivable eventuality. Nor should we try. The Lord Jesus has given us work to do now, and it will not be accomplished if we insist on spending our time worrying about potential problems that might arise.
Yet, it is good to remember that in moments of crisis, humans usually react according to the habits they've developed -- moment by moment, hour by hour, during a lifetime of armchair living. C.S. Lewis spoke about the seemingly insignificant nicks and imperceptible scratches that ultimately sculpt and shape our souls. In reality, the momentous calamities and triumphs of life we recall so vividly carry less influence than we usually ascribe to them.
What habits currently shape your life, sculpt your soul? What are you doing with the blocks of time that will contribute to making your character more and more like that of the Lord Jesus?
As we reflect on these questions, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to point out to us the habits, the routines, and just plain ruts into which Satan may have lured us. As we turn to the Holy Spirit in repentance for both the action and inaction in our lives which have displeased Him, He assures us of God's full pardon for our sins through the cross of Christ and His resurrection from the dead.
Through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we overcome the world.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the world is a minefield of sin before us. By the Holy Spirit's power and guidance, may we keep our eyes fixed on You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, September 1981 issue, "In the Clinches," by Jane Fryar
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