"I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast towards you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
*BEEEEP* *BEEEEEEEEEP* *BEEEEEP*
One second I'm dreaming about love and food (half kidding), and the next I'm awake, panicking. I grab my glasses and race down the ladder of our bunk bed, setting a new record for the fastest time I've ever gotten out of bed. I hear my dad yelling to get Elijah, and my sisters and I race out of the room, my heart pounding as I pray silently.
Today, I was awakened at five (which is actually later than normal for me) by a bunch of our smoke alarms screaming. And when I say screaming, I mean screaming. It is loud - I mean, it has to be in case someone's sleeping when there's a fire. If you can sleep through a smoke alarm for more than a minute, then you're either crazy tired, or you're my friend, who can never seem to wake up (even after being rolled out of bed and dunked with water).
Well, long story short....at least we know our smoke alarms work.
For some reason, our electricity shut off and the smoke alarms decided they'd test our their lungs and see how fast they could wake us up. Thank God it wasn't a fire! We're all safe and happy, plus we got McDonald's for breakfast because of the outage, so it's all good. But on a more serious note, family, let's make sure we're praying for those in California near the fires, who have been affected or have lost loved ones.
After I help my dad turn off all the alarms, we settle back into our beds and sleep -for, what, maybe fifteen minutes? Then the alarms start blaring again. I'm like, "Nooo, not again..." We call for our dad to turn it off, and sure enough, it stops within half a minute. I get back under the covers and doze off for a little while - until the alarms start screaming again. Knowing it wasn't a fire, us sisters (we all share a room) stayed in bed, knowing that it would turn off soon enough. This repeated itself; I'd fall asleep for a little while, get awakened by the alarms, wait for it to stop while plugging my ears, and then they'd stop. The next time they went off, I only stuck the covers over my head. And the last time it happened, I didn't even bother to cover my ears, I had become used to the loud, intruding sound it no longer bothered me as much.
Okay, so, let's bring the story around. Last night, I was like, okay, tomorrow's Tuesday, what am I going to post about?? And God was like, "I got you covered, Emma," and sent me a bunch of noisy smoke alarms to wake me up. Thanks, Father!
Our consciences with our sin is similar to the smoke alarms. The first time we do something wrong, we immediately start getting hot and our conscience bugs us for about a week. When we don't see a consequence, we ignore it for a few more days until we try it again. Our conscience or the Holy Spirit reminds us of what we're doing wrong in a way similar to the smoke alarm. It sets off something in our brain, telling us we've done something wrong. But when we ignore it, it gets less and less noticeable and affects us less.
Like this morning, when we eventually just stayed in bed and let our dad fix it, we often just sit back in our sin, thinking that there's no consequence, thinking that it doesn't affect anyone. But what if there had been a fire? What if one of those alarms went off because there was actually something burning, and my sisters and I had decided to stay in bed?
And something that we often neglect to remember is that when we sin, we not only affect others, but we affect ourselves. Every negative thought you think is reprogramming your brain. Every sin you do causes you to become more and more immune to the danger of it.
The more and more you do something, the easier it gets - and that's not only for things like sports and talents. Serious things like lying, cheating, taking drugs, sinning in general, and things like that get easier and easier as you do it more and more. Soon you lose the reality of what you're doing, because you've been doing it for so long and have ignored it. It's like those who live on farms. Their brains no longer sends them signals about the smells of the animals because they've been around it so long. In a similar way, your conscience changes from a healthy, high-active one to a sick or dead, inactive conscience, the more you do the same sin over and over.
If I'm honest, maybe a few years ago I had a healthy conscience. I couldn't lie, disobey, or be unkind without my conscience yelling at me constantly for months at a time. However, as I got older, I started ignoring it more, until I'd attained a sickly conscience. When I disobey, the alarm is quieter and less persistent, cuz I've ignored it for some time. I also don't hear the Holy Spirit as much as I used to, even compared to earlier this year, because I haven't been listening. This morning, I gradually covered my ears less and less as the alarms blared repeatedly. The alarm hadn't gotten softer, but I was hearing it less. Similarly, I wouldn't say that the Holy Spirit is talking to me less, but rather that I'm not listening. He's always talking, but I've gotten used to ignoring the sound of His beautifully still, quiet voice.
I'm ashamed that this has happened. How can you undo this? Praying that God would renew your mind, praying that He'd help you to become aware of your sin and its consequences. Listening the next time your internal alarm goes off. Listening the next time the Holy Spirit tells you to do something. Listening, and obeying. I've cried out many mornings, praying that He would renew my conscience. But it's also up to you to do something, to make the decision, today, to change and obey.
Today, I challenge you to take a mere five minutes, right now, and evaluate yourself. In what areas have you been ignoring the Holy Spirit? Maybe you've been gossiping a lot, even though inside you secretly know that you're not supposed to. Maybe you've been speaking death over people instead of life. Maybe you've been disobeying your parents and being disrespectful. Maybe you're laughing at things you shouldn't, or looking at things you shouldn't. You know who you are. Repent and pray, God WILL forgive you. Apologize to whomever you've wronged. Train your brain, your heart, your mind - to learn to repent and reconcile, one day at a time.
And remember - God loves you despite your past.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."