Oh Lord, what would I not give to never defame your name again, to never let Satan have another foothold in my thoughts, to never again let temptation birth sin! “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24).” Paul, the renowned missionary, preacher, apologist, and Bible writer openly confesses here, as in other places, his continuous and never-ending battle with sin. We are sinners, until death do us part, for we married such a terrible spouse that is the flesh at conception, and while it does reside in us for now: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21).”
Daily the Christian sins, daily he is called to repent, daily he stumbles even as to fall, daily he arises in the power of the Spirit, hoping not to fall, yet preparing even so to rise when it comes: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made [perfection] my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).”
God is so eager to have us hear His call to His great work, He is so eager to use us, so eager to direct us, even to make His grace and love shine the brighter in our failures. As someone who I believe God has called to spend the rest of his days as a missionary, my own burden of sin lies heavy around my ankles, my own poor decisions sometimes shackle my feet, and my spirit must daily struggle against my flesh for control of my mind, that my thoughts, words, and actions be for God’s glory and not my own. Have I not even seen God grow roses from even these ashes that is my life? In the blackness of the darkest nights I have seen God’s stars pierce it.
What a paradox is our Christian life, for we long to serve our great Father, and inwardly we are so very eager to do so, yet externally, in our flesh that is, we are so rebellious against the upward call. Perhaps some stumble and fall less than others, but nonetheless Satan and our flesh are so pleased to have us there in our misery when we do fail, to stand above us and tell us how useless, insignificant, and hopeless we are. Have we just undone all the good that God was building? Have we burnt to ashes beautiful His plan and purpose?
Out of such ashes have some of the greatest roses grown. The greatest rose the world has ever seen grew from this earths’ darkest ashes – Christ voluntarily gave Himself to be killed under mankind’s evil plot, for such a Rose as He was to arise from the ashes of the grave to retake His human flesh, thus offering all mankind grace, hope, and blessed immortality.
I often marvel at God’s graciousness and wisdom in using our foolishness, lack of foresight, and even sin to His glory. Use us Lord, we who are so undeserving in ourselves, yet so deserving in Christ our Savior. We are not worthy, but He has made us worthy. We pray that You will and empower these ashes grow roses for Your pleasure.