Some of the most miserable people I know are pit-dwellers. The interesting thing is that many don’t recognize that their pit can be of their own making. For those that do, life becomes hopeful. For those that don’t, it becomes a never-ending cycle of defeat.
Google defines the term “pit” as “a low or wretched psychological state.” If you have ever found yourself in this state, you don’t need any dictionary to help define it for you. You know the level of despair it implies.
There are multiple reasons we can find ourselves in a pit. They can be ones that we dig, ones that we find ourselves in, and ones that other people dig. We have control over the pit we dig but we do not have control over the actions of others. They may be the ones who create the pit through their choices but we are the ones who suffer along with them. Whether they be strangers, family, enemies, or friends, their actions can impact our personal lives. Infidelity, abuse, addiction, pornography, drunk driving, greed, crime, bitterness, unforgiveness, emotional immaturity…… are just a few examples of how we suffer from the shovels of others.
We can also suffer in a pit as we, or our loved ones, experience disease, mental illness, bodily injury, job loss, chronic pain, poverty, etc. through no fault of our/their own.
But this isn’t what I want to address today. I want to delve into the pit we dig for ourselves, why we do it, and how we can get out of it.
The Pit We Dig
Interestingly enough, the Bible speaks often about being in a “pit”. There are 139 references, with David speaking of it the most in the Psalms. He was a pit-dweller for all three reasons at various times. Here, he is speaking about the pit of sin and the concept of reaping what is sown.
14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads. Psalm 7:14-16
There are definitely times when we dig our own pit, unable to claim ignorance of what we are inwardly justifying. We are tempted by a particular sin (unique to each person), fully aware of what we are doing, but choose nonetheless to give way. We end up miserable, feeling helpless over the reality of where our sin has taken us. I have heard it said several times how sin takes us further than we want to go and costs us more than we are ever willing to pay. This realization is usually learned much too late to prevent horrible consequences. It is through these circumstances that the reality of our choices becomes clear and misery sets in.Are you a pit-dweller? Here are 4 ways to lay down that shovel and break free from digging our own pit! #freedom #blessings #abundantlife #repentance Click To Tweet
A cycle can begin that makes us feel powerless to end. Our sin takes us captive, robbing us of the life we want.
So what can we do when this happens? How can we hope for an end to our pit-dwelling habits that get us into trouble time and time again?
The reason this “pit-dwelling” came to mind was from the passage I read in Acts 3:17-19 recently.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
This Scripture is referring to Peter addressing a crowd at the temple that came running up to them after a crippled man was healed. These same crowds were also supportive of Jesus being condemned and crucified. Although these people knowingly disowned Him before Pilate and asked that He be killed, they were not able to fully comprehend the travesty of their actions. Jesus’ Himself affirmed this while on the cross when He asked the Father to forgive them for they knew not what they were doing (Luke 23:34).
Isn’t that the way we are? We knowingly pursue our particular sin of choice yet we really cannot conceive the level of harm we are doing to ourselves and others? I know I have been there and done that! I thought I was old enough and wise enough to know what was best for me but what a fool I was! In hindsight, I was under such deception of the depth of grief at stake.
But this passage tells us what we can do when we have unknowingly crossed a horrific line- repent. What does this actually look like though?
What is needed for repentance?
- First, we need to humble ourselves and agree with God about our sin. It is critical that we take full responsibility, not blaming or justifying our choices as it relates to others. We are in our mess because of US, not anyone else. If humility is not evidenced then “repentance” will be lip-service and totally ineffective. We will continue to live in our pit.
- Next, as we admit our sin and turn from it, we then turn to God. Trying to stop one behavior without replacing it with another will not be conducive for success. We will only be able to flee from sin as we run toward Christ. By actively spending time with God in His Word, prayer, meditation, and worship, we will gain strength to remain steadfast against our sin of choice. Our progress will be a by-product of an intimate relationship with the Lord.
- We rejoice that Jesus has paid our sin debt and made possible our eventual freedom. By celebrating what Christ has done for us, that decreases the power of sin over us and the profit the devil has in tempting us.
- Repeat this process a hundred times a day if necessary until greater strength is gained against the pit we keep digging for ourselves. God never said we have to solve our sin problem. That is and has always been, His area of responsibility. All we have to do is keep coming to Him admitting our sin and declaring our need of Him for forgiveness and freedom from it.
Why So Many of Us Continue to Dwell in the Pit
For many of us, we sidestep the issue of responsibility for our sin. We want those “times of refreshing” to come from the Lord but without taking full ownership of our sin. We want to blame or minimize, deflect or justify our way to better times but that is not going to happen. The only way to have a better life is to admit that our crappy one is our doing, not anyone else’s. If we are miserable, then it behooves us to do some self-examination.
Just as we don’t have it in us to save ourselves from sin (salvation), we also don’t have what it takes for our ongoing sanctification (maturity in faith). In each instance, repenting and turning to Christ is the means for our accomplishment. “Times of refreshing” or escape from the pit cannot be obtained any other way. Man continues to try living life his way but that is what gets us into the pit in the first place.
By thinking that we can get ourselves out of the pit by our own strength and ingenuity, we are refusing to humble ourselves. The key to getting out of the pit and STAYING out of the pit is not trying harder but admitting we are totally helpless against it. We are failures only as long as we refuse to acknowledge our sin and pride. Then, and only then, will we receive those blessed times of refreshing that the Lord promises to those who humble themselves enough to repent.
Let’s put down the shovel and cry “Mercy!”. Life is too good this side of the pit to dwell there any longer.