The Challenge


Good morning! It’s Sunday and that means you’re going to be reading a repeat blog post from the Blogging A to Z challenge I did in 2013. We are up to the letter “Q,” so today enjoy reading about a quagmire I encountered many years ago!


Oh, and don’t forget to spend time with God this morning! Have a blessed day!


Quagmire – Blogging A to Z


My family moved from the southwest Ohio area to Upstate New York just before turned 8 years old. We left behind family, friends and a way of life that we had become comfortable with. We moved from rural Ohio to the suburbs. It was very different from what we knew, but as time passed, we fell in love with New York.


New_York_State_Thruway_in_Montezuma_National_Widlife_RefugeHowever, we were far from family. So on many occasions, we would load up the car and head to family gatherings in Ohio. These were long trips…twelve hours in the car without the modern conveniences of dvd players, ipods, or any other electronic devices to pass the time. Our entertainment was old-fashioned games to amuse ourselves.


Perhaps you know the alphabet games. There are a couple versions of this game. Either finding the letters of the alphabet on signage, vehicles or license plates or finding a person, place or thing that begins with the letter of the alphabet. The first person who finished the alphabet was the winner.


Of course there were certain letters of the alphabet that were more difficult to find. Q and Z were especially difficult with the second version of this game. But as we grew older and learned more words, it became easier.


Now I don’t know how many quagmires you may have passed in your lifetime, but there was one along a stretch of the New York State Thruway that we were always thrilled to see if we were playing this game. Within the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was the Montezuma Swamp. We used it as “quagmire” in our alphabet game every time.


I can’t help but think we encounter a similar swampy, marshy, quagmirey feeling within our spiritual lives when we fall into temptation and sin. Sometimes we feel as if we are being swallowed up by guilt and despair. We feel stagnant, foul-smelling and just plain dirty by the results of sin.


According to the online Merriman-Webster dictionary, “sin is an offense against religious or moral law. It is transgression of the law of God.”[i]


The very basic definition of sin is when we miss the mark. As an archer might miss the bulls eye of a target or perhaps miss the target altogether. God has provided commands, laws, or precepts for us to follow. When we disobey, neglect, or omit any one of these commands from our lives, we commit sin.


Sin then, is anything that separates us from God.


Thankfully for us, God has made arrangements for us when we are outside of His will. When we miss the mark. When we wallow in the quagmire of sin. And although God cannot tolerate sin in our lives (Habakkuk 1:13a), God has provided grace.


So how do we drag ourselves out of the quagmire and live within God’s grace? We must admit that we’ve sinned. David understood this and what leads up to confessing sin. He had this to say about it.


“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:3-5 – NIV)


I’ve been there. Haven’t you? When the heaviness in my heart was so great because of sin. David knew he had to acknowledge his sin. Confess his sin to God. Then, accept God’s forgiveness. And please notice, God also forgives the guilt. Now there’s a gift to accept with open, appreciative hands.


In 1 John 1:9 (NIV), the apostle John makes note of this concept as well. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”


Another gracious gift from our heavenly Father. Purification. After being in the messiness of the quagmire, this is pure refreshment! He will purify us when we confess our sin to Him. Because He is faithful and just.


We must also repent of our sin. The foundational meaning of this word is to do an about face. To turn in the opposite direction. Yes, we must confess the sin, but if we do not repent of it, we will be in bondage to that same sin again and again. There must be change. In attitude and action.


Paul shares this message with the Corinth church in 2 Corinthians 7. Paul’s first letter was difficult for them (2 Corinthians 7:8), but he called them to something. Repentance. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 – NIV)


We are called to this same action. Repent of sin that keeps us stumbling over and over. Sin that keeps dragging us back to the quagmire.


And just a few more things to keep in mind. The writer of Hebrews shows us that once sin is forgiven by God, He will remember it no more. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12 – NIV) “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17 – NIV)


After forgiveness, I must forget my sin. But we all know that guilt gets in the way of forgetting. Remember David’s words above? God forgives the guilt of the sin. We see this idea in Romans 8:1 (NIV) as well.


“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We can rid our lives of guilt when we confess and repent of sin in our lives. Jesus has taken it away.


And here’s another idea from John the Baptizer. In speaking to some of the Pharisees and Sadducess, John makes this statement. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:9 – NIV)


I can’t help but think that is a statement is one for me to remember. After confession and repentance of sin, if I do not produce spiritual fruit in my life I will once again have missed the mark and head back to the quagmire.


Do you need to speak to God today? Is there sin in your life that is preventing you from being near your heavenly Father? Is sin keeping you from producing fruit? Are you burdened by the weight of guilt? Are you in a quagmire?


If so, please run to God’s loving arms and seek His forgiveness. Follow David’s example. Lay it all out before God. Then relish in the weightlessness and cleanliness of forgiveness.


Grace and peace be yours in abundance,




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