I remember wearing a heavy coat that came up past my chin, and looking down at my little pink boots as I walked home. My steeply-sloped driveway was covered in a thick sheet of blue-cellophane ice—hard-packed against the ground and glistening with sunlight. Even at that young age, I knew to be careful. That day, though, I still slipped on the ice and fell flat on my back. It happened so quickly. By the time I realized my body was flinging downwards, my stomach had abandoned its post and I’d already heard the hard clap! of the back of my head against the concrete.
I didn’t get up right away. Stunned by the jolt, I watched my breath cloud the air, felt the contrast of hot tears on cold ears. Everything was still and silent. Everything ached and roared. The cold seeped into my coat and my heart throbbed into my skull. I lay on the sidewalk for a long time.
I might not live where there’s ice on the ground, anymore, but I regret to admit that I still do this same thing. I’m walking with Christ, heading home, when suddenly I slip on the ice. I stumble over temptation, disregard caution, lose my footing, get complacent, get cocky, turn astray—it doesn’t matter. The point is, I still fall. I hate to say it, but even though I’m a new creation, I’m still revisited by temptation to go back to my old ways. Even though I’m risen with Christ, I still fall into past sins. Even though I’m saved, I still feel guilt as if I’m not, and when I do, it takes me a long time to get back up. Surges of regret pulse through my head: scoffs from the enemy, disappointment from within, maybe a combination of both—maybe I believe his lies so gullibly, I even tell them to myself.
I’m learning that there’s a difference between conviction of the Holy Spirit and condemnation from Satan, though. Both point out my deficiencies, but conviction brings a sense of yearning that makes me strive after God’s holiness; condemnation brings a sense of irreparability that makes me hesitant to show my face to Him. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Even though I mess up, I know I’m not living in the flesh because I am “in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in [me]” (Romans 8:9). In short, my most profound proof of salvation, my greatest consolation, is this: I have heard His voice. In other words, I might still have flesh, but I’ve got the Spirit. Maybe I’m not perfect yet, but I am saved by He who is. My boyfriend once explained it this way: salvation is the acceptance of eternal security; sanctification is the process of removing all doubts about it. “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). For every look back at our mistakes, taking many looks up at Him is what gives us hope, and hope in Him might be all we need to roll over, claw our little fingernails into the ice, and get back up.