Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yesterday - Part 1

A casual observer or moderately consistent follower of this blog might be pretty impressed with me right about now. They have a sort of bird's eye view, seeing the overall lay of the land, the big, general picture. I'm running. I'm losing weight and must be exercising self-control in my eating. I'm riding bikes and playing tennis. I'm posting more often and sound more upbeat. But, the casual observer and blog follower doesn't get to see the daily, doesn't get to see or hear what goes on in my mind and my heart. Even people who see me regularly see the weight loss, the smile on my face, and think I must be doing awesome. 

Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

Generally speaking, I am doing way better than I was even a few short months ago. But, "awesome" is not really a word I would use to describe where I am. Am I exercising consistently? Yes. Am I exercising more self-control with my eating than I was previously? Yes. Am I losing weight and feeling better? Yes. Am I where I need to be where it counts? No.

I am profoundly grateful for the changes that are being wrought in me, but I am also profoundly aware of the things that are still the same, of the ways I compromise or justify indulging in sinful thoughts and actions. Am I moving forward? Yes and No. Yes, the numbers on the scale are going down. Yes, I'm still running. Yes, I am eating better some of the time. But, I'm also still jumping at opportunities to indulge my flesh, give into sinful cravings and just plain be lazy. Who doesn't, right? 

Its true, we all do what we don't want to do or want to do what we shouldn't at times, but I'm not talking about incidental and fleeting things. I'm talking about areas of bondage, areas of habit that have pretty much always been a part of my life...things I've prayed about, wrestled with, fallen into and repented of so many times I can't even count. Thorns in my flesh that I know need not remain...thorns that are only there because I like them too much to pluck them out once and for all.

Before you think I'm about to launch into a self-help thing, here...I'm not. I know, clearly, that I can't "just" pluck the thorns out. Only God can do that. But, I also know that I am called to exercise self-control, to train my body/mind like an athlete, to submit to God's word. These are all purposeful, effort-full things. They don't just magically happen. God gives us the desire and the ability to do them. But, we must remember that there's a verb in there and action is also required. 

"But, I have tried and I failed!" You might say...I might say...I have said. To that I would say, no attempt to honor and obey God is failure. The result may not be what we want to see, but there will be fruit. 

"But, I can't force a move of the spirit" You might say...I might say...I have said. No, we can't force God to move...but God is never unwilling to meet us, to empower us, to help us when we cry out to Him. I would argue that our problem is not God's slowness to empower us, to do a spiritual work in us, but our own unwillingness to let go of what is standing in the way...to love His ways more than our own...to love what He calls "good" more than what we like.

"But, I don't want to get ahead of God!" You might say...I might say...I have said. To that, I would say, though God does use us and work in us and remain faithful to us in spite of our sin and even works our sin and failings and failures for good...I firmly believe that He would not have us remain in them for one more second, one more minute, one more hour, one more day, one more week, one more year (whichever applies to you). I know there have been countless times I've felt conviction, a desire in my heart to stop, to change, to be different and yet continued on my way. I believe in those times I chose to walk past a way of escape that was prepared for me, past God's loving hand extended to care for, correct and change me.

 With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head and my heart yesterday morning, I cried out to God. He heard. He met me. He did something that wasn't just a bit better than what had been...He did something awesome! I'll share that in my next post. Stay tuned!

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