Like Week One, I have so many highlights and journal entries in my user guide for Week Two that I can’t possibly blog them all, but here’s some of what I want to remember:
We’ve been pickpocketed by a sinister culprit who slipped a sense of peace and joy right out of our lives – gifts reserved and fully intended for all of God’s children (Yes, I want my peace and joy back!)
Worse, we often don’t even know our peace and joy are missing until one day when everything begins to unravel, and we’re stressed out, frustrated, and overwhelmed. We reach down into our internal reserves to pull out the deep-rooted characteristics we need for sustaining life through the difficult places, and we’re shocked to find that we’re running on empty, with nothing to sustain us for the long haul (Um, yes to all of that…)
Regaining control… (These past few years its felt like I’m always “reacting” to whatever difficulties the season faces – a new marriage with plenty of blended family struggles, custody litigation, a foreclosure, kids schooling that had been neglected, kids medical care that had been neglected, a traumatic sexual assault against one of our kids by a very close family member, the legal process that followed, the holiday seasons that followed, moving to a new city (even though I do like it more), getting a new job, losing my workout buddies (and gaining 20 pounds), losing my bible study ladies, and really just lots and lots of change and chaos for which I wasn’t prepared. Can you even be prepared for that level of change? Storms of life. Big ones. Chaos. It’s all currently died down from an F5 tornado to a light occasional sprinkle and for that I’m grateful. But I lost myself along the way– that joyful, peaceful, light-hearted girl who just loves dogs and blogs. And I want me back. I want this chatter in my brain to stop. Those feelings from unrest to go away. That waiting for the next unexpected disaster for which survival skills will be necessary to happen yet… again. Feeling like I’m just waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me … again. Yes, I want to regain control and claim my life back.)
It what ways do you most clearly see that the enjoyment of life is being squeezed out by excess? (I see that joy from things are only temporary so I have to do them over and over or buy them again and again. I’m realizing that it doesn’t work and that the newness of everything wears off eventually.)
Our flesh has not been trained to decline itself or to decline others. (Good to know. Reminds me that Hubster used to say “the flesh isn’t saved.” Oh how I wish it were!)
Resisting the flesh is the key to spiritual victory.
Regain the self-control and inner strength required to deny both [y]ourselves and other people at times and in certain situations… the discipline to decline.
Once something is allowed to creep past its appropriate place in your life –once you’re unable to say “no” to it-it has become an illegitimate god. It has become, according to Colossians 3:5, “Idolatry.” (In the past, I have certainly allowed things to creep past their appropriate level and I can honestly say that I don’t want to allow that anymore.)
What does your inability to say “no” reveal about your relationship with that substance, object or person?
Do you, in any way, feel that your value is tied up in accumulating more or in gaining approval through your performance? (I’m so performance based its crazy.)
God instructed Adam and Eve “you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil…” Inherent in this command was the recognition of their ability to say “no”. God ha[s] instilled in us the strength needed to honor what He commands (I need some of that strength!).
They could resist and choose to honor God.
They could say “no” to the serpent’s temptation.
This was freedom in its purest form- people making decisions that honor God without being bullied into sin by illegitimate desire. (I love the word illegitimate here. I can honestly say that I have had desires that are illegitimate and for which I needed to simply say “no”. I’ve had friends like Adam and Eve who sparked my curiosity about whether or not I would surely die if I ate it. Sometimes -ok often- I’m not even interested in things until they become controversial. Adam and Eve spurred each other on by talking about and discussing the tree and its consequences rather than simply walking in trust and obedience avoiding the tree. Unfortunately, that is so me at times. Maybe we all have a little bit of that in us. Historically, I’ve been the type that must eat the forbidden fruit myself, that must touch the hot stove myself, that must learn from my own mistakes rather than having the wisdom to learn from others, to walk as closely as possible to the edge of my limits just because I can and it’s more exciting that way. My mother said I was born saying “I can do it by myself.” It’s actually a very annoying characteristic trait of mine and one that is deceptive because no I can’t do it by myself but I think I can. I believe I can. But in reality I can’t. I’m learning that true peace and joy comes from making decisions that honor God. Period. Because God does love me even when I can’t feel it and He wants what’s best for me. His advice is like the advice that I give my children. It’s not advice and boundaries to keep them from having fun or to be restrictive, it’s boundaries set out because of my love for them and my desire to keep them safer, healthier and happier in the long run).
Last, as we draw on our careful Sabbath guidelines, we have to be cautious about turning them into legalistic hoops that focus more on what we’re giving up than on the freedom of what God is allowing us to enjoy. Sometimes even self-denial can become dangerous. Example – anorexia.
We should appropriate deny our flesh when we feel ourselves beginning to spin out of control.
Have a plan and strategy in place that is rooted in intimacy with God more than adherence to a set of regulations.
And on that note, I’m off to start Week Three this week.
Social media hugs to all~