Phil Wickham When My Heart is Torn Asunder

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Fight behind the Fight

OK.  so maybe --if you are like me -- you are sick of hearing about the New Year and making resolutions...And maybe like me, you made some undercover resolves or goals...and now, now, 4 days later the going gets down and dirty.  How many of your resolves have survived Over-the-Hump Day?  I confess there was one resolution I made which honestly, I never had any desire or inkling to do.  Exercise.  Yeah...dirty word to you too?  There was a time--In 2010 and 2011 when getting sweaty and breathless was such a turn on.  I got pumped doing that more than by any other thing.  But that elation only comes a week or two in opposition to the teeth gritting, feet dragging reluctance.  It definitely a case for Hebrews 12:1-3 (from the Message)
 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Is it a stretch to compare exercise with the cross?  Well certainly if taken literally it is.  But if you look at the fundamentals.  comfort/effort, complacency/drivenness, laziness/hard work and the pay offs: self discipline, satisfaction, self control, strength, pride in accomplishment, eternal rewards (for exercise? Yes...Paul said training physically is of some benefit and I think that benefit lies right where I'm going with this.)  Altogether it is a matter of slaying the flesh.  Not your body's flesh. No --fat must go, strength must come!  But we must slay the flesh that says "I'm too comfortable right here in this recliner.....my show is on the TV in a minute....I have to finish this bag of chips...."  And we press on for a higher, now hidden benefit.  And that friends....when you face your demons and work until your muscles quiver in fatigue...that is when the flesh dies and the spirit WINS.

And the same goes for your goal to read more in the Bible.  Maybe you have  a specific goal: like reading the Bible in a year; or reading the New Testament in a year; or maybe just a chapter in Proverbs each day for a month.  Here too...you must face all the screaming demons of distraction....the eyelids that close because they Just. Can't. Stay. Open. for. Another. Minute....you get the picture.  We've all been there.  But here too your spirit must fight your flesh and OVERCOME (1 John 4: 4-5   You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. )  And the "they" in this passage can refer to your laziness, your comfort, your bag o'chips...and yes, your exhaustion.)

Please note that I'm preaching to myself as well as to you. I'm not saying "look, follow my sterling example."  Nope.  I've not done a lick of exercise and yesterday was feeling overwhelmed by my memorization goals....and I confess, I took the day off to regroup.   As I went back to it today, I have to say, I feel better for having taken that breather.  And I think that is ok.  We are not pate' foi gras.  You cannot forcefeed yourself....only take bites that you can swallow.  Don't try to run a mile on Day one.  Don't try to read Romans in one sitting!!!

What you and I both need to do is to accurately assess where we are at right now.  Me? I haven't walked farther than my kitchen in a very long time.  I would not even make it down my driveway were I going to try to take a walk.  And then design and mastermind your plan.  Start with an achievable goal.  Like ten minutes of exercise per day for a week.  It sounds like nothing right? Just wait til you try it!!  You will awaken all the comfy demons in your muscles and incite every distraction in the book....it is JUST AS HARD to do ten minutes as it is to do a half hour.  You may find, (if you are in better shape than I) that once you get moving, you kind of like it and want to do more.  Go with that! Just don't over do it so much that you are too sore to do it again tomorrow!

And, in your pursuit of your goal, I encourage you: JOURNAL, keep a written record of your journey....even if it is just a log of the exercises and the numbers of sets, reps, and weights....Assess your new found strengths and take joy in putting them to good work.  And when your motivation flags...look over that record...see how far you've come and ask yourself if you really want to quit now? or are you up for another day.  Just one day.  Just today.  That's all you ever have to exercise, memorize, read, or diet.  JUST TODAY.

I encourage you too to keep tabs on your spiritual gains as well....for example: Do you find it easier to say no to distractions that would hold you back from your goals? Is your awareness more tuned in to the spiritual battle inside?  Are you better equipped when the enemy comes whispering in your ear?  Journal it. Pray it ....PRAISE God for it!  God go with you on your journey. Fight the good fight. 

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