“Search me, God, and know my heart;…” Psalm 139:23 (NIV)
I was having a tough day, not really for any particular reason. I wasn’t extra crabby or lashing out at people…I was just struggling with my flesh and as a result not wanting to obey.
I’ve been drawing closer to God lately. Trials and challenges can do that. Actually, I’ve found for my own life, trials/challenges will either draw me closer to God or cause me to hide. Thankfully, my mode of operandi in the last few years has been to cling tighter to God when things get tough. As a result of the deeper intimacy that has grown between us, He has started to talk to me again about obedience, namely self control. I’ve talked in previous posts about my lifelong struggle with food. God gets all the glory for the taming of the beast in the arena of food during the summer and fall of 2014.
January 5th I found out I was losing my job (major stressor) and while I fasted for three days for divine wisdom on what path to take, since then I’ve allowed the emotional eater in me free reign. God, being the gentleman that He is, hasn’t condemned my behavior but has reminded me gently that if I truly want to keep growing closer to Him, I have to choose – stepping toward obedience/self control or not. It’s a simple choice, really – one or the other, but even with the best intentions, it’s hard!
After starting over each day this week (not waiting until next Monday), as I was reaching for something not remotely considered healthy, I saw myself slipping back into past bad habits of hiding my weakness from God, hoping He wouldn’t see. However, because I’ve grown closer to God, I didn’t want to do that. I made the choice instead to invite Him into my binge. Now that just seemed weird – invite God into my disobedience. But wait…I not only invited Him into the disobedient moment, but I told Him I was tired of giving into my lack of self control but wanted to want to obey. Then I proceeded to eat what I had fixed…along with a few other things I hadn’t planned on having, none of which tasted very good but I ate anyway. Because of my continued disobedience in this area for a while and needing to re-break bad habits, I already knew that while not impossible, it would be difficult to restart. But I had a desire to obey.
And you know what I found? By inviting God into my mess, I started to feel some of His strength. By telling God why I was behaving the way I was (not because I was rejecting His authority in my life, this was just an area I really struggle with), I started to feel His love. By asking for God’s help instead of pushing Him away, I am sitting here typing this feeling hopeful. And the best part? Thoughts of food that had permeated my mind for weeks are starting to disappear. Thoughts of how much God loves me even when I deliberately sin are lingering instead.
God reminded me of the reasons to keep trying…to keep fighting with His help and of the rewards waiting for me when He helps me overcome in this area in my life. I’m not looking for a certain number on the scale. I’m anticipating a closer relationship with my Father, a stronger relationship with my family, and a healthy balance of enjoying what God created for our pleasure while worshipping Who created it, not what was created. I’m committed to a heart change, not a quick fix.
Would I rather have not had this moment of weakness today and instead started to build my self control muscle weeks ago? Maybe. Not because of the negative consequences that go along with sin (there are always negative consequences because God hates sin), but because I hate to grieve my Father. However, He used even this mistake in my life to show me that He sees and loves my heart for Him even when my actions speak contrary. I’m not waiting until Monday…or even “tomorrow” to hit the restart. I’m taking the love and forgiveness God gave this afternoon when I showed true remorse and confessed my sin and after asking for His strength, I’ve already begun the journey toward self control again.
Will I mess up again before the heart change is fully developed? Probably, but in the meantime, I will keep clinging to God and asking for forgiveness and accepting His love, inviting Him into my mess.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015