The Struggle is Real
By the first or second week in February, most new year’s resolutions are abandoned. The goals we create to improve our lives lose their focus when faced with the daily chores of hard work they require. We fall back into the habits and tendencies of our past. They are comfortable. Change is not.
While many do not like the idea of change, it seems, at least based on the principle of creating resolutions each year, that we have an underlying desire for it. When I was unsaved, my heart yearned for the love of Christ, yet I would have never known or easily accepted that was what my life was missing. During the season of my adult life where I was without Christ and living in a depression filled state, I gained over 100 pounds. Overeating became a coping mechanism for the guilt and shame I felt because of my severe gambling addiction.
Immediately upon finding the love of Christ fill my heart, I was drawn in directions away from the sin issues of my past. Cursing, drinking, smoking were the first parts of my past that would be erased from my future. When I look back at how quickly and easily those fell off, like a jacket shed while standing in the sunshine of spring, I struggle looking at the scale today wondering why my weight hasn’t done the same thing.
When I left my paycheck job to follow Christ, I would walk for hours around my apartment every day – praying and talking to God. I lost more than 40 pounds during that time. I thought I was well on my way to leaving another issue of my past behind me. Fast forward five years and the weight and returned and brought friends.
I could try and blame kids for zapping my energy, the coldness of winter or my wife’s good cooking for the gained weight, but the truth is that I became comfortable in my identity after Christ showed up in my life. I didn’t care what I looked like anymore because I truly knew the love of God who loved me as I was. I was a sinner. He died for me on the cross. Understanding that love can release people from seeing themselves in a negative light.
I’ve learned that knowing the love of God isn’t a pass to stay in the sins of your past just because you have been forgiven and know who you are in Christ.
When I was battling my biggest demon – a severe gambling addiction – I would get physical pains in my stomach when I would step foot inside a casino. This pain I believe was a manifestation of conviction from the Holy Spirit to try and deter me from continuing in my sin. No other sin in my life that has been removed carried such a natural indicator to stop. Those heavy convictions allowed me to find complete freedom from the biggest sin issue in my life.
The other sins I found victory against came with a conviction that was more of a loving nudge in my mind and spirit, like when I was smoking on one of my early post Christ walks and the Holy Spirit asked me why bother walking if I was still going to smoke. I threw the pack in the nearest dumpster and never smoked again.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:7-9
These sins we struggle with are constant reminders in our lives that, while Christ died to save us from them, we do not yet fully posses the inheritance God has for us. However, we do have access to that full inheritance through prayer, the hunger to deepen our personal relationship with God and the faith to act differently based on His convictions.
Paul asks in the above verses from Galatians why would someone who knows the freedom that Christ can bring your life continue to be a slave to sin?
That is a great question. One that has been asked since the dawn of our faith. I know I am still a slave to sin in some areas including how I treat my health. I hope this year to pursue a deeper relationship and find freedom from being overweight and unhealthy. I know I am loved as I am but I also know that my sentence, or my purpose, from God cannot be written from an early grave and that my testimony to others suffers when I continue to struggle.
God can deliver us from our struggles, but we must desire to change. We must fight against our flesh of comfortability. We must be willing to seek the gentle nudge of conviction as much as we thirst for a physical indicator to know something is wrong. When we reach that point, it is our turn to act. You move, God moves.
Do you want the struggle you’re facing to be over? Get thirsty for change. Pray and ask God for help. Believe that the future God has for you is better than the past you keep going back to. This is a lesson I still am learning myself. So I know that it is easy to say, but not always easy to do. For me, I’m ready for change, I’ll let you know how it goes.
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