The battle has begun. Apparently, posting a blog about Living Like You’re Dead is asking for trouble. I don’t think of myself as being that significant in this world, so I was surprised when I began to feel that I was under attack. I started the week pondering how to take the lesson I had written about and put it into practice in my life. I knew that I needed to lay aside the selfishness that is so often driving me. I sought the Scriptures. Monday, at lunch, I did some Bible reading on my Kindle, then switched over to the Sudoku game. Tuesday, the pull of the game was too much and I never opened the Bible app. Wednesday morning, I deleted the Sudoku game. It seems silly, but I really felt like it was getting the better of me.
All week, I had trouble getting out of bed and trouble staying awake and focused on my Bible reading. If my sister weren’t around to herd me, I probably wouldn’t have gone to Life Group. I didn’t have any good reason not to go; I simply felt grumpy and wanted some time to myself. There is that self again. It was in the shower before Life Group that I was thinking through things and began to suspect that I was under attack. The week went on, and when I was about to begin typing up this blog, I had this sudden thought that my toilet needed cleaned. I almost diverted myself from the time I had set aside for writing, to clean my toilet. Now, I do get strange enjoyment from housecleaning, but wanting to clean the toilet instead of writing is a sign that something is wrong.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. . .Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Revelation 3:15-17, 19
I am suddenly more aware than ever of the detours that my thoughts and actions are taking. I have never felt so selfish about my time. Part of me thinks that in a battle such as this, just knowing it’s a fight will inspire me to overcome by sheer determination. Yet, this week, I felt tired and less stubborn than usual. My thoughts led me back to an old friend, A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. Tozer wrote about the necessity of removing from our hearts all of our treasures, so that God could reign there: “Let the inquiring Christian trample under foot every slippery trick of his deceitful heart. . .Let him insist that God accept his all, that He take things out of his heart and Himself reign there in power.”
This week, I also stumbled upon a new understanding of an often quoted verse, 2 Corinthians 4:7. For some reason, I can’t remember hearing this verse in context. I fear that translators may have done us a disservice by separating verses six and seven with a heading in between. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay,” verse seven begins. We need verse six to instruct us of the treasure that is being referred to. Verse six tells us, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” This is the treasure that we have within ourselves; we are the jars of clay. And the reason we have this treasure within ourselves is “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Some translations call us ‘earthen vessels.’ We are fragile and weak. We cannot accomplish things by our own power, and so God’s power is obvious when anything is accomplished through us.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
It is clear that I need to rely on strength and power from God if I want to live a life surrendered to Christ. I have my part to play: prayer, discipline, Scripture intake. Yet it is only God’s power that can give me victory. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul records that God told him, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason Paul spoke of boasting in his weaknesses. Somehow, I don’t image that Paul was boasting about selfishness; instead, he listed afflictions. But I supposed I can boast of the fact that I am nothing without my Savior. I need to learn, more and more, to look to Him to find the strength I need to walk in joyful obedience. To paraphrase Tozer, I need God’s help to rip out by the root these weeds of self that are in my heart.
I don’t mean to be overly dramatic about the little things this week that made me feel as though I were under attack. Perhaps it was just hormones making every choice feel like a battle. Even so, the struggle is real, and so is the Enemy. Like a warrior, I want to be alert to the Enemy and the dangers around me. I know that there is nothing wrong with playing games on my Kindle, but when I know that God has other things He wants me to do with that time, I need to be disciplined. Because ultimately, I want to be hot – on fire – and not just muddling through the motions of Christian life.