A couple of weeks ago our Pastor talked about the struggle we all face between our flesh and our goals. He used the example of smoking cigarettes. He has never met a smoker who didn’t want to quit. As much as we desire to reach our goals, often we must battle against ourselves to achieve those goals.
I for one have been wanting to lose weight for years, but the changes it required in my lifestyle every day were more difficult to implement than my desire to lose the weight, so for years my weight just kept creeping up, little by little. Now I have a goal of walking 500 miles – the Camino pilgrimage. I have one year left to condition my body to be ready to walk more than 10 miles every day (carrying a backpack) for over a month. To reach this goal I’ll have to be intentional and push through a lot of days where I don’t feel like doing the necessary training. My old self has 1,000 excuses for why I don’t need to do this. And just having the deisre to do it and good intentions will not get me there.
I must choose the end goal each day, lace up my boots and get out there. As unpleasant as it is in the moment, those choices and actions are changing my body even when the changes aren’t necessarily visible or measurable.
Yesterday my husband and I went to a state park to do some hiking. The steep and long hills were a challenge for me. When my legs call for more oxygen, my lungs don’t seem to want to cooperate. As I insisted on pushing my body, it eventually stopped me. I was so short of breath that I couldn’t continue. I had to stop and take a “breather”. The next large uphill climb that we faced, I took a different approach. I only went as fast as my lungs could handle, which turned out to be very slow. I didn’t overload them, but I did push them to a level that they could just barely maintain. It wasn’t pleasant. It was rather uncomfortable. But it was worth it.
My years of excuses and avoiding the uncomfortable brought me to obesity. My desire to avoid pain was killing me.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV)
Our spiritual growth is similar. We want a deeper walk with God, but are we willing to make the changes needed to draw closer to Him? Certainly God wants us to walk closer to Him. Are we reading His word each day? Are we spending time in prayer with Him each day? Are we obeying His commands in our lives? Even with our money? Are we turning from sin and seeking His ways? Are we taking every thought captive to obedience to Christ? Are we walking by faith or by sight? Do our decisions demonstrate our deep trust in God? Are we willing to go where He calls us?
Change requires choosing the right path and taking action to walk down it. Good intentions and excuses will get you nowhere. So I’m writing on my calendar what I must do each day to reach my goals. I will listen well to God’s guidance and be ready to follow Him. I am waging war against my flesh.
Lord help us to walk each step with You by faith no matter how slowly we must go. Show us where we’ve been making excuses and falling short of Your best for our lives. Help us Lord to be obedient to Your call and to bring glory to Your great name. Amen.
Keep moving through the tough stuff. Be intentional and consistent and change will happen.
Follow Jesus. Be encouraged. Press on.