Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Like many of you, New Years is a time when I reflect on the past and set goals for the next year. My primary resolution for 2020 is to grow in my walk with God in the area of Self-Control. This is restorative in nature, cuz I kind of lost it around the waistline…but it’s more than just the mirror or the scale. I want to regain what scripture calls “self mastery” over my mind and body.

I gain a little bit of weight every year around the holidays.  For most of the year, I’m fairly conscious of what I eat and drink, maintaining a high level of physical activity.  I even count calories to ensure that I keep things balanced.  But during the holidays, it seems right to let my guard down and enjoy the qualities and quantities I’ve been avoiding. Relaxing the militant resolve brings laughter and is good for the soul, and I always end up a little bloated & plump afterward.  I’m totally fine with this, I think it’s a good & healthy rhythm…as long as I keep it under control.  I pretty much blew it this year; and today as I begin Day #4 of the Whole30 eating plan, I’m becoming more keenly aware of the effects.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with enjoying rich/sugary foods and drinks, or alcohol for that matter.  We know this through God’s Word.  I won’t take any time to lay that out in detail right now, but the counsel of scripture is that all things are to be enjoyed within the boundaries of self-control.  The Greek word used in scripture is “engkratia”, which means “self-dominion” or “mastery from within.”  When we’re living in Christ, and He holds the reins of our lives, He enables us to maintain mastery over anything that would disrupt our union with Him.  But as we all know, moments of indulgence are a slippery slope.  Indulgence is an interesting word, it speaks of satisfying an inner desire.  So for example, during the holidays I indulge in food & drink in a way that I avoid all year long; satisfying that desire in the process.  Only it doesn’t always satisfy, and what then?  Those are the times when healthy indulgence opens the door for temptation, and when I step through the door of temptation – seeking to satisfy cravings all day every day for weeks (or months) at a time – then I find myself a far distance from contentment in Him, and under the control of something else…caught up in a current that I’m not strong enough to swim against.  

When my kids were little, we had an 18-foot round pop-up pool in the backyard.  It was one of the best purchases we ever made during those years!  My kids would swim almost every day, creating all kinds of games and having friends over to join in the fun.  The pool was about 4-feet deep, and the kids were just tall enough to frolic safely.  My wife & I swam with them all the time on hot Summer days & evenings, and one of our favorite activities was making whirlpools.  I was the best whirlpool maker because I was biggest.  I’d start by yelling “whirlpool!” and then start walking as fast as I could in one direction against the outer-wall of the pool.  The kids would line-up behind me and we would keep charging ahead, ever faster, until all the water in the pool was moving with us in a strong circular current. Then we would float on balls & pool noodles in circles.  Eventually we’d get tired of that, and then it was time to stop the whirlpool.  The kids were never tall or strong enough to do that, so I had to walk against the current alone until the whirlpool stopped…which always required significant effort and several minutes while the kids were virtually helpless.  Have you ever tried to walk against a whirlpool, river current, or ocean rip-tide?  Have you ever found yourself caught-up in a type of self-indulgence that created a spiritual current in your soul that you seemed virtually helpless to withstand?

We all struggle with giving-up self-control in times of temptation – and there are thousands of covert tactics used by the enemy of our souls that lure us away from trusting in the Father’s ways…that what He provides will truly fulfill and satisfy us.  At the moment when we begin to doubt that remaining in God’s ways will truly satisfy us, and that the alternative is actually what we really want…THAT is the moment when the strong current begins churning; and the longer we stay in it, the more difficult and futile our efforts become to free ourselves from its force.  Thankfully, we have a Big Strong Daddy who can come to the rescue and walk against it, restoring control and freedom from the disorder and chaos.  Sometimes this repentance process takes longer, and is more difficult, than others.  It depends upon how strong we allowed the current to become before giving up, and how willing we are to allow the Father complete control to make it right.  He alone is strong enough to restore the balance, self-control, and purpose that He created us for; and He waits in eager expectation to do so.

1 Peter 5:6-10
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Galatians 5:22-23
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL.”