I love chocolate. Specifically, I love dark chocolate mostly but any chocolate that is real and alone will do. Now, the downside to my love of chocolate is my strong dislike of the consequences of having too much. For instance, I break out and my clothes get smaller overnight. Now, relying too much on anyone thing for happiness is completely foolish unless that thing you are relying on is an eternal and good thing. Otherwise your reliance is founded in something temporary, something evil (the opposite of good). This makes sense, right? So my reliance on chocolate to make me happy or alcohol or drugs or gambling or pornography or other things would expend energy that could be used for lasting and good purposes to bring glory to and worship God and instead distorts, damages, delays, detracts and completely screws up your life eventually for the enemy’s gain and laughter at your falling for it again. The opposite of good is evil. There is a definite and consistent stark contrast in the Bible between good and evil. There are not varying shades of evil or varying shades of good. It is either good or it is evil. That is truth. So, if the reach isn’t for something or someone good, we are reaching for something or someone evil. And anytime we take our chances and run with the evil side because it feels good to do so or has become habit or is familiar and comfortable, we enable the enemy a door to sections of our soul and spirit and help him in his work of killing us. The enemy, Satan, and his spiritual army only seek to destroy the amazing and beautiful people God made and loves. In contrast, when we resist the devil, he flees because he has to. He has already been defeated. So, resisting evil on purpose and reaching for good and eternal things and People will bring peace and love and joy and blessings and a purity renewed that is splendid and healthy. We get to pick. However, we must pick on purpose or it will be picked for us. God gives us the tools we only need open the toolbox and use them to receive the benefits. Prayer, salvation, repentance, Bible study, worship, church support and involvement, service, work. These things are all tools for lasting good and eternal beauty. So great a gift!
Frustration embeds the valiant and pure heart. I am reminded of a quote by Mr. Incredible who asked, “Why can’t they just stay saved?” We who care and love God passionately are definitely swimming up stream most of the time. I mean by that that at times, it is very easy to believe you are the absolute only person on the face of the earth that wants to p!ease the Lord more than yourself, even your own spouse can seem against you. Alone, all alone in the pit of despair. The struggle is daily. The road is not only narrow that leads to life and heaven, but is downright squeezing the life out of you. So, as I have often felt this way lately, if you have, then there are two of us. And if we find one more, then there are more of us. And this is what church is. We are in the same seemingly leaking boat. We are not alone. Another with us is our Creator and Designer. He sees everything. He sees everything. He sees everything. For those living for themselves, this is not a good thing. For those of us fighting for truth and purity and love in the purest form from God, we should be encouraged by this. Because why? This life is so brief. I hear about shootings, accidents, health problems, cancers, etc. that can take us out at any time. But that is not all there is. There is an eternity forever afterwards. And God sees us fight and struggle and press on and stand firm and try to help and serve others. He sees these efforts, these struggles. He sees and takes notes for reward day. It is not for nothing. It is worth the struggle because our struggle is not a physical one and the results are much much more important and lasting than these shells we war with. Our plight is seen by the Unseen. Our epic struggle is attended by the Owner of the arena. Our prayers are heard by the God of Heaven’s Armies. We are not alone. We count. Our efforts are blessed by design and rewarded by pursuit.
A very wise woman one time gave me some great advise, which was to “Pick your battles.” At the time and in my life when I was told that, I didn’t recognize that I was faced with so many battle choices. Now, at a more (ahem) mature age, I understand that we are always at war inside us. There are wars in our mind, wars of the heart, people around us at war with sanity or ignorance in their lives, and a myriad of spiritual attacks we can’t even see. If we attempted to have peace by our own strength, we would have to make peace with all these many battles and then take our break of peace when all that is over, only to be met with forces and attacks we cannot control. So, peace in the midst of battle is not possible unless you befriend the One who already won every battle for us. We must align ourselves with the victor and then pick the little battles we face to work on our character. With my kids, I see a propensity toward one particular flaw, say lying. I do not want my kids to grow up to be liars because it hurts other people, leads down the wrong path and hurts them and other people. So, I will talk to them about it and what happens when we lie and give them a reminder, etc. Well, our Heavenly Father is also a loving parent to us and if we have a propensity toward some sin, He also gives us His Word to instruct and the reminder in the form of the Holy Spirit in our hears to help us. If that doesn’t work with my kids, I punish them to try to convey the importance of the crime. Sometimes God will punish us insomuch as it steers us toward the importance and curbs our behavior. So, we need to look at these battles we face in the correct light. Many are temptations but all are allowed in by God for a purpose. We can pick our battles of the moment to work on our character. If we come at these struggles with a humble, contrite heart and ask God what we need to learn from this and are teachable, often the Lord shows you more directly and then the struggles vanish and the lesson is learned. When we come at battles pridefully and try to tackle them with our strength, the lesson is not learned and the battle will continue or even escalate. If we pick one battle at a time and come to God with the battle choice in one hand and humility in the other, that is how we grow with the least amount of battle scars and trouble and through every battle, there will be peace.