One of the most important struggles I faced and still face on a daily basis is living in the flesh instead of living in the spirit. What I mean by that is, do I choose to live my day in what I want to do, or do I choose to live my day in what Jesus wants me to do? If I want to live in freedom, then I must choose to live my life every day with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is the fight I face every day.
The flesh can be very strong. I like to get things done. I am a doer. But, I also like to spend time with Jesus. I know if I don’t spend time with Him my day isn’t going to be lived the way He wants me to live it. I have to rely on Him constantly. As I get older, I realize that my days are precious. Because I am more towards the end of my life than the beginning, I want my days to count. Writing this blog is one of the ways I want my life to count. I want to be able to help others grow closer to Jesus. Leaning on Jesus is the only healthy way to live. If I rely on myself, then things are not going to go so well.
Jesus in his flesh had to die so we could live. We have to do the same thing on a daily basis. The Laurie I created needed to die, so the Laurie that Jesus created could live. My fleshly desires have to be dealt with on a daily basis. I have a tendency to be fear oriented. But why should I be afraid if I have Jesus in me? I still battle this one. I fear anyone like a doctor or dentist who has complete control over me. In my mind I know they are trying to help me but in my heart I still fear them. This struggle is huge for me. Because my Dad abused his power over me it has caused me to fear anyone who has power over me. I am still a work in progress on this one.
I have PTSD. It is very real. I have been told by my counselor and my doctor that my brain has the affects of someone that was in a war zone every day of their life. I have the fight or flight syndrome. I have done everything humanly possible to help me get over this. I take medication and have gone through intensive counseling. I don’t know if I will ever get over it, but I know that I only can with the help of Jesus. I have spent countless hours in prayer and reading scripture. I know that if He wants to heal me, He will. I just have to trust Him. It sounds so silly to say that I am still a frightened little girl at my age, but when it comes to certain things, I am. Paul prayed for a thorn in his flesh to be removed and it wasn’t. I consider this to be the thorn in my flesh. Maybe it will be removed someday, but I need to allow God to use it in my life. This thorn has definitely brought me closer to Him and taught me so much, so I am thankful for that.
I have learned that how I respond to what happens to me is also very important. I hate to admit this, but for over 40 years I responded to a trial or issue by feeling defeated, angry, vengeful or victimized. In Acts 13:49-52, there is a story about Paul and Barnabas being persecuted by the Jews. Instead of responding in the flesh, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. I know that sounds impossible when it comes to certain situations because our flesh wants justice. We want to take action. But, God asks us to respond in a different way; a way that our flesh doesn’t want to respond.
In the flesh, I would have liked to have hired a hit man many times in my life because I wanted justice. I wanted people to pay for what they did to me and others that I loved. If I would have responded in that way, I would be writing to you from prison right now, or I might be out on parole. But, that is not the way of God.
Nahum 1:2 says, “The Lord is a jealous God; the Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
When I think about wanting justice, I am glad that God is in control of delivering it. My way of doing justice wouldn’t be good because others would get hurt. I am so thankful He has been patient with me. I have pictured Him saying to me, “Laurie, don’t make me come down there!” I don’t want his wrath to come down on me. He will not allow sin to go unchecked forever. God gives people time to change and if they don’t, then they have to suffer the consequences. He is perfectly righteous in what He does. So, I need to leave the justice to Him.
I have to die to my flesh every day just like Jesus did. My flesh wants it’s way, but the spirit has a better way for me to live. If Jesus would have given in to his flesh, then we wouldn’t be celebrating Easter at all. He would have taken off and not died on that cross. When I remember to look at it in that light, then I want to live in the spirit and not the flesh. He died so we can live, so why not live the way He says is best for us?
I am going to leave you with a passage from Romans. Actually, Paul talks a lot about this issue in Romans 7 and 8. He tells us it was a fight for him too. I would like to encourage you to take the time to read these chapters. I have to consciously make an effort to pray and ask the Lord to help me live my day his way and not mine. If I don’t pray that way, then I keep doing the things I don’t want to do. May we choose to live in the spirit fellow sojourners!
Romans 7:21-25 “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”