The Daily Battle
Luke 9:23 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
I went for a long run last night, which is usually good meditating time. I felt distracted though and found it hard to listen. I realized my day had been me-focused. I am trying to eat healthy, but I lost self-control and ate all my food for the day by about 10AM. I had several interactions that were selfish on my part. I did not have any obvious destructive failures, but neither had I taken time to focus on God or others. In my pursuit of me and what I wanted (small things), I had become distracted from God and thus, found it hard to talk to him on my run.
Jesus described in this passage what we need to do daily to follow him. In fact, I will insist that this verse sums up the entire Christian life in this one vital concept: Daily leave yourself behind so you can follow me. The bible says it many ways: walk by the spirit, walk in the light, and crucify the flesh. These commands all say what Jesus was saying: Daily leave yourself behind so you can follow me.
Behavior is tremendously difficult to change. I can diet for a day or a week, but to truly change my eating habits long term is painful. Likewise, if I have ingrained destructive behaviors, I can stop them for a short time, but they always creep back, unless I learn to follow Christ’s command to fight this daily battle.
This is a two-step effort that requires purposeful effort daily. I cannot do one step without the other. If I try to leave behind my destructive behaviors without following Christ, I am left with a void that I will fill with some other pursuit of self. Many an addict has succumbed to some cross addiction, leaving behind alcohol, only to pursue sex or gambling. God is always the goal.
Neither can I follow Christ without abandoning self. I once sat in a meeting with a man who tried to tell me of his relationship with God while he was high. With green face sweating and twitching, he talked a hundred miles an hour about how great it was to follow God. As his meth-induced psychosis did not fool me, my pretend pursuit of Christ while following self, will not fool God.
This is where I found myself last night. I was trying to focus on God after a day of pursuing me. I did not even realize it until I found it difficult to focus on God. Daily, I need to do be honest about how I pursue self and daily, I need to work on leaving self behind to follow God.
It was only in doing this last night that I met with the grace, love and life that I was looking for when I set out on my run. This is of course, what turning to Christ does for me daily. It is only in following God that I find the grace that I need. It is in abandoning self and following him daily that I am saved from myself, for him.
I only have these two choices: I can ignore the daily battle and gradually slip into the misery of following me. Or, I can choose to fight the daily battle to abandon self and follow God. It is only in doing this that I find the daily grace that God has for me. It was a good run.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.