The War Within

I wish sometimes she would just shut up and let me have what I want without making me feel guilty about it. I’m talking about that inner voice, the one that puts a damper on everything.

All I wanted was some of those sugar crusted spice drops.  I could just taste the sparkly sugar dissolving in my mouth…  Or that buttered popcorn, dripping with golden deliciousness…

But then the voice. “You don’t need it.”

Fine. I don’t need it. But I definitely want it.

“Your body doesn’t need it. Let it go. Fill your hunger with something healthier.”

Now my choices are to heed or to ignore the voice. Either way I will live with a regret. IMG_20180503_103424152Either momentary regret passing up something delightful to my senses, or lasting regret living with the effect it has in my body.  I’d love to say I had the discipline and maturity to choose the latter each time, but I don’t. There’s a battle between my inner child and my inner adult, and it’s evident when you look at my body, that my inner adult doesn’t always win.

The same holds true in the spiritual world…

That gossip sure sounds enticing. Just the thought of staying abreast of people’s lives and being in the know… Or that computer game that I just might beat with a little more time…

“You don’t need it.”

Sure, I don’t need to do either. But I want to.

“Your spirit doesn’t need it. Let it go. Fill your time with something healthier.”

The choices remain the same: heed or ignore the voice. The consequences also remain the same. Momentary regret or lasting regret. I’d love to say that I had the spiritual maturity and discipline to win these battles, but just like in the physical world, I don’t. In fact, I find winning these battles harder because it’s way easier to live with a fat, sluggish spirit than it is to live with a fat, sluggish body. No one can see it so it’s easy to hide it and even live in denial.

Why not end the war and just do what I want? After all, it’s not a salvation issue.

Maybe not, but it’s definitely a health issue.

Being healthy provides a higher quality of life than being unhealthy. I feel better when I’m healthy. I can be more active when I’m healthy. I can better enjoy interactions with my family and friends when I’m healthy.

Again the same is true with my spirit. Being spiritually healthy provides a higher quality of spiritual life than being unhealthy. I feel better and can be more active for God when I’m spiritually healthy. I can have more fun following God’s lead as I interact with people when I’m spiritually healthy.

So… maybe I don’t want that inner voice to shut up after all.

 

 

 

Relevant Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 10:23 Amplified Bible (AMP)  All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

1 Tim 4:7b Amplified Bible (AMP)  … discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (keeping yourself spiritually fit).

Romans 7:23 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)   I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body.

Deep Inside a Flower

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend told her.

“No, there isn’t,” she responded.

“Yes, there is. I can see God pouring His love all over you, watering you as if you were a flower. Only you can’t feel it.”

On the surface, she had come to know God’s love and presence, and to a degree could accept that, but deep down was a whole different story. She could feel the darkness that she believed was down there, and was afraid to find out that she was right.

“No,” she shook her head. “There’s nothing good in me.”

“I don’t believe that. I see you as a bud, closed up tightly around great beauty. And I see God slowly and gently opening your petals, one by one.”

Fear rose up in her. What if He really was doing that? What if He gets to the center of her IMG_20180416_204207978being and finds only darkness there? Maybe even evil. And demons.

“What if I’m afraid?”

“It’s OK. God knows that. And He will go only as fast as you are able. He won’t force you.”

“Maybe, but I can’t take the chance.” She really, really didn’t want to find out she had demons.  She had heard of plenty of people who had had demons cast out of them. She shuddered just thinking about it. What would that be like, having a demon cast out? Maybe like having a nasty worm in your stomach pulled out through your mouth. She had seen a video of that once. Or like having leprosy on the inside that would gross out anyone who saw it. She’d rather hide her darkness than subject others to it. Her petals would have to remain closed.

Later, they talked about it some more. She took in his words, hoping he was right, but knowing that he wasn’t.

The next night, they attended a prayer meeting together. She listened in amazement as the speaker for the night spoke about… she could hardly believe it… how God opens His people little by little, to reveal the beauty that is inside them.

No way, she thought. That has to be more than a coincidence. She got excited thinking that maybe… but no. That was true for other people but not for her. She knew there was nothing but darkness inside her. She could feel it.

The next night, she had an unexpected visit from a friend. This friend handed her a vase with a magnolia bud and a red rose in it. She thanked her friend and had a nice visit, but she didn’t think much about the flowers.

Until the next day.

The magnolia bud had opened during the night – and the flower was absolutely beautiful! Somehow she knew beyond a doubt that this flower was from the Lord. She could feel His love and presence and knew that He was doing something deep within her. As she yielded to Him, she began looking forward to finding out what that something was.

It would take years for her petals to fully open. But when they did, she found out she had been wrong all along. Instead of darkness, she found Light. Instead of evil and demons needing to be cast out, she found His great love for her. She realized  her fear had been lying to her all those years.

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend, now husband, had told her those many years ago. Now she finally knew that it was true. There WAS something beautiful deep inside her. And that something was called Jesus.

A Spiritual Cold, Follow Up

She contemplated what she had heard. A spiritual cold. She had had a spiritual cold. What in the world was a spiritual cold?

She thought about physical colds and realized she really didn’t know much about them other than how they felt when she had them.

So she googled cold and found everyone pretty much said the same things:

colds are harmless viral infections,

 the very young and the very old seem to be the most vulnerable but colds and infect anyone,

most people recover from a cold in 7-10 days, unless they develop a complication which would be bad,

viruses spread through droplets in the air or by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a virus, and enters the body through the mouth, eyes, or nose,

there are some ways to help prevent some colds: wash hands, disinfect stuff, use tissues, don’t share, steer clear of colds, take care of yourself,

 

OK, she knew all that. But what about making a person stronger?

She did some more searching and found that colds can be a sign of a healthy immune system, and that early exposure to colds and viruses will develop stronger immune systems reducing the likelihood of getting sick later in life. She also read that a cold or flu allows the body to cleanse itself and the immune system becomes stronger to fight future infections.

So, she concluded, a physical cold is uncomfortable, but actually good for you.

Hmmm… so how does that relate to a spiritual cold?

She did a comparison.

Physical cold – the young and the old are more susceptible                                    

Spiritual cold – she was spiritually young, just a baby Christian pretty much

Physical cold – spreads from someone else through the air or physical contact and enters the body through mouth, eyes, or nose

Spiritual cold – not sure how the nose fits in, but she knew information and ideas entered into her heart through what she let herself see (eyes) and think about (eat/mouth), maybe even what she talked about.

Physical cold – the uncomfortable symptoms are the result of a healthy immune systems called into action

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Spiritual cold – her uncomfortable symptoms are actually good and show that her spirit is strong

Physical cold – makes the immune system stronger

Spiritual cold – makes her spirit stronger

Physical cold – there are way to prevent some colds: wash hands, disinfect, stay away from those with colds, take care of yourself

Spiritual cold – there are ways to avoid some spiritual colds: ask forgiveness for sins, clean out her books and TV choices and kill anything that may contain a virus, stay away from people with wrong ideas, and make sure she took care of herself both spiritually and physically which included daily time with God (exercise), read/listen to healthy messages (eat well), live in God’s peace by trusting Him (rest).

 

Wow, she thought. There are spiritual viruses all around me. So many different thoughts and ideas, temptations and sin. There is no way to avoid them. But even though something unclean entered my spirit, my spirit was strong enough to defeat it without my mind knowing all the details – and got stronger in the process. God had been right! She sat in awe of her Creator and the way He gave both her body and her spirit the ability to handle and even prevent whatever viruses came her way. What an amazing Creator her God was!

Shark Teeth

Shark teeth. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent searching among broken shell pieces at the beach over the years for these tiny treasures. It doesn’t matter. Although for most things I’m not a process person, this is one area I enjoy the process as much as the product. There’s so much peace in the search – a way to forget about everything else for a few hours – that I never regret going even when I don’t find any shark teeth.

On this particular day, I was competing with the tide so I had to look fast. Shark teeth are easiest to find at the lowest tide, and I was already an hour late getting to the beach. As I walked through the breaking waves, not finding any teeth, I sent up a quick prayer.

“Lord, would you open my eyes to see any shark teeth that are here?”

Not putting too much hope in a prayer I had prayed many times before without results, I continued on.

A little while later I found a nice sized tooth. Most of the teeth I find are really tiny, and only occasionally do I find a tooth as big as this one. Thankful for the tooth, I continued down the beach. It became harder and harder to see the shells tumbling beneath the crashing surf as the tide moved in . Giving up, I turned around to head back , this time combing through the shells at the high tide line. By the time I made it back where I had started, I had given up finding a tooth in the dry sand and decided to try the breaking waves again. Lo and behold – there was a second nice size tooth! Thrilled, I tucked the tooth in my zippered pocket with the first one. Then something made me glance up at the sky. The blue expanse ahead of me was beginning to look overcast. I turned around and stared. The sky had turned black with angry billowing rain clouds racing towards me!

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No more time to enjoy the hunt, I headed towards the place I had entered the beach. But of course, not being able to pass a pile of shells without looking for any teeth that may be hiding there, I walked with one eye on the line of shells and the other eye on the approaching storm. Hurrying to beat the rain, I didn’t really expect to find anything. But wait.. could that be? Yes! A third good size tooth! Three! It reminded me of the Trinity.

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Unbidden a thought entered my mind. “One from each of us.”

Before I had time to react, it continued, “Because we love you.”

Was that God talking to me? Or was it just my imagination? I don’t usually think of God as a Trinity. But knowing that God is God of all of me, and that He is fully capable of planting His words in my mind, I choose to believe that I received an amazing gift from Him that day.

I looked up at the sky.

“I love you, too!” I whispered. Then hurried to my car where I could enjoy the storm in safety.