Week 1 Abide and Rest
Change of Heart
When we bring our flesh into submission to the Holy Spirit, we begin to participate now in the great blessing of those final days when God will bring all earthly things to an end and usher His children into the glory and peace of eternity with Him. We may be surprised by struggle and discomfort along the way, but for solace we have the overwhelming sweetness of being at peace in His presence. Freed from the power of sin, our souls find rest in Him.
hen I began my own walk toward freedom, I had a vivid dream in which I matter-of-factly removed my head from my body and set it aside. I soon became miserably sick from eating too many high fiber foods, and realized that the dream's imagery of separation of mind from body accurately illustrated the way I was making health decisions. I had ignored what I knew about my unique physical body in order to follow my version of the righteous requirements of the law. Worse, I called this self-imposed law "walking by the Spirit."
Walking according to the Spirit doesn’t mean we are to ignore our physical bodies, but that the Holy Spirit led mind should have the final say over the flesh. If we follow our own ideas of what is righteous, we will find ourselves under the law. The Lord doesn’t want us to follow a plan; He wants us to abide in Him.
Along my own path I faced several physical challenges. For a period of several months I had such uncomfortable lower back pain that I was forced to abandon the walking program that had enabled me to lose my first ten pounds. I journaled many pages detailing my upset over trying so hard to do everything right and then having roadblocks rise up in front of me.
When I finally sought the Lord’s guidance, I was reminded of Jesus’ response to a perfectly nice looking fig tree that had no fruit (Mark 11). The fully leafed-out tree looked just fine, but Jesus cursed it as a symbol of those who cared more for outward appearances than they did for bearing fruit for the Lord. The lack of fruit on a tree that ought to have spent its energy growing figs rather than leaves angered our Lord.
I was well on my way to following a set of self-imposed rules toward a lower number on the scale. If I'd been allowed to continue on this path, I might have—just like the fig tree—looked fine on the outside, but no actual change would have happened in my heart. God calls us to true freedom; He doesn't want us to exchange one sort of bondage for another. This sort of slavery to self-imposed rules prevents us from entering into the Lord’s rest.
God does not want us to rejoice in self-control or cling to it as though it was our salvation. He wants us to rejoice in Him. We need to stop looking for self-control and look for our Savior.
Pray: Lord, I want my heart’s number one priority to be a desire for You. Please do what is necessary to remake me into one who loves the Heavenly Father best of all. I freely give You access to every hidden corner of my heart. Help me give You first priority and trust You more. Amen.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.