OK, my mother often says that you cannot effectively clean an entire house at once. You have to do it one room at a time. I think when it comes to spiritual growth and progression that God looks at our lives the exact same way. As I’ve grown closer to God, I have realized that it’s not him that pressures us to change. Convicts us, yes. But pressures us? No, we let flesh handle that all on it’s own…and it’s usually not the most effective kind of therapy.
I’m starting that off to say that if you have several areas of addiction that you are working through, do not get overwhelmed. If you smoke and drink, pick one and start there. If you read erotica and watch movies, trying letting the movies go and then moving on to the books. Now, I’m not saying that going “cold turkey” is impossible, but from personal experience I can attest to the fact that taking one day—and addiction at a time is more probable. After all, when the Word says that “Love is patient” (I Corinthians 13:4) and that we are to be “Anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6), I believe this also applies to the steps of recovery.
With that said, let me share something with you that God told me the day after he wrote me my love letter (the blog post before this one).
As a writer, I guess it’s an occupational hazard that I journal quite a bit. Well, as I was telling my Father about what a crappy day I was having because spring is in the air and I wanted to indulge in some “illegal activity” (sex…which is for married folks), I found myself thinking (via writing) about why God would care so much about fornication since he is a spirit and it’s an act of the flesh. Of course, again, he took me to the beginning, Genesis and reminded me that it is the act of sex that actually unites flesh; not just the flesh, but the heart.
This is where it gets good. For many, many months, I have been abstinent, but there has been a guy who has been (whether consciously or unconsciously) the object of my affection for many, many years. As I found myself getting ready to throw a temper tantrum about how faithful I had been to God without seeing the “fruit of my labor” (yet), he took me to this scripture:
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”—Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
GOD: Shellie, you get props for saving your body (and yes, I do believe that God speaks to his children in ways that they understand), but what about your heart? I need that, too. That is when I will consider you totally abstinent and faithful to me.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW. To be honest with you, I never really thought of that way until now, nor do I feel guilty about just coming up on that discovery. As long as you stay open, willing and obedient, God will lead you to where you need to be WHEN YOU NEED TO BE THERE. Obviously, God felt there were bigger fish to fry this time last year and the year before that…and the year before that then getting me to become “heart abstinent”. (Trust me, it wasn’t too long ago because I would have scoffed at the possibility of being physically abstinent.) But, I must admit that when I repented of letting a man have access to me in a way (even emotionally) that he should say vows for, it was like a weight was lifted off of me. I don’t know what God is going to do about “that man”, but I know that my heart is lighter now that I have totally left it up to the Father to handle.
So how can I be sure that God told me that? Well, that’s the best part. This past weekend, I went to see Prince of Caspian. When I came out, a girlfriend of mine that I haven’t spoken with in a couple of weeks left me a voicemail that said, “Shellie, I have a quote that made me think of you. I don’t want to leave it on your voicemail because I think I am meant to read it to you so call me as soon as you can.”
When I returned her call, this is what she said:
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that only a man who seeks him can find her.”
Double WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, right? I told her the “50 words or less” version of why I knew that was a confirmation and she said, “Don’t you just love the divine way of things?”
I really do.
So, what does this all have to do with you and your struggles? I dunno. I really was just sharing my praise report (because even advisors have battles, sometimes bigger than you can imagine!), but I guess this also serves as a confirmation for some of you, too. If you are feeling convicted about releasing a habit, maybe ask God if you should try giving him your heart first.
More and more, I am coming to see that where the heart is, the body will follow.
…much easily than when it’s in the reverse. 🙂