I would rather live the scripture than to quote it which means that when I write I always try to write about experienced truth or truth that I am experiencing while at the same time attempting to make sure that what I am writing is truth not just my experience or my own understanding of things. With that in mind, the subject of self control has been especially difficult because while I am excited about what a proper understanding of it will mean in my own life I am not “there yet” with a full grasp of what it is to look like or how it fits with the truth of grace and works.
In the past I worked so hard without grace that I broke from the work and now I so fear the overworking that when life starts to become a little difficult or I find myself in that graceless work mode again, I play the faith card and check out on my responsibility all together. It seems I vacillate from one extreme to the other – either I’m all about grace (or my warped idea of it) and the fact that I can do nothing on my own or I’m all about works and trying to do everything on my own. I am just beginning to get a glimpse of the fact that the two are not mutually exclusive as I have made them to be, but that the greatest experience of grace results in the greatest amount of work.
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things (1 Cor. 9:25).” This is what I want to be absorbed in the life. Self Control. This is where I am. I have a serious lack of self control. I try to gain control of the externals – the situations or people in my world – all the while disregarding the one thing I am called to have control over – me. What if I learned to control the me? The very knowledge that I am called to do so gives me great power and freedom because it contains me. It contains me to me.
I was thinking about self control while running in my neighborhood the other day. Running is a real fleshing out of this principle of controlling the self and I was aiming to stay on pace as I ran the hardest leg of the course. It is about a quarter of a mile hill that starts gradual and ends with what amounts to a small mountain. I was half way up the “mountain” when this man’s voice yells out from a nearby yard, “It’s a l-o-n-g hill!” With the little breath I had, I yelled back a strong, steady, “yes, it is!” Several seconds later when I made it to the top, the same man’s voice calls out, “hallelujah!” and I pumped both fists in the air and said, “Yeah!”
I am just beginning this journey of the understanding and practice of self control in all things. I wanted to make this post about the relationships between the truth, the will, the mind and the emotions as they relate to self control, but I couldn’t because I don’t understand it all yet. This fleshing out faith on earth and all that it entails may be a l-o-n-g hill, but I aim to stay in the race until the eternal hallelujah.