Yesterday, at 5.30 am, my husband spoke the dreaded words…”are you getting up?” Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled! What he meant was “are you going to open both eyes, drag yourself out of bed, get dressed and stumble into the gym or you are going to lie there and listen to me exercise while Guilt eats away at the flab around your waist that you should be burning off on the treadmill?” He is a concise man, I will give him that and I was tempted to see how much fat Guilt could consume, but I go up.
Huffing and puffing on the treadmill, I glanced over to him, sitting on the stationary bike…he didn’t seem all that fresh either and I struggled not to gloat. “Struggling?” I asked. “A little”, came the answer. It was right then that something so profound came out of my mouth that I thought “I’d better write this down, ‘cause it’s GOOD!” I said to him “the only reason I’m still running is because I haven’t given myself permission to stop”.
I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since…contemplating how often we give ourselves permission to do something we shouldn’t do, or permission to omit doing that which we should. How many marriages and families would still be intact if partners did not give themselves permission to do whatever it was they did, how many more children would be alive if society didn’t give itself permission to kill their babies, how much poorer pharmaceutical companies would be if we didn’t give ourselves permission to drug ourselves into oblivion to medicate pain that Jesus is more than able to heal?
I wonder how many wounds would have been spared the people around us if we stopped to ask ourselves why we have given ourselves permission to be unkind, cruel, derogatory and unloving. Who gave us permission to back-stab and gossip, to be selfish, uncaring or wallowing in self-pity? Surely not our Father, or our Savior or Holy Spirit living inside us.
I am reminded of David, who having returned from a raid, found himself raided, Ziglag burned down and plundered and all the women and children abducted. His men, greatly distressed, wanted to stone him and he could have easily given himself permission to quit, to wail, to given in to self-pity, but he didn’t. David “encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord, his God” (1 Sam. 30:8)
I like David, probably because I relate to the way he often talked to himself. I too, I have a constant dialogue running through my mind. As much as I love people, I am very happy to talk to myself and I learn from David how to do it well, instead of the toxic way I used to speak to myself before. In Psalm 45:5 we are privy to a conversation his spirit man is having with his soul. He says to himself “Why are you cast down, o my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.” (AMP)
What a wonderful example for us to follow! There are times where our inner man just runs away with us and that is when we need for our spirit man to rise up and say to our soul…”Do not pass go! You do not have permission to go there, you do not have permission to give up, you do not have permission to behave like that!” If our spirit man does not rise up and take dominion, our soul and our flesh will take dominion and that is never pretty.
Is this even possible, I ask myself? Do you have to be David, God’s anointed king, to be able to master this discipline? No, I don’t believe so. “What do you know?” I hear you ask. Not a lot, in the greater scheme of things, but this much I do know: I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me! (Phil.4.13)
Will you pray with me?
Lord Jesus, my spirit man was made new the moment I accepted You as my Lord and Savior. Your Spirit lives in me, but I confess that there are times when my soul and my flesh fails me, when I give myself permission to take my eyes off You and focus them on the situation around me, when I give in to temptation, frustration and fear and I allow my mouth to run away with me. Will You please strengthen my spirit man today, so that I am able to live like David lived – conscious of my inner man and its influence over me. This morning I declare that You have not given me a spirit to fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Amen!