The alarm clock goes off with a pleasant tune that makes me want to bury myself in the pillow rather than roll out of bed.
Groggily I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling, a silent battle raging in my mind. Should I get up? Five more minutes of shut-eye can’t be that bad…or maybe ten…twenty sounds better. At this point, my carnal mind is telling me: It’s dark out. People don’t get up when it’s dark out. It’s not biologically possible. And the Holy Spirit whispers, Yes. Come away with God. Let Him satisfy you with His love in the morning. If not now, when?
I whisper a plea for His help in the darkness: “Help me, Lord. I need the power to get up. Help me to do this. For You.” And, by His grace, I lift off the covers, hobble downstairs for a
cup pot of coffee, and sit down to refresh my soul with His words. How we need that refreshment, even when our flesh entices us with other pleasures!
Of course, that’s not always the way it happens. Sometimes I reason, in that weird state between dreamland and wakefulness, that God can wait for another half-hour. Or an hour. I hit the snooze more than once. But that’s not what God says. In His great wisdom and love, He knows that only He can satisfy and thrill our souls:
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11
But sometimes we don’t want what we should. Because we’re part of a world that’s still broken, even as born-again Christians, we have to wage war against our fleshly desires. We taste and see that the Lord is good, but we are still sometimes– more than sometimes for me– reluctant to bring him our anxieties, to pray the prayer we’ve been praying for years, to fellowship with brothers and sisters, or to soak in Scripture– even though we know they’re good for us!
1. The Christian life is a life of self-denial.
“If any man would come after Me, let him take up his cross and deny Himself.” Luke 9:23
Our lives as daughters and sons of the King are characterized by denying our own fleshly will to follow His. It’s not supposed to be easy! If it was, more would find it– it would be the broad way rather than the narrow path. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, refers to this battle between our flesh and Spirit as the “good fight of faith”. It’s a fight– it always will be, until we see Him face-to-face. But it’s a “good” fight because the rewards far, far outweigh the costs!
2. Don’t give up praying.
Francis Fenelon said, “Time spent in prayer is never wasted.” There have been many moments during my prayer times when I’ve prayed for the same thing, wondering, as the Hebrews did in the movie The Prince of Egypt, if it would prove in vain. But He is so very faithful. He is telling us, “don’t give up, don’t stop asking, don’t stop pressing in, don’t stop seeking my face, for ‘he that endures to the end will be rewarded with the crown of life.’”
If you need more desire for the Word– ask. If you need more desire to pray, ask. If you need patience with someone, ask. Be totally dependent on His enlightenment. Keep praying. Find Scripture and pray it to Him. When we recognize our weakness, and how much we need Him, God responds in beautiful ways.
3. Immerse yourself in the Word
The way we diminish the grip this world can have on us is by finding a strong desire to please God. We experience this pleasure and desire through the book He gave to us! When we begin to see how beautiful Jesus Christ is, we avoid the things that would cause us to stumble and feel distant from Him. But you don’t do this alone– our Lord Himself opens our eyes because we are “blinded to the glory of the gospel of Christ” by nature. Though we’re born again, Satan does everything in his power to stop us from seeing and “savoring” (as John Piper puts it) God.
Immerse yourself in the Word and pray to see Jesus as He really is. Through the eyes of faith, fall more and more in love with the God you serve.