My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
Galatians 5:16-20 (MSG)
It seems this recent election will go down in history more for what people didn’t want than for what they did. It can be a very powerful motivation; knowing what you don’t want.
It is an appeal we hear often in the scriptures—an appeal to a Holy Discontent that moves us to move in another direction. My friends in the AA recovery community have a saying:
When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired… you’re ready.
The Prodigal Son story in Luke 15, and God’s response to creation through Noah, and the arrival of Jesus into the story were all expressions of what they didn’t want… what was going on could not go on any longer so a stepping into and a moving away from the status quo became an entry point for change.
We each have this opportunity every day when we decide what we want and what we don’t want, and then set in motion our strengths and abilities to enter into as well as to avoid. And so it is with temptation-Death and with freedom-Life. What is it I pursue, and what is it I steer clear from?
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
A “Will” is a powerful thing. It is one of our God-Like characteristics and traits. It can be hijacked by the flesh and kingdom of darkness or it can be free to choose well—to commit and be faithful to a mission and a King—committing to a certain kind of life that once committed will be tested as well as trained. Turning away from something can be a good thing, motivating for a time, but a mission and a hope are far better for the spiritual battles that lie ahead. Obedience will get you through a few moments, but nothing will help you and I stay the course like Love. We wrote in The Heart of a Warrior…
You can serve someone and not love them. But it is impossible to be In Love with someone and not serve them. And it won’t feel like service but rather a being compelled to see them safe, cared for, provided and protected for.
A choice against can be a good choice, knowing and declaring what you don’t want… but a choice FOR is always much, much better.
Dear God, Holy Trinity… We choose YOU! We come to you now, bowing hearts and heads to you and all that you are; creator, sustainer, protector and provider. You alone are Life and we take our place in your Life today. Thank you for Loving us, coming for us, and for making a place for us in your great family in the midst of all you are doing to recover and restore all things, including us. We trust you, and we receive your Life and Love this day. Fill us until we are at a wonderful place of Holy Discontent.
Father, we trust you and open our hearts to you afresh and anew this day. We desire to move toward you and away from the false-self/flesh that opposes Life and Love. Teach and train us up, Father, in the Kingdom ways. Orient our hearts and minds to the evil that is at work against our true selves and the evil that can, or so often attempts to, keep us living small. We declare we need you to Father us and believe you and only you are able to handle our hearts and our journey to becoming more.
Jesus, you are who we proclaim as King. We also declare that it is you who we long to become. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart attuned to your presence and your voice in our lives. Bring us to a Life of more, nudge us away from a life of less.
Holy Spirit, we love you and thank you and praise you this day. Thank you for taking up residence in us, for inhabiting us and making us one with you. We profess we need you and we need your guidance, counsel, teaching, and comfort. Bring conviction into our hearts, Holy Spirit, the kind that moves us from things we no longer want or need and toward you—ALL that we could ever hope for or imagine.
Jesus, we pray for your protection and provision against Satan, the fallen world, and the false-self. We confess without you we don’t stand a chance… with you the sky is the limit. You alone can lead us to the victory in which you have already won. We claim that victory now and forever. You are the hero of this story, and you have triumphed over sin, death, and bondage. We claim the freedom of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He has provided on our behalf as sons and daughters, adopted into the glorious family of God and now co-heirs with Christ, beloved by the Father. We declare the glory and the majesty of the King of kings, Jesus Christ, right now over our hearts, our homes, and all of our roles and parts to play in this Larger Story the Father is unfolding. We pray all this in the matchless name of Jesus over us, for us, and against our enemies.
We choose Jesus and In His name alone we pray, Amen and AMEN!