Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Power and Faith

Doug and I were recently discussing the behavior of an acquaintance who has decided that he must reject good things that he has been taught, on the basis of the belief that his genetics determine who he must be.

That is an all-too-easy trap to fall into.  The natural man--however its particularities manifest in our specific combination of genes, learned behaviors and individual temptations and limitations--is a difficult thing to contend with.  Making matters more challenging, and often more confusing, is an adversary who is constantly whispering, "This is who you are.  Just give in."

A phrase that always makes me bristle a little bit, whether spoken in indignant hostility or weary resignation, is "That's just who I am."

No.  You can choose who you are.  That is not to say that you aren't born with very real, innate challenges, and that more aren't heaped on you during childhood and adolescence by the decisions of those around you, over which you have little control.  But ultimately, you decide who you are and what you do.  So high cholesterol runs in the family; that doesn't mean you sit on your backside all day, eating donuts and bacon, because its just a bad gene and there's nothing you can do about it.  No, you get up off your duff and take action--you make a smarter, healthier choice.  And you know what?  You may exercise faithfully day in, day out, and eat salads and veggies and whole wheat and very little meat or sugar and still have high cholesterol, because sometimes the frailty or weakness never goes away entirely, but if you stay dedicated to choosing something better, you could extend your life (and good health) for another 10 or 15 years.

One of the lies that the adversary falls back on most often and most effectively is the thought that you can't be anything other than the sum of your animal impulses or personal frailties.  That you are what you are, and its not only pointless, but counterproductive to fight that.  But remember that when God cast Lucifer out of the garden, he told the serpent that while he would have the power to bruise the heels of the children of Adam and Eve, we would have the power to crush his head.  Satan wants you to believe that he's more powerful than you are.  He wants you to believe that your genetics or upbringing are insurmountable--so a part of who you are that you cannot change them, and shouldn't.

But you are child of God.  You have been lovingly created by an all-powerful Father, in His image, with the potential and capacity to become all that he is.  That is real power.  Remember, when Satan tries to get you to misuse the gift that is your body that he is doing so because he forfeited that gift when he rebelled.  All beings who have bodies have power of those who don't.  Remember that.  When you've landed flat on your back and you feel broken and stuck, remember that you are a child of God with the power to choose who and what you will be.  Seek God's grace to lift you from the ground, and then get up and walk forward, even if you have to limp for a while.  You'll get there.  He'll make up the difference.

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