A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse


A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Self-Control

Self-control: the terrifying battle within between our spirit crying out to prioritize God’s will and our flesh demanding that we prioritize our own.

I’m a person prone to extremes. If I taste something and find that I like it, my tendency is to barrel towards it with abandonment and consume, even though what’s really happening is that it’s consuming me. This is one reason why I don’t drink any alcohol. Besides really just not having any use for it or needlessly spending extra money in this manner, I’m afraid if I came to truly enjoy it, I’d keep consuming more. I’m usually one bad decision away from becoming an addict in regards to anything I enjoy.

I’m inclined towards extreme shopping in the love of finding a great bargain, extreme friendship out of a desire for deep connection, and extreme eating. And while I have humbled myself and learned over the years how to handle the first two so I’m not (usually, anyway, so) destructive, after some cringe-worthy situations I’ve gotten myself into, the eating extreme threatens me as if I were standing out on the Atlantic coastline just foolishly disregarding the looming hurricane. I know it’s out there, and if I don’t take the precautions to protect myself and leave the area, it will destroy me.

The extreme eating is one of my biggest stumbling blocks right now to living fully alive: that is, chasing the revealed and unrevealed plans God has for me and conditioning myself in every manner – spiritually, physically, mentally – to be prepared to honor Him in how I react to anything that comes my way.

God is working on me with this. See, I know I can get a handle on it. I lost 50 pounds a few years back, entirely on an exercise and meal plan that I created for myself and self-disciplined to follow, which I say not to toot my horn but merely to show that I know it’s within me to do it. But I also know that God shrouded me in a period of desire and will during that time which strengthened me to say no to my temptations. I’ve been pleading with Him for the last two years to give that to me again, now that I’m 20+ pounds over from what I lost.

He won’t.

There’s a deeper issue to be dealt with this time, and it’s one that He wants me to take the initiative on and claim for myself, purely because I want the adventure He’s placed before me and therefore will do whatever it takes to condition myself to be ready to do His work. I’m being led to give greater attention and energy into temple-maintenance: the temple being me, as it is within me that His Spirit resides (as it is within you, if you love Him and believe), and one key to this is self-control. I’m reading through John right now, and in John 2, Jesus knocks over the tables in the temple in holy anger to remove from the temple what does not belong there (this phrasing was used by one of the brilliant speakers at the writing conference I recently attended), and I know He is telling me that I have to take control of my own temple so that it is a place fit for Him to reside. I do that by purifying and condition – and resting – my mind, body, and spirit, by removing all that doesn’t belong; exercising myself mentally, by challenging my mind with deeper, healthier thought so I am prepared to know and speak and fight for and love with the truth; physically, by keeping fit as much as I am able to so I can go where I am sent and can endure what I’m called to, eating for only the right reasons, and unapologetically letting myself rejuvenate (I’m trying so hard to talk my husband into realizing that I need more frequent massages!); and spiritually, by bringing my study and prayer time to a higher, fruit-bearing quality by abiding in Him, and being focused on following His will in all things. John 2:17 quotes Psalm 69:9 in saying that, in their startled reaction to Jesus’ anger as He cleared out the temple, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for Your house will consume me’”.

Yes, this passage is referring to the church. We need to have zeal for the church – the church, meaning the Body of Christ, charged with the task of going out into the world and creating disciples of all nations. We need to have zeal for our individual churches, too, and all the different levels of churches and individuals this speaks to. But in a new way, I see how this is speaking to me personally as His temple.

Zeal for Your house will consume me.

I am claiming this now as another step in the adventure.



4 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! I'm the same way, jumping into what I like with reckless abandon :) All the best!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This post is exactly what I needed to read today. I have been thinking about the possibility that we grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not care for our bodies. The worst thing I do to myself is not sleep enough when something stressful is going on in our lives. When I get overtired, I eat irresponsibly or eat when I should be sleeping. Then I get down on myself. Everything is important in taking care of ourselves. I don't want to grieve the Holy Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just wanted to say that I LOVE reading your blog!!!!! You have an amazing way of speaking to my heart by your honesty with God!! It is amazing what happens when you follow his calling!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Comments! I'm so excited!
    Thank you all so much for telling me how these words were used. There is simply no greater reward for a writer than to hear that. And your wisdom feeds me, too!

    ReplyDelete