Recently, we started something that could be really special and impactful…our first monthly women’s meet-up. It is a bit overwhelming, but I have sensed God leading in this direction for a while and am so excited about the potential to go deeper with God and help each other walk out our faith on a regular monthly basis. It was a blessing to hear from the hearts of those who came.
And wouldn’t you know it? The enemy fought me hard that day leading up to the meeting. You know how I know? Because the temptation was so strong to give in to my flesh. My flesh wanted to hold on to anger. My flesh wanted to seek my own vindication and justice. My flesh wanted to sink into self-pity and discouragement. Temptation’s flavor of the day varies, but that day, it was anger (and sadly, I didn’t handle it perfectly). Thankfully, Jesus has also been fighting—fighting for me (and the others in my life). He has been pressing things home to me about love and forgiveness, His own to me and mine to others. I found myself at the crossroads that all us Jesus-followers find ourselves at from time to time. Would I die to myself and let God take over?
The temptation is to go to all sorts of things or people to resolve the angst in our spirit, but the results are not the same in the long run. Jesus said to someone like me once, “you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed…” (referring to sitting and learning at his feet, making that relationship priority) (Lk 10:41). This is so key regardless of what kind of pressures we face. It could be the pressure of busyness, of real or perceived responsibilities, of the need to perform or be good enough, of the longing for love and relationship, or of the need to defend or protect against some or any possible danger. We can respond to these pressures out of our own human ability, our old habits and human tendencies, even our rebellious sinfulness. Or we can die to that and let God take over.
I observe when I really think it through that it goes so much better when I let God lead (ha! Who knew?). When I think through the domino effect of my fleshly actions, I know it will not achieve what I really want. We probably all know that sharp regret when we have been too self-indulgent; how it eats away at our greatest treasures. Similarly, when I want to judge others, it becomes such a heavy weight! I have concluded, “not my circus, not my monkeys!” I am not qualified to judge, nor would I get good results if I tried to “make someone see,” nor do I want that responsibility, nor do I want others to do that to me. I am so thankful for the gentle persistent voice of the Holy Spirit in my life. He can say and do what no one else can.
I decided long ago that I wanted to follow Jesus and live the life he died for me to have. I also look around the world and see so many people suffering from lack of love, and I want to be part of the movement that turns the tide. I want to be able to inject love into a helpless negative world. But what I have learned is that I cannot do it. I just can’t. Not on my own. My gaping need is just as great as anyone’s. Even this week, I have said unhelpful things I regret and ignored opportunities to love. The only way to help others is to go to the Source for myself first and learn to live on that. Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mt 26:41). This battle will become familiar to anyone who sets out to follow Jesus. We must recognize the weakness of the flesh and its desires and learn to walk according to the Spirit and His desires as He renews and transforms us day by day (Rm 8, Gal 5).
Look at Galatians 5:19-25: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” And hooray! He is so ready and willing to help us!
I love 2 Corinthians 3:18. It refers to believers gazing at the Lord. When Moses met with God, his face became so radiant, he had to cover it with a veil to keep people from staring. But now, we “gaze” at God without veils, so the world can see the transformation that God does as we “reflect” the One we are gazing at. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” I know this is why the devil fights so hard. He does not want us to experience this or share it with the world. But God is greater!
As I soak in God’s gentleness, I can let go of the hurts that make me want to lash out. As I soak in His love, I find it flowing through me to others. As I soak in His peace, I can let go of the worry. As I soak in His goodness, I can trust Him to make all things right in His way and time. As I soak in His joy and faithfulness, I turn from self-indulgence. As I soak in His kindness, I fight for others in prayer instead of against them, and I bless my enemies. And on and on. And so I “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Php 3:12b). There are wonderful things ahead! Let’s press on!
LaVonne Foix serves on the lead team at Restore Church, focusing on worship and women’s ministries, as well as being employed in retail. She is married to Pastor David with whom she spent eight years in youth ministry. Her BA from Vennard College is in Bible/Theology and Cross-Cultural Missions.