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I’ve been a faithful exerciser for more than 20 years. Almost without fail, I have gone to a gym, grabbed the dumbbells at home, hit the pool, gone for a run, taken a class or jumped rope—six days a week. As such, I know what it means to “listen to your body,” but that’s easier said than done.
Whether it’s at the track, in the gym or the privacy of my living room, a little voice often whispers in my ear: “Just an other 10 minutes, your back won’t hurt tomorrow—I’m sure of it.” Or, “Just tie your sneakers and go, forget that your heel has bugged you for weeks. Do you want the rest of the runners to think you’re a wimp?” One more, “Did you hear her say that she’s training for an Iron Man? You better up your game!”
In the world of workouts, I call that little voice “competition,” and he’s not always healthy. He’s gotten me injured and he’s gotten me irritated with others. He’s fed my pride and leveled my self-esteem. Listening to my body is so much harder than listening to the voice of competition.
At the risk of comparing my mortal body to the Holy Spirit, I wonder: is listening to my body isn’t similar to trying to listen to the Holy Spirit?
We are wrapping up our next-to-the-last week of this Bible study. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. Let’s take another look at a few of the fruits of the spirit individually. How do they play out in our lives? What do they look like in a mature Christian?
Who Is the Proverbs 31 Woman?
“Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”
I have a love-hate relationship with Proverbs 31. It is part of God’s inherent Word, and as such, I will spend the rest of my life mining it to understand God’s love for me, His desires for me and His plans for me. However, the woman of Proverbs 31 makes me feel a little guilty; she kind of rubs my failures in my face. Admittedly, I’ve avoided this chapter before. But that was until I recognized her. The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t who you think she is!
Proverbs 1:20, 8:1, 7:4 and 14:1, refer to wisdom as a woman. The woman of Proverbs 31 is wisdom, not a perfect person. However, we are to develop these traits. Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.” And, Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” But how do we lay claim to wisdom? How do we learn to fear the Lord and by this grow in wisdom and begin to live out the characteristics described in Proverbs 31?
Christ is our wisdom. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”1 Corinthians 1:30. To fear the Lord and embody wisdom in all aspects of our life, we must seek first Christ and Christ alone.
Abby Kelly’s book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story is available on Amazon. She blogs at http://www.predatory-lies.com.
This is the second video complimenting Week 5 in my Bible study, “Beyond Belief, Jesus Saved You–Now What?” We’re talking about a few of the Fruits of the Spirit in detail. What are they and what do they look like?
The Hebrew word for glory comes from the root word kabad, meaning: “to be heavy, to be honored, to be made heavy, be honored, enjoy honor, be made abundant, to get oneself glory or honor, gain glory.”
Oddly, that doesn’t resonate with our typical translation of glory when we read it in the Bible. More similar, is our English definition of weight: “the amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; amount a thing weighs.”
I wonder what’s weighing on you right now? Are you bearing “the weight of the world on your shoulders?” Is it the weight of worry for a troubled teen, a mountain of debt, unemployment or a failing marriage? Do you feel the crush of burdens that you can’t quite put your finger on—a feeling of foreboding and a heaviness in your heart?
I wonder what would happen if we placed the weight of God’s glory on the scale against your burden?
Find out how God will displace your burdens by reading the rest over at The Bottom Line.
Here we go, moving into the nitty-gritty of what spiritual maturity looks like. Let’s take an up-close-and-personal look at the individual fruits of the spirit this week.
My sisters and I watched Mary Poppins more than any other movie growing up. If you get me started on one line, it’s likely I could quote the rest of the movie—at least I could 25 years ago! But even if you’ve never seen the movie, it’s a safe bet that you’ve heard the famous word:
It’s a made up word that Mary Poppins, the incomparable nanny, taught her charges, Jane and Michael, to say when they didn’t know what to say.
Most of the time, true to my female gender, I’m quite well supplied with things to say. However, there are those moments in prayer when I’m uncomfortably tongue-tied. Usually this happens when I’m grappling with that baffling request. You know the one. It’s the same request you’ve been presenting to God for as long as you can remember with seemingly no answer. You’re at the point when you wonder if God cares about this request at all, or if you mention it one more time, He might throw His hands in the air and say, “Enough already!”
Other times I lose my words when I’m struggling with how to ask God for what I want so badly to happen. Those are the times when I want someone healed or someone saved. I want a miracle, but tremble every time I ask God, and tack on the caveat, “But only if it’s your will!”
Recently, I have faced both of these daunting scenarios. I sat silent on my back porch, journal, pen and Bible open beside me and nothing to say. But in that hush, that God whispered to me. (Makes me wonder if I should be quiet more often!)
It was Jesus’ conversation with His disciples in John 12 that spoke to me. In verses 27 and 28, Jesus tells his listeners:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Jesus too, had come to that place where He desperately wanted God to do a miracle. Could the world be saved by a different method? He wanted to ask God to spare Him the suffering of the cross. But Jesus stopped. He didn’t plead with God, but neither did He recant the request or wonder what the will of God was. His response was simply, “Father, glorify your name.”
When I’m faced with those impassable questions: “What is God’s will? What will He do? What should I do? What can I ask for?”, the only right answer, the only plea I can know with certainty that God will answer, “Yes!”, is, “Glorify your name”. And I know that His glory and my good are one in the same. I can trust Him.
There’s also the problem of ongoing requests. There are people whose salvation I have prayed for for so long, that I almost gloss over the intercession, “God, you know.” The day after God whispered to me during my quiet time, He also provided the answer to this conundrum.
I stood in front of the mirror getting ready for church. Prayers echoed in my head as I listened to worship music. I came to a particular person and stopped. “God, I don’t know what to say anymore. I don’t know what to ask. It seems like you’re not hearing me!”
Quietly, but very clearly, I heard God respond. “I have been waiting for you to not know what to say. It is in those moments, however brief, that you stop trying to tell me how to run the world. You can rest; you’re not responsible for the outcome.”
A few days later, I sat again with my pen and journal, hopeful to capture the essence of what God had been speaking to me. As I waited, He framed His grace and future sufficiency for those baffling requests in the context of what Jesus did for me on the cross:
Have you ever wondered how Jesus faced the impending agony of the cross? How the Son prayed to the Father in the shadow of such a future? Have you wondered how Jesus woke morning after morning and spoke, touched, taught and healed with the foreknowledge of such forsakenness, agony, pain and abandonment?
Through Jesus, I myself have endured the agony of unwelcome answers, resignation to a will beyond a mind of dust, and walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I can identify with your questions and confusion and repeat the promises that, “All things work together for good”, and “I will glorify my name.”
Dear one, you cannot reach ahead and pull the burrs from tomorrow. You cannot reach forward and hang the sun over those future days to illuminate them. You’ve one day, one moment really and I love you more than all of time combined. I reached through and looped up all of time and life in one all-inclusive, redeeming act. Though tomorrow is yet unavailable to you, it is redeemed and you can truly rest. ~ Your Father
Finishing up our conversations on the role of freedom in our experience of spiritual maturity. Glad you’re here!