I slammed my foot into my cart wheel when I was grocery shopping last night, and I wanted to cry out in pain, but I chose to control myself—being in a public place and all. And because I was wearing flip flops, I could see I was actually injured as the blood started pooling around my little toe. This all happened in the spice isle as I was looking for Cayenne pepper and when I was right across from an older man who was studiously studying the whole wheat flour. The man, however, had no awareness of my accident because I was so quiet and grown up about it. And this whole incident made me think about self-sacrifice; strange but true.
I’ve actually been mulling over self-sacrifice and what submission to God’s will looks like for several days now. Here are some of the conclusions I have come to: Self sacrifice is the job description of the Christ-follower…We see self-sacrifice over and over again in the life of Jesus—in his forty days in the desert—in his not giving into Satan’s temptations during this time—in his washing the feet of his disciples—in his willingness to remain silent when falsely accused, and finally in his dying for a sinful people on the cross…Self sacrifice means that I must die to my will and to my agenda, and I must choose to do God’s will and join him in the work he has prepared for me to do…This dying to self is so hard, that it is truly impossible without Christ’s spirit in me, enabling me to do what is good…True joy lies in this self sacrifice (even though that seems contrary to logic) and self sacrifice lies in obedience…Obedience to God means doing what is godly and not just what is natural—which brings us back to my story above.
I think God allowed me to have the foot-stubbing experience in Fareway to teach me about myself. It was almost as if He said, “Look, Tori, you can control your natural inclinations just fine when you are worried about what others will think. Do you not care what I think?” This is true. I care what others think—apparently more that I care what God thinks. What is also true is that I have the ability to control my “natural-ness” if I so choose. Why do I not choose to control my moods or my schedule or my words when they seem so overpowering? Why do I just let rule over me with an iron fist? I have a choice. And God has given me his Spirit within me to give me power. Some things are easier for me to set boundaries in and not to cross them—I have become fairly disciplined in eating and exercising because I have practiced making the right choices over and over and over. But, it seems to me, that the things that are harder for me, the things I truly need Christ’s assistance to attain, like speaking gently to my husband and like putting Christ first and foremost in my daily schedule, those are the things I let slide. I let them slide because I haven’t told my will “No!” I know the wrong things that I am doing and I keep on doing them because there seems to be satisfaction in that moment…and sometimes the satisfaction is not even there, but my will is so strong that is seems to take me prisoner. I can relate to Paul when he says in Romans 7, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. I think this last verse confirms what I have been learning. It’s up to me to use the renewed mind that God has given to make the choices that truly reflect him—not me. I must choose with my mind to become more like Christ and less like Tori—no matter how strong my natural tendencies are and no matter what “personality type” I may be; it is in these areas that my sin nature lies—and LIES. I can make this choice only through the grace given me through Christ’s shed blood on the cross. I cannot just pull myself up by my own bootstraps and expect to finish the race well. God has delivered me through Christ Jesus so I don’t have to do what I want, but I am enabled to do what I must.
To be the Tori that God truly wants me to be, I need to stop indulging my natural tendencies, start re-focusing on Christ and his character—keeping my eyes on Him—not on me. It is then that Christ will be able to form in me the person I really want to become. Bloody toe and all.
I must strive to “live my life hidden in God”. (Colossians 3:3). Only by His Grace.
The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .