December 1, 2018

Flesh vs. Spirit

I started today very aware of the flesh. I’m not talking about skin and bones but some of the attitudes that come from weak bodily flesh not working the way I’d like. This irregular heart is always there, not always felt but evident. It causes fluid retention and cannot deliver oxygen and blood needed for energy.

What is felt, at least for the past few days, is a knot in the back of one leg. It started with a muscle spasm or Charley horse as some call it, painful to the point of screaming. Painful still, reminding my mind and emotions that I’m human, challenging my will to feel sorry for me and mope around without thinking joyful thoughts or being productive.

The downer continued yesterday when I called the pacemaker clinic and was told they could not get this device hooked up until mid-January. Down. I barely had time to deal with the disappointment when they called back to say they found an opening and I can come in next Wednesday and get it done. Up. Leg exploded. Down. No sleep. Down. Slept ten hours. Should feel up. Don’t. Same old routine: my health and sense of well-being is like the weather in Alberta; we never know what to expect.

Normal does not exist. How does God want me to face the challenges of these up/downs? I’m suspecting that He will say to stop listening to the flesh . . . and He does . . .

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5–8)

Letting the flesh tell me how to feel is getting it backwards. This is not about the power of positive thinking. Grumbling and whining obviously are not pleasing to God. I’m not to operate from the perspective of flesh. He has given me another way to think . . .

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9–11)

This up/down body is already useless when it comes to living a righteous life. Instead, I’m to let the Holy Spirit control me, take care of me, give me His emotions, His thoughts, His determination. Tozer says that the Holy Spirit is a Person so He can do that. He has no body to tell Him about pain and disappointment even though He is aware of what those feel like because of Jesus and Calvary. He knows, but His knowledge is far beyond how I understand knowledge. As Tozer says, “The Spirit is Himself God, the very true Nature of the Godhead subsisting in a form that can impart Himself to our consciousness.”

Jesus, even though I know this is true, I do not understand how it happens or even why. The Holy Spirit comes to me like a gentle breeze, a whisper, a touch on my shoulder. He takes the weight of pain and perplexity off me like a strong man picks up my grocery bags and places them I know not where. Gone. He brings peace and joy and turns my thoughts from me, myself, and I to others, their pain, their needs, to what I can do for them. Even from my weakness and energy-less, You – the two of You – enable me to care and pray for others, and for myself — to look forward to that final giving of life to my mortal body as suggested by this small and daily pulling me out of the flesh and into the Spirit. Bless You.

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