Sunday, February 24, 2008

Don't, Don't, Do!

“…’Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’ … Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom … but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. … Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 2:21-3:2 NIV

I grew up in a church with a lot of don'ts: Don’t dance, don’t wear make-up, don’t play cards, don’t drink tea, don’t go to movies, don’t eat pork. I have don’ts in my life now too. A big one is Don’t feed my fantasy life; don’t make contact with Pearl; don’t do anything that would stir up my desire for her or for any other woman.

There is nothing wrong with rules; we need them to have an ordered society but do the don’ts above stop me from doing what I shouldn’t? Do they stop the desires? Not really. Those come unbidden. In fact, when I first walked away from Pearl and tried to follow those rules I could not. Instead, I found my desires increased. It seems to be human nature to want what is forbidden and I’ve had that in big doses.

So what is the solution? How does one restrain oneself from the things she knows are wrong? How do we do what is right when all that is wrong is so appealing? “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

The more I focused on overcoming my sin, the more I fell into sin. But when I began to make Jesus my focus, when I stopped worrying about what I shouldn’t do or have and instead began to continually bring my thoughts onto the things of God, my life began to change. It didn’t happen overnight but, gradually, what was important to me shifted and instead of teeth-grinding determination to stay away from that which is wrong, I found myself more and more in God’s arms, resting and at peace.

No, I don’t have it all together yet. I still struggle. I still kick myself for doing what I know I shouldn’t. I’m still in process. But I think I’ve found the key: “Set your minds on things above.”

Father, I want to be so wrapped up in you and your presence that nothing on this earth has the power to pull me away from you—not even my own desires. Remind me of this when I forget and keep me focused on you alone.

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