Monday, November 26, 2012

Make No Provision

Vincent van Gogh
"Old Man in Sorrow," 1890
“You know the time, that THE Hour has come for you to WAKE from sleep. For sALvaTioN is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The NIGHT is far gone; the DAY is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of DarKness and put on the aRmoR of LIGHT. Let us walk ProPerlY as in the daytime, NOT in orgies and DrunKenness, not in sexual immorality & sensuality, not in QuarreLinG and jealousy. But put on the LORD JESUS CHRIST, & MaKe no provision FOR THE flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:11-14)

Make no provision for the flesh. For those of us in chronic pain, this commandment means more than abstaining from fleshly desires, as if that's not hard enough. It also means ignoring pain, ignoring the cries of our bodies that are meant to alert a normal person to the fact that something is seriously wrong. 

It means ignoring the anxiety that comes with it, ignoring the urge to skip church for the pain, to stop chores for the pain, to cancel that lunch date, to let the phone ring, to lash out at those we love, to take another pill, to harm ourselves... How have we gratified our bodies' desires today? That question isn't nearly as important as asking how we will refuse to make another provision for it. First on the checklist : Pray. Second: make good choices, one choice at a time.

Maybe we've slept in until 10, but the day is hardly over. It's difficult to ignore that which is constantly nagging to be heard, both sin and the results of it, not impossible. Ask for strength and then be reasonable, but never let the desires of the flesh—whether the desire is to bring pleasure or to avoid pain—trump the love of God. Perhaps it's not a day for a 5k, but a walk down the block to your recently widowed neighbor's house is feasible. Resolve to be uncomfortable for an hour if that's what it takes to hear the Word of God preached in your church. Answer that phone. Write that letter. Meet that friend for lunch.

It seems as though our lives are nothing but constant battles of will. It's brutal, and I get tired. So tired that I have to ask God's forgiveness for the provisions I make for my flesh more times than I care to mention. But for that, there is forgiveness. And in that merciful forgiveness lies the realization that the battle isn't important. What matters is what we're fighting for. Life beyond existence. Life for all eternity. Life in the love of God.

Jesus died for me. So, with His help, I can wake from sleep for His sake and prepare just as we are called to, lest He comes back and finds us asleep on the couch.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from Romans 13:14b
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Make no provision -------> 5 count inhale
for the flesh." -------> 5 count exhale

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