For more than a decade, I have had countless inner struggles between the natural, old self and the spiritual, reborn man in me. I may have done such a fine job of looking together– cool,calm and collected. Outwardly, I have managed to keep a tight rein on my deadly tongue, rebuked a fellow believer for some off-the-track dealings, turned a little preachy here and there and proclaimed all was well and good in my own sweet world.
But in the dark of night, under my pungent blanket (thanks to my younger son’s nightly response to the call of nature), the battle rages and overwhelms-like a breathtaking, action-packed movie scene that leaves me on the edge of my seat, ambivalent whether to sit still or take flight. Alone and uncovered before my maker,I finally feel the weight of this raging drama. I am no spectator. I am on center stage and my heart is the battle field.
Forces from all fronts are at work –from within and from without.The inner man contends with the natural self, the world and that great Master Deceiver of all time. Three against one. Statistically and humanly speaking, that’s a sure defeat, a mismatch. The odds are stacked against the inner man. Doomed. Caput. Hands-down, bottoms up loser, stuck in the quagmire of helplessness and desolation.(No wonder the Father had to intervene.)
By my lonesome, I feel sharp needles gnawing at my fragile heart.I face the reality that I am naked before a Holy God. No, I can’t fool Him with the mask I put on before the material world-before fellow thinking creatures who I know have their own adversaries to slay and also put on shifting masks to appear ‘cooler’ and more collected than I do. All I can do is admit the deceitfulness of my heart and cry out for mercy.
Allow me to give you a brief tour inside my heart and listen to the candid conversations of the forces within.
NM: You showed great promise as a young lass. had you tried hard enough, you could have been anything you wanted to be–a prolific lawyer, a TV personality (who knows you could have crossed the movies as well. You were always Miss Talent, remember?) or a high-profile executive in a top corporation, wearing the latest fashion, strutting on Jimmy Choo heels and looking every inch a sophisticated woman- a picture of success.
SM: This is success in the Father’s eyes: Obedience to His Word (Joshua 1:8)
“Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
” All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers in the field… the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)
NM: You could have been rich by now if you had not slowed down. Money can bring you anywhere you want to go. Aren’t you envious that some of your peers (hey, you definitely outshone them before)have the most wonderful places in the world as backdrop in their friendster photos? not to mention that they ride fancy cars, carry the latest phone models, are wired for fun and yup, live in huge, cozy homes.
SM: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.” (I Tim 6:6)
” Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10)
” Watch out. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
NM:Be vain. Spend much time in making yourself physically attractive.Consider what people will think of you.You gotta please men!
SM: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
” Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit , which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (I Peter 3:3)
NM: You had a brilliant mind. You were studying to be lawyer.You could have ranked among the great intellectuals in your batch.
SM: It’s good that you chose wisdom over intellect.
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (I Cor 3:19-20).
” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov 9:10)
NM: Well, you are suffering now from injustice. Why don’t you get even? You don’t deserve to be wronged. Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, remember?
SM: ” ..If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39)
” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father in heaven.” (Matt 5:44-45)
It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.(Deut 32:35)
The struggle saps me of my strength. But thanks be to God in Christ Jesus who has overcome the world!
“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (I John 5:5)