Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whack-A-Mole


              Have you ever played that game called, “Whack-A-Mole?” Where you take a hammer and as the Mole’s pop up you beat them down until you have pretty much whacked the heck out of them? The more you whack, the more points you get? The Lord used this game to teach me a lesson today, a lesson about some unhealthy habits that I have been struggling with lately. I never was very good at the game, but the Lord showed me how I need to apply the principle of this game to the “mole” like habits that He is trying to set me free from.
                I have been praying a lot lately about my lack of energy, motivation and overall tiredness that I feel lately. He has shown me that certain unhealthy choices have caused me to become unmotivated, tired and an overall lack of energy in my day. Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger, so He and I have been talking about these areas that He wants me to let go of. As I prayed the other day, I cried out to Him that I was scared to make these changes; I have tried in the past and failed every time. He told me to keep trying. He said to “Keep my eyes on Him” and “Keep pressing through.” Today, as I was driving back from dropping my daughter off at school, the scripture below came into my heart, and the “Whack-A-Mole” game popped up alongside it.
“But I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27
                The words “discipline” and “subjection” stuck out at me. The unhealthy habits in my life are “moles” in my game, and the hammer I am to use is called, “discipline and subjection”.  Paul starts in verse 24 of 1 Corinthians 9 with a question, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?” As I read this I heard the Lord say, “Victory, Strive for a victory”. I want victory over these unhealthy habits, these areas of my life that are slowing me down and causing me to feel like sludge day in and day out. So the question I need to ask myself is do I want it bad enough? I have never been a disciplined person; my will has never been that strong, my desires and fleshly lusts have take over more often than they should. But today, I have been given the “Hammer” I need to conquer this race that He has set before me.
                Paul says that he disciplines his body. He is speaking metaphorically here, he is using the picture of a boxer who buffets his body, and he handles it roughly, with forceful discipline, beating it until it is black and blue. That is when the game “Whack-A-Mole” made sense. You see, when these desires and these unhealthy habits pop their heads up, I am to take the hammer of discipline and beat them down. I am to beat them into submission, beating it down until they are black and blue and gone. I don’t stop beating them; I keep using the hammer of discipline until they are back in the hole they popped out of.
                Every time I desire or have a craving for these unhealthy appetites, I am to beat them down. I am to make them subject, bring them into a stern and rigid discipline. So many times, these habits have taken over my life. The Lord showed me that to be disciplined in every area of my life means that I need to beat some things down, and then another one is going to pop up, but I keep beating it down until I have won the game.
                The Lord will set before us specific goals, ask us to make certain sacrifices in our lives. When He does this, this is His challenge to run the race that has been set before us. We need to be willing to set aside our selfish desires and our own interests for the sake of the goal that He has set before us. Paul uses races to show us that we are all set upon a course, we are all running towards the same finish line, and that is to receive a crown of glory. To finish this race means that we are going to have to discipline our bodies and beat them down until they do what we want them to do.
                Matthew Henry states, “We must beat down our bodies, and keep them under…we must combat hard with fleshly lusts and not indulge in wanton appetites….nothing to please the flesh. The body must be made to serve the mind, not suffered to lord over it….we are to keep within the limits He has given us, keep on the race and we will have the victory.” All of these areas of my life that He is asking me to let go of are the lanes He is asking me to stay in.
                When a runner starts a race, he is assigned a lane to run in, if he goes outside that lane he can cause the other racers to fall as well. Not only will he be injured and not able to finish the race, but his competitors will also suffer and not win the race. We are running a race, we are competing for a prize, we are all set upon a lane and the Lord God has the finish line ribbon in His hand. He will tell us when to go, He will help us over the hurdles and around the bends, He will give us the strength to compete to the end, and when we see those fleshly desires, those “moles” that pop their heads out to trip us up, we are to beat them down into submission. If we do not, we will fall and very possibly cause other to fall with us.
                Pastor Chuck Smith writes, “Athletes put their bodies through torturous exercises in order that they might develop the athletic skills, they watch their diets, they live carefully, and so they might win. If they are willing to put in so much time, so much energy, effort and discipline for a gold medal, how much more effort should we (as Christians) be putting in to gain the incorruptible crown of glory. We are to run to win.” We have laid before us a race, a race to reach the highest goal possible; a crown of glory with Jesus Christ our Lord. On that day, when our race is finished, will we receive a crown or not? And for those of you who are like me and struggling with “moles” that the Lord has clearly told you to let go of, let us run as if we will receive the victory, here and now. Take the hammer that the Lord God is giving us today and beat down those “moles” in our life that keep popping up and throwing us off our lanes, so that we too might gain the crown, the crown of victory.
                Go ahead, “Whack-A-Mole” in your life today, and run to win. May we all run this race that is set before us with the discipline that the Lord God has shown us, and may He help us over the hurdles and through the turns, running the race with the goal of reaching that incorruptible crown of glory that He has promised to each and every one of us. To Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen.