Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Airport of Self-Control

               I like to fly. It is my preferred way of travel. Except for those times when my plane gets in late and my connection is all the way on the other end of the airport and I have to run, run like I’ve never run before, dragging my carry-on luggage behind me, which I over-packed because I didn’t want to have to check it at the gate. A few years ago I was traveling home to Iowa and my plane out of Raleigh into Detroit was delayed. My connecting flight into the Quad Cities had just begun boarding while I was still trying vacate this one. And, to top it all off, my connecting flight was on the other side of the airport, not just at the other end of the terminal, but the complete opposite side of Detroit International. I had ten minutes to get from one end to the other, not to mention that I over packed my carry-on to the point that one wrong move and my zipper would break, and all my stuff would fall out.

               I am pretty sure that I made some people very upset with me as I screamed “Move! Going to miss my flight! Excuse Me! Move” while running frantically, pulling my overstuffed luggage behind me through Detroit International. I hurdled bags, strollers and navigated through one of the busiest ties of the airport in under ten minutes. I made it just in time to get my bags into the overhead compartment, seated and seat belt buckled before they began to taxi us out to the runway. I breathed a sigh of relief and spent the rest of the flight getting my heart rate to return to normal. Had I brought anymore luggage with me, I would not have made it.
               Trying to run anywhere, let alone a busy airport with over packed baggage is hard, but add obstacles to it and it seems almost impossible. But isn’t that exactly what we do? We try to run this Christian race that is before weighed down with luggage stuffed full of things God has clearly told us to leave behind. Yet we wonder why we can’t seem to get anywhere, yelling and screaming at other people to get out of our way and move, trying to jump through hoops and navigate through the obstacles all while carrying too much baggage.
               I have been struggling with my own baggage lately. For months I have been trying to stuff my luggage with something God has told me to let go of. I have prayed and desired for a closer, more intimate walk with Him, giving myself to His Word, writing, and focusing on those things He has called me to do. His answer to me has been to unplug my Television. Stop watching it- completely. There is nothing on there that I need to be focused on, and let’s face it, there is not a whole lot that glorifies Him in it either. But here I am again, trying to run through this airport of Christian life loaded down with too much baggage.
               I woke up this morning with the question of why? Why can’t I seem to let go of this distraction in my life? What is hindering my race? My spirit desires to please my Lord, to walk in His ways and to do His will, yet the things I don’t want to do, those things I find myself doing. Sound familiar? Do you struggle with this too?
               “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
               I lack self-control. Plain and simple. There is no other excuse for it. I lack the ability to resist what I want for the sake of what God wants. Paul goes on to tell us in Galatians 5:23 that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self- control. Self- control is a characteristic that should be exhibited by every believer in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we should be able to exercise the ability to resist the flesh and walk in the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit doesn’t mean that we stop walking and God takes over. It means that we walk with a desire to please God, with a goal at performing His will, what we know God desires for us to do. We walk with a purpose to please Him and not to please ourselves.
     Self-control is the desire to live for God and the willingness to remove anything and everything that would hinder your progress. Self-control is the willingness to sacrifice its wants and desires for the sake of pleasing God. It is restraint upon the desires of the flesh. Not letting flesh rule you with its passions and desires, but letting God rule you with His. Self- control is the ability to resist that which goes against God’s plan for your life. You desire to read more of His word, to pray more and to walk more closely with Him. Self- control would remove the things in your life that keep you from fulfilling those desires.
               Self-control recognizes the baggage that is hindering it and removes it so it will not slow you down any longer. Self-control is giving up what you want for the sake and purpose of what God wants. Self-control says, “not my will but Your will be done” and then willingly removes anything and everything that might stand in its way.
               “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,”
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

               We have a higher calling, a greater purpose and an eternal goal. If we are going to catch our next flight out of here, we need to take a look at the things we are carrying with us and get rid of those things that are hindering us from reaching our destination. We cannot run this race weighed down with those things God has asked us to leave behind. Leave that baggage at home, unplug it from your life, remove it from your suitcase and run my friend, run freely the race that is set before you. Resist, remove and relent all that sets itself against the goal of Jesus Christ for your life. Amen?