And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking Free from Strongholds: Are you expecting too much too soon?

Imagine this: you’re sitting at your desk sipping a vanilla latte when your boss walks in. He sits down, leans forward, and says, Joni, I have a job for you. I want you to run in a marathon eight weeks from today.

How would you respond?

Would you jump for joy? Laugh? Quit your job? Choke on your coffee?

Your reaction would probably depend on two things: how much you liked to run and how in shape you were.

You wouldn't assume you could run that marathon in eight weeks. It would all depend on your starting position.

The same is true in spiritual marathons. How quickly we're able to cross the finish line is due in large part to our starting position.

Let's take a look at what the starting positions in a spiritual race might look like:

1. Couch potato: This would be the person who loves God but doesn't spend any time with Him other than the occasional prayer and weekly time in church.

2. Casual exerciser: This person has an occasional quiet time or may have a short little devotion each day.

3. Regular Exerciser: This is the Christian who has an intimate relationship with God and enjoys regular times with Him each day.

4. Casual Runner: This person has an intimate walk with God, plus uses God’s Word at least every once in awhile to break bad habits or strongholds. (This could be through truth journaling, Scripture prayers, specific Bible study, etc.)

5. Faithful runner: This Christian has an intimate walk with God and is using God’s Word on a regular basis to break bad habits and strongholds.

6. Marathon runner: This person is living in victory in many areas of her life and continues to bring new areas captive to Him on a regular basis.

Take the First Step Toward Victory

Here’s the problem: if you’re back at the first or second stage in your relationship with God, you’re not going to be able to break free from your compulsive habit in a jiffy.

If you expect to move from #1 to #6 in a few weeks, you'll just get discouraged and want to give up. Instead, just take the first step: start working on your relationship with God.

Incorporate spiritual battle into your quiet times with Him. Get a good Bible study that will make you excited about having your quiet times. Join a group at church. Do the first step in the couch-potato-to-marathon-runner transition.

But don’t expect to cross the finish line of the marathon in eight weeks.

God is full of grace and mercy and strength. He’s not a perfectionist father waiting to yell at you as soon as you mess up. But He's also not the laid back dad saying, "Sure, do whatever you want - as long as you're happy, that's the main thing."

He wants us to keep moving forward.

Because that’s the only way we’ll get where He wants us to go.

Thought for the day: What position are you starting from in your spiritual battle? Where do you want to be a month from now? What can you do today to accomplish your goal?

Scripture for the Day: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Philippians 3:13-14
For more help on evaluating your progress see: Are You Tired of the Struggle?
Note: this is a re-write from a blog I wrote a few years ago.


eliz said...

This is always me!! I expect waay too much from myself, too fast, too soon.
Several years ago I decided to read one of those "one year" Bibles. I have read the whole bible several times, but felt like I was missing out not trying the "one year" version. Everyday of reading it, I would think "I'll never finish it in one year, I never do with things like this." But I ignored those thoughts and I prayed. I had set backs reading it often, one was even 8 days in the hospital where I was too week to even a bible to read. But do you know I read that version not in "one year" but 9 months. Not to do it quicker- but because somedays I had to read two or three days worth because I was so in love with what I was reading!! LOL!!
Even if it had taken me longer to read it I would have kept on anyway.
O.K. 'nuff rambling!
Love this post- so true!!

Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth, I have the same problem but in an odd way. If it's not fast and easy, I don't think I can do it. So with hard things, I start out saying, "I could never do that," which often makes me not even try.

But then when I do try, I expect instant success. When I don't get that instant success, it only confirms my suspicions that I can't do it. Which, of course, is crazy.

God is teaching me to rely on Him and to persevere and that even though He expects me to do hard things, He is always there to help me through them.