Today is the second day of a devotional journey we are taking, to help us to begin living a healthier life and to deal with our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We will invite the Lord to take us by the hand and help us to make healthy choices and to become all that He has hand crafted us to be! To find our strength, Peace, direction, and Hope in Him alone!
Yesterday, I asked you two personal questions:
- If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be? How has it impacted you over the years? How has it impacted others? Why is it still an issue?
- If you could change one thing about your present life, what would it be? How does it impact you? Does your life seem unmanageable? What would you want/need to change, if only you could?
Don’t be too quick to dismiss this question…the answer can change your life forever. I would contend that we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups in our lives, perhaps:
- Someone has HURT you. They did something to you, said hurtful things, let you down, excluded you, abused you.
- You have a HABIT that you can’t stop, and it controls your life. Maybe addiction to gossip, pornography, eating, shopping, alcohol. It has had awful consequences on you, your family, friends, finances.
- You have a HANG-UP. You can not control things like your anger, pride, grief.
Today I want you to focus on that biggest issue, the one that makes your life the most unmanageable. Focus on that hurt, habit, hang-up. Now, wrestle with this question, “Is that really the issue or is it just a symptom of the real issue?” For instance, let’s say your answer is, My relationship with my spouse is the biggest issue in my life! I would ask “why” do you say that? You might answer:
- My spouse is always fighting with me….I would ask why?
- She says I’m lazy and can’t hold a job……why?
- My bosses don’t respect me….why?
- They say I am always late for work?….why?
- Well, I get drunk at night and have a hang-over….why?
- I have low self-esteem……why?
- And eventually, those why questions will lead to your biggest hurt, habit. or hang-up!
You can not deal with an issue until you identify it, name it, and own it. Some of the materials that I will be using in this series of devotions come from a book by John Baker called “Life’s Healing Choices.” We used this as a basis for a sermon series years ago. He uses 8 healthy steps or choices (based on the Beatitudes) to a healthier life. This first (and foundational) step is called “the reality choice”…it’s when we admit we are not God and we have an area of our life that is out of control.
Have you ever wrestled with this verse? Romans 7:15-20 (msg)… What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
If that sounds like you….Welcome to the human race!
For some of you, you have struggled for years for others, this coronavirus world we are living in has created newer hurts, habits, hang-ups in your life. Either way, God wants you to deal with them…and His Word will lead you through the process. That’s good news because on our own we will fail.
We try to ignore the problem, deny that it’s an issue, rationalize why it’s ok. I talked with a couple whose marriage was broken due to alcohol and abuse. The wife finally called to say that she and the kids moved out. The husband came home to a note that they left… he called me to complain that she left. He said she had a lot of nerve leaving him. I asked him why she left. He said, “I don’t know.” I said try to guess. He said, “she would say I drink too much and get mean.” I asked if it were true and he said “I don’t think so, I could quit anytime and I don’t think I have a problem.” So, I asked him why she thought he did, and he said well “I drink more than anyone else.” I said how much do you drink, he said: “about 5-6 beers a night and that she and the kids don’t understand that it’s not a problem.” That is what denial is all about. He can never fix the problem if he denies it exists.
Many times, we try to play God by controlling our image, controlling other people, and controlling our pain. We will not change until the pain is greater than the fear of change. We try to control our pain. Unfortunately, we are not God! Chevy Chase would come on Saturday Night Live and say “Hi, I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not”…Can you hear God saying to you “Hi, I’m God and you’re not.” This is foundational!!! It’s the start of healing. Matthew 5:3… “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
A tv repairman was asked about the worst kind of damage he had ever seen to a television set he said “The kind that results from people trying to fix their tv on their own!” The first step for each of us is to realize that you are not God and are powerless to fix your hurt, habit, hang-up on your own. The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own! God’s Word, His church, and pastors like me are there to help you make healthy choices and renew your Joy!
You may be saying…” I don’t like this devotion! It sounds like work, it gets too close to home!”
Good! These next days can change your life forever! What needs to change in your life? What hurt, habit, hang-up have you been trying but failing to ignore? Stop right now and admit to God that you are powerless to manage this (and all) area of your life. Then commit to working with me as we go through these next devotions.
I thought I would throw in a bonus today. I saw this years ago (by many authors) and thought it was some great advice to live by, they are called the 7 ups:
- WAKE UP…Begin each day with the Lord. It’s His day, rejoice in it!
- DRESS UP…Put on a smile! It improves your looks and says something about your spiritual health!
- SHUT UP…Watch what you say. Don’t gossip. Say nice things. Learn to listen! Think before you speak.
- STAND UP…Take a stand for what you believe…resist evil…do good!
- LOOK UP…Open your eyes to the Lord and what He is doing. After all, He is your Savior…who loves you….wants the best for you!
- REACH UP…Spend time in prayer with adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplications to the Lord!
- LIFT UP…Lift up those in need…serving, supporting, and sharing! This is especially important in today’s situations!
Today we looked at steps to living a healthy life…to admit we are not God and our lives can be unmanageable. On Monday we will look at the second step… Looking at who is God in your life.