There are noises all around me, yet the sound that proves difficult to ignore is the battle between my flesh and spirit. It gnaws at me daily, especially when the voice of my flesh cries out louder: “You haven’t done enough”; “You’re lazy”; “You’re not ready”; “You’re incompetent.” I would expect myself to be past listening to lies, but I still do. Even sitting down to write today was difficult. I know it’s what I’m supposed to do, but my flesh has been fighting hard against it. Why? Because I discover God’s truth when I listen to what He asks me to do, even if it seems small. I discover truth when I’m honest about my struggles and weaknesses. I discover that I am enough.
So, what are my struggles? Self-worth. Faith. Confidence. Fear. I would say that fear drives them all. Fear of failure. Fear that our land and home won’t be ready on time. Fear that I will continue to wait to have children. Fear that I’m not fulfilling my various roles. Fear that I cannot teach well. On top of these fears, I fear that God won’t want to use me because I’m caught up in all my fears. After writing it down, it seems ridiculous. I’m so tangled up in myself and my self-created fears that that’s all I can see. How is it possible to be like this when, over these last 8+ years, I’ve seen more of God’s power and have been blessed to know where and who He has called me to be? He may not share all the details, but when I seek Him, He provides the light to my path.
When I reflect on His Word, I realize that my struggles are not unique. In truth, the entire Old Testament illustrates the struggles and mistakes of a nation chosen to be God’s people. No matter how many times God demonstrated His power over their enemies or directed their path, they often let their flesh lead them. It seemed to be that the more they knew, the more they rebelled—the flesh and spirit battling in a never-ending fight for dominance; a fight that began in the garden and will continue until Christ’s return.
Yet, Israel’s mistakes are my (our) gain. Why? Because I (we) have the opportunity to learn from them:
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 NASB
Fear kept the Israelites from entering the promised land right away. It led them down a 40-year path where rebellion and death awaited them. When Moses was on the mountain, fear enticed them to make their own god—an act that would have obliterated them had Moses not stepped in on their behalf. Yet, even with all their mistakes, God remained faithful to His promises. The Israelites’ actions played a significant role in fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham: “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). In Romans 11, Paul explains that Israel’s sins have led to the Gentiles’– in essence, the entire world’s– salvation: “I say then, they (the Israelites) did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (Israel) jealous” (v. 11).
God has given us His Word to guide us and help us to be the believers He has called us to be. Fear leads to nothing good, especially when it’s being fearful of something God has asked us to do. If we are tempted by something, He will provide the way out. If He tells us to do something, He will be the power working in and through us. There is nothing that Moses, Elijah, Paul, etc. could have done on their own, but it was God performing miracles and giving them the words to say. I don’t know about you, but I often want to do things on my own. I don’t like relying on other people to get a job done. But trying to do it all myself almost always leads to frustration. Frustration leads to anger. Anger leads to saying and doing things that hurt the people closest to me. In the end my stubbornness leads to sin. In the same way, when I try to do something on my own that God has called me to do, it does not end well. My own strength fails me every time. But if I trust God and humble myself to rely on Him, there is nothing to tempt me in that situation. Not only that, but there’s no limit to the amazing work that God could do.
We all have struggles. We all wrestle with our flesh for we are both flesh and spirit. But we also have the Overcomer. We have His truth and no matter how many lies our flesh tries to throw at us, truth remains the same. Will we believe it? Will we demolish the lies with it? Will we walk in it? Will we uphold it?
Indeed, there are many noises and voices vying for our attention. The world never stops nor sleeps; it desperately wants our allegiance. But it is time for God’s whisper to be the cry of our hearts. We must seek, listen, and act in obedience. We must learn from those before us, as His Word instructs, and be fearless.
There is no limit to what He can do through us if we are willing!