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Winning the battle

Spiritual Training Cycle: Submission (wk. 4/13)

In life, we can’t stop the battles from coming, but we can prepare ourselves for when they do. For example, the battles we fight for our physical health can include weight gain or weight loss, chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or our mental state including stress and anxiety. To fight these battles, we must be consistent in our pursuit of fitness, develop and maintain healthy nutrition habits, get adequate sleep, drink enough water, and follow a routine schedule of physical exercise. Pursue these long enough and results will follow. One day when the doctor discontinues your blood pressure medication or you feel more confident in your clothes, you might say to yourself, “I wish I had started this sooner.”

However, it’s much harder to win the battles we face when we are caught right in the middle of them. Instead of preparing for the battle, we panic. Maybe you’ve been through a battle to lose weight. After you reached your goal, what did you do when war time was over and it was suddenly peace time? If you ditched the meal plan, ignored healthy habits, or skipped going to the gym, when the cake and cookies come calling again, you won’t be ready for the fight.

In life, the battle is always changing. Are you prepared when work gets slammed, and your job battles with your family commitments? Are you ready to go back to the gym after an injury? It’s in times of peace you need to make the necessary adjustments for the future battles to come. Simply put, what you plant today is what you reap tomorrow.

In the same way that fitness is a hedge in the battle against our physical health, the Word of God is a hedge in the battle against our flesh. The flesh is the set of internal desires that seek to limit our connection to God. When you are vulnerable to attack by the flesh, you seek only what feels good, looks good, and pleases you (Galatians 5:19-21). This puts your life at risk. Just like your health is at risk if you mainly eat processed foods or spend most of your time on the couch or in an office chair, your relationship with God is at risk too. Those self-serving, self-preserving desires inside you can leave you permanently disconnected from God. That’s why we need help winning the battle.

In Luke Chapter 8, Jesus tells a story to a large crowd of people to illustrate how God’s Word helps us. It’s a parable about a farmer who went out to sow seed. As the story goes, the seed would one day mature and grow depending on the condition of the ground where it landed. All the seeds started well, but not all took root. Have you ever started well but ended poorly? Did you lose 10 pounds only to regain 15? Maybe you deleted social media only to reload it weeks later and binge away. Sometimes in life the fitness and health seeds you plant don’t take root. After enough times of not seeing the results you want, you might be tempted to quit. But don't give up. Keep planting seeds.

If fitness is the seed we cultivate for our physical health, God’s Word is the seed that needs the right soil to cultivate our spiritual health. Jesus later explained to His disciples that the soil of our soul should hold God’s Word patiently with an honest and open heart. In other words, Jesus nourishes our soul.

When we open our heart, allowing God to nourish our soul, over time we are transformed from the inside out by the work of the Holy Spirit. We need God’s word to nourish us at all times. Why? Because our flesh is always ready for a fight. Especially in peacetime!

No matter where you are in the battle, be nourished by the Word of God as He directs your steps and helps you in the fight against the flesh. Jesus died so you would never have to fight these battles alone. In the midst of your battles, you can come to Jesus. Through His power, you’ll find new strength as He nourishes the soil of your soul.

Questions for Reflection:

What battle is God winning for you right now? Where could you use His help?

What does a nourished soul look like?

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