Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Self Control - Fruit of the Spirit Part 9

I do so like to finish what I started. I had hoped to finish the Fruit of the Spirit series in 2009, but circumstances beyond my control came into play. Speaking of control, that is the last fruit we have to look at: self-control. When it comes right down to it, self-control is just about the only control we have.

I spend large chunks of time trying to maintain order, structure, cleanliness and routine in our home. I wear myself out with the organizing. I have a spread sheet that I update each week with my daily projects, to-dos, appointments, and menus. I have more spread sheets with pre-organized shopping lists and packing lists for trips. I don't think there's anything wrong with this level of planning, and it can come in quite handy. For me it means I've "pre-thought" my day and I just need to review my list rather than decide on the fly what's going to get done that day. The problem comes in the illusion that all of this planning will actually bear itself out in reality. Most days I don't get to everything on my list. I still have to choose the most important tasks or procrastinate accordingly. Sometimes I forget to check the list, so I have to rearrange things and punt. Other times, like two weeks ago, something totally unexpected and urgent happens and everything else is put on hold indefinitely until the crisis has passed. As long as I remember that my plan doesn't mean I'm in charge it is all okay.

However, there are days when I have a very hard time letting go of my plan. I am like the farmer in Jesus' parable who lays awake at night scheming up the bigger barn that he's going to build when God says, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Luke 12:13-21) Well...maybe not quite like that yet...thanks be to God He has not required my soul...but it is the same idea. I plan and scheme and expect everything and everyone to fall into line with my idea of how the day should go, and when it or they do not I lose sight of the one factor I can control: myself. I yell, I stomp, I shake my finger threateningly, and all of the bluster gains me nothing but a higher blood pressure.

Plan, yes, because that is wise, but when things do not go according to plan, remember that planning is not equivalent to controlling. I, yet not I but the Spirit within me, can only control how I respond to the things that are out of my control. I must, in fact, continually yield to His control in order to be self-controlled. This brings to mind Ephesians 5:15-18 (NIV):
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the
most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be
foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which
leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit."

Let's break it down into bullet points:
  • Be careful how you live, making the most of every opportunity - PLAN
  • But understand what the Lord's will is - Remember you're not in charge
  • Don't be drunk on wine - Don't lose your self-control
  • Instead be filled with the Spirit - Rely on God to provide self-control

Again I must yield to Him. Every day, every moment asking Him to provide the character that I need to meet life's off-plan moments.

1 comment:

Janet Ann Collins said...

I'm impressed that you are so well organized. Instead of a spreadsheet I just have a big whiteboard divided into seven sections for days of the week. I write what I hope or plan to accomplish each day (with stars beside the essentials) and erase each thing when it's done. At the end of the day anything not done gets moved to another day. I use a different color for the next week's list.


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