I Can Fix This
My grand daughter came to me the other day in tears. She was holding her
Barbie car and the only word she could get out was... broke! I noticed the
car was in one hand and a wheel was in the other. Of course, my first
response was... I can fix this!
The truth is that we are all broken. This brokenness creates in us a desire to fix it. We try to prove our value or we retreat because of a sense of worthlessness. We compromise who we are to fit in or we isolate. We play the powerless victim or we try to control everything and everyone. We overstate our gender or we reject it all together. These attempts to fix what is broken form behavior patterns that we now see as hindrances to life and relationship the way God intended.
Naturally our first inclination to the brokenness is, "I can fix this!". And so we read self-help books, get an accountability partner, promise to do better and... fail. This is called striving. It is self-effort. The Bible calls it "flesh”. It is just like trying to become a child of God by obeying the law. It is
impossible. Imagine you are in a small rowboat floating with the current down a river. Everything seems to be okay but you notice the current is
starting to get faster and faster. Suddenly you hear the sound of a rushing waterfall ahead. In a panic, you pick up the paddles and start rowing furiously. As long as you are rowing, you can match the current and keep yourselffrom getting closer to disaster... but it is exhausting. The minute you stop rowing, the current takes over and you are again rushing toward the falls. Striving works as long as you can keep striving but the minute you let up, all of the wrong desires and behaviors are still there.
Notice what the following Scriptures say about striving or flesh:
Romans 8:8 “Those who operate in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
Galatians 3:11 “Clearly no one who strives to get to God through the law will be justified for the righteous will live by faith.”
Galatians 5:16-17 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
Let's be honest about our own struggles. We have probably all gone through cycles where we were diligent about our "paddling" and experienced some relief from the desires and behaviors that plague us only to let up on the "paddling" and fall right back into old patterns. What "paddling" techniques have you tried to overcome the unwanted behaviors in your life? How successful have they been? So, am I telling you not to try to overcome your unwanted behaviors? You may feel, “If I don't strive or try to stop, they will completely take over my life!!! “ Relax, I am not telling you just to allow these desires or behaviors to run rampant in your life, I am simply speaking the truth that all of your striving and all of your self-effort is not going to fix the root of the problems you are experiencing.
Imagine you are back in that river, flowing toward the waterfall with the current. What if you could drop an anchor that would secure you to the
bedrock of the riverbed and deliver you from the tyranny of the current. Everytime the current seemed to swirl faster, you focused on the strength of the anchor. The good news is that we have an anchor! If we have put our faith in Christ for salvation and trusted His finished work on the cross to remove our sin, He has put His Spirit in us. It is the same Spirit of God that participated in the creation of the world and the resurrection of Christ! This spirit is the “power” that Jesus promised His disciples (Acts 1:8). This is why Paul says we can do “all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). If we choose to trust in the power of God’s spirit in us at the moment of temptation, we do have the power to say no. We must choose to surrender to the power of the spirit (drop the anchor) instead of surrendering
to the power of the temptation (give in to the current). Instead of trying to work up the strength to overcome the temptation, we admit our weakness and lean totally into His strength. II Corinthians 12:7-10 describes a time in the Apostle Paul’s life when he did this. God’s strength was manifest through Paul’s weakness.
When we begin to experience some relief from the tyranny of the current and are no longer preoccupied with our own striving, we can begin to
explore the source of the river and hopefully slow down the current. The behaviors we struggle with have their root in our past. Perhaps you could meet with a trusted friend or counselor and explore the connections between your past and your struggles. We can then choose to access the power of the Spirit in us to break our unhealthy connection to the past and free us from it. This is not about blaming anyone or trying to cause pain to others. There is no malice in this search, simply a desire to understand and break free. I would also recommend my book, “Ten Life Choices” as a guide to help you in this exploration.
As we learn to depend on the anchor and attack the root of our issues with the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, we begin to experience the kind of life Jesus came to give us!