11 September, 2010

Self Control

I sometimes wish I would have three wishes in life.  I like to think about what I’d wish for.  My husband says its obvious: the first thing you wish for is unlimited wishes.  Honestly, I think I’d be OK with three wishes—call me independent but I like to do things for myself.  
Sometimes I think that I’d wish for wealth.  I had a dream one time that I won two million dollars.  It was such an intense dream that when I woke up, it took a minute to realize that I was still sleeping between bed-in-a-bag sheets.  I confided to my pastor that I had the dream and his response really challenged me.  Did I know what I would do with two million if I had it?  Did I have a plan?
I just always assumed that when (not if) great wealth found me, I would be magnanimous with it, generous and philantrophic, in addition to being very well accessorized.  But when I did finally sit down to plan out what I would do with my (currently still in progress) two million, I realized it took a good deal more wisdom than I had imagined.  It became an incredible exercise in wisdom, discernment and vision.  It took a long time to consider the proper weight of things.  I do have a plan now, as challenged.  If I were to attain a two million dollar account tomorrow, I would handle it properly.
There are many things I would consider wishing for, from Solomon’s request for wisdom to my admittedly less honorable desire to be three inches taller.   We all have our list of things in life that could be so much better with just a little stroke of luck.  Or wishes.  
I was reading a book on parenting today.  The matter being discussed was teaching your children boundaries from infancy, instead of giving too much freedom too soon, and having to impose restrictions after they demonstrate an inability to tolerate unlimited possibilities.  The authors (Ezzo, Buckham) provided this formula:

Freedoms greater than self control = developmental confusion
Freedoms less than self control = developmental frustration
Freedoms equal to self control = developmental harmony

The book was focused on pretoddlers.  I, however, was hit between the eyes in revelation for MYSELF.   This formula was talking about ME.   I thought of all I wished for in my life, my big dreams and grandiose agendas, all held back by some invisible wall, a very frustrating barrier that I have been working to identify recently.  I have always imagined that my life would be one of great significance, and lately, I have felt stuck.
But haven’t we all heard the story of the lottery winners who within five years were worse off than they were before they won the prize?  Don’t we all sometimes catch ourselves parked in front of the TV or Facebook for a bit too long or too often and feel a tug as though the time were being misspent?  We eat what we want and many of us avoid the scales all together as though ignorance equals permission.  We show up late or not at all.  We avoid saying no by saying maybe.  We say one thing and do another.  We worship halfheartedly while thinking about anything else.  Wives avoid their sex lives.  Husbands avoid conversation.  No one sets a goal, writes down a date or holds themselves accountable.  And worse of all, we joke amongst ourselves, as though falling short were inevitable.  Corporate failure yields social permission, and we all agree to a society that lives beneath its potential.
In my behaviors currently, under personal assessment and an honest analysis, I am living with very little self-control.  I’ll admit it.
Could it be that my freedom in life, to achieve all that is within my potential, to become all I dream of becoming, to in essence, be who I was born to be, that I must first demonstrate a self responsibility?
God loves me so much.  I am handmade, fearfully and wonderfully.  I was carved out of God himself, made in His image, his authority on the earth.  It stands to reason that it is possible, indeed necessary, for me to transcend the barriers of humanity and live a supernatural life.  However, it is equally logical that a woman who cannot be trusted to discipline herself has demonstrated little ability to wield greater authority and influence. 
Would a God who loves me truly ask me to get my chocolate habit under control?
I’m kidding, but I’m serious.
We believers like to behave as though we’re exempt sometimes.  That we can just like everyone else, except righteous.  But I want to propose to you that any train of thought that allows mediocrity in your life is a lie designed to prevent you from shining, to hold you back from truly becoming extraordinary.  If that is not the case, tell me, what TRULY is the difference between you, one who is in theory free, and your brother, who is yet a slave to his old man or to religion?  You have been enlightened to the price what was paid to set you free.  It must require a great amount of arrogance, or an equal measure of ignorance, to pour out your potential upon the latest reality TV show.  We plead exhaustion, when we could celebrate renewal.  We are disorganized and careless with schedules, time and people.  We cry for mercy, when we could dance in grace.  It is because we plant our seed in the dirt and do not water.
Of course, in God’s design for you, there is design for rest.  Whole big chunks of renewal for your soul.  But do not be deceived—there is a huge difference between resting and loitering.  One is performed en route to your destiny, one is a barstool at a truck stop.  
I propose that God loves us too much to give us more than we can handle.  Without a plan, my dream of two million dollars was in that category (who knew?).  I would have had it and my foolishness would have been my undoing.  Could that be why so many of us are living with so little—we have demonstrated that we value excuses over faithfulness?   But I believe that many of us were designed to be storehouses, to be dream dealers, to be creative and potent in the marketplace.  We are to be the ones cutting the checks and bring revolution.
If I believe I was created for more, if I feel the tug of an unrealized destiny on my heart, then it is time to expect more from myself.  It is time to tap into God’s storehouse of provision for me and show that he can trust me with the gifts he has given me, the people he has placed around me, and the time and resources I already have.  Self control is trump.  I am not slave to my selfish whims; I am disciplined enough to choose the great over the good.
Perhaps my dream of two million dollars was a prophetic one.  I am, in any case, certain that a full realization of my life’s fulfillment is contingent upon my willingness to embrace a life of discipline.

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