During the time of fasting and prayer Second Mile had a couple of weeks ago, God used my Thursday morning spin class to really illustrate a not so great part of my heart.
Because of my fast it seemed like a long time since the last meal I had eaten. My class starts at 9:15 which may seem early enough to many of you, but after waking up kids, getting breakfast, and taking them to school, it felt like I had already been up for a whole day. The hour or so before my class started I began to give myself "the talk."
"You don't have to push yourself in class today. Just fake it. Don't be stubborn, Angel. It's ok if you are too physically weak to cycle at your normal pace. Practice mental toughness in not riding hard and don't be stubborn."
But as soon as I clipped in my shoes and greeted the class my real battle began.
You see, I put high value in strength and work ethic. I don't tolerate excuses or laziness in myself. If others around me are working then I feel I should work, too. My parents did a wonderful job of teaching me to work hard because they are both diligent, hard working people. They taught my brothers and me to put our noses down and get the job done.
In the spinning class, it was time for everyone to climb up our first pretend hill. (Spinning classes simulate a road ride through hills, flat roads, and sprints. So much fun!) I told the class to add some resistance, so naturally I added a little. I argued with myself with each push of the lever to go up the hill a little further. The conversation in my head shifted.
"Don't be a baby, Angel. So, so weak. Lots of people in 2M are fasting and they are at work. Suck it up! Push that gear!"
Straight into what I believe was the Spirit of God speaking truth...
"Angel, where do you find true strength? Is it not within your weakness? Are you trying to win the approval of your class or of yourself by proving what you can do? Rest in Jesus no matter what circumstances come your way."
Literally, I would push a gear up and then bring it back, push a gear up, and then bring it back, over and over.
By the end of the class I was emotionally spent and spiritually aware of the ugliness of my self-reliance.
Self-reliance. Ugh. I'm so familiar with the struggle of what it means to fully rely on Jesus, fully rely on Chad, on my family, on my community. One definition of self-reliance is reliance on one's own capabilities, judgements, or resources, independence. I think since I was a little girl I've probably been saying, "I can do it by myself!"
God has led me into a variety of circumstances that required me to press into Him: marriage, living in another country, having children, moving to Tucson, foster care, leading women. But, through the week of prayer I knew God was taking me to a deeper level of conviction to not let my reliance on Him and others be based on circumstances, but to be a change in my character. The thought of my obedience to Him being circumstantial makes me ill. Oh, Jesus, please refine my character!
Now I am on a quest for scripture, wisdom, insight, understanding of taking relying on the Spirit of God to the depths of who I am. I want to know Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but a righteousness that comes from faith. I want to know that His power is made perfect in my weakness. I want His light to shine through me and not my own puny little cereal box prize flashlight.
I know this will be a life long lessons, but I choose to surrender to His character refinement in my life.
What about you? Are there areas of your life that obedience to God is circumstantial? Is there something He has revealed to you in the last few weeks that will need character refinement? Don't push it away, but instead press into Jesus and allow Him to bring lasting change into your life.