Whilst I was on holiday in Northern Ireland I spent a long time in prayer and meditation over 2017. What direction we would take our children’s school in; things we needed to focus on; things we needed to drop; blogging goals; relationship goals…..you name it, I pondered it.
My one main goal, which does not change from year to year, is to be intentional about life rather than just letting it happen to me. But there was one other word which I kept coming back to during my time in Northern Ireland. Yes, you guessed it! That word is self-control. I don’t know about you, but that word sends shivers down me, and not in a good way. You see, self control encompasses everything. Every part of one’s life. From the time one gets up in the morning, to the time one tucks down at night…..and everything in-between. I kinda wanted to go back to God, hand Him the self-control option (labeling it unwanted) and ask for another one. Nurture, nourish, slow, flourish….to name a few more positive words. But no. Self control it was, and is, and I basically want to lie on the floor, scream whilst allowing my limbs to flail about, like a two year old (with no self control) tantruming. That probably tells you more about the role of self-control (or lack there of) in my life. This was going to be tough, if not impossible.
For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37)
But there is more, and it is even worse than I could possibly have imagined. Whilst I was praying about this, God showed me that this was a word not just for me, but for my family as a whole.
. . . I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:5–6)
Each Sunday we will be sitting down as a family and looking at what the Bible has to teach about self-control. This will be a toughy for all of us, and will require changes I am certain will not be palatable to most. Gary and I will need to take responsibility for our own lack of self-control, because you can be sure that our children struggle with the very same sin pattern. A clear example is eating more than we need to. Another is spending too much time on the screens. Staying up too late reading. Allowing hormones to get the better of us….you see, this whole self control thing encompasses everything in our life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
It seems peculiar to me that all the other characteristics of someone filled with the Spirit come fairly naturally to us. I mean, improvement could be made (of course) but I would consider our family, in general, to be loving, joyful, peaceful (especially since the cancer), patient, kind, good and gentle. Things go to pot a little when we get to the self control part though.
Please can I ask those prayer warriors out there to lift our family in prayer. I know it is maybe a bit weird to ask, but this word for the year does not fill me with excitement. Instead it fills me with a quiet kind of dread. Whilst I realise the blessings will be vast, this feels like an insurmountable mountain and one which I am not capable of climbing by myself.