First, an update. When the votes were tallied that Sunday night, the verdict was in and I could not spend any money for the entire week. It was really close (thanks Ashley, for voting for all three...I thought we were friends). Anyway, I was hoping you all would choose #3 - not spending money, because I figured it would be the easiest. (See why I lack self-discipline?) But as it turns out, it was quite difficult at times. On Tuesday morning, I got my weekly email from Southwest Airlines about their deals for the week. Trips to Seattle were featured and what do you know, my husband is going to Seattle on business soon. I thought, "What a great opportunity to get away!" I had already made sure my husband had his own room for the trip and made arrangements with my mother-in-law to keep the girls when it dawned on me...I can't buy a ticket to Seattle, I can't spend money! Of course, my sinful self tried to think of some loopholes around this rule. If I had my husband get online and purchase the ticket then technically I wouldn't be spending money...right?
There were other challenges as well throughout the week. Ashley offered to pay for my parking when we took the girls to the Nashville Public Library. I had to plan meals strategically a couple of times so I wouldn't be tempted to stop and get something on the go. And we ate everything in the refrigerator and pantry which made for a couple of interesting meals. All in all, it made me realize how much I can live without.
This leads me to my "aha!" experience. What these exercises in self-discipline have taught me more than anything is to be mindful. I am reminded of a verse from Beth Moore's study on Daniel. It has always stuck with me. Daniel 10:12 says
Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since, the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."You have to "set your mind" on the right things. That's what these exercises are doing for me. As a mom of such little ones, there have been days where I'm on auto pilot and realize when I lie down at night that I haven't thought about God ONCE. (Except maybe, "Lord, help me!") But busyness is an excuse. Since the Garden of Eden, Satan's greatest trick has been to set our minds on something and someone else. For Eve, it was the forbidden fruit and what was in it for her if she ate it. For us it is a million things. Worry about our kids, the stresses of our jobs, what to make for dinner, our appearance, the big football game, all the mysteries of LOST :), and on and on and on. (Maybe that's just me) We are a culture, much like the Babylonian culture Daniel lived in actually, that fills our minds with so much...junk.
So how do we live a life of self-discipline? How do we live by the power of the Holy Spirit? How do we love God? We've got to "set our minds" first. On the right things. On the right One. Romans 8:5 has been a key verse for me.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.Could it be more clear? Living by the sinful nature? Then I've got my mind set on what that nature desires. Living by the Spirit? Then you've got your mind set on what the Spirit desires. I also love 1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.I love that verse because it reminds me that while I must "set my mind" and "be self-controlled" that my hope is not in those things. My hope is not in me. My hope is set "fully on the grace to be given [me]". So while I practice self-discipline, while I set my mind in the right place, my hope is in Christ alone. Remembering that is the only way to keep these exercises from turning into the legalism I loathe. So as I continue to "set my mind to gain understanding and to humble [my]self before God," I am encouraged to know that my "words [will be] heard, and [He will] come in response to them." And may my "Aha" moments always lead me back to His amazing grace.