I resist submitting…to exercise, confining self-expression, denying myself favorite foods, control of ‘my’ budget, and many other things. Yet I seldom resist a favorite food, an excuse to skip exercise, or to connive a way to get something I want. Both times I am submitting and allowing something or someone to be my master.
I hate greens – well I hate them in that powdery form that we are supposed to add to water and gulp down (and keep down).. (I know many people who can do this but I cannot.) So I add – chocolate! It’s true – ever tried a Greens+ bar – I love the greens covered in chocolate, so I began making my own – adding almond butter, nuts, coconut, unsweetened organic chocolate and some healthy sweetener (usually maple syrup or coconut sugar) and it becomes chocolate greens bars. They are quite good — so good my subconscious had me dreaming the other night about how I should be taking more vitamins. So there I was cleverly dunking the capsules, one by one, in dark chocolate!
When I first learned of submission to human authority, I freaked out. I blamed it on my abusive childhood and what I saw as forced respect (and obedience) of those who don’t necessarily respect you or anyone else. It’s like exercise, I thought – punishing exertion. That is not, however, what the Bible teaches about submission. Submission is acknowledging authority, top down – so first, to God.
Submitting to the larger issues – God’s authority over the world, powers, government, and creation, are easier for me to accept. When I ask myself, however, if Christ has authority over my attitude, behavior, desires for myself or others, or our even my countenance at the moment, suddenly submission does not seem that simple.
The E Word – again?
Self-control is part of the process, but more as a practice or discipline of silencing myself and humbling myself before God—Choosing God as my God rather than any person or thing, including myself. This is an on-going, constant exercise.
Once I realized that through Christ’s death I had the open door to go to God about any and all of the authorities in my life, I was ready to listen. Two books greatly influenced my understanding of this Biblical principle are P. Bunny Wilson’s Liberated Through Submission, and Brother Andrew’s little booklet Practicing the Presence of God. (Exercising).
These books encourage recognizing that God is the final authority over all in my life. But I’ve had a lifetime of practicing submission to other gods – how can I break those habits?
Before we can put OFF, James tells us, we need to refocus our submission – to Draw Near to God, FIRST – to get the strength to resist and flee that which would draw us and divert us from the higher road. When we draw near, we are bowing in humility that we can come to His presence and be filled, encouraged and renewed. This filling pushes off the old so we are no longer enslaved by the former lusts and desires. As I Corinthians 13 says, all things – even my desires –lifelong captive habits – are now becoming new, productive and wholesome.
New habits that microplane-off the old . . . NEW from the inside out.
The pattern, clearly outlined in many portions of scripture:
Draw near Be Renewed Put ON Put OFF
If, like me, you need a visual of temporary submission, check out Kinetic sand you can buy or make yourself. When you (or whoever or whatever squeezes this sand) it takes on the new shape. As long as it is under the influence of the controlling force will it retain the new shape, but when it is released from submission of that control it goes back to the way it was.
Choose an area of your life to bring to God. Draw near to Him, and receive the power to overcome and put on the new.