Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
Almost in unison, my husband and my oldest son said, “I cannot believe what I just saw you do.” I was a bit shocked as well. Shocked because it just happened. As in, not a single thought went through my mind. My body just took over.
Let me back up a bit. I pulled a typical me. I planned for us to drive all the way to Costco (far from home) with the thought and hope of purchasing a much-needed mattress to replace our 14-year-old backache producer. As is often the case, I failed in the details. As we are looking and price-comparing, my husband is reminding me we have no way to get it home. In my mind we can make just about anything work. I was just sure some nice employee would help us cram it in or tie it on the roof. My husband was giving me the look. I knew it was better to go home and formulate an actual logistical plan.
Meanwhile, we were in my favorite store. A store we decided not to renew our membership because for all the cost savings, we inevitably spent money on things we found for bargain prices that we couldn’t live without that we would’ve never seen had we not been there to begin with. That place can make me spend hundreds of dollars over budget in an effort to save $3 per item on a handful of items. Soooo….
Here we are. At Costco for no reason. And I knew temptation was great. I began justifying why I should just go ahead and renew the membership and buy what we needed anyway. But I kept saying no. I would win this battle over temptation. I would have self-control. I was determined. I could do this. But I wan’t enjoying it. At all.
Steve looked at me for the sign to shop or leave, and with a pouty face, I said, “Let’s just go. We can’t buy anything anyway, so I don’t even want to be here.” I said this as my hands grazed some outdoor pillows that would be perfect in my screen porch. Steve is really good at this. The denying yourself what you want. He actually derives pleasure in telling himself no to things. I want to be more like him in this way.
We had promised the kids lunch at Costco but hoped we could convince them to hold out for something yummier closer to home. They wanted the instant gratification I was struggling with myself. We failed to convince them, and again I said no when I wanted to say yes. I ordered 2 slices of pizza and one hot dog for the kiddos. Steve and I got nothing. I was winning but felt miserable in the process.
And that is when it happened. The moment sin reared its heinous head and painted a picture for me right before our very eyes. Of all of my children, my middle son loves his food the most. Truly this child loves food. He savors each bite, never rushing through the moments of enjoyment. When they placed the hot dog in his hand, he said “Oh wow! It’s huge! It’s the biggest hot dog I’ve ever seen.”
He unwrapped it carefully. Taking cautious steps to open it just right, his eyes were half closed. I watched him slowly take in the aroma. In an out-of-body experience, I swooped in. I stole that boy’s joy right then and there. Something took over and my arm reached out, grabbed that hot dog, and I took a quick bite. The first bite.
Together my husband and oldest son looked at me with wide eyes, while my middle son said, “What?!” “What just happened?”
I can’t explain it. Except to say that sin fought hard that day. It desperately wanted to win that battle. It lost through the aisles of Costco, but it won over a hot dog in a moment of rebellion. The lack of self-control was ugly.
And isn’t that how life is really? A constant fight against sin? The problem that day is that I failed to truly recognize the spiritual in our situation. My husband kept telling me to see the spiritual in it. The funny thing is that is what I do. All. the. time. I look for the connections in everything. It’s how I write. I’m constantly gathering, unwrapping, connecting, exploring. But I did not want to see it on that day.
The fight is worth the fight. The problem is that when we fight in our own strength, it will always feel too heavy. When we fight sin out of our own determination, it will eventually find a way to express itself. Often hurting others along the way. When we fight in His power that He freely gives, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.
The Costco/eating my son’s hot dog is a silly example, but it is such a relevant picture of my daily life and walk with the Lord. I can try and try to do good, be good enough, not do bad. Eventually, the pressure is too great, and I rebel. When I quit trying so hard to be so good, when I quit trying to win the battle in my own strength, I suddenly see His power. His power always wins.
This life isn’t about trying hard to do good on our own. It’s about realizing there is nothing good in us apart from Him. It’s about recognizing the totality of how sinful we truly are and seeing we are in desperate need of His amazing grace. Moment by moment. Then resting in His strength, not our own.
I don’t want to be a city with broken down walls. Therefore, I must rely on Him. I must fight out of His strength and not mine.