Sometimes, each day feels like you're in a tug-of-war. But with God on your side, you will win.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and remember that old game of Tug-of-War?
Hi there and welcome to this edition of “Joni and Friends,” and surely you remember playing tug-of-war when you were a kid. You line up the strongest guys on your side, then dig your heels in, strain hard, and pull till it hurts. I remember at one of our Family Retreats when I got involved in a tug-of-war in my wheelchair. There I was in my power wheelchair and they tied the rope to the back of my wheelchair and I put it in reverse hard. Did we win? Well, I can’t remember, but I’ve played tug-of-war not only at our Family Retreats, but I remember when I was on my feet back in school, at church camps, at family reunions, and I play it nearly every morning when I get up out of bed. And I am not kidding.
I think of Tug-of-War when I think of the way we as Christians live out our faith. You know how it is, from the time you get up in the morning, it's like two forces are wrenching you in a fierce contest of push-and-pull, the Holy Spirit pushing you up and the flesh pulling you down. Day after day, it’s a constant struggle to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit; to starve the old and feed the new; to reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God.
And who wins? Well, it depends on whose side you choose to be at that moment. Because when it comes to our walk with Christ, we’re not talking a simple game of tug-of-war. It is a life-and-death struggle that involves crucifying your fleshly desires and deciding to walk in the Spirit. It’s daily warfare to reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to the Lord. And when I say daily, I mean it. There are times when I wake up in the morning and I'm sore and stiff and feeling the crunch of my quadriplegia. The day has hardly begun and I'm already feeling deflated. Well, friend, that’s the best time to reckon myself dead to that attitude. I say to myself: ‘Lord, I'm not going to allow my feelings to order me around today; so why are you downcast? This is the day the Lord has made, so start rejoicing. Be glad in it. And, Lord, I'm going to decide to trust you, believe in you, lean on you today! I'm going to smile and move forward into the morning, believing the best about you, Jesus, and your plan for the day; believing that I’ve got a purpose worth living for and you a Savior worth following!’ Friend, this is what it looks like, that’s what it sounds like, to reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God. And you know what? Before I'm out the door in the morning, I’ve chosen sides and it is the winning side!
Look, when it comes to this spiritual contest every day, you are either on one side or the other —friend, you're never in the middle of a tug-of-war between the spirit and your flesh. Every day you're either following your fallen nature or believing the promises of God. And who prevails depends upon the perspective you adopt toward one side (that is your flesh) or the other (that is the Spirit dwelling within you), because every moment of the day, each decision you make, every choice, every whim and thought is your chance to crucify the old and encourage the new. Remember, you can't be neutral; you can't remain in the middle. You are either walking in the Spirit or you're not.
So before this day ends, let me jump in on your side of the rope; allow me to lend a hand and shoulder some of your load, because we are in this together. Let me know how we can pray for you — just go to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and tell me. And while you’re there, don’t forget to look at that fun video I’ve posted of me — or is it me — on the giant swing at Family Retreat! It’s all there for you at joniandfriends.org
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