My greatest enemy is not the devil. Sure, he’s a formidable foe, and very worthy of my concern. But my greatest enemy is even closer to home: I am my greatest enemy.
The Holy Spirit has humbled me lately. These last few years, I have been called to many fasts as God has been working to fix broken things in me and bring me into submission to Him so I may do His Will. I have submitted very eagerly, and though I cannot say it has been easy, I can say that His help has come quickly to save me from myself many times. Dr. Dobson probably would have cautioned against the way the Spirit spoiled me. Very recently, I was called to a fast that required more of my flesh than I truly wanted to give. I can’t even say I wrestled with it. I didn’t even try to submit myself. What I did try to do was excuse myself in every possible way from the command of the Holy Spirit, and in that, I wonder what I have lost.
Yes, I know God is merciful. God is even longsuffering. But how long will He put up with stubbornness before He lets me taste the fullness of the battle without His help? I got up very early this morning, weary of my flesh winning against the Will of God, and I prayed for His voice to speak to me. After an hour of listening pensively, I heard in my spirit “Jeremiah 35.” I opened my Bible to it and read the story of the Recabites, who obeyed a command by their earthly forefathers to restrain from drinking wine, living in houses or owning any sort of property. They were told to not even sow seed or plant vineyards. And God used that example to tell the Israelites, “You can’t even obey Me! Look at the Recabites and their submission to an earthly father. I am God, and you still don’t listen! (paraphrased)” In verse 17, God says, “Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them because I have spoken to them but they have not heard and I have called to them but they have not answered.”
Yes, without a doubt, flesh is my greatest enemy. I was sitting here thinking about flesh in the common terminology of the church: that we cater to it. I picked at the word “cater,” tearing it apart to find out what else this term means. I tend to do that when something becomes so overused, it’s worthless. I thought of other circumstances in which the word “cater” is used and wondered what simple term it is replacing. The truth, illuminated in my mind, terrified me! The simplest form of “cater” is SERVE. All the sudden, I saw my flesh for what it has become: a god. And I, with righteousness like a filthy rag, had become a whore to my flesh. I was serving my flesh at the expense of my Husband. Oh Hosea, how did you do it?!
You know, all of this truth hurts. It hurts even more as I acknowledge the depth of my failure. I just recently completed a fast that the Holy Spirit had labeled “Unadulterated.” It was painful to my flesh. Thirty days of eating only “unadulterated” food. No additives, no preservatives, no ingredients that cannot be read by a second-grader. I know, right? Does that even exist? Yes, it does. It’s called a garden. Thirty days! The pain of it was not just the lack of variety, it was the fact that as a single mom, I was dishing up the good stuff every day and couldn’t touch it! But, by the grace of God, I made it. Am I being dramatic? No. I was being self-righteous, which is why the Spirit of God so graciously humbled me afterward. By allowing me to go it alone. A few weeks after that fast, I felt compelled to fast in a different way: To get up earlier than usual to spend time with God in the Word. I set my alarm, even put a note in there so that when it went off every morning, I would wake up and see, “This is a fast!” and get up. Did that work? In theory only. I would wake up, look at the alarm, hit snooze, fall back asleep, groggily respond to the alarm when it went off again, and because I was still half-way asleep, I would accidentally turn off the alarm and drift back off to dreamland. I did this for three nights. No manner of self-discipline could get me up at the appointed time. Three days of not hearing and knowing the Will of God, three days of wondering what things I had missed by not meeting with Him, and I had had enough. Oh flesh! You devil! I finally got up this morning, but I humbly admit it was only because I cannot go another day without hearing My Husband speak to me. It’s ironic: I fasted to become unadulterated, then ran back to my adulterous relationship with my flesh the moment it was over. Not only did I run back to serving myself, I lavished on my flesh. All discipline went out the window, and whatever flesh wanted, flesh got. And here is God, all the while, like Hosea, calling me back to Him. Denying His pain at my utter disregard for His love to call me back from the feet of another god. Oh God, how do you put up with me?
Yes, I am my greatest enemy.