Spirit of Self-Control

Format Image

Many of you know that I spent some time this spring focusing on my health. I joined a gym, worked out five times a week, and kept to a limited food plan focused on building lean muscle and burning fat. For the six weeks of the challenge, I practiced incredible self-control.

And the week after, I gave myself a break. I stopped worrying about what I ate.

If I’m honest, I haven’t ever found my focus again.

About two months ago, I started back up at the gym. I missed the workouts and the community. My goal is not to fit into some unrealistic ideal of how society thinks I should look, but to be strong and healthy and have the energy I need to do this work.

One thing I didn’t change however, is that I haven’t turned my attention to how I was eating again.

So this past week, while thinking about this sermon on self-control, I thought that perhaps I should at least look at how I was doing in that department.

And I planned really healthy breakfasts, with veggies fresh from my garden.

I packed lunches each day, instead of running out to buy something.

But by dinner time, I lost all semblance of self-control.

Wednesday night, we got Chinese takeout. I ate all my food, PLUS two crab rangoons and potstickers.

Thursday night, we ordered pizza. I had four pieces of taco pizza, a couple of breadsticks, AND a cookie!

And in each case, we were having a lazy night, eating in front of the television, and I didn’t even realize how much I had consumed until I started counting it all up the next morning.

If you aren’t focusing on the task at hand, you will lose sight of your goal. Self-control is all about not allowing yourself to be distracted away from your purpose.

This morning we heard the familiar story of Samson and Delilah – of a man who was tempted into giving up his secret strength.

But to understand this story we need a little bit of background.

There was a man named Manoah whose wife was barren. Try as they might, they could not have a child.

But one day, an angel appeared to the woman and promised her that a child would be born to them – a child that would be holy – a child that would save Israel from their enemies. But in order for this to come to pass, the child must be set apart as holy and must live a certain way.

This vow – this promise was called the Nazarite vow.

And so even before this child was born, the mother lived according to the Nazarite vow and then when the child Samson came into the world, he was declared a nazarite.

Now, being an infant – he couldn’t choose this himself – but according to the tradition – a father can declare his son a nazirite. Samson had the right to refuse this status and to end his promises, but nowhere in the scriptures does it say that he does this.

To be a nazarite meant that he had to follow three rules.

First, he had to abstain from any fruit of the vine. He couldn’t eat grapes or drink wine or even use wine vinegar with his food.

Second, he had to refrain from cutting his hair. As time went on, the long hair on his head would have been a sign of his vow.

Third, he couldn’t touch dead bodies.

So Samson took on these vows for himself and God blessed him with strength as a result of his faithfulness.

However, Samson had a weakness.
He had a distraction in his life.
And that distraction was women.

It’s not so much that his love for women was a bad thing. But time and time again, his weakness for the members of the opposite sex put him in terrible situations.

And eventually, as we heard this morning, Samson was tempted away from his Nazarite pledge because he lost sight of what was most important.

He put this woman, Delilah, before the pledge that he and his parents had made to God.

As soon as he let Delilah cut his hair, his strength vanished, he lost his control over the situation, and was captured.

So, Samson because our poster child for what NOT to do in practicing self-control.

Where do we turn to understand what it means to allow God’s spirit to fill us with self-control? What is this fruit of the spirit that Paul commends us to embrace?

When we look to the gospels of Jesus Christ, one of the places I think we can see this fruit is in the command to stop worrying.

As the gospel of Luke tells us – “don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing.”

I could personally take that as a license to never diet again! To just take a deep breath and not focus on how much food I eat at all.

But when we look at the full context of this passage, Jesus is really trying to tell us not to be distracted.

This command to stop worrying is not about trying to save us from anxieties and troubles by promising everything will be okay.

No, Jesus is trying to tell us to stay focused on what is most important.

This advice not to worry about food and clothing and tomorrow end with the powerful statement:

Seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness…. And everything else will take care of itself.

In other words, focus on God and what God asks of you.

That really is all that Samson had to do. Focus on God and what God asks of you.

The key to self-control is to let God to have the central place in your life.

The key to self-control is to allow the purpose God has given you guide your actions.

In my scripture study around the sermon today, I learned that the word for demons in the New Testament – daemonia – means “to be controlled by another.”

And in a real sense, every time we let food or worry, power or desire, or anything else to become the focus of our lives instead of God, those things begin to control us.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “the devil made me do it.”

In his sermon on “Self-Control and Freedom,” Charles Rush reminds us that people used to assume that there were spirits that caused us to indulge in pleasure, so anytime someone succumbed to a temptation – they saw it as a demonic possession.

“We no longer believe that,” he says, “but their insight was right about the [spiritual fact that] cravings… become compulsions. At some point… they begin to control us. At some point, our character becomes misshaped and misaligned in order [to] adjust itself to increasing demands our compulsions put on us. We are no longer free, but are driven by our compulsions.” (http://archive.christchurchsummit.org/Sermons-2006/060716-SelfControlAndFreedom.html)

It’s not that things like eating and drinking and sex are evil… but they can spiral out of control if we allow them to be the central objects of our lives.

Self-control is a barrier that prevents other things from distracting us from God’s purpose in our lives: to seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.

And discipline or a rule of life allow us to set boundaries that will help us to keep focused on what actually matters the most.

For the Nazarite, discipline and self-control was found in three simple rules – avoiding grapes and wine, not cutting their hair, and avoiding the dead. The purpose of the rules was to constantly remind them that they had been set apart by God for a purpose.

Many disciples of Jesus Christ today also have a discipline that helps them to focus first on God.

Some of you set aside time every morning to pray.
Some of you use the Upper Room daily devotional.
Some of you have made intentional choices about what you will eat or wear or drink because it is a witness to your faith in Jesus Christ.

Whatever it is, it is part of how you are creating space for God’s purpose to be prioritized in your life.

One of the things that I hope for this morning is that this might be a moment to reflect on whether or not self-control is a part of your spiritual life.

What are the temptations that try to sneak their way before God in your life?

Do you have… or do you need… a discipline or a practice that helps you to focus first on God?

As J. Hampton Keathley writes that Samson was a raised up by God to be a judge, a ruler, and was meant to lead Israel. “Samson strangled a lion; yet he could not strangle his own love. He burst the fetters of his foes; but not the cords of his own lusts. He burned the crops of others, and lost the fruit of his own virtue when burning with the flame kindled by a single woman.” (https://bible.org/series/1-2-3-john-comfort-and-counsel-church-crisis/bible.org/ttpstudents.com/sessions/node/5399?page=42)

We should be honest about the things that threaten to distract us from our faith and keep us from being in control of our actions. And then we should pray about how we can turn them back over to God.

I want to invite you to a simple prayer practice right now that helps us to do so.

Close your eyes and clench your hands up tight.
Picture the distractions and worries you have in your life that you have brought with you… even into this very place of worship.
Then in your own time turn your hands, still gripping, over so that they are facing down.
Imagine God’s hands underneath yours and slowly open your hands so that the things you are carrying fall into God’s hands.
If you do this at home or in your own time, you can repeat this several times.
Then turn your hands face up, but this time with the palms open and ask God’s Spirit to fill you afresh.
Let go of your desires.
Turn your heart over to God.
And seek first the Kingdom.
Amen.

Returning from Thin Places

There are places in this world that are “thin.”
It is a label given to places, in the Celtic understanding, where the barrier between the human and the divine, heaven and earth, is nearly imperceptible.
A place where we experience the divine more readily.

In biblical history, we see a number of these “thin places” or holy locations: like Mount Sinai or the temple in Jerusalem, or that mountain where Jesus was transfigured. Sometimes, it is the location itself that is key… sometimes it is the hearts of the people gathered who seem to transform it.

Perhaps you have known a “thin place.”
Experiences that have filled you with a sense of awe and purpose.
Sometimes people call these “mountain top moments”… even if they didn’t actually take place on a mountain because they are the peaks of our spiritual journey.
“Thin places” are where you have felt God’s presence more than any other.

As I think back in my own spiritual journey, I’ve had these kinds of experiences in large gatherings of faithful folks at retreats, and I’ve had them in silent moments at the top of mountains. I’ve also had them right here, in this sanctuary, in this building, as we have gathered to worship and praise God.

And what I have noticed is that it is always hard to leave those places.
You want to linger.
You can’t imagine normal life in the same way again.
The pull to stay is almost irresistible.
But eventually you have to return.
Return to your life.
Return to solid ground.
Return to the mundane and the thick and the muck and mess.

In our gospel this morning, we find Jesus returning from one of those “thin places.”
The Jordan River was a place of healing and transformation.
John the Baptist called people out to the river to repent and be baptized.
And when Jesus visited, that barrier between the heavens and earth grew so thin that the skies burst open and the Holy Spirit descended upon him.

But like us, Jesus can’t stay there.
He can’t set up shop there on the banks and wait for the world to come to him, any more than we can’t live here in the church for our whole lives… waiting for flocks of people to come into our doors.
No, he has to return to the rest of the world.
There is work to be done.

So, full of the Holy Spirit, like we often are after these holy moments, Jesus returns from the Jordan.

And there is something that happens in this returning, in this transition.
In between verse 1 where he returns from the Jordan and verse 14, where he returns to Galilee, there is a gap.

The wilderness.
A liminal space.
40 days of discomfort, of waiting, of transformation.
40 days of fasting and wrestling.
40 days of trial and temptation.
40 days.

Biblically, this 40 days reminds us of the great flood in Genesis, or the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the wilderness. Moses fasted for 40 days… so did Elijah.
This number 40 doesn’t have to mean a literal forty days… but it signifies the right amount of time it takes to get you ready for whatever comes next.

As Jesus returns from the Jordan, he needs to prepare himself for his ministry in the world. And the devil shows up to tempt him. As Jesus is shown all of the possibilities for what that ministry might look like, he has to figure out what kind of savior he will be. He wrestles with his calling. He takes time to focus fully on the presence and power of God that will sustain him in his work.
And in that time, Jesus is preparing himself to go and BE a thin space in the world.
To be the very presence of God, Immanuel, with the people.
And if Jesus, the very Son of God, needs this liminal time to get him ready to return to the world… don’t you think we do, too?

Every week, we gather in this church to worship and experience the divine. It has become for us a sort of thin place… [And soon, some of us will be worshipping in a new thin place].
And what we experience here… the friendships we make, the prayers, the support and accountability, the life-giving spirit… is good and awesome and holy.
But we can’t stay here forever.
Every Sunday, when the worship has finished and we take leave of the building, we have to return to the world.
We have to go out into Galilee, into Des Moines, into our mission field.
There is work to be done for the sake of the gospel.

But I’m afraid that too often, we come to a holy and thin place like this, we get filled up with the Holy Spirit, and then as soon as we step outside of the doors, the devil is waiting for us.
And the devil prays on all of our insecurities and temptations.
I fear, that most days, instead of holding on to the spirit of God… we instantly fill ourselves back up with worries and concerns, with politics and ideology, with work and school and family troubles.
We walk out the door and forget about what we have just experienced.
Back to the normal, mundane, ordinary world, as ordinary, normal, mundane people.

What if, before we left the building, we took a moment to get ourselves ready?

Sometimes I give you big challenges, but this morning, I want us to think small.
I want to challenge all of us to carve out not 40 days, not 40 minutes, but 40 seconds of space…
40 seconds of wilderness time… to help us return back to the world.
I want to challenge you, before you walk out the doors today, to spend just 40 seconds putting your trust in God.
40 seconds to remember who we are and whose we are.
40 seconds to lift up the temptations we know we will face and place them in God’s hands.

Our churches have work to do. We have a kingdom to help build. There are lives that are lost that need the love and grace and mercy of God.
And we cannot do it by ourselves.
We can’t do it without being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the thing… YOU are the temple of God. God’s Spirit lives within YOU.
And God wants you to be the hands and feet of Jesus out there in the world.
God needs your ministry and your work out in the world.

So let us get filled up with the Spirit.
And let us go out, to live as “thin places,” to be people who bring the love of God to every person we meet.
Amen.

Going All In

This morning, as we enter the season of Lent, we do so with the book of Romans at our side. As a church, we believe we have been called to reflect the light of God and much of that vision that we have affirmed comes right from these verses in chapter 12.

So this season, this time in the wilderness, will be a time of exploration for us. We will dive deep into this chapter and discover together just where and what God is calling us to.

Today, we start with verse one – which Zoe read for us a bit earlier. I want to share it with you again from the Message translation:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. (MSG)

Take your everyday ordinary life…. Every moment, every second, every action… 100% and give it to God.

I want to share with you a prayer… and you tell me if you think this describes the kind of faith Paul invites us into:

Prayer of a Half-hearted Christian
I love thy church, O God;
Her walls before me stand;
But please excuse my absence, Lord;
This bed is simply grand
A charge to keep I have;
A God to glorify;
But Lord, don’t ask for cash from me;
The glory comes too high.
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
Yes Though I seldom pray or pay,
I still insist I am.
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No Others, Lord, should do their part,
But please don’t count on me.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below
Oh, loud my hymns of praise I bring,
Because it doesn’t cost to sing

We just finished singing, “I surrender all,” but so many of us… including myself… don’t really surrender all. We surrender some. We surrender on somedays. We surrender ourselves half-way… but not all.

In fact, many of us are like this dimmer switch up here. We waver in how much light we let out into the world. Our lights are not off completely – but neither are they shining at 100%, 100% of the time.

I did some research on how these dimmer switches work. Specifically the old style knob dimmer switches – where you turn the dial and the lights get brighter and dimmer.

It turns out what makes these switches work was something called a variable resistor. The resistor doesn’t conduct electricity well and in this design, the resistance is increased or decreased by moving the contact arm.

Right here, the arm is all the way on the right, and so it has to travel through all of that resistance to complete the circuit. As the charge works its way through, it loses energy, the voltage drops, and then the light is dimmer.

In this next image, the contact arm is at the top, and so there is about half of the resistor to go through and the lights are only halfway on.

In this image, there is very little actual resistor that the charge has to go through and all most all of the energy travels through the circuit and the light is fully bright.

(you can play with a flash version of these images here.  Thank you to “How Stuff Works” for helping me with my sermon!!!)

Now… I find that these old styles of dimmer switches really help us to talk about our faith. You see, we put up all kinds of resistance in our lives. Just like the person in the prayer I read for you, we make excuses, we want to stay where we are, we think living out our faith costs too much. And on different days and different seasons, the amount of resistance we put up varies.

Some days we want to shine brightly and we are very open to God. We remove obstacles and barriers and let God’s love shine through us.

But some days, we throw every barrier in the world before God. I’m too tired. I’m too old. I’m too poor. I’m not going to listen, God.

What is amazing about these older styles of dimmer switches – is that no matter how much resistance we put up, and how dimly the light shines – it still takes a considerable amount of energy.

The input on the right side is at 100% power. That energy is being used to heat the resistor and then it is lost, dissipated, gone.

In the same way in our lives. God gives us everything. He is right there beside us, shining into our lives, calling us into his service. And every barrier we put up, every bit of resistance that we give, takes all of that God energy and it is used up, dissipated, gone.

When Paul calls us in Romans 12:1 to become a living sacrifice, he isn’t talking about dimmer switch faith… he is inviting us to throw out the resistor – and to let all of that amazing love and power and grace of God to shine through – 100%, 100% of the time.

In our weekly Lenten study this morning (and again on Tuesday night for those who want to join us) we are taking apart that verse piece by piece. But for this morning, I want to explore just what this means for our lives.

I think one of the best ways to understand this idea of going all in is to look at our gospel reading for this morning. As we walk with Jesus, we can see how he lived out this idea of a living sacrifice.

First of all, our passage starts with his baptism. As Jesus rises up out of the waters, the voice of God speaks – This is my son, the Beloved.

Before we can even begin to think about being a living sacrifice, we have to remember God’s mercy. We have to remember what God has already done for us.

God has created us, claimed us, named us, called us and saved us.

Through Jesus Christ, we become the sons and daughters of God and we too hear the voice calling out – You are my beloved. You are mine.

God’s love and grace and mercy are flowing into our lives at full power. It’s there without us having to say or do anything.

But we don’t stop with the baptism. We don’t stop with our declaration of faith.

No, as soon as Jesus hears that voice, the Spirit of God whisks him away into the wilderness. There, for forty days and forty nights, he is tempted, the wild beasts surround him and angels take care of him.

Jesus didn’t try to plan ahead. He didn’t back an emergency kit. He didn’t give excuses for why he couldn’t go. He went and completely and utterly put his life in God’s hands.

We, too, are called to dependence. We are called to place our lives, our time, our energy, our resources in the hands of God.

This time in the desert – this time of living and holy sacrifice – is us taking away all of the barriers, all of the resistance. We relinquish control… because we trust that God will take care of us.

You see, this time in the wilderness, this act of living sacrifice ONLY works if we believe the first part…. That God loves us and forgives us and gives us life.

And then, after he had experienced absolute dependence upon God and let all of his temptations and resistance go, Jesus came out of the wilderness and went straight to work.

Placing our lives in God’s hands mean that all of that power is flowing directly through us… and we can’t help but shine.

Our worship and our service and our ministry are one and the same thing. In every moment of every day, we are responsive to where God wants us to go. We serve him. We let him shine through our hearts.

As Lent begins, we are invited to walk with Jesus. We are invited to enter the wilderness, knowing and trusting that the power of God is 100% behind us. And we are called to let shine.

Give up any resistance you might have in your life. Because of the amazing things that God has done for you already – trust him. Know that he will take care of you. Let go of your worries and your resistance and let him have your life. Then your light will shine brightly for all the world to see, 100%, 100% of the time

It is SUPPOSED to be Hard

“Late in World War II a large number of American and British soldiers were languishing in a war camp deep inside Germany. Some had been there for many months. A high barbed-wire fence ran across the center of the camp, isolating the two sets of prisoners. They were not allowed to go near the fence or communicate with each other. But once a day at noon the British and American chaplains could go to the fence and exchange greetings, always in the company of the guards.

“The Americans had put together a crude wireless radio and were getting some news from the outside world. Since nothing is more important to prisoners than news, the American chaplain would try to share a headline or two with his British counterpart in the few moments they had at the fence.

“One day the news came over the little radio that the German high command had surrendered and the war was over. None of the Germans knew this, since their communications system had broken down. The American chaplain took the headline to the fence, and then lingered to hear the thunderous roar of celebration in the British barracks.” (illustration from Bill O’Brien, Christian Century article, June 28, 2005)
But you know what? Even though they knew in their hearts they had been set free, there were still prison walls around them. There were still barriers between them and their fellow brothers. And even worse, the captors who held them did not have such a radio, and had no way of knowing this news.
So what do you do when you have been set free by Jesus Christ… but sin doesn’t know it yet? What do you do when you joyfully accept the love and grace of God… but sin is right there next to you like the walls of a prison fence?
Today, we are going to explore this difficult question together as we look at Romans chapter 7. Will you pray with me?
Yes, the prison of sin just doesn’t know when to leave us alone. It is always lurking right there around the corner.
How many of you have seen those commercials for depression medication where this black cloud continues to follow a woman around? That dark cloud, always nearby, always lurking, never far from reach, is a very good picture of what sin in our lives. Try as we might to shake it… it doesn’t go away.
Like the walls of the prison those POW’s were surrounded by, sin is an ever present reality in our lives.
What I think pastors and Sunday school teachers have done for far too long is pretend like sin doesn’t exist.
Oh, sure, we talk about sin in our lives before Jesus, but it is as if faith in Jesus Christ is a magical cure that puts us in a happy little bubble where no sin or temptation can ever touch us again.

Sin is always in the past.

I absolutely love Vacation Bible School. Those five year olds and I had an awesome time this past week learning about the love of God and how he helps us when we are afraid and how he is merciful and forgiving.

But I got to thinking as I wrote this message… did we ever tell those children that sin doesn’t go away, just because Jesus is in our hearts?

Have you ever heard that?

In your two… ten… forty… eighty years of being a Christian, did someone ever tell you that even as a faithful disciple you are still going to struggle with sin?

I hope so… but I worry that hasn’t always been the case.

You see, our world likes to shove problems under neath the carpet. We like to hide them in dark closets. We don’t talk about our struggles. We don’t talk about our problems. And we certainly don’t talk about our sins.

Instead, we walk around with smiles on our faces, dressed up in our Sunday best, and pretend like now that Jesus is in the world all of our problems have disappeared.

That, my friends, is called a delusion. Or hypocrisy. Or any number of any other not so nice words.

What I wish someone had told me and my peers a long time ago is that sin will always be there… lurking just around the corner. Temptation is always a struggle. Mistakes, bad decisions, failure, backsliding… it comes with the territory of discipleship.

This faith journey is SUPPOSED to be hard. It is ALWAYS going to be a struggle.

That is why I am so grateful for pastors and teachers like the apostle Paul.

Because once again, he lays the truth bare and hits me in the gut…

Paul… the Pharisee among Pharisee… the rule-follower par excellence… the guy who always seems to have it together and who has such strength and such faith… all of a sudden he starts confessing…

I too, have spent a long time in sin’s prison. And I decide to do one thing, but then I act another, and I find myself doing things I absolutely hate to do…. I need help! I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it… Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time… The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. (The Message translation, paraphrased)
Last week, I confessed some of my own struggles with sin… in part, inspired by what Paul says right here.

As a reminder that we are ALL human, and that this Christian life is not easy.

Just because we may have accepted Jesus Christ, does not mean that life will be a piece of cake from here on out.
In fact, just the opposite is true.
The moment we accept the freedom and love and grace of Jesus Christ, we immediately discover that we have enemies.
No longer is sin the friend that keeps us company… now it is the dark shadow that seeks to bring us back into its clutches.
And it does so any way that it can.
Paul talks here in this passage about how parts of himself feel like they are at war with one another… he can think good thoughts and make good decision, but then his sarx, his flesh or lesser self, those parts of his life he just can’t control… well, that steps in and messes it all up.
You see, try as we might, sometimes sin finds a way to wrap around parts of our lives. Maybe when you are tired or stressed out. Maybe when you have had a couple of drinks. Maybe when you are with certain friends or coworkers. Maybe what leads you down that wrong path is sex, or food, or money…
Whatever it is, we all have those parts of our lives that just don’t seem to want to let go of sin.

And so sin grabs hold, and hangs on right there…. And we find ourselves stuck in a civil war between the self that wants to do good and the self that wants to go back to old ways.

Throughout Christian history… faithful people have struggled in this way.

But as Bill O’Brien reminds us, “ Christianity and Western civilization do not fight an isolated curse.”

He talks about other faiths who also describe this struggle, including “Islam which identifies this struggle as jihad. The Arabic root for jihad means “strive, effort, labor.” Lesser jihad defines the kind of struggle justified in defense of oneself, for example, in military action. But greater jihad is the fighting of evil in one’s own heart. This is an inward reformation — a spiritual and moral struggle that leads to victory over ego.”

Every person shares this struggle between what we know is right and what we actually find ourselves doing. Sin lurks around the corner for all of us.

I want to take you back to that story of the prisoners of war in Germany. Remember that they heard the good news that the German commanders had surrendered and that the war was over?

Let me ask the question again… what do you do when you have been set free by Jesus Christ… but sin doesn’t know it yet? What do you do when you joyfully accept the love and grace of God… but sin is right there next to you like the walls of a prison fence?

Well, as O’Brien tells it, “An amazing thing happened. For the next three days the prisoners celebrated, waving at the guards — who still did not know the news — and smiling at the vicious dogs

“Then, when they awoke on the fourth day, there were no guards. Apparently they had fled into the forest, leaving the gate unlocked behind them.

“That day the prisoners walked out as “freed men.” But they had really been set free four days earlier by the news that the war was over.” (Bill O’Brien, Christian Century article, June 28, 2005)

We too, know that we have been set free from the power of sin by Jesus Christ. And so we find ourselves like those POW’s living in the prison camp still, waiting for our official release.

We know and we trust that it is coming. We know that someday the grace of God and the power of Jesus Christ will perfectly transform our lives and sin will no longer have any power whatsoever over us.

But while we remain within these walls… we can sit and sulk and lament our struggles –OR –

We can join with one another, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and celebrate the victory we know is ours already.

You have been set free. The struggle is still ongoing, but it no longer has to consume you.

Fix your eyes on Jesus… pray for his help… and know that the victory is already yours.