There’s a Native American legend of a grandfather telling his grandson about two wolves battling against each other inside of him. In applying it to our faith walk, one wolf represents the flesh; the other wolf represents the spirit. The grandson looks at his grandfather and asks, “Which one will win?”
The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”
Just as in the story, there are two sides within me wanting to be fed: the flesh and the spirit. While in Christ, I have struggled a long time with depression, fear and unbelief. I’ve repeatedly made the mistake of believing I can do everything on my own and, when I failed, I believed it was too big for God.
Of all the people in the Bible, Moses is the one I relate to the most, especially when he’s speaking to God in Exodus 3. God tells Moses He’s seen the oppression going on in Egypt, and He wants to free His chosen people from that bondage. All Moses can think of is what he’ll say to the others and the list of excuses ensues. God’s response is to encourage Moses, but he is too consumed with his own insecurities:
Moses: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?”
God: “I will certainly be with you…”
Moses: “When I go to the people of Israel and tell them You sent me, they’ll ask, ‘What’s His name?’ What should I say?”
God: “I AM WHO I AM.”
Moses: “What if they don’t believe me?”
God: “I will perform a sign and wonder.”
Moses: “I’m not good with my words, can’t you send someone else?”
God: “Didn’t I form your mouth? I decide who speaks and who doesn’t.”
My conversations with God have been similar:
- I’m too afraid.
- I’m too introverted.
- I’m too self-conscious.
- I don’t know enough.
- I’m not good enough.
God on the other hand says, “I’m bigger than your fears,” “I’m stronger than your doubts,” “I’m the One you can always depend on.”
The war for our country’s independence may have been fought on battlefields, but the war for our spiritual dependence was finished on the Cross.
Surrendering my independence has been the hardest part of my faith walk. The truth is before and without Christ I am enslaved to my selfish desires. Jesus’ death on the Cross marked the true day of my freedom:
In (this) freedom Christ has made us free (and completely liberated us); stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery (which you have once put off). –Galatians 5:1 (AMP)
Once and For All
The freedom that Paul talks about is complete, meaning it was done once and for all. Now instead of living for myself however I please, I strive to live for the pleasure of God. Are there times when I fail? Of course! The battle between my fallen state and life in the Spirit is continuous.
It’s when I feel as though I will never overcome in the battle between the flesh and the Spirit that I live in condemnation. Think of a prisoner behind bars: The warden comes with the keys to unlock the doors but instead of walking out, he remains within his cramped cell unable to accept that he is truly free.
Leaving my mistakes and insecurities behind takes faith in the assurance of who God says He is. When I’ve faltered and taken my eyes off of Christ, the enemy is waiting patiently to put that yoke of fear and unbelief back on me.
The question remains: How do we stay free?
Feed your spirit
My spiritual life changed when I started believing in the goodness of God. It became more than head knowledge; it became heart knowledge. I had to make the choice that despite what my eyes saw I would believe in the purposes and the plans God has for me. My life continues to change as I engrave God’s word on my heart and constantly renew my mind from negative thinking.
Starve the flesh
For a long time, I’ve lived under the yoke of unbelief and doubt. It kept me paralyzed from pursing the dreams I had. Fear of what others would think and of the unknown kept me uncomfortably confined. As I strive to live for God, my thoughts are consistently more focused on how I can please Him. When the flesh is starved, instead of hearing the voice of our own insecurities and the murmurings of our hearts, we can hear the voice of God saying, “Whom My Son has set free, is truly free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Do you struggle with freedom? What truths do you cling to in the fight?
Photo credit: stephcarter