“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Acts 1:8
In 2012 my husband did something really crazy. He went on a 7 day bike tour all across Colorado called “Ride the Rockies.” It sounds like a lovely cruise through beautiful forests and rolling hills, doesn’t it? It was very beautiful, but was also a grueling event with 3500+ feet of elevation gain each day and often over 100 miles from one location to the next. The tour rode over mountain passes, above timberline where there is no oxygen and along long stretches of dirt road where every breath meant inhaling dirt and dust from the riders in front of you. It was hard just watching the riders do it, and I was simply there as a cheerleader!
As the tour progressed, a rumor started about a man who was “cheating.” You see, he built his own bicycle. And on it, he included a quiet little motor that helped propel him up hills. I saw him a handful of times. While other riders struggled for momentum while chugging up a 20 mile mountain pass, this man just breezed on by. His bike was still a bike. It required that he pedal and shift gears like any other bicycle, but he always had a little extra “help” along the way.
I’ve always thought that man’s invention was a beautiful metaphor for doing Thin Within while relying on the power of God.
I spent a solid 9 years of my Thin Within journey just trying to do Thin Within in my own effort, my own striving. Of course I prayed and wanted to honor God, but I was truly only relying on my own efforts. I became “Abigail the Achiever” (pg. 121, Thin Within). I thought if I just tried hard enough, stay focused enough, did “good” enough…I’d finally get this thing down. Ironically, the more I tried, the more I fell flat on my face! Sure, I could get a solid week or two of 0-5 eating under my belt. But eventually, the effort became too much. I would become weary. I would start to give in to breaking my boundaries little by little. And before I knew it, I was completely off the course.
A few years ago, I learned a beautiful truth. We don’t have to be self-propelled through this journey like a cyclist pedaling his way up a mountain pass under his own power. When we submit to God’s power and invite the Holy Spirit to work through us and help us, suddenly we become more like the rider on the motorized bike! Sure, we need to pedal some and put a little effort into it, but ultimately God is propelling us with a quiet little motor called the Holy Spirit. He takes us out of our self-sufficient striving and into a place of power and victory!
God’s power is a powerful force to be reckoned with. And so much of that power is made available to us if we’ll just confess our weakness, surrender our striving and invite His power to work through us! “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms“-Ephesians 1:18-20.
Did you catch that? He has called us into His power. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the heavenly realms. And that power is made available to me? To us? Well sign me up, I’m in! I don’t know about you, much I would much rather lean on a greater power than what I can offer myself through self-sufficiency.
So you might be wondering, what exactly does it look like to rely on God’s power through my Thin Within journey? I’m glad you asked! 🙂 For me, it looks like coming before God each and every day and praying. I often confess my weakness (2Cor 12:9) and inability to maintain my boundaries in my own attempts. It involves praying before every meal, during each time I am tempted, every time I feel lead into indulgence or rebellion. It sometimes looks something like this:
“Father, I surrender my own efforts in favor of your perfect power. Carry me through the difficult moments of temptation today. Give me victory in the face of indulgence and gluttony. Help me to be mindful of my boundaries and give me the ability to stick to them. I know I can’t do this in my own effort. I surrender my striving and I ask that your Holy Spirit would overcome my desire to take control. Lead me through this day with the same power that raised Christ from the dead!”
And wouldn’t you know it…when I’m mindful of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to get me through, I feel like that cyclist on a motorized bike just breezing through with ease. 0-5 comes easily, temptation isn’t as strong, disobedience and rebellion are a distant memory and I am more fully convinced that God has equipped me for victory through the propulsion of His power, not mine.
How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut of just trying trying trying? Have you noticed that more often than not, you’re relying on your own efforts to maintain 0-5 boundaries? Give it a rest! Lay down your striving and rely on God to propel you forward!