The Nails by Dr. Rene Milner
I have been having trouble deciding what to write about for this pondering. As I think on the things around me, life seems to have gotten really complicated. Some relationships in the family have gotten strained. Work has gotten busy with way too many tasks and not enough time. My ability to spend time with the Lord is being tested, and when I have time, it seems like I am mostly stuck in one small passage and can’t seem to get out of it. Life is complex. So, I thought I would talk about one of my bigger struggles. Proper nail care.
For years I have had difficulty with poor nail care. Seriously. It seems that the edges of my fingernails are always rough and irritating. And yes, I confess, I chew my nails. I am a nail biter. It is who I am. I know better. Dr. Mattson tells me this is bad for me. Not only that, but the pain I get from keeping the nails too short reminds me constantly of my weakness. I can’t seem to stop. I have told myself a thousand times how bad this is for me. I have quit over and over but I can’t seem to get the victory. Why can’t I stop? I have stopped for a short time. How proud I was of myself. Then one day something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but I remember finding myself back into the same old place. I remember the guilt and defeat that flooded in as I realized I had again failed to stop. I felt doomed to live like this.
If you know me at all, you probably realize by now that this is not about the nails. (PS – married men wanting relationship insight should watch a YouTube video called “It’s not about the nail.”)
I led you astray a little bit ago. You see, a couple of weeks ago that all changed. How, you ask? I finally realized I was not a nail-biter. No, Seriously. I don’t like it. It’s not good for me and it is not my identity. I just suddenly realized it. The reason I had such a tough time and felt guilt and disgust was because this is not who I am. It is opposite of who I am. The problem was that I was focused on my flesh. I was looking at how I could quit this nasty habit. What things could I do to gain victory over it? How could I get God to come to the rescue? If I prayed enough would He remove this thorn in my flesh? I lived in defeat.
A wise man once said to me “I would rather be known for what I am for than what I am against.” He was referring to one of the many battles we as Christians choose to come out on the “I’m against this…” side. But really it applies to our whole lives. As WE choose to stand against something, WE end up focusing on the battle and how WE can gain victory. WE begin to define ourselves by OUR successes in the battle. WE forget that when WE have a success all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. My argument is then, that we need to realize that we are more than conquerors, in Christ. Does this apply even to physical habits? Absolutely. Gluttony, alcoholism, sexual sin. They are all of the flesh. We do not walk in the flesh. We walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit does not mean we concentrate on what the flesh wants, even in an attempt to stop the flesh. You don’t conquer the flesh by focusing on the flesh. You conquer the flesh by fixing your eyes on Jesus. Don’t touch this, don’t handle that. These things get our eyes off of Christ and onto our own strength. Simply accept that you can do nothing in your strength. But you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. So, focus all of your attention on the founder AND perfecter of our faith.
Does this then mean I can do nothing? Heaven forbid. As I sit here I still have stumbles with the nails. So? That proves I am weak and that my power cannot come from me. With each stumble, I choose to remember that I am walking in the Spirit. It reminds me to trust and pray. I have fellowship with others and allow them to speak to me and correct me. (That includes you now) If you see me stumble, lovingly correct me. My weakness now shows Christ’s strength. As I do even the smallest thing, God gets all the glory. In fact, the smaller the thing that we can’t conquer on our own the greater we realize our need for Him in everything and the greater glory is His. He is not just the God of “random” huge miracles but the God of everything. In each moment fix your eyes on Him. When you stumble, and you first feel it, turn your eyes upon Jesus. It may be a small thing, but He is the God of all things. Give Him the glory.