WHEN THE STRUGGLE IS ME
By Carlos Cantu
Self – 1. the person that someone normally or truly is. 2. a particular part of your personality or character that is shown in a particular situation 3. the personality or character that makes a person different from other people: the combination of emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc., that make a person different from others (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Carnal – 1. relating to the physical and especially sexual appetites 2. worldly or earthly; temporal. 3. Of or relating to the body or flesh; bodily (Free Dictionary)
Self. Now, that’s a struggle. I can think back during a time when I was wrestling with myself about officership. My carnal, worldly self wanted money, “stuff” (the acquiring of) and status. There was a part of me that wanted an acceptable standard of life— sadly, it was defined and influenced by a worldly definition. Not a life that was dedicated to others, not a life where goals were set on heavenly prizes. Yeah, self… It’s still a struggle.
Unfortunately, I know I’m not alone. We all struggle. Perhaps, we may even struggle with the same exact things I mentioned earlier. As humans, we get so caught up with ourselves. We allow worldly thoughts, standards, successes, etc. to creep in to our minds and spirits. It’s the external penetrating the internal. The new self, created in me by the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ, longs for my mind to be renewed all the time by the Holy Spirit – but the world just keeps on pressing. I don’t know about you, but, yeah, it’s a struggle. So, the question I ask myself, will I ever conquer it? Can it be tamed? Will I ever win this battle?
Haddon Robinson, a Bible scholar and teacher, tells a story that must have been hard for him to write.
He was a boy when his mother died. His father, who never married again, gave his all in raising his son. When the father got older, he came to live with his son and family. Later, he became senile. Robinson says, “He was a child and I became a parent to him. One day we were home, and he wanted to go outside. I got him ready; but it was a cold day, and he quickly came back inside.” Three times his father went out and immediately wanted back in. After the third time, the author became irritated and said to his father, “Look, either go out or stay in.” The father went out once more and in no time he again knocked on the door again for his son to let him in. Robinson writes, “I was furious. He looked at me a bit confused. He stood there in the door and didn’t go either way, so I hauled off and swatted him”.
Despite any excuses he might offer, Haddon Robinson realized that in getting angry with his father, neither in heart nor action, had he been like Jesus. Later he recalled, “It is a horrible memory because of the ugliness inside me that day.”
The reality of ego self is just that ugly.
Even for a Bible scholar and teacher.
But the ego self is not the whole story.
“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (Leviticus 20:7-8)
Leviticus 20:7-8 tells us if we give ourselves to Him, He makes us holy.
There is a cure! It is the Lord working in me! And He answers with holiness. When we allow God’s word to dwell internally, the self is no longer ugly. It’s no longer ashamed! It’s no longer corrupt! It’s in tune to His guidance, it’s in tune to His calling, it’s in tune with His victory! It’s in tune with His Spirit!
Our holiness doctrine, which quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:23, is not just a belief in holiness, it is a belief in the God who keeps promises. Let us not forget verse 24 when we remember verse 23: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it”.
I know it’s a struggle. But when will you keep it from being a struggle? When the ego self rears its ugly head, will you struggle or will you turn it over to God to vanquish that carnal, worldly self and let God be glorified in the new self? When will you allow His Holy Spirit to do its work? We know the promises of God. Therefore, be encouraged for He is with us and will never forsake us!
Captain Carlos Cantu was born in Monterrey, Mexico. At the age of four, he immigrated with his family to the United States. Captain Cantu first encountered The Salvation Army when he was the recipient of toys through the Angel Tree Program in Gainesville, Ga, where he grew up. He is fluent in Spanish and English. Captain Cantu and his wife love to travel, experience new foods, impact lives through the ministry of The Salvation Army, especially their youth as Divisional Youth Leaders for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division. Captain Cantu is committed to ‘doing the most good, to the most people, in the most need’.