Mark: When I was a kid, I remember vividly going to a State Park with my mom and step-dad. I ventured out on a path, took a few turns, and ended up lost. I was freaking out trying to find my way back to my family and I couldn’t find the right path home. Finally, I rounded a big set of trees and there was my mom who had been looking for me.
Jill: Sometimes life is like that. We venture out, take a few right turns and then a few wrong turns and end up at a place we don’t expect.
Mark: I was recently texting with a friend of mine who has been struggling in his marriage. “Praying for you, my brother. I’m praying about whose path you are on. Are you on His path or your own?” His response, “Wouldn’t know, Mark. His path isn’t working and I’m walking it alone and my path is getting me nowhere.” I responded, “His path always works…but you have to surrender to Him…that is how it works. Our flesh always fights His path.”
Jill: Our flesh is a powerful enemy and will always fight God’s path. An unsurrendered heart is fueled by the hurts of our past and by our own selfish desires. Our flesh—doing things our way instead of God’s way– will always lead us to ruin and ultimately death. Maybe not a physical death, but the death of relationships, of dreams, of accomplishments, and even of our own character and integrity.
Mark: Romans 8: 5-7 NIV says it this way, “5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
Mark: I definitely understand now more than ever the control my flesh can have. It was my flesh that led to my infidelity. It is my flesh that causes me to think selfishly or pridefully. I’ve come to understand that, for me, my flesh is fueled by unrealistic expectations, desires, anger, wanting the easy button, and a desire to run away when things get hard. All of this doesn’t go away without a spiritual fight and without resolve to do what’s right rather than what I feel like doing. The strength and courage for resolve are found fully in surrender. Waving the white flag that says, “Your way, God, not mine.”
Jill: My flesh can raise up so easily, too. When I’m tempted to be think of myself before Mark, when I’m tempted to blame rather than accept responsibility. When I’m tempted to choose anger instead of forgiveness. That’s when I know I have to get back on the right path of surrender. More of God…less of me.
Mark: Are you asking “what do I do?” Is God whispering direction to you, but you want other options? When we surrender to God, it is then that we find life and peace. It’s then that relationships flourish or can begin to heal. It will likely feel backwards than the direction our world screams. But surrender is still the right path. It will move us from the wrong path and help us find our way home.
What fuels your flesh? Where in your marriage do you need to raise the white flag of surrender and move from the wrong path you’re on to the right path God wants you to be on?