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Saturday 2 May 2020

Saturday 2nd May 2020

Good morning friends,

Today we come to reflect upon the final fruit of the Spirit. That of “self-control”

Let me begin with story...............

When I was in my first year in Secondary School I went on a school trip for one week. It was to an outdoor centre way up in Highlands, on the shores of Loch Morlich. It was a wonderful adventure and I just loved the freedom of being away and engaging in all the outdoor activities on offer.

Each evening a “tuck shop” was open for an hour where could spend our pocket money on sweets, soft drinks and other snacks. Unfortunately my sweet tooth came to the fore and I was not able to spend my money wisely. Three days before we were due home I had no money left and a craving for chocolate.

One of the girls I was sharing a bedroom with had bought a box of chocolates to take home to her mum as a present, and the box was sitting out on her bedside locker................and it seemed that the chocolates were “calling” to me. So..............When no one was around I took of the wrapping and opened the box............and helped myself to a few chocolates. Shut the box up again and left..............later I went back and had another few sweets............and before I knew it I had eaten most of the top layer..........and so it went on........until the evening before we were due to go home there no chocolates left. I was feeling sick, not just because of an overload of chocolate, but because I knew I had done something wrong. Eventually I had to confess, and was so surprised when the girl in question said, “I forgive you, when we get home buy me another box”

As I am writing this I realize that she was displaying to me the “Fruit of the Spirit” in the face of my lack of self control.

I would imagine that all of us struggle from time to time with a lack of self control.

I wonder if there’s something that consistently defeats you, that thing that you habitually reach for, or that battle that seems to consistently overwhelm you? Things that you know you should not engage with or in, but like the chocolate I mentioned, things that draw you in, that you find hard to resist? You will know exactly what I mean.

These are very real struggles that we face.

But there is an added pressure just now.

During this epidemic many are experiencing fear, insecurity, worry and anxiety.

Fear can be crippling and lead to a whole host of negative emotions- panic attacks, depression, anger and even physical illness.

We know from news reports that domestic abuse has shown a sharp increase in these weeks of lockdown, and people who struggle in normal times with poor mental health are finding it hard to cope.

And many times when we experience these negative emotions, we self-medicate by reaching for chocolate, alcohol, prescription drugs.......................

I think about a man I met at the beginning of lockdown, we were both in a queue for the chemist. He was a recovering alcoholic and had been “dry” for a couple of years............but he said, he was now struggling” real bad” because his local support meetings had been halted. He was waiting to get some medication to help him through. I wonder how he’s doing?

For those who engage in AA there is a 12 step programme to recovery.

The first three are :

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

These steps bring hope, and speak I think into our reflection for today.

For those who are in Christ it is comforting to know that our self control does not rest in US. Instead, it’s produced in our life by our Heavenly Father as we yield to the Holy Spirit.

As we abide in Christ, recognize his sovereignty, rest in his goodness, soak in his love, rejoice in his faithfulness, and celebrate his grace, our lives become more and more like Jesus.

I believe that in this time of stress and isolation many are turning to their “chocolate fix” when our Heavenly Father is lovingly inviting them to find rest in Him.

It is not easy, I know from experience, to give over our lives wholly to the Father, but we trust in the One who knows us and loves us dearly, knows our struggles.

“ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4: 15-16)

”May you know the grace and mercy of the Lord this new day..

God bless you this day.

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