11/14/13

all to Thee, my Blessed Saviour

What words or images come to your mind when you think of "surrender"?

I think of submission. I think of resigning. I think of giving up.

When people are struggling, Christians really like to quote Exodus 14:14, when the Israelites are freaking out and Moses says, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Basically: Quit trying and let God take care of it!

What Christians don't usually quote is the next verse, when God responds, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!" Basically: Um, hey Lazy Bones, I can't part the Red Sea if y'all aren't walking through it.

Because here's what I'm learning about surrender: it has nothing to do with giving up. Submission does not mean having no will, no ideas, no desires of your own. But surrender has everything to do with humility, and fear of the Lord above all other fears, and desire for His will above your own.

Abraham was completely surrendered to God while arguing that He wouldn't destroy Sodom (Genesis 18); David was completely surrendered to God while begging that his son wouldn't die (2 Samuel 12); and Jesus was completely surrendered to God while pleading that He wouldn't have to suffer (Matthew 26).

'Cause you know how you can tell someone's surrendered? It's not that they don't want anything, don't fight for anything, and don't strive to accomplish anything. It's when what they want, what they're striving for, and what they're fighting for doesn't pan out, and they accept it, trust the Lord, believe that He is good and better than what they're asking for, and move on.

Jesus ended each of His pleas for a way out with the words, "But I want your will to be done, not mine."

When David's son died despite his fasting and weeping and begging, he got up, took a shower, went into a worship service to worship God, then went home and ate dinner.

And I think the reason God let Abraham argue with Him in the first place was because He knew that Abraham respected and feared the Lord even in the midst of arguing with Him.

Surrender doesn't mean not trying or asking for things. It means humbly trying and asking for things. It means having the right perspective of who you are & what part you play in the grand story that is God's (not yours). It means praising God whether or not things turn out the way you want them to, because you know it's not about you anyway, and that even while it's not about you, God still values you and wants to give you the best. What better God to be surrendered to?
I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. - Philippians 3:12-14 NCV

11/9/13

one thing remains

This past weekend at church the pastor spoke about gratitude. How it can dispel entitlement. How it fights discontentment. How it gives joy. How it brings emotional healing. He challenged us all to keep a list of the things we're thankful for, defining envy as "resenting God's goodness in someone else's life while ignoring His goodness in our own lives."

I admit that my first response was cynicism about "grateful lists," which melted into sadness (since cynicism is often a product of some unhealed pain in our lives), which then became a plea that God would show me His goodness in my life over this past year.

Sometimes, at my barrenest, I can only be thankful for the love Jesus displayed on the cross. Because when I don't feel the love of God, I remind myself that Jesus didn't brutally die and rise again just to abandon me 2,000 years later.

Sometimes I can only be thankful that God loves me every day. That He sings over me when I do not feel like singing (Zephaniah 3:17), that He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), that He wants me to come take walks with Him and sit by the window with Him and just talk to Him (Psalm 27:8).

I don't think this is a bad place to be. I also don't think God wants us to walk around blind to and ungrateful for the brilliant colors of the changing leaves. But I think He knows that those leaves will die and fall off and blow away in the wind, and that it is when our roots grow deep into Him and His love that we overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:7).
Constant through the trial and the change, one thing remains: Your love never fails. - Bethel Music

11/4/13

a single opinion

I don't usually write my opinions on this blog. Usually I write about what God's teaching me, to further engrain it into my own heart and perhaps encourage someone else's heart.

HOWEVER. I have an opinion about this and I want to write about it.

The other day I read this tweet:

And here are my thoughts:

1. This tweet could have very easily also said: "Married? You're complete in Christ. Have six kids? You're complete in Christ. Have the most loving and fulfilling marriage on the face of the earth? You're complete in Christ." You don't only need to know you're complete in Christ when you don't have something or someone. Maybe if more people knew they were complete in Christ when they have a lot, they wouldn't need to be reminded so much when they don't have it. Because….

2. From what I gather from Colossians 2, being "complete in Christ" means that Christ has done everything that is needed for us to be children of God; that we have nothing to accomplish, because it has already been accomplished - or completed - for us; and that in our identity as children of God, we are able to live a life free from sin and alive in Him. It's an identity thing, and it seems to me that all Christians need to grasp their identity in Christ, regardless of life situation or relationship status or what they have and don't have. Because as the NCV translates Colossians 2:9-10, 
"All of God lives fully in Christ (even when Christ was on earth), and you have a full and true life in Christ, who is ruler over all rulers and powers."
3. I don't like that being single has the same negative connotation as being abandoned by a spouse. As though single people need to be comforted and consoled and reminded that their time will come and things won't always be this bad. Listen: Being single can be very difficult and lonely, BUT so can being in a relationship and being married and having kids. Being single is not a painful situation that needs to be worked through. It's a season of life, just like kindergarten, college, career choices, summer, football, etc. I like being single. I will like being married. I will like having kids. But the more people try to console me for being single, the more I feel like singleness is an unnatural and distasteful part of life, and the more I feel the opposite of consoled.

That's my opinion.

(Note: I know that Joyce was just offering encouragement to those going through a rough time. I have nothing against Joyce. She's a very nice lady, and her Battlefield of the Mind book has been very helpful to me. End note.)