I sang "As the deer panteth for the water..." and as I did on meditated on what God asks of us, of the attitude, the alignment of the heart and will that is required to be a Christ follower.
There was a radio commercial that stirred my heart (and made me smile) a few years ago on Christian radio. It was for needhim.org. You hear sounds like a cruise ship and someone is greeted with "Welcome to the good ship Christianity!" A cheerful voice replies "Here's my ticket!" Then you hear the sound of artillery fire and someone yells "get down!" Then the cheerful voice sounds panicked and says something like "What's happening?" And the voice that yelled get down says, "Don't you know we're at war, man?!"
This post isn't about spiritual warfare, but it refers to the poignant example of those commericials: sometimes being a Christian is NOT what we thought it would be...
Especially in this era of the "Jesus prayer" so many people think following Jesus is just sunshine and roses, but He requires a lot from us. Read the gospels. See his reaction to people who would follow him. No, you can't bury your father. If you put your hand on the plow and turn around, you're not fit for the kingdom. I came not to bring peace but a sword.. a sword that will separate family members from each other, a sword that will pierce the heart of man and show who they truly are...
Walking with Christ often breaks us. It breaks us of our sins. It breaks us of our personal strength. It breaks us of our pride. It breaks us of our relationships, plans, and material possessions. It can be a crucible burning away the majority of who we thought we were... so only the precious ore remains. It can be a pair of pruning shears, seeming to cruelly cut away a branch that had been faithful and fruitful to the Lord... a branch He wants to take the journey to grow back stronger than before.
Because we are now becoming one with Him. So anything that is not Him, that is not Him working in us, does not benefit our eternity-- needs to go.
This can be extremely painful. It is the crucifying of our selves- the same self that the world says to be true to, so it goes against what we have been taught by others all our lives... it's also the same self that inspired the word "selfish." It can be arduous and agonizing... but we have a Comforter. (John 14:16-17)
I remember several moments of love, deep surrender. Moments of pain and praise.
The moment when I realized I might have to part with a man whom I was deeply, deeply in love with, for the sake of the Lord-- and that I would do it, if it was necessary because I loved the Lord more.
The moment I received word of a loved one's death and felt deep anguish-- and my lips cried, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Praise be to the Lord!"
The moment I surrendered and told God to take my life-- to plan my death-- to give Him glory, for I was willing to die for Him.
All these moments are beautiful, beautiful to me. My heart sings and if I dwell on them long enough, my eyes prick with tears. They fill with me joy and peace and wonder... because I know those moments came not from me, but from God acting in me.
When you accept the salvation of God, through Jesus on the cross, you accept the Lord Jesus as the Lord of your life. Think about what you know historically about lordship. He is our King, our ruler. When the Bible says that it's only through the Holy Spirit you can say "Jesus is Lord" (1 Cor 12:3) it doesn't mean the words, it means the meaning. It is only through the Holy Spirit that a heart can recognize Jesus as the ruler of their life, and surrender to His authority.
When we do that, everything we own is His. Every event in our lives we want Him to have control over. Every relationship is His to guide and shape... and end if needed.
Thus, to the things of this world, we have to hold things with an open hand. I've had other moments in my life.. moments of shame and sorrow when God had to snatch something from my tight fisted hand because I wasn't being obedient enough to let it go. Those moments aren't so joyful, though I do surrender to His will and say He did what was best, for He is always good and does everything for the good of those who love Him.
But it is far, far better to hold things in an open hand, so God can take it away with ease.. or shower more blessings in. You have more surface area to hold things with an open hand than a closed after all!
This is especially true of plans. It was often with pain, but if I hadn't surrendered my plans to God, there is no way I'd be in India today! I never, ever dreamed I'd live in India. (It's still bizarre.)
But God has a plan for all of us. And our self is NOT what God wants for us. So very often that thing that your brain is saying "I'll NEVER do that" might be just the possibility God wants you to open yourself up to...
That's not that I'm saying listen to your self and then do the opposite. No, I'm saying do not make any hard or fast plans. Let God be the architect, you only the contractor. Do what He says, don't do what you're doing anyway and ask Him to put His stamp of approval on it.
It doesn't end well. Believe me.
Wishing blessings on all of you. If you'd like to share your deep posts from the week with me, that post that is "more than this" world we live in, then share it in the comments!
(And on a lighter note, participate in my poll in the corner and give your opinion on the makeover!)