Monday, July 19, 2010
I never know what I will write about until I sit down at the computer and my fingers touch the keys...so here goes.
Change is in the air. I've known it in my spirit for a year now. I don't know what God has around the corner, but I know it's getting close. In reality life is full of change, sometimes it's small changes that you hardly notice and other times the changes are large and impact your life in immediate and profound ways. I like change for the most part. I am often too easily bored.
Change is in large part an adventure in trusting our God with the details of our lives. Through change and many other things, I've learned and continue to learn to trust God's love for me, His wisdom, His will for my life, His sovereignty. Without a trust that is constantly in the process of being solidified, change would be overpowering. With a growing trust in the aspects of God's character listed above that I cling to, many changes have meant "adventure"-an adventure with God.
There have been and will be some changes in this life, that are painful. Some come through loss, betrayal, and illness. These are not an adventure that has made me "giddy" with anticipation, but they are still an adventure with God of another nature. Through these, God has continued His work in me-refining me, purifying me, maturing me. I do not like them AT ALL in the moment, but when I have come through it and am on the other side, I find peace in what God has been doing in my life through it.
I've been re-reading A. W. Tozer's, The Pursuit of God. In Chapter Two, The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, he writes about the creation of man, "In the deep heart of man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come." He continues, "Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter [the shrine]. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne."
"This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution."
(Please don't stop here thinking this is all about giving away all you have and becoming a monk. It's much bigger and better than that.)
"Breaking this truth into fragments for our better understanding, it would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it 'life' and 'self', or as we would say, the self-life. It's chief characteristic is its possessiveness; the words gain and profit [Matthew 16:24-25] suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is, in the end, to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ's sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal."
He goes on to reference Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God." He says, "The blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'
Tozer is not saying that to be "spiritual" we will not be blessed with things, he is writing about the tyranny of the need to possess things, the tyranny of allowing anything to become so important to us that it dethrones God and becomes central in our passions, desires, thoughts, and pursuits. Before I continue with that thought, I want to interject that "things" may be just that "things"(house, car, furniture, toys) but it is really anything that becomes so central in our lives that God is NOT. Things may be prestige, relationships, accolades, praise of man, power, position.
The central storyline in this chapter concerns Abraham's heart when God called him to sacrifice Isaac, the promised son. Tozer writes, "God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be not retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, 'It's all right, Abraham, I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent." Abraham's heart was tested, the roots of possession were ripped out, and he was now free to love his son freely with God on the throne.
Tozer continued, "I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds and good of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation."
I love this line from chapter two and have found it to be true through many life experiences, "Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed."
What does all of this have to do with impending change? Sometimes even the adventure of change means letting go of something, someone, some place, in order to go with God. To go with God in peace, He has to dwell on the throne of your heart. In releasing all else to Him, knowing He loves me, knowing His perfect will is always the best, knowing He is sovereign, I know I can follow Him wherever He leads me and He will keep safe all that I've committed to Him.
I will end with a closing word and prayer from chapter two of The Pursuit of God. "If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test."
"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without bleeding and I do not try to hid from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus name, Amen."
Monday, February 15, 2010
Today as I was doing my Bible study, Living the Spirit-Filled Life, by Jack Hayford, we studied a scripture that has meant much to me over the years. Reading it slowly, breaking it down is like looking into the brazen laver as described by Juanita Bynum in The Threshing Floor. It is like looking in a mirror to see where we are and where we are not reflecting Christ in our lives, how He not only lives in us but through us.
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
and greed, which is idolatry.
6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:
and filthy language from your lips.
9Do not lie to each other,
since you have taken off your old self with its practices
10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with
13Bear with each other
and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The result of my shot-gun shell spray kind of life is that I dabble in everything and become proficient at very little. So from time to time God has to sit with me and help me narrow my focus for a season. I don't know why I think I have to do it all at once as if I knew for sure I wouldn't live into the next year.
Most women who've been wives and mothers understand that during our childrens growing up years the time available to spend on ourselves is very limited. We want to meet the needs of our family and enjoy them so it's not something we begrudge at all. During those years most of us served on school committees, Team Mom for many sports activities, and served God in some form of ministry or at least something similiar to these. Then you get to these middle years and the kids are grown, married and having families of their own and you now have time for all of these things you've put off. And in my case, it's essentially the first time since I was eighteen that I haven't had a full-time, stress-fill job to go to on top of it all. So, here I am trying to define myself, my purpose, my dreams. Books tell me that this is my time to do these things; that it's a privilege I've earned.
Because I can shoot in so many directions, I have to start every morning by asking God what He has on my agenda for the day, where am I to focus. There will be other seasons to accomplish some of the things on my lists. I don't know if any of you are in this place in life, but after the talk God and I had this afternoon and the direction He gave me, I am expecting tomorrow to be a more productive day even with keeping grandbabies the next two days. (And that makes it not only productive but fun, a little more joy added to the day.)
Thank You God for blessing me with my family then and now. Thank You for allowing me the years to spend with my husband and my boys. These precious memories are irreplaceable. Thank You for this new season with more time for my husband and I to share and make many new memories. The empty nest has been a lot of fun for us. Thank You for grown sons, their wives, and the most precious grandbabies ever and the blessing of watching them make their own lives together and growing in their walks with You. Most of all thank You for loving me. I love You too. (Thank you Beth Moore for sharing the Word on "I love You too.")
Monday, January 4, 2010
I've been away from you for awhile. I haven't checked in much and haven't written much, but I'm back. I plan to start checking in on your wonderful blogs again and will hopefully have something to write myself.
But for today, I just wanted to say I've missed being apart of the blog world and am looking forward to reading what's been on your heart to write about and what God's been doing in your lives.
"See" you again soon.