WORRY, FAITH, AND PRAYER

“Resting in the Lord is not dependent on you external circumstances at all, but on you relationship with God himself. . . Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting arises in our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish his own plans, but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.”  – Oswald Chambers

“Do not fret – it only causes harm.”         – Psalm 37:8

I read this today, and I needed it. It basically describes my life lately, in that it has been filled with worry. Worry that I won’t be fully supported by the time the semester starts, which leads to worrying if I’m in the right place, and all it leads back to, as Oswald Chambers has wisely pointed out, is me not putting all trust in God.

It’s a scary thing not to know where or what you’ll be doing a few months from now. Trust me. But it is a lot scarier to imagine going through the experience without God. Because of that, I’m making a declaration. No worrying. Just prayer, and the prayer isn’t asking God to solve the things I worry about, but rather to help me abide completely in Him and know that if one thing doesn’t work, He has something better for me.

Join me in my prayer to abide and trust, rather than worry and wonder.

O Lord, send me on my way.

That way may not be visible, but I trust that it is good,

Because it has been planned in advance by  You.

If I am on an undesired trail in your eyes, give me a detour and set me right.

And if my trail is true,

 I trust that You will keep building it ahead of me and the details will fall into place.

For You know where I’m headed, and You know where I’ve been.

You’ve prepared me and trained me, and You will put me on the course.

Thank you for guiding my steps. Amen.

LESSONS FROM A BROKEN MIRROR

“There has never yet been a saint who has not lived a maimed life initially. Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s.”   -Oswald Chambers

When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see a ‘good person,’ or a man or woman living a ‘good life?’ We’d probably say so, but we shouldn’t see these things! Rather, we should see a life of repair. A life broken. We should see the ugliness inside ourselves, and the beauty of Christ through His never-ending work in us. We should be in a pursuit to see less of us and more of Him, and as we begin to see Christ, and accept His gift and love given to us, we can begin to see His plan for us and His purpose for us. And that purpose is ultimately to restore us to beauty – a beauty we cannot achieve on our own – because as we are restored by Christ, it becomes more and more obvious to the world who is doing the restoring, and our lives begin to accomplish the ultimate purpose: to bring Him glory!

The greatest amount of beauty in us can only be found by reflecting Him throughout our lives and towards others, and our life purpose should be pursuing that beauty in total disregard of the world’s opinion or persuasion.We are to live life thankfully broken, knowing the only One who can use our brokenness! A shattered mirror is only as useful as what the person looking into it sees. Do you see a purpose behind your brokenness, and a pursuit towards repair? Or are you too busy praying for God to repair the mirror, unable to notice what God can use it for?

“. . . what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?”

But for this purpose I came to this hour.

“Father, glorify Your name.”     -John 12:27-28

Through our sorrow, and the moments we need repair, let us not ask God to fix us. Rather, ask Him to use us to glorify His name!

TAKING THE JUMP (embracing the gift)

“I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”  – Jeremiah 45:5

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will appear with Him in glory.”  – Colossians 3:3-4

The bible constantly tells us our life is simply a gift given to us by God. Christianity is constantly compared to death, and life, and we are constantly told to die in order to live. Yet how often do we see this gift of life as a prize given to us by God? How often do we live as if our life is a gift given by God? How easy it is to underestimate the value given to us in Jeremiah 45:5!

In order to truly recognize our value, we first must look at the meaning of a gift. A gift is something given, from one person to another, and is seen as new to the one receiving the gift. In order for your life to be given to you as a gift, it first belongs to Christ, because He is the one giving it, which means in order for you to receive this gift, you must first give the entirety of yourself over to Christ. Only then can He bestow upon you His gift of true life, and true freedom in His love. It requires reckless abandon – to give our life to something we don’t understand, and to realize that the questions we have for Him often cannot be answered without first surrendering our own doubt to Him and letting Him guide us through our questioning. This cannot be done until we surrender all control.

“Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.” – Oswald Chambers

Abandonment is refusing luxury. Have you abandoned your questioning and learned to rely and trust completely on Him? Our questioning is nothing other than a lack of trust. We must break ourselves of that habit, and embrace the knowledge He has given, telling us and assuring us that HE HAS EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL.

Think of it as a cliff jump into water below. If we continually question the safety of the jump, we will never jump, and we will never realize where the joy of the jump comes from – and that is in the rush of the unknown. In a sense of complete safety, there is no unknown, and all excitement is lost. Life cannot be lived in a place of complete safety, and neither can our spiritual lives, because we live in a world where unknowns will always be present. We control nothing, and He controls everything. He isn’t going to tell us what to expect, but He is continually inviting us to quit pretending we know what’s coming and simply embrace His control in the midst of the unknown. Only when we let go and embrace the beauty of His unknown can we truly see our destination, or not fear not knowing where exactly that destination is. Only when we let go can we truly be given our lives as a gift, and see them as such, living them according to the plan arranged by the only one who knows the map and hidden surprises better than ourselves.

See your life as a gift given to you, and recognize that the plan He has given in His gift is designed exactly how you need it to be – whether you know it or not. Trust His plan, embrace His unknown, and always remember, above all, that His gift is exactly that, and it is good.

OUR PRIDE IN BURDEN (and giving them both up)

Please take all my burden, please take all my shame.

This is the last line of a song I wrote (which you can listen to here). Sounds kind of selfish, doesn’t it? Have you ever looked at scripture and the things we ask of God and said to yourself, “I’m not going to get involved in that, because those people are just people that can’t deal with their problems, so they resort to putting them on their ‘god.’?” It all seems incredibly selfish. I know that if five people told me to deal with all of their issues for them, and to free them from those things they struggle with, I’d feel completely overwhelmed, and would probably yell at the people, telling them to take responsibility for themselves rather than making me solve their problems.

I’d blow a fuse given five people’s problems. God has nearly 7 billion people to worry about. It doesn’t seem morally right to me to give Him that kind of stress. It all seems slightly irresponsible.

And then I remember who God is, and that is a God who cannot be put into a box. That is a God who died for the evil in us. It’s the God who created the world, and the stars, and the universe! He created animals, and plants, and US! He parted seas, stood up rivers, brought to life a man who had been dead for four days, and conquered death himself in three. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The reason we are able to ask God to take all of our burdens and shame is because HE IS WHO HE IS! He is GOD, and he is plenty capable.

The real reason it may seem selfish to ask God to take these things from us originates entirely from our pride. We are often too proud to acknowledge how much power our God has over us. We are often too proud to let our God take over the things we first believed we could handle ourselves. We are often too proud to recognize the incredible gifts God has given us – one of which being freedom from our burdens!

Until we begin to see ourselves as we truly are – weak, broken, and prideful – we won’t be able to recognize our need for Christ. Until we being to see God as He really is – almighty, all powerful, just, forgiving and merciful –will we be able to recognize the importance of letting God handle our burdens. He is usually the only One who can handle them – so let Him handle, and praise Him that He is able to free you from having to handle those things on your own.

To any non-Christians reading this, you’re probably scoffing. You’re probably thinking I’m incredibly irresponsible, and that I never answered the question of why we are able to put our struggles and burdens on God. And to be honest, it’s not something I can explain, or we can understand until we grasp what it means that this God we serve died for scum, and then conquered death. He died for the worst of us so He could see the best in us. Of every religion on earth, the God of Christianity is the only god who made it His own responsibility to save His people. We don’t have to meditate, or keep good karma, or do good deeds to reach salvation – we simply have to believe that He did it for us, and once we truly grasp the reality of that one act, it is impossible not to fall in love with Him, and live our lives for Him. Honestly, it seems quite foolish not to trust someone who decides it’s worth it to die for you.

CLINGING TO LIFE (Pull the plug)

“I have been crucified with Christ.” – Galatians 2:20

“Since we have been united with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was.” – Romans 6:5

Possibly the largest lesson of the New Testament is the need we all have to die to ourselves. Have you reached that point? I haven’t. I know that my own selfishness has yet to be completely killed. I know I still find myself ignoring God at times in order to indulge in my own desires, and those desires definitely aren’t glorifying to God.

I know also that I’m on life support. I know I’m close. I’m in a coma to this life, largely unaware of myself and focused on God, but my nature makes it extremely hard to just pull the plug. I know that once that plug is pulled, I no longer have control, and the only life I’ve ever really known is gone. Once that plug is pulled, I have no say over myself or my life, and am an eternal servant of God’s . I know that God is good, and His way is better than my own, but I also know that I have control when it’s my life, and His life for me is completely unknown.

We, as a broken humanity, thirst for control, which is why the Gospel is so hard for us to fully accept. The Gospel requires us to forfeit all of our control. “If we lose our lives, we will save them.” The Gospel requires us to be totally dependent on Him, and that is counter to our nature.

Some people will tell me they have completely given up control, and 90% of those people are liars. They are liars with good intentions, but liars just the same. Killing 100% of ourselves is the hardest thing for us to do, because there is always something to grasp at on the way to the grave, even when the grave is really just the place new life begins.

Do you see your death as your birth? Are you ready to die to your own will? I don’t know if any of us can be until we realize  where we are now is not life, and we realize how cheated we have been while living under our own power. I am ready to quit cheating myself – are you? Pull the plug and let’s start life.

-A man on life support.