Saturday, May 27, 2017

Telling God No?

It sounds like a bodacious thing to do, standing before the Almighty and telling Him what you're not going to do. Maybe your "no" feels more like an impersonal text, less defiant, but a "no" all the same, right?

I understand.

Just recently, I was presented with an opportunity, and I skipped praying about it, pole-vaulted over even considering anything but what I wanted, and landed squarely on "No way!" (and with great feeling at that!) A wise person in my life approached me with three words that pierced right to the heart of where I was:

 "You're just scared."

I was stunned, but I realized they were right. Oftentimes when we say "no"to God, it's because we're scared that what He is telling us to do will cost something we don't want to give up. We fear that letting go of what we have or hope to have means we will get shorted somehow. That's a trust issue, My Friend. It may not be that we doubt God's goodness; maybe we are afraid of how long it will take before we receive what He has promised. We are tempted to settle for a substitute to curb the discomfort of waiting. Problem is, the substitute always overstays its welcome, and it grows roots that make its removal painful and nearly impossible. Please don't go there.

Saying "no"to God is saying "yes" to less than His best., My Friend. There is no sting like the one that comes when you see what you've missed out on because you were impatient or fearful or defiant. Haven't you had enough of that? Nobody ever said, "I sure am glad I said no to God, I'm so much better off since I did!"

It may not be easy, but it's always simple. Change your "no" to what it must be. Not maybe, not wait, not once I  _______. It begins in the heart and the rest follows. What is your answer to Him today?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Come to the Place of Surrender

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:33

Tears were streaming down my cheeks before I even realized I was crying. I had the briefest moment alone, and my heart showed what I was trying to deny I was feeling. I couldn't let anyone see my tears, so I had to have an express therapy session with the Father--only He could dry me up in the short moments I had before I had to show my face.

So I got honest with Him real quick: "Oh Father, I want this so very much, but I am afraid it might not happen...but...but...if it's not what you want me to have...I...I trust you!" Then He gave my heart strength to stop crying. I'm not sure how well I dried my eyes, but they didn't get blood-red like they tend to do, and I looked straight ahead just  in case.

A prayer of surrender can feel like a wrestling match between yourself and what's best, but it's the best fight if You let God win. Our wills cannot be trusted because sometimes they are selfish without our realizing. Sometimes they have been pasteurized enough by the Spirit, but we can't tell if it's us or Him. That's when it's time to pray. Ask God to sift out what's not right and in that moment, give you the good sense to let Him have His way.

What do you need to surrender, My Friend? A dream? A man you know is not God's best? A secret that may kill you if you keep it to yourself? Your reputation? A habit? Something else? Whatever it is, God can do more with it than you ever could. Sometimes He sends it to the dung heap where it belongs; other times He gives it back to you and is delighted that you love Him more than IT. If you give Him time, He will always fill the void with what is best.

Think about it: Surrender is rarely about the thing we are giving up. It's about what we think they offer us--love, security, status, belonging, pleasure, and so on. Are you settling for the cheap knock-off of what Christ offers you in Designer original? He owns the patent on all of those desires, My Friend. Be convinced He loves you enough to lavish them on you when the time is right if He hasn't already.

How do you come to the place of surrender? I hope you get there without as many drag marks and hard knocks as I have. I find that tearing our sin-lensed eyes away from our idols and taking a full frontal look at the heart of God has a softening effect on strong wills and hard heads. If He, out of the kind intention of His will, gave us the best He had when He gave us Jesus, why would we hold so desperately to anything He calls us to surrender to Him?

I know it's not easy, but neither is it impossible, and it certainly is worth it. Once we do the deed, we must continue the gaze or we'll return to Egypt and add a layer of callouses that make it easier to stay there and the needed surgery more extensive. It's so not worth it, My Friend.

My prayer for you is that the Father's request will sound more like an invitation to a divine dance than a dreaded death-march. God rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) so why not dance with Him in surrender?