Okay. I’m back, y’all. I just spent 9 days enjoying the Florida sun and beaches with my family. And while having an overstimulated, teething 10 month old and a fierce cold the latter part of the vacation COULD have made things miserable…it didn’t. The vaca was what it was supposed to be–FAITHTASTIC!
And now back to our regularly scheduled post… 🙂
I heard a saying once: “Sometimes God quiets the storm and other times, God allows the storm to rage and he quiets His child.” Peace in the midst of battle has truly been a test for me and others I know; those of us who consider ourselves soldiers for Christ. The enemy is fighting hard, using every bit of my flesh, every lie, and temptation he can find to attack the Spirit that has been restored in the people of God and to prevent us from reaching His promises. For me, every single night I die a painful and heart-wrenching death…and I relish it.
Think about it. How many times have you completely lost your mind, cursed someone out, and/or stopped speaking to someone. Or maybe you cried your eyes out in an emotional fit, only to find out later that the situation or circumstance that you dramatized so greatly did not warrant such a display? Better yet, how many of you felt you were in control of a situation, that you could manage your life— independent of God or anyone else— only to find out later that there isn’t enough human strength in this world to tackle life’s storms alone?
If we’re honest, most of us would agree that we often take it upon ourselves to run our lives, deciding to only consult God when we feel it’s necessary. We talk to Him when we want Him to stop the bad things from happening, when really He is trying to tell us to shut up (in so many words) and trust Him. You know, “Let Go and Let God” might be cliché but it’s still true. We treat God like one of our animated superheroes in that we want Him to be available when we call Him on the bat phone we call prayer; missing the fact that He wants to be an integral part of our lives; an intimate friend who we interact with minute by minute. We’ll call our girlfriends every other hour of the day when we are stressed about something or facing a particularly challenging situation. Yet we render God and the power of the Holy Spirit that lies within us useless because we won’t call on the one who can really do something about it. The fact is, in general, we never really surrender our lives to Him and yet we wonder why things never quite go the way we plan it.
I’m familiar with this way of thinking because I’ve been slowly coming out of that selfish place of living and operating in my life. Every night I must kill the old me. The “me” that cannot be still and trust that the Lord will be the navigator in my life; providing purposeful direction and peace in the process. The “me” that wants to hold onto situations and relationships that the Lord has long tried to remove from my life. The “me” that simply refuses to turn over my pain to him through prayer and sometimes in the midst of my joy, denying him praise for my triumphs. Yep, everyday those things must die just so they don’t rise up stronger in the morning.
No doubt that this is easier said than done. I don’t hit the mark everyday. There are things that we, as children of God, still intentionally don’t kill off because, quite frankly, we’ve grown accustomed to them in our lives. However, unless we renew our minds and become full in the Spirit everyday, the battles that we face in life will gain a better chance in consuming us. And of course, according to Romans 12:2, the only truly effective way to refresh and renew your mind and Spirit is through the word of God; meditating on it day and night.
Empty ourselves. Yes, that’s it. We are vessels. Some of us are cracked and others of us are broken, but all of us can be used by God. However, first we must empty ourselves of all of the things that we’ve used to try and fill ourselves up. This includes relationships, careers, and sometimes even, non-ordained church work. Once we’ve emptied ourselves, and accept the fact that we are restored to like-new status (through Christ), we can now be filled to the brim by God’s Holy Spirit.
The emptying process is painful because it will require you to let go of your pride and pain of the past, as well as, your finite view of your future. That last part is what really gets under my skin. I’ve had my life planned since I was 10 years old so the idea of surrendering that plan to God still makes me uneasy. But when I tell you it’s worth it—WOW! God’s plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11) are always bigger than anything you could ever imagine.
So today, let’s all of us die (to self) again, knowing that’s the only real way to live.