Saturday, December 30, 2006

Surrender and rejoice

Until we're on the other side, we're going to be getting conviction. We're going to be seeing how utterly and terribly flawed and fallen we really are. We're going to be ever more aware of how desperate our need for sanctification is, and how terrible our need for justification was before Christ came. More and more clearly we will see the darkness in our own hearts, the rebellion of our natural selves against God, and the despondency and need of our condition.

The trick is learning to be encouraged by all of that. To be lifted, not depressed, by the faithful words of friends and family in pointing out our current flaws and weaknesses. To be grateful to God for His work in our lives. To have joy as we are broken and molded anew in the shape of Christ. It's too easy to be a victim of conviction. There is a tendency that has come down through the generations in my family to be a victim in general, to embrace a spirit of misery. Thanks to conversations last night with friends and family, I can see ways in which that has snuck into my life; I'm grateful about the exposure. It was something I was fighting, but it crept in the back door, and now I have to be even more aware. Conviction and trials are good things, and we ought to embrace them as gifts. That means joy. At the same time as we are embracing the trials and tribulations of our lives, we have to be careful not to become accustomed to grief or sorrow to the point where it becomes us. We have to walk in joy.

I'm still learning what that means. It's a fine line to walk, between acknowledging one's emotions and dealing with them, and letting them rule. Pain is real; sorrow is real; suffering is real; and to fail to acknowledge them is essentially to lie - to ourselves, to others, and to God. It is also to say to God that His care and concern for us are misplaced in that circumstance. At the same time, being consumed by our pain, our sorrow, and our suffering is to take our eyes off the Almighty and place them on ourselves or our circumstances, which is just as bad. We must learn to experience our emotions surrendered to God. Rather than ignoring them, and rather than being consumed by them, we must surrender them and let Him be Lord.

I've been thinking a lot today about surrender. So often we cling to parts of ourselves, to our hopes and dreams, simply because they're ours. We cling to notions we have of ourselves. We cling to who we are. When we then find that who we are is flawed, that our dreams are not God's dreams, that our hopes are for outcomes that will ultimately not satisfy us... we usually bury them. I do, at least. I shut myself off from them and close down and walk away, often despairing. It seems the only option to our natural self: when God says, "No," just bury it, hide it away and don't think about it so you don't have to deal with the pain. But our response instead ought to be surrender. Surrender ourselves, our everything. That's what He's calling us to. If there is a part of our personality, any part of us, that causes us to sin (or even just causes a brother to stumble), then we need to be willing to set it aside. That is not to say that we need to stop being ourselves, but rather that we need to give it over to God. Ultimately, He requires that of us with every part of our lives: that we give it to Him, and let Him remold it. Let Him use it in the times and seasons for which He's given us that aspect of ourselves, and let it lie in the seasons in which He is not calling us in that way. It's a challenge; there's no doubt of that. But it's worth it - because our lives surrendered to Him, wholly and completely, can then be used wholly for His purposes, for His glory. There is no better life than that which is given over wholly and completely to the Lord.

Should we be surprised, then, that when we commit ourselves to Him anew He requires more of us? - that when we begin to truly pray, "Make me like You," He points out how very unlike Him we are? - that when we say, "All for Your glory," He breaks us so that He can be glorified?

No. We should surrender, and we should rejoice.

God bless you all.

- Chris

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. That was my first time using Photoshop and I must of spent at least 3 hours doing all kinds of weird things to that picture, so I can't tell you exactly what it was that I did because I don't even remember! I really enjoy reading your blog, by the way. It's very encouraging.



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