When I was first starting to walk with God, I asked Him to change me. No matter how hard it was for me. The place He awakened within me, from decades of slumber, was a VERY deep place. It required a change in me from the core of my being. I asked Him to let me live scripture- to make it real to me so that I might truly understand what He meant and how it applied to my life. I had this thing I asked Him, well, truth be told, I still ask Him. I say “Lord, make it neon” I don’t want to miss it.
Don’t EVER pray that prayer if you are not ready to have everything in your life shaken, with the potential for it to all fall away. EVERYTHING. Not that anybody would ever be truly excited about having their life implode, but He has given some people a measure of faith that makes them willing to go places that others won’t go; enough faith to be willing to answer, Yes Lord!, to some pretty hard stuff. Enough faith to be that person who lets their life become an example for others, especially through the way they handle failure and disappointment. He’ll let them live out many painful things so that others can see what He’s made of. Maybe you are somebody like that…
I often think about Peter and his devotion to Jesus. I think about how he loved Jesus and felt completely committed to Him and sure of his loyalty, and yet when push came to shove, he ran. I am so Peter. I would be nieve to think I would do anything different. When I began living scripture, one of the first things the Lord showed me was that “if I think I’m not- I am” , “if I think I won’t- I will”, “if I think I am- I’m not”… If I think I’m not a hypocrite, I am. If I think I’m not vain, or proud or my heart is not deceitfully wicked, I am and it is. If I think I would not deny Him in the face of danger I would. Those are all things I would do, if left to my own devices. But on the flip side of that, are the truths God has said about me that I tend to disregard. If I think I am not worthy, I am (in Him). If I think I am not beautiful, I am (beause I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image). If I think I am not strong enough to endure, I am (because I belong to the one who can). Understanding my own sinfulness simultaneously with understanding the redemptive nature of a loving God was the beginning of the transformation from a worldly mind to the mind of Christ. Transformation from a deceitful heart to a truly pure and loving heart, from a critical spirt to a holy spirit. The learning comes from a place of moving from a righteousness of our own which is worth nothing to a righteousnes bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. What’s your worth in Christ?
I grew up very independent. I was raised to believe that if I set my mind to something, and worked hard enough, I could achieve anything that I believed was possible. For 30 years, I lived that way. I was successful by worldly standards at just about everything I touched. The only problem with that, is that it comes from a very skewed view of what is possible. Living with that mindset leads one to believe that they actually can control their own destiny, which in turn makes them responsible for their own failures. It is a very disheartening and defeating way to live and it leads to such a hopeless frame of reference. To live in a surrendered state, completely dependant on the Lord allows you to pin everything that exists in your life, good or bad, on Jesus Christ, and live in the power and hope and grace of the One who created the universe. That beats my ability, hands down.
Moving from self to surrender required that I first believe that my faith was placed in a loving God. One who has my best interest as priority one on His agenda. When I lived for myself, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was oblivious to all of the things God had planned and how deeply He loved me, because my eyes were focused on me and what I wanted and believed to be true and possible.
When I was led to surrender, the first thing I did was sit down with Him and ask Him to take my expectations. All of them. Then I went person by person, hope by hope, plan by plan, dream by dream, failure by failure, desire by desire, fear by fear, relationship by relationship, weakness by weakness, disappointment by disappointment and I asked Him to take them from me. I gave EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life to Jesus Christ including my marriage, my children, my life and my death and my eternity. I asked the Father to see NOTHING in me but Jesus. So I essentially emptied myself of everything but Him. Then I asked Him to fill me with only the things that He desired according to His will.
I didn’t sit down and make a list and then read it to Him. I found a quiet spot, in a comfortable rocking chair, in a cabin up in the mountains and I closed my eyes and had a intimate conversation with Him. As He’d bring something to my mind, I’d give it to Him. It was very peaceful and tender and not painful at all. And because He is a loving God, and because I was filled only with His Son, He began to give back to me the things and priorities He wanted in my life. My children, my desire to serve Him, my obedient heart, His mercy, forgiveness and grace. He kept my marriage, my job, my need for control. And as hard as it sounds, it wasn’t. Because I knew that I trusted Him and that He only wants what is His will for my life.
As I walk this path with Jesus now, it is painfully obvious when I allow things to enter my life, mind and being that are not of Him. Removal of those things is excruciating. I wish I could say that since my prayer of surrender that I have been faultless, but that would not be the case. What I can say, is that every time I fail, I know that I know that I know, that the quickening of the Holy Spirit living within me faithfully warns me before hand, is quieted when I choose poorly, and is first to forgive me when I repent. I don’t want to ever do anything that is out of God’s will and He honors that with an ever deepening faith and desire to have more and more of Him fill me.
I think that day, as I sat in that chair years ago and emptied myself of me, that the Lord filled me with His hope. And His hope, is not like ours. It is the key to so many, many things. His hope holds the power that is required to get you through disappointment, failure and fear knowing that there is goodness waiting on the other side. His hope restores His Joy.
On this day, I want you to be better by believing this verse, by living this scripture, by emptying yourself of you and trusting a loving God to fill you with His hope:
“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing- through the experience of your faith- that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” Romans 15:13