Friday, January 16, 2015

When Surrender Leads to Victory - Part 1

It has been almost two years since I've written a blog post!  Though I enjoy writing, and have many thoughts to share, I tend to edit myself silent.  Not wanting to waste words or bore a reader to no end, I rehash every single word, and then hit the backspace button until every word is gone!  However, I'm trying to push past that inner editor and just start "writing" things down for my own practice and freedom!  A new year has dawned and with it the opportunity for fresh starts.   So, here I go.  

Several years ago I took a challenge from a favorite author to pray at year's end about a word/theme for the coming new year.   It is a practical way to seek God's heart about a particular area of focus.  One year the word/theme was "rest" - which was greatly needed though easily misunderstood.  Another year brought the word/theme of "favor".  I remember my excitement when He placed that one on my heart!  Who doesn't want to experience His favor in a deep and more profound way?

As 2013 was coming to a close, and I began praying about the coming year's focus, the word "surrender" came to the forefront.  To be honest my initial response was one of disappointment.  Following a year of God's favor, I wasn't so sure I was ready for surrender!  Surrender, to me, meant giving up (in a negative sense).  However, I realized that God's purpose and direction would go so much deeper than that.  As 2014 began, I was in the middle of a year long devotion series by Rick Warren (via the YouVersion Bible App).  Imagine my surprise, delight, and conviction, when I saw the focus of the devotion on the second day of the year:  "Surrender!"  Here's an excerpt:
"Surrendering your life means:
1)  Following God's lead without knowing where He's sending you;
2)  Waiting for God's timing without knowing when it will come;
3)  Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
4)  Trusting God's purpose without understanding the circumstances."
From January 3rd:

"In surrender, you begin to really live the life God intended..." 
 From Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson:  "Our job is simply to consecrate ourselves by yielding our will to His will... If we consecrate ourselves to God, amazing things will happen...  Consecration is a complete surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ."  And this:  "Consecration is a process of surrender that never ends."  

2014 brought with it some physical pain and challenges (frozen shoulders), as well as great loss (the passing of my beloved big brother, Jackie).  God, in His goodness, had been preparing me to walk through those difficult times with grace as I was leaning into this way of surrender - "not my will, but Yours".  That is not to say that I did it perfectly and without complaint, but there was a context of His presence and purpose that kept me seeking growth during this part of my journey.

Here is some more food for thought that I was given through devotional reading:
"Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems can be defeated by Christ when handed over to Him (think Joshua & the Battle of Jericho).  Surrender doesn't weaken you, it strengthens you."  
"Why surrender?  Because you belong to your Creator --- God has a right to direct your life."
(Romans 14:7-9)
More nuggets:
"Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life.  If not God, you'll surrender to popular opinion, to money, to resentment or fear, or to your own pride, lust, and ego.
We were designed to worship something, and when we fail to worship God, we create gods (idols) to surrender ourselves to.  E. Stanley Jones said, "If you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos."
"You're free to choose what you surrender to, but you're not free from the consequences of that choice:  'So give yourselves completely to God (James 4:7 NCV).'"
"Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live.  Nothing else works.  All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction."
"Surrendering your life is not a foolish emotional impulse but a rational, intelligent act, the most responsible and sensible thing you can do with your life.  Your wisest moments will be those when you say yes to God."  2 Corinthians 5:9
Wrapping it up with a few more thoughts gleaned from the year of surrender:
"Surrendering is never just a one-time event.  There is a moment of surrender and there is the practice of surrender.  The practice of surrender requires perseverance.  It is moment-by-moment and lifelong.  You may have to re-surrender your life 50 times a day.  It is time to surrender - to God's grace, love, and wisdom."
In closing, I'd like to go back to my very first encounter with the word/theme in 2014:  Surrendering my life means following a God who knows where He wants me to go and how to get me there.  It means waiting for God's timing because He's always right on time.  It means expecting miracles because nothing is impossible with God.  And, it means trusting His purposes because God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

So, there is no need to fear or be disappointed at the thought of surrender.  Ultimately, it brings freedom, power, and victory!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is...

I was on Facebook this morning and a friend had posted a picture of a card or photo that had I Corinthians 13 (particularly verses 4 - 8a)  printed on it.  The passage of Scripture often read at weddings, and a fitting passage for Valentine's Day.  Here it is:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails...

Typically, when reading this passage I am reading it as a list of to do's:

Love is kind?  (Yes, I can do kind... check)...
Love is patient... (can I skip this one?)...
Does not envy (well, most of the time... check)...
Is not rude (this one's making me a bit nervous, moving on)...
is not self-seeking (gulp),
is not easily angered (now she throws her hands up - ready to give up and stop reading)...
keeps no record of wrongs... (don't you even ask my husband about this)... 
does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth... (I can feel better about this one.. check)... 
always protects (I try, but...)...
always trusts (nope, not so much)... 
always hopes... (deep down inside where it counts?,)...
always perseveres...(well, I'm still here, that's a good sign?)... 
Love never fails... (forget it, because I'm pretty sure that fail is my middle name)... Sigh.

Today, however, as I was reading it, something different captured my heart...  and it all stems from this one simple thought... God is love. (1 John 4:8).

God is patient (2 Peter 3:9),
He is kind (Jer.31:3).
He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud  (Isaiah 43:10).
He is not rude (Rev.3:10) ,
He is not self-seeking (John 3:16),
He is not easily angered (Psalm 86:15),
He keeps no record of wrongs (Psalm 103:11-12).
God does not delight in evil (Ps. 101:4)
but rejoices with the truth (Ps. 51:6).
He always protects (Prov. 2:8),
always trusts (Matt 27:43),
always hopes (1 Peter 1:3),
always perseveres (Heb 12:2).
God never fails (1 Cor. 15:54)..."

God is love.  He loved us so much that He gave.  He gave His Son, who then walked this sod, and fleshed out love!  We love, because He first loved us.  And so, Love is....

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Consider my sighing."

Recently, I have received news of heartache and struggle in the lives of so many.  I was in my kitchen, when I realized that for some time I had been sighing...deeply...over and over.  It seemed to be all I could muster in my sadness.  Then I remembered something I had read recently concerning that very thing.  I want to share that with you.

The author, Mark Batterson, wrote in his book, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day",
"During the funeral, I realized that I couldn't stop sighing.  I later read that sighing is one way we process grief.  It is a physiological response to distress.  I didn't know how to vent or verbalize what I was feeling, so I sighed. 
It was during that time that I discovered what is now one of my favorite Psalms:  'Give ear to my word, O Lord, consider my sighing.' (Psalm 5:1) 
That little phrase - 'consider my sighing' - became a source of strength for me.  I didn't know how to pray or what to say, but I knew God was considering my sighing.  Even when we can't put our frustration or anger or doubt or discouragement or grief into words, God hears and translates those low-frequency distress signals we call sighs. 
Maybe prayer is much more than a combination of the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet into words?  I love Ted Loder's perspective in Guerillas of Grace: 
'How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
or groans
or sighs
or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just the pretty, cut-flower,
gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?' 
Sometimes it feels like God isn't listening, but He considers every sigh.  Not only that, He is interceding for us day and night.  Scripture says that God makes prayers out of our wordless sighs and aching groans. 
The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress.  For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. (Romans 8:26) 
Here is an incredible thought:  Long before you woke up this morning the Holy Spirit was interceding for you.  And long after you go to bed tonight, the Holy Spirit will still be interceding for you.  That ought to change the way we wake up and fall asleep..."

So, in light of all that is going on in the world, and in our individual lives, I just wanted to share the hope that I found in this.  From now on, when my heart grows so heavy that all I can do is sigh; I will remember that there is One who considers my sighing, and does what I cannot.  I am so grateful.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Turning Sixteen

It seems just yesterday that he was walking around in toddler-sized sleepers, playing with toy cars, motorcycles, and Little People.  How can sixteen years have gone by so quickly?  Now he's looking forward to driving a car, and I can't seem to grasp the fact that he's really old enough to do so!

In honor of his birthday, here's a clip from Christmas when he was 2!  We love you, Josiah!  Have a fantastic day, and I'm sure you'll do well on that test...

(The boy who has always loved things with wheels)!