I have SO much burning in my heart to write, that I have no idea where to even start.
I’m realizing more and more lately how I have lived for so long in my own way or by the standard of what is supposedly “right” by “Christian” society. It’s bondage in it’s most justified creepy form. Continually running to Jesus is one of the hardest things ever. It is challenging everything I’ve ever known and challenging all of me. Yet it is the most satisfying thing ever… AMAZING! I trip constantly on this journey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now.
I found these things on multiple post-it notes (yes, literal Post-its) in my journal the other day, and it’s funny how it goes along with much of what I have wanted to write over the past month or so. I can’t remember when I actually wrote them, it was years ago I know that. But I’ll share them with you.
To try and grasp the absolute splendor, majesty, and glory of God is impossible for the human mind because we are finite and God is so infinite. He is beyond our comprehension, beyond our ability to learn or intellectualize. If we’d stop trying so hard and stop striving to figure God out by our minuscule thought… then maybe He’d reveal His heart to us, because we’re being still in the midst of our pursuit of HIM, and not just the pursuit of the knowledge of Him and trying to “figure Him out”. No more analyzing for me. I’m throwing rational thought to the wind. I’m tired of trying to stick God into my systematic box. My God is much bigger than that. My God is limitless and huge. I’m done living in this bondage of reasoning and logic. Since Jesus Christ set me free, I need to let Him continue to, and I need to stop letting myself become burdened again by the yoke of slavery… I have become a slave to darkness, to me, to my mind and the battles. Instead of being the free slave to Jesus Christ. My eyes are on other things. But no more! I choose Christ again over such matters, I want my Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit to move in me. I’m throwing caution to the wind, picking up my cross, and following Him.
Ultimate goal: To serve the Lord with all that is in me, love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength… and to love others as He loves them, only in Christ can I love others with such intensity. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and King. To spread the gospel and share the love of Jesus to the ends of the earth and to all who have not heard.
Those were some pretty bold and passionate declarations. Have I stuck to them? No. Do I still struggle with the things mentioned? Oh yes, definitely. But as I re-read those the other day, I can look back and see how the Lord has continued to move in my heart and life along these same lines. He is the one then who is faithfully guiding me, rather than me trying to accomplish these things out of my own will and weak strength. Jesus then is setting me free, rather than ME trying to break the chains off myself (John 8:36).
“There is no release in human power at all but only in Redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One Who can break the dominating power, the Lord Jesus Christ. You find this out in the most ridiculously small ways – “Oh, I can give that habit up when I like.” You cannot, you will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you yielded to it willingly. It is easy to sing – “He will break every fetter” and at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.” – My Utmost for His Highest
The past month or so God has been challenging me in various ways that go hand-in-hand with this Post-Its writing and the excerpt above (that I actually just read today!). It’s interesting and almost like He’s pushing me this time. He’s constantly in pursuit and in His love He comes after me, but this is more like a shove and I’m hit with a sense of urgency in that I need to listen quickly but intently and grasp this as soon as possible and then put it into active obedience.
Before I continue and explain what’s going on. I’ll tell you an instance that occurred recently where God pushed me close to the end of myself and gave me the opportunity to yield to Him or yield to myself.
I left a voicemail for a friend last week and in it I read the following verse:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:7-11
As I read it aloud in my message, I literally began to tear up and cry even though I had read it silently before calling. That’s a pretty good indication for me that the Lord was moving and wanting me to say it and also “get it”. God could have taken me to a bunch of other verses that would have fit in context with my voicemail (and likely by my logical human explanation might have fit better). I could have read so many others… but the message was urgent, so I was barely thinking and it was one of those times when God seems to tell you – just DO this, just call. I had no idea I would even read that verse when I initially called, but as I began my message – it just “happened”.
I bolded the areas of the verse where I believe He was really wanting me to pay attention in this moment. The first bolded part; “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” was the reason why I believe God wanted me to call – it was out of obedience and something I wanted to convey to the recipient. The second bolded part; “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” was where I began to cry.
God was pushing me… I had talked with my friend the evening before, but hadn’t said all that I needed or should have said in that conversation. Don’t ask me why except that I do give the excuse that I don’t often verbalize things well and writing is “easier” for me. Looking back at it now, I can call it what it really was – fear, pride, insecurity, vanity and self-absorption, etc. The next day, I proceeded to write my friend instead to explain myself (more excuses). Funny thing is though, I made the “mistake” of writing and doing the following:
“I’m asking God right now to blast through and take away all of my self-absorption, pride, vanity/conceit, and any hidden motive/agenda I may not know of, so that I can express this letter in a way that would lift you up and also please Him. I can’t promise that I will be wholly pure in that (though I desperately want to be) because we are still dealing with a flesh and blood, sinful human nature. Yet as much as you can see beyond these words and beyond the creepy nasty areas of my heart and life, the better and the more I hope you will see what I want to express.”
I began to pray and ask God to break through and take away those things… so then, God pushes me. Ha! He won’t let me get away with anything.
I had to let go of my FEAR, my rules and regulations, my rationale, my analyzing, my comfort zone of writing, my excuses and the many other bondages/chains I yield to – He wanted to take them off, but I had to surrender and do this. I freak out often and battle when I think I’m going to make a mistake or when I think I may mess something up, but this task may just require that risk. I had to take it though, had to risk looking like a fool and not making any sense. All of “me” was being pushed to its limit. I had a choice… was I going to let ME, my pride, my comfort zone, my insecurities or fears and all my inhibitions prevent me from being obedient to Christ and expressing to my friend what I needed to? Was I going to devalue my friend and Jesus, just so I could stay in my comfort zone? Was the cross and my friend worth pushing through “me”?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus (John 13:34)
So I decided… I was going to obey and do that which I felt like He wanted me to do. I pushed through because I knew God wouldn’t let me live it down if I didn’t go with Him here… I could no longer devalue my friend or Jesus by holding onto ME. The Cross and my friend are worth it. The Lord wanted me to verbally (“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God”) tell my friend ‘I love you. And with a love that comes from Jesus Christ on the Cross’ (“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”). That doesn’t sound so hard, does it? Yeah, it isn’t… but for some reason it was for me this time and it may have to do with the bondages I’ve mentioned above.
Did I complete this call perfectly and exactly as God had wanted me to? No way, Jose. I still battled myself the entire time and went back and forth between needing to obey the Lord and wanting to listen to my fear and not surrender. My friend even picked up the phone and I could have talked with them right then, but instead I freaked and asked if I could leave a voicemail! It was obvious too that I was battling. I learned a lot in such a short span of time though … God had challenged (and is still challenging) the comfort zone of my slavery. He was taking me to the end of me, doing something beyond myself – to try to express the most important love of all time, Jesus Christ on the Cross.
If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.
Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him?
My Utmost for His Highest
Interesting thing about this is, I had read the above quote many weeks before and forgotten it. Later that same day, I opened an old blog draft and there it was. Can you see the connection of what God has been trying to accomplish? Yeah, I was pretty much in awe and blown away. Still am…
The truth of this verse is painful to all my excuses and justifications:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
How does all of this match up to the Post-Its I mentioned in the beginning? Well – it’s still the same struggle. If I desire to ‘serve the Lord with all that is in me, love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength… and to love others as He loves them, only in Christ can I love others with such intensity’ then I have to be abandoned to Him. I can’t put a regulation on Him or how He’s supposed to love people through me. I looked up what abandonment meant just to have a perspective of the word and it means a lack of inhibition or to leave without intending to return; give up. This makes me literally want to laugh out loud! I have thought for so long that I was ‘pretty good’ at being abandoned to Christ, when all along I’ve been walking in my own way, walking in my own inhibitions, and not giving up “ME” at all. I have lived my life in a constant state of analyzing, calculating, sensible systems of rationale and logic, trying to put a limitless and all powerful God into my box of rules and slavery. I can’t truly live or love someone in the freedom only Christ gives if I’m that way. Yet, I can only be set free through redemption and Jesus Christ on the cross – not by anything I can do.
This is still a process, and that story is only one example of what the Lord is doing… He’s moving at a fast pace and the sense of urgency has still not left me. I’ll trip and fall flat on my face many times, I know it. But I have to keep running to Him and giving up myself (abandonment), so that He can move and love in and through me. Daily seek after and devotedly follow the mainspring/source of my life and freedom, Jesus! Half of this doesn’t make logical sense to me, and I’m glad for that! :)
Intense love does not measure, it just gives. – Mother Teresa