Even though I’ve been a believer for 30 years, I still have a rather dense skull when it comes to hearing God’s voice. Sadly, God has to beat me over the head with a message several times before I’m enlightened. “Oh, I see, Lord.”
The last week, I started reading a Jennie Allen book called Restless: Because You Were Made for More, thinking it would help me process aspects of my personality that are harder elements to mesh with other relationships (I’m an 8w7 on the Enneagram scale). Well, as is often the case, the book took my spirit in a different direction. Instead of mere affirmation, I felt pricked by the tendencies I have toward control and choice. For example, I often say, “Here is a list of my spiritual gifts, talents, and desires. Therefore, I will do x,y,z. And watch out to anyone who stops me.” Now, obviously, utilizing our resources for God’s glory is a great thing, but when I cease to seek Him in my plans, I’ve already determined what His steps should be for me and I’ve basically nullified the need for God’s involvement.
Allen incorporated the verse “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” (Prov. 29:18). Yes, I like where you are going, girl! I’m a dreamer; I’ve got big plans and things I want to do for the kingdom. And then the hammer fell. “Before we begin to dream, there is one foundation that must exist: surrender.” *Gulp*. “We do not dream independently, and God does not sign off on our dreams. He is the builder of our dreams. We bring him our blank canvases, hand them over, and say, ‘Whatever you must create to display your glory, do it’. So, if we don’t begin with surrender, we inevitably dream with vanity, with ego, and with control.” Big lump in the throat. I don’t have a problem with surrender, do I, Lord? Do I.
Sunday morning, Harold Nash spoke about the vital importance of living on mission. We are to share the Gospel, establish and root it and equip others to do the same. But, Lord, I am not gifted in evangelism. My daughter, the Great Commission does not exempt you; you are here for a short time. This life is not about your plans or your comfort. What you feel ill-equipped to do the Holy Spirit will empower you in. If you are only living in your own power and strengths, then where is my glory residing? “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Phil 2:13).
Last night, I decided to read something off my Kindle, but my child had completely drained the battery in playing a word-cross game, so I picked up a book that had been sitting on my nightstand for months. And here’s what jumped off the page at me: “How many times have I told you no, God? How many times because I was too tired, too insecure, too uncertain, too busy, or too selfish have I walked right past your divine appointment for me and missed experiencing You? I say yes to You before I even know what You might ask me to do. I simply want You to see a yes-heart in me. Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day” (Lysa Terkeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God).
There’s that word, surrender, again. I must confess I am terrible at surrendering. As a fighter with the challenger personality, I am quick to defend those I love and not one who lays down my life without a good reason. In fear of becoming a doormat to other people, I can sometimes carry that mentality too far and find submission to people more than little difficult, especially if my way is better. 😉
I know there are more than three, but God has been showing me that these things often keep us from turning our hands up in complete surrender to Him.
- CONTROL–yep, this is mine. I want to do what I feel competent to do, what requires little dependence on others (or God, if I’m honest) and what will allow me to dictate how my time, energy, dreams, and desires get accomplished. “We have to set our rules and agendas aside–our dos and don’ts, our social graces and proper places–and follow God’s command” (Terkeurst, 20).
- COMFORT–I suppose all issues return to comfort at some level. We want to stand out or blend in or do what fits and not what pushes us. Regardless of what side of the scale we prefer, we feel like we have to protect ourselves from others (or God) who keep making demands on us. “the very act of trying to protect ourselves from change is the very thing that makes our life the boring mess that it sometimes is” (Terkeurst, 18).
- CONVENTIONAL vs. PRESTIGIOUS–Whether you wish to stay in the background or step up on a platform, you have a place that you feel just “fits”. Sometimes God has us operate out of our gifts/talents/strengths and sometimes He asks us to step forward in weakness. When we are unsure, His strength shines through our weakness. “But he said to me,’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9). “We are scared that God’s dreams may not be as cool as the ones we create in our minds for ourselves” (Allen, Restless 18). Can I give up what I envision to adopt the vision God is calling me to?
Okay, so what to do about this struggle? Jennie Allen and her husband started praying a prayer of surrender: “You have all of it. You have me. I am yours. Anything you want to do with me. Anything. I am in.” Oh boy, does that make you as uncomfortable as it does me? It’s like praying for humility; you don’t ask for those things unless you want to lose your grip on the reins altogether. Of course, isn’t that goal what we claim to want? God’s Lordship in our lives.
“The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no Almighty Christ. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.”
― Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest