In October I took a car trip south to Phoenix for a conference. The conference was awesome, but God was much, much more. He showed me unspeakable love turn after turn and opened my eyes. I became aware of a deeper calling to live the image of Christ. Less of me, more of Him. This was right when I was doing great in my life, that I received a vision of His love. He loves precious and cheerful sacrifices. Remember Christ when they wanted to make Him King, and He slipped away from the five thousand to escape to a mountain and be alone (John 6:15)? I can assure you, no one is knocking on my door forcing me to be King, and it's not likely to happen anytime soon for sure. But the application is usable. Christ-follower, are you feeding the crowd with the Bread of Heaven? If you're not running hard against the grain of self-sufficiency, find a friend who will covenant to discipline you to be different.
|'The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning' Ecc. 7:4|
Jesus' temptation was living in His own strength and His own identity. That is why He described discipleship as continually hating one's own life (John 12:25). What happened in the incarnation of God in the womb of Mary? Jesus set aside the favor & exercise of deity. What happened in the early hours of prayer every morning for Jesus during His three year ministry? Jesus set aside the favor & exercise of deity. When His potential was its zenith He fled into the image of an unrecognized attendant and died. He looked death straight in the face. He didn't just gaze at it on occasion. No; it was a continual mirror by which He corrected all His steps. "Better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting" (Ecc. 7:2). Mourning allows the heart to connect with the disenfranchised, who God is already passionate to undertake. Mourning allows a whole community to hope in God as one. Abundant salvation awaits those who continually take up a fresh image of brokenness. True harmony and Body unity awaits.
Death means holding perfectly still, "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). It also means "the life I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20) There is no way to measure how much power could come into our works, if we would pursue the discipline. I have found that when I come up for air out of a time of stillness, there has measurably been more of God's power happening through me and around me. People get right with God left and right. I'm getting right with God too. It is a great place to experience.
It is hard, at times. Very, very hard because it hurts. It's confusing. As soon as the pain comes from the emptiness to go without "things to be doing to remember who I am," even if you thought you were trusting God in those do-ings, trust me, you might go a little crazy when you surrender "do-ing" completely. But this is where deeper trust develops. Busyness delays what God desires to demonstrate. Bring death to kiss self-effort. Repeat it, over, and over and over, till it becomes practice. Looking back, I am so thankful that the LORD invited me to pure death. Recall Abraham, who waited 25 years for the promise of having a baby. He started off, trusting God to do it. Later he seemed to have forgotten that his body was already dead. His flesh wanted to "help God out" who he still trusted, mixing faith-with-self-effort, and he acquired Hagar. Don't give in to Plan B!! (I know, it seems impossible!) God wants to be the hero of your story. If you have an accident, if Plan B and Plan C continually make you trip and fall down into self-sufficiency, don't surrender to the mistake. Get up. Go back. Trust in God, alone. Sarah stopped sweating and then brought forth Isaac. God's faithfulness is not dependent on whether you conceived Ishmaels here and there as a Christ-follower. It is dependent on His integrity alone. Dear Christian, God is unconditionally the hero of your circumstances. He will unconditionally perform His promise.
Don't Wait for False Life to Kill You
I'm still on this journey that started in October. I am not sure where I am going. Yes - that hurts, a lot. Faith-alone, instead of faith+my own contribution, is more challenging and more counter-intuitive than any other Spiritual discipline. Even blogging tempts me back to self-sufficiency. Don't wait till you fall in exhaustion from false sources of life. Offer yourself to His discipline well before you see signs of corruption. Get uber-upset with any force in your life which feels phony, beginning with the log in your own eye first. Could you stop right now, and pursue Him afresh through mourning and sacrifice of 'the great Christian life'?
May the LORD enlighten your eyes and mine too, to pursue the full measure of the love of God!
'No eye has seen, No ear has heard, No mind has imagined what God has in store for those who love Him.'1 Corinthians 2:2