Monthly Archives: October 2014

All I Don’t Have

So, while I was pondering through last week’s post, I had another thought. If we need to surrender all that we have, what about what we don’t have? (Which does sound rather funny at first, but bear with me.) What about surrendering the things that we don’t have but we need? Or even the things we just want and don’t really need.

What happens when you need something but don’t have the capacity to obtain it yet? At least for me, that produces a strong tendency to worry and dwell on the unmet need. And when I worry about stuff and focus on the need, I’m not focusing on God. But God wants my focus to to be on Him. And if I want to surrender my focus to Him, that means that I also have to surrender my worry, and that means I have to surrender whatever it is I’m worrying about – in this case, the unmet need. Philippians 4:6-7 says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I’d far rather have the Peace that Passes Understanding guarding my heart and mind than have worry guarding it. And from past experience, when I give God my worries and totally let go of them, it frees my brainpower so that I can use it elsewhere on more productive things. (Which is another big plus, at least for people like me who have a habit of being short on brainpower.) The best thing about submitting needs and worries about needs is that “my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

As for submitting wants, or desires, I think of Psalm 37:4-5:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

See, when you seek to glorify God with every aspect of your life and make Him your focus, He will align your desires with His will. And, if your desires are aligned with His will, why should He not also grant them? The Lord, He is God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide. We don’t have to be afraid to surrender to Him our deepest desires and needs. After all, if we can trust Him with everything that we have, we can surely trust Him with everything we don’t have.

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All I Have

Remember those definitions I’ve been using the past couple of weeks? Good. Now I don’t have to post them again. *Wink* So I don’t burn you out on them, I’ll just say that today’s think is on yet another part of the the definition of surrender – surrender of possessions.

Luke 18:22-23 ~ When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

The “rich young ruler” (don’t you just love all those boring titles?) sought eternal life, and Jesus told him he was almost there, but he needed to one more thing – totally surrender all of his possessions. To me it’s a very sad story. I always wondered whether or not he obeyed Jesus in the end. He was so close, but he couldn’t seem to swallow the idea of surrendering his stuff.

God wants us to totally surrender our hearts and lives to Him. In the process we have to surrender everything within them. If we didn’t, it would be like giving someone a house for them to do absolutely whatever they want with, and then turning around and saying “Oh, by the way, you can’t mess with any of my stuff that’s in there.” If you’re gonna sincerely give away the house, you either empty it yourself or you give away the stuff with the house.

Surrendering possessions has to go right along with surrendering heart and life, because they are a part of our life (and often are a part of our heart too). To hold them back from God is to say that they are more valuable to us than God Himself. And that…is kind of what idolatry is.

It’s one thing to talk about surrendering that all encompassing “possessions” – but how do you actually do it? And what all fits under the category of “possessions” anyways? In answer to the second question (because the first will be last and the last first 😉 ), I think that “possessions” includes anything that God has entrusted us with in this life – from money to media to electronics to talents to friends to time, etc.

At first glance, this can look really weird. How in the world do you surrender, say, your clothes to God? That sounds so silly, doesn’t it? After all, it’s just clothes, for Pete’s sake! But it’s not at all silly. I think that every aspect of our lives is important to God, and therefore it can’t be silly to give it back to Him. A good test to find out if something is surrendered to God is to ask a four-word question: “Who does this glorify?” Going with the clothes example, you would take that question and then ask some more – Does this outfit glorify my body, or honor God y being decent and modest? Are my stuffed-full dresser and closet a glory to God, or me? Would maybe wearing the same outfit a few times in the same month (after washing it) so that I can give away some of the excess clothes to someone who could use it be more glorifying to God? And so it goes with any other possession.

So, taking into account the (very brief and incomplete) list of possessions I put up there *points*, maybe some good questions would be these:

  • Money – How am I spending it? Does the way I spend it honor God? Is there something He would want me to spend it on in addition and/or instead?
  • Media – Do the books/movies/CDs/etc. on my shelves (or on my electronic devices) honor God? Are there some I shouldn’t be reading/watching/listening to? Are there some I should be reading/watching/listening to instead?
  • Electronics – How do I use my electronics (phone, computer, music player, reader)? Does my usage of them glorify God? Does it glorify God to get a newer, fancier version if the one I already have still works fine? Does it glorify God to have this many? If He asked me to give one or all of them away, would I be able to willingly do it?
  • Talents – How am I using the talents God entrusted to me? Does it glorify God or myself? How would God want me to use them? Am I using my talents to their fullest potential, or am I wasting them?
  • Friendships – Are my closest friendships with God-honoring people? Am I using my friendships to reach out to people who are struggling in their faith? Is there someone God wants me to build a friendship with? Is there someone He doesn’t want me to build a close friendship with?
  • Time – How am I using it? Are my biggest time-fillers something I would want Jesus to find me involved in when He returns? Is there something He wants me to spend time on instead?

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, and God will lead people to make different decisions regarding their possessions. Some He might ask to sell all that they have, while He might ask someone else to keep what they have so that they can use it to bless other people. The idea is not to cling to a human being’s (very brief and incomplete) list or be legalistic or “all-fun-things-are-bad”. The idea is to sincerely seek God’s will about your life and your possessions. And when you surrender all your possessions to God, I think that He allows the fun things to be that much more enjoyable. And maybe, just maybe, serving God with your “possessions” might turn out to be more rewarding than the fun things anyways.

Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , | 1 Comment

No Right

*Goes to dig up her definitions from last week’s post*

Absolute – unconditional, complete, having no deficiency, perfect, finished.

Surrender – the act of yielding or resigning one’s person or the possession of something, into the power of another; the surrender of a right or of claims.

Okay, here we go again. I want to look at one specific part of my conglomeration of definitions. It’s something I’ve been pondering off and on for some weeks now. That last bit – “The surrender of a right or of claims.” I’m reminded of a town surrendering to an army. When once they open those gates, the victorious army has full control of everything and everybody within that town. And the inhabitants have to take whatever their attackers decide to do to them, because they gave up all their rights when they surrendered.

It seems to me, that if you really want to achieve complete, absolute surrender, it has to include a surrender of rights. If you are really and honestly putting yourself completely into someone else’s hands (aka, surrendering) then you are giving them access to everything about you, and power to do whatever they see fit. Thus, absolute surrender to God ought to include a surrender of rights – all rights. Rights to health, wealth, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and, yes, life.

And He deserves our total surrender. He created us, and we only exist because He wants us to. He makes the sun rise every morning, and sustains the fragile planet we call home. And He sent His Son to come and live among us, be mistreated by us, His creation, and put to death by us, His creation. (That’d be like my story characters torturing and killing me… Odd thought.) We’re talking about the God of the entire Universe, who fashioned the stars and set the galaxies in place, who breathed life into mankind. (Cue the major awe-factor.) We’re less than nothing in comparison to His glory. In the presence of the Creator, we have no rights anyways. Considering Who He is, and who we are, He deserves our total surrender. He deserves our surrender of the rights we so tenaciously claim.

Interesting thing is, if you have no rights, you can’t really suffer wrong. (Love how words work out like that!) If you had no rights to begin with, they can’t be violated. (Muahaha, talk about confusing the enemy with that one…) And, if you have no rights, you can’t rightly (hah) get angry at anyone for things they do to you. o.O If you give up your right to be angry about how people treat you, then it makes total sense to turn the other cheek. As an extra plus, if you give up all your rights to God, you can’t get angry at Him about your circumstances either. And if you give up your rights to God, accepting life’s difficulties with joy makes total sense.

What happens when you give up your ‘right’ to the “American dream” of financial prosperity, cool technology, and lots of friends? What happens when you seek to please God with every aspect of your life, even if it means giving up things that normal people get to do or have? What happens when every single resource you own is available for God to use for the furtherance of His kingdom? What happens when you hand over your whole life to the Creator and decide to serve Him regardless of personal health, happiness, and physical prosperity?

Well, to me that sounds a lot like what the disciples and the early church did. And when they did it, God filled them with His power and did great things. I don’t know about you, but I think the results speak for themselves.

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Absolute Surrender…

Absolute surrender.

Absolute – unconditional, complete, having no deficiency, perfect, finished.

Surrender – the act of yielding or resigning one’s person or the possesion of something, into the power of another; the surrender of a right or of claims.
(Those are a conglomeration of definitions I gleaned from Webster’s 1828 dictionary, by the way. Not word for word, but the concept.)

It’s a topic that has been on my brain for a few months now. (Yes, since STEP Advanced if you were wondering. A lot of things started during that month. That’s just the way it works.) Absolute surrender. Isn’t that what Christ asks of us? He doesn’t want something casual or convenient, something you pull out on Sunday mornings. He doesn’t want something half-hearted that never gets around to the committment. He doesn’t want something that’s dependant on the circumstances.

He gave us unconditional love so that we would in turn give Him unconditional surrender.

People talk a lot about compartmentalizing your faith. Or at least I’ve heard it more times than I can count. But it never really occurred to me that I was guilty of it. It never occurred to me that by fighting with Him I was keeping Him out of part of my life. That I was keeping Him as far away from my emotions as I could. (And then had the audacity to whine to Him about my depression… Sheesh.)

Well, after our first week at STEP Advanced we hit our first full Saturday. A young woman named Stacy Smith came and spent pretty much the entire day giving a talk on emotions and all that fun stuff. At one point, she gave us each a piece of string and six or seven beads each and sent us off by ourselves. The idea was to think about the different emotions that filled our hearts, and use the beads to represent each one as we turned it over completely to God. In the end, we would end up with a bracelet (or a string, in my case) of beads that represented that surrender of emotions. (My explanation makes a lot less sense than hers did, by the way.)

Well, I figured this would be a long process, so I grabbed seven beads (since that was the bigger number she gave us) and a string. And what I realized in that dark corner of the staircase at the back of the auditorium…was that I had a lot of anger and frustration and hurt that I had been keeping to myself. And I was tired of it. I can’t tell you how hard I cried as I gave it to God. It took about four separate beads just to get it all out. (The other three had more to do with insecurity and inadequacy and things of that sort. Lovely combination, ain’t it?)

I don’t know that one can achieve total surrender all at once, but ever since that weekend it has been something I have wanted. Surrender is hard, it can hurt just like tearing out a nasty weed that has rooted itself deep in my heart. It means giving up everything, with no guarantee of getting any of it back. Ever. It means letting go of everything, no matter how dear. Because if you’re holding onto something of this world, your hands are too full to embrace Christ. It means totally dumping out all the contents of your life and letting God pick over them to determine what needs to go.

I have only just barely begun to understand what total, absolute, unconditional surrender looks like, but one thing I have learned – it is the the most joyous, freeing thing you can do. When you give up your claim on your own life…that is when you really find it.

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