Freedom

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Galatians 5:13

“Do not quench the Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

“No Miss, I don’t — I can’t do that, Miss,” he said.

“Of course you can,” I replied.  “Have you even tried?”

“No…”

“Well you should.  Here,” I held out the spoon.

“Miiiiss…”

I held his little hands and we began to stir the mixture.  After a few strokes I let go and he kept stirring, a slight grin appearing on his face.

“Look!  You’re doing it!”

His grin widened to a big smile and his strokes got stronger and faster.

“Miss,” he glanced up, “I can cook!”

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There’s another piece to the last post: the work of the Holy Spirit.  I fully believe that God gives us individual desires and passions — and that He fully intends to use them.  It’s twofold, really.  There are things we’re passionate about, and there are things we don’t have passion for.  It’s how God wires us.  For instance, I am passionate about children and teaching, but I am not passionate about speaking to large groups, especially if there are other adults.  But there’s a bigger, overarching passion.

The passion for Jesus and knowing and loving Him overcomes everything.  Every. single. thing.  My desire to bring Jesus praise is greater than my desire to love children, to write, to be active, to work — and I need to keep myself in check to make sure my ultimate passion is for Jesus alone.

It’s this passion that causes us to allow the Holy Spirit to work in varying degrees.  I believe that He works on His own time frame, but I also believe that if I’m not yielded to Him, He won’t do as much in and through me as He wants to.  My passions and fears do not need to limit Him.

It’s not really about us, this life…  It’s about Him.  If He wants to use us to do something, why should we say no?  We only have a few years here on earth.  We aren’t the ones in control.  Sure, He has [amazingly] given us the power to choose, to say yes or no, but He’s the one in charge.  He can get His work done regardless of what we decide we want to do, but isn’t it wonderful to say yes to those things He asks of us?  To say yes to the opportunities He gives us, and be a part of His work?

As we grow closer to Him, we know more about His voice.  We can hear Him better, know His will better, see Him working all around us.  Paul tells us not to quench the Spirit.  When He asks something of us, or tries to tell us something, we need to listen and obey.  We answer to Him.

Just like the boy in my cooking class, we often don’t see the end result.  We don’t immediately see the joy and peace that come with following God, or the fact that all obstacles are overcome in Jesus’ Name.  Instead, we see our fears and inabilities and decide His requests and offers aren’t really in our best interest.  But have you noticed that they actually are?  Have you noticed that what He wants is a deep, loving relationship with you?

If God wants to do something in me, or through me, I don’t want to stop Him.  I want to live freely in His Spirit and allow Him to do what I see as carnally impossible.  He is power, and He is in me.  I believe in His power and manifestation, and I believe that He is who He always has been.  Though I have to fight Satan to stay mentally free, I always want to be in a position to say yes to Jesus.  You too?

This God we serve is the God of miracles and power.  He is trustworthy, and deserving of every ounce of our praise.  Thank You, Jesus.

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I’ll Do Anything

God, I’ll do anything for You; anything You want me to do — but please don’t make me go to Africa. 

I said that once.  It seemed guaranteed that if I told God I’d do anything for Him, He’d send me to Africa right away.  Wasn’t that what happened to all Christians who decided they wanted to live their lives devoted to God?  We heard about them at my Christian school; these famously Godly people who surrendered their lives to Jesus and were almost simultaneously uprooted and brought to the places they didn’t want to visit.

There’s a hesitancy, a reluctancy among Christians to surrender our lives fully to Jesus because we fear what He might do with them.  I grew up believing that if I dared to give every part of my life to God, He’d make me do everything I didn’t want to do.  He’d make me leave my family and move by myself to a foreign country where I’d have to lead crowds of people and become extroverted.  He’d make me move from one place to another for the rest of my life and never settle.  He’d bring people to me who I didn’t want to deal with.  He’d have me live in a quaint house with a white picket fence, 2.5 children, and a job in a cubicle.

I’ve heard from so many Christians that they were living exactly where they didn’t want to be.  That they had decided to give God control, and He brought them where they dreaded going.  My mind couldn’t process it; couldn’t make sense of it.  How could a loving God do that?  And why on earth would I want to agree to it?  Why would I give myself completely to a God who would bring me where I didn’t want to go and then say that it’s “for my good”?  No, thanks.

But for some reason, I did it anyway.  And He filled me so full with joy and peace and every other glorious gift of the Spirit.  He always does; surrender isn’t something I did once.  I have to do it daily, hourly, minutely, even after I’ve received His gift of salvation.

So I continued to give myself to Him, and wouldn’t you know…  He brought me where I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want to go to Belize the third time.  The first two times I went were straight fun.  I was a part of a group the first time, and met up with a friend the second.  Both were short stints.  The third time wasn’t.  I didn’t have the security of a group or friend.  I had no one.  My family, my comforts, my habits and routines were all too far away.  The few days leading up to my departure were horrible.  Months before it had seemed like a good idea, almost fantasy-like.  Me, going to be a missionary in a third-world country…  It sounded so appealing.  Then the reality hit, and I realized there was no way I wanted to go.

Yet off I went, and there I stayed for three months.  It hurt.  Pretending some things never happened is not the way of healing, though it’s often what I prefer.  I’ve questioned — oh, have I questioned.  Why did He bring me there?  Why did I have to go through that?  Why did those situations happen?  I’ve gotten angry at Him, trying to make sense of it all.  I know I can’t see the big picture, but wouldn’t it be kind of Him to at least explain what I can see?

The other night I was driving home from work and a song came on that I haven’t heard since I was living in Belize.  This song was one that was played on the radio numerous times each day.  I heard it over and over as I swept floors and filed papers and chopped carrots and pounded out tortillas — I heard it so much that it got almost annoying.  Then God played it for me the other night.  Tears rolled down my face as I fell more in love with this Jesus who puts things in the past to help in the future.

What if God’s bringing us to despised places is His way of drawing us closer to Himself?  What if He’ll bring us where we don’t want to go so that we’ll break down our walls and decide to trust Him with every last drop of our beings?  What if, like Abraham and Isaac, He brings us to the furthest place possible until we surrender more than we think we even have — and then trust Him more than we think we can?

What if it’s all about knowing His love?

What if the abuse we receive from others really points us to know the compassion of Jesus?  What if our not-rewarded-labor really points us to the ultimate Rewarder and the One who sees everything?  What if the children having a bad day really points us to the God who is stable and always providing?  Surely bad things are not justified because of who He is, but what if we realized that He uses all things for the good of those who love Him?

This song says it all.  Days and nights I have tried to make sense of the pain and the suffering.  Even as I was living in it, hearing this song over and over, I didn’t understand.  Nine months later, I see.  How sweet and beautiful of Him to use a song, one song, to wrap everything together.  The wounds are still here, but they’re slowly closing.  It’s all about His love.

Listen to this song — it completes this post.  Join with me, The Hurt, as I continue to surrender to our Healer.