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Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

My mind went again – only somewhat unwillingly – to all that I’ve lost (in full or in part) over recent years and things that I miss since my health has been on this continual, gradual decline of a roller coaster. How long has it been since I’ve mimed? Or danced? Or even signed? How long since my last tea attended? Even longer since my last tea hosted… I can’t remember the last time I worked on my book. My weeks to teach have been more miss than hit. I rarely go out, rarely socialize and have missed too many Sundays at church to count…

But a new train of thought stopped me in my tracks:

“What a minute. What about all those times you read scripture, sang songs or prayed prayers of sacrifice and surrendering? How many times have you told God He could have it all? Did you mean those?”

“Of course I meant those! Every time I spoke or sang those words. I’ve been paying attention for years now to what I sing and pray. I didn’t do it blindly. I meant it.”

“But?”

“But I thought the mime thing… and then the tea thing… and some of these other things were things God gave to me. Things God wanted me to do! Directions God wanted me to go! Why would He put a passion or a dream or a goal or a direction into my heart and mind and then take it away? Or ask me to sacrifice or surrender it?

“You mean like God fulfilled a promise [and really the seed of a future promise] to Abraham by giving him Isaac and then asked him to give Isaac up?” 

“Um…. yeah.”

That hit me. Hard.

And the thing is, I don’t think I should count on a ram in the bush. I don’t think I should surrender or sacrifice these things expecting to get them back. For that would only be a nominal surrender, not a true sacrifice.

I don’t think the scripture story is meant to satiate us that if we sacrifice to God what He gave to us, then we’ll always get it back or get it back just as it was. Though I’ve heard folks talk that way.

It’s also really popular to bring up how Abraham tells his servants that he and Isaac will go up the mountain and sacrifice and then “we” will come back to you.

We point to that to show his faith in God.

And Abraham really did have faith in God. His words and actions show his trust and obedience to the One who was his God and Lord.

The problem is that we know the story. It’s easy for us to read into it that Abraham trusted God to somehow save or bring back Isaac – his exact 12-year-old Isaac.

But Abraham didn’t know the story.

And he didn’t know about the plagues on Egypt that displayed God’s mighty power. He didn’t know about the parting of the waters, food in the wilderness, water from rocks, cloud by day, fire by night, sun standing still, crashing Jericho walls, axeheads floating, oil and fishes and loaves multiplying, blind seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking, lepers being cleansed and the dead being raised…

That would all happen generations and centuries after this faith-father was long gone.

As far as I can tell, the only thing Abraham knew and had experienced was God’s faithfulness thus far.

In keeping him safe.
In bringing him to a land that wasn’t even his yet.
In fulfilling the promise of a son.

He had tasted God’s faithfulness.
Even when he was faulty.

And now he was asked to obey.

He had a choice.

He could choose to sacrifice or to refuse and hold tightly.

His display of faith shows us that he chose obedience.
And that he fully trusted God.

Abraham trusted that God was faithful and would somehow keep and fulfill His promise even if Abraham’s obedience to God ended the life of his promised son.

Abraham didn’t know the end of his story.

I don’t know the end of my story.

It would be presumptuous of me to assume that my stated willingness to surrender what God has given to me is somehow a magical key to unlock the door, removing all obstacles and bringing that idea, dream or passion to completion.

And it would be half-hearted, half-faced of me to say I will sacrifice what has been asked of me while actually believing I don’t actually need to relinquish it because I’m fully expecting to get it back.

I have seen the faithfulness of God.

In the history of Israel.
In the life and death of Jesus.
In the lives of countless believers who’ve come before me.
In the lives of those around me.
In my own life.

I can trust the Faithful One.

And I want to obey.

Whole-heartedly.

Even when asked to “Let it go.”

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This is another one taken from a church newsletter I did (back in August 2004), though I think I originally did a part of it in one of my personal newsletters.  Enjoy and be encouraged!

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
(Psalm 42:1-2)

 

Do you thirst for God?  Really thirst for Him?  The psalmist does. The psalmist is eager for God.

When can I go and meet with God?

Say this line aloud with me: When can I go and meet with God?
Now don’t say it like you’re going to the dentist!  Try again.  Say it with the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning: When can I go and meet with God?

Now say it with the anticipation of a bride about to walk down the aisle: When can I go and meet with God?

Now say it with the desperation of a soldier oversees waiting for news that  he can go home: When can I go and meet with God?

The psalmist’s words are full of eagerness and anticipation. When we read Psalm 42:1-2, we tend to picture the psalmist on a warm sunny day, relaxing beside a stream and watching a deer quietly lap up water.  At least I always did. But that’s because I never got to verse three.
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” (v. 3)
The psalmist’s words are also a cry of desperation.
Here’s another picture for you. The psalmist, breathless from running, is suffering in physical pain and emotional turmoil. He collapses to his knees by a stream to wet his parched throat and cool his hot face. Looking up he sees a deer lapping for all its little tongue can lap. And just as his overwhelming problems seem so vivd, suddenly so does the very desire of his heart, to be with God. To praise God. Wearily he lifts his hands high into the air and begins to praise God.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God (v. 5)
Now I don’t really know if the psalmist fell to his knees before a stream or saw a deer.  But I do know he lifted his hands to praise God.  How do I know this? Because of the word he chose to use here.
The word which was translated “praise” in verses 5 and 11 is the Hebrew word yadah, which includes in its definition of praise an extension of the hands towards God. When I first discovered that word there, I was awed. It suddenly hit me what the psalmist was saying. Even in the midst of his pain, even though his emotions are down, he is going to lift his hands in praise to God. That’s how much he longs for God.
  • It’s a toddler lifting her little hands for Daddy to pick her up.
  • It’s a person who is drowning lifting his hands so the life guard will see and rescue.
  • It’s a criminal turning himself in saying “Okay, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I surrender.”
  • It’s a spectator at a sports game with her hands lifted high exalting the players.
  • It’s the picture of Job after he has lost everything, saying “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.”
  • It’s the picture of Jonah sitting in the slimy stomach of the big fish surrendering his will to God’s.
  • It’s the picture of Paul and Silas praying and singing in prison after they had been severely beaten.
It’s when we come to the end of our rope and realize that God is still there. Waiting for us. Holding on to us. Loving us.
So we raise our hands to our Heavenly Father in surrender and in praise, desiring nothing but God himself.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

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