Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Surrender of the Will

First, An Honest Update

Right now I feel defeated.

School: I feel behind in my classes already, and not sure how to study for them. I am frustrated with homework because, though I am setting aside time enough to do it, my inability to focus causes most of my efforts to be wasted. I feel God is not honored and should not bless my school efforts because I should be trying harder.
(Still finding enjoyment though, esp. in a UofM victory!)

People: I don’t really want to be around my friends much at all, though I know this is something I love. I think it's due to feeling exhausted and being in pain.
However, this also means that I definitely don’t want to be pouring into other people whom I don’t know- people around me who I feel it is my duty to minister to. Because of that, I feel like a failure as a leader in Cru, or before God in general.

Health: Overall, I am exhausted and tired from my poor health. I have no energy left to spend. I am all poured out, yet things continue to ask more of me.

In my doctor appointment Friday, it was stated (again) how I have a decision to make (in the general present). My doctor wants me off Methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) because it causes permanent and serious liver damage, as well as can lead to cancer. She says I am too young to be throwing away the opportunity to have limited medical issues.
But I have tried to live without Methotrexate, and it is a life I have no interest in being a part of. It would be a life lived on my parent’s couch. I cannot move without the drug, I cannot think, often times I cannot even speak. I would be much more dead than were I fighting cancer, for instance.

However, it does make me face the question again of what I am truly striving for. I can barely handle my own life right now, with my limited responsibilities. How could I ever enter a serious relationship and take on another person’s life in the future? How could I ever have kids, these blessings that require so much pouring out and commitment and love and time. These (time, effort, energy, love) are offerings I cannot even give to my God right now, who it should have them first and foremost.

Similarly, if I cannot even attend classes during the week and do required readings, how could I expect to get a solid job and perform up to par? Enough to compete with the rest of the world?

If I go into ministry, how could I faithfully and continually pour into other people when I cannot do so even in little bits now? And this is thinking along the lines that my health will remain as it is now. But there are substantial signs pointing to the option that it will not remain as it is now, that it will in fact get much more complicated, much more painful, and become much more restricting.
(Yes, I understand that healing is possible with God. But that is not what I want, and I question if that is what God wants, because I see being sick glorify Him much more than if I were healthy. So no, I am not depressed or hopeless, I am trusting in His plan, and thinking about how He could have it unravel.)

But yes, all in all, I am exhausted. I am exhausted from fighting. I am tired from pouring myself out over studies, over work, over friends, over ministry, over feeling pain and pretending I don’t so I can still do things, over the diverse and intense pulls and strains of life.

And I am discouraged, for I deem my performance and current ability to answer these calls from all areas of life unfit. It is not enough. I understand that I don’t have to do the best in school, or be the greatest Bible study leader, friend, daughter, or sister. I have the freedom to be average, or to fail (and of course being average or to fail are defined by the scale in my head.) But I want to rise above. I desperately want to be goodbetter, great in these areas.

Why do I desire?

Why do I want these things? Because I want to glorify Christ. Because I want to honor Him in the way I’m living. Because I want to be obedient to what He is teaching me and walk in ways of holiness.

‘Kay great. But actually, why do you want these things, Anna?

Is it because I want to be great, I want to be able to do things because I want to do them? Is it a self-centered longing? Is it because I want to be in control of my spiritual life and cause myself to be more holy, so that I appear more holy to others? Is it because I want to be more pleasing to Christ? (Which is impossible.) Do I want to be doing great because I feel that anything less than is unacceptable for how much instruction I have received? With this much teaching, anyone should be able to behave and perform wonderfully! Right? I have a desire to be effective for Christ, but is it partly because I believe I can do it, that I have to do it, that anything less is disappointment? Am I leaning on myself in my relationship with Christ, not leaning on Christ?

With a will this strong (and this complicated), it is hard to accept anything less than my perceived idea of where I should be. Because of this unrest in my will, I am finding unrest in my life.

A First Step Towards Hope: Surrender

But this life is one about surrender - not control, and most definitely not performance.

As Oswald Chambers shares in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, I must first surrender my will to Christ and find His rest. “Come unto me … and I will give you rest.” 

--> I need to give up my will to do “good things” and to be “successful” in my walk with Christ, as well as the will to honor Him in how I handle the responsibilities He’s given to me. *Not to change or forsake this longing, but not to clench it in my fist, clinging to it with my perceived control.

In Deeper, Though…

--> Furthermore, I’m afraid my strong desire of these things is actually hindering my ability to freely love Christ and let Him work through me, therefore hindering my ability to do what it is that I am desiring! (My desire to live for Christ is actually hindering my ability to live for Christ! (?!?!) For it is an un-surrendered desire, one rooted in the façade of my own control.)

Because of were I long to be with Christ (glorifying Him more and more), I have been analyzing and re-analyzing myself, focusing on how I’m doing with Christ, where I’m slipping up, where I need to be stronger, and where I’m deem myself doing ‘okay’. Yet, I have been convicted of this wrongful focus in my spiritual life. I believe it to be self-centered. My relationship with Christ is not a self-improvement program. The focus is Jesus, only Jesus, and always Jesus. My personal responsibility is to not fix myself up (for I ultimately cannot change myself), but to simply gaze continually on Christ.

Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a centre for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self- conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.” (Chambers).

My prayer is to become drastically less self-conscious. – Whether I see myself as wonderfully sanctified or an unworthy failure, this is wrong focus. I am not here even to judge myself (*See Right; 1 Cor. 4:3-4).

[And by self-conscious, Oswald and I mean being “caught up with the shows of things”. For me, this means continually analyzing my spiritual life, how I am doing, how I am coming across to others in every interaction- basically focusing on my performance.]

I long to be so focused in, engulfed in, and fixed on the person and God of Jesus Christ, that I am not looking around horizontally or trying to walk towards Christ while staring inward at myself. (I am a terrible walker anyway (it’s never in a straight line, even when I’m staring straight ahead.) So I can only imagine how off course I’d get and how many times I’d fall down if my head was staring at my own self while walking forward.- Yet this is sort of how I’ve been feeling my spiritual walk has been going.)

A Second Surrender

In addition to the surrender of my will, I must secondly give up the (again perceived) right to myself.

à I own nothing about myself. I am in control of nothing. It’s because of God that I’m here, breathing, walking, thinking, talking, going to class, taking tests, etc. If I know that I can’t heal my body by myself, I can’t make my brain focus on homework, I can’t cause myself to understand what’s being taught in class, then what makes me think I can control anything else in my life; i.e. how I effect those around me (for that depends on how they receive me), where I ultimately end up in life, how much I grow in the Lord, etc.? Yes, I can tangibly make myself do things, but even that ability does not come from me but from something bigger. Therefore, I am fighting a useless war within myself. I have not set this war in motion, nor can I finish it. I cannot win victories - or even cause losses for that matter!


How do I know this? Because Psalm 50:9-15, [God speaking]

            I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it…
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Does God need me and my efforts in order to accomplish what He wants to in my life or in the world? NO! Not at ALL! He is not relying on the hope that I will do this or that. If He wants something done, He does not come to me and beg me to get out of bed and complete the task. As a dear friend tells me all the time, “God ain’t fallin off His throne!!!” He ain’t slippin’, worried about what I’m going to do down here and if I’m gonna mess it all up! Noooooo no nooo no no.  

Though I have the responsibility of responding to God, to His leading and correction in my life, ultimately I, and what I do, do not matter. LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME. (An anthem I wish somehow would yell at me every morning when I wake up, throughout every day, and every night before I go to bed.)

Again, how can I trust this? Because Daniel 4:35 as well,

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?

This is incredible, and kind of terrifying. If I have a right view of God, then this is scary, because I know how powerful He is. But in the same way, if I have a correct view of Him, I actually have unbelievable peace from this verse, for I know that He is a God who is defined by love, justice, kindness, mercy, compassion, understanding, patience- and these attributes are unconditional, eternal, and boundless. I know He has my ultimate best interest in mind, and I know from experience that often, though I think I do, where I am headed would end up in my own catastrophe. So, knowing all these things and knowing that NOTHING is going to stop Him from doin’ what HE wants- I can and should lay all my burdens and pressures and responsibilities at His feet! And this is beautiful!

(This is where I shake my head and sigh again, because if I actually lived a life like I believed the truths I claim I do, I would live in such joyous freedom!)

God has taken full responsibility for MY life, my well-being, my encouragement, my effectiveness, my protection, and my growth. He has left nothing in anyone else’s control. This is so sweet to my concerned and tired heart…
And He is not a passive, irresponsible, or slow God. No, “Our God comes and will not be silent” (Ps. 50:3). He is always working, and working powerfully. Why else would He be waiting to return? There is no wasted time with Jesus Christ.

Yeah, So?

SO what does this mean for me right now?

It means that my worry is not needed. It means the pressures and responsibilities I feel are on my own shoulders, are actually on God’s. And if I would stop trying to take them back and control these things, then I could let God be God, and let me be me. I was not made to run the universe, to save it, or even run and save my own life. I was made to love and be loved. Let me not try to live in a role that I was not created to fill. That will most definitely cause a conflict in my will and a struggle in my walk. If I let go of the little God I held in my own hand, then the God who holds me in His hand can be all that He is supposed to be in my life. Then, I will be delighted in Him. And when I delight myself in the Lord, he promises to give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). Then I can’t be confident that I will receive in true and pure motives, motives that are glorifying to Christ- and very effective.

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