“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Matthew 16:24-26 (The Message)
Sometimes life can only be described as hard. Sometimes it’s through no choice of my own – events happen and I need to deal with them. Sometimes its due to choices I’ve made and it’s called natural consequences. And sometimes, it’s a little bit of both.
This past weekend life culminated that for me. I would say the majority of the “hard” I was dealing with was a result of choices I’d been making for a few months and it finally got to the place where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. The issues screaming at me, when I looked closer, were really just symptoms and not the real problem. The real problem was I needed to completely surrender to God.
He warned me. Yes, my Heavenly Father used many different methods the week prior as well as during the weekend to warn me, in a loving way, I was on a slippery slope. I had a choice to make… completely surrender to His ways even though selfishly I didn’t want to, keeping the lines of communication open with Him or selfishly hold onto my desires and be left to go it alone.
Isn’t that similar to how it is for those of us who are parents, especially of teenagers or young adults? Sometimes we see them start to slide down a slippery slope. Sometimes they will come to us for advice and the tragedy is averted. Other times, we wait close by, ready to help and pray a lot.
I believe it’s similar with God. He allows us free will. He gives us guidelines from His Word on how to live an abundant life, one in which He can freely bless us… but He still allows us to make our own choice – one in which we allow God’s blessings access to our lives by living obediently or one in which we block His blessings due to our disobedience.
While outwardly others may not have known I was sinning that weekend… I was. While I didn’t sin in the world’s eyes, I sinned in God’s eyes. I held on to pride, stubbornness and wanting to do things my way instead of surrendering the first time God invited me to get off the slope and back onto firm ground. It took two-and-a-half days. Then I surrendered fully. Completely. I chose God’s way. I chose to be selfless and specifically outlined to God the blessings I wanted… they were for someone else and I, in essence, died to myself and my desires. I even went so far as to tell God I would completely surrender my wants in a specific area if He would choose to bless another instead. And I meant it. That was the difference. They weren’t just words at this point… they were words backed by action.
That’s not how our Heavenly Father works though. When I completely surrendered, He allowed us both to be blessed. In ways that I wouldn’t have imagined. And I know it was Him because the sermon we listened to a few hours later was confirmation in my heart I’d pleased my Father.
You know what’s pathetic? I wanted God’s will the whole time… but on my terms. Just as our household isn’t one where the kids obey on their terms, God knows it’s not healthy to allow that attitude between Himself and His children. He knew in order for me to die further to myself, I had to just go through it… and when I came out the other side, He met me there with His love.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017