Thursday, October 8, 2009

difficult lessons...

sacrifice. submission. selflessness. those are some pretty heavy words and the actions behind them are even more difficult, i believe. when i lived in texas, a guy named david nasser was a guest speaker at the church where i was working so obviously, the bookstore stocked his resources. i'd heard great things about this author/speaker and when i saw one of his devotionals on the shelf, the title captured my attention...a call to die: a 40 day journey of fasting from the world and feasting on God. i read the summary on the inside cover and instantly knew it was a devotional that i wanted so i purchased it. upon reading the introduction, he gives a disclaimer, if you will, that if you're not really serious about taking this 40 day journey or if you feel like you're not quite ready for it...the call to die, then maybe you should wait until you are ready. reading that gave me great pause and caused me to evaluate, "am i ready to answer this call to die? am i totally committed to a 40 day journey like this?" well, i can tell you right now my next thought was, "of course i am. i'm a seminary student, this is what the Christian life is about." well, i'll confess to you that i thought that i was ready but apparently, i wasn't. after reading the introduction to that devotional, i laid the book on my nightstand and that's where it stayed for the next few months until it was packed in a box and then placed on a bookshelf in north carolina. i've picked the book up every now and then but i don't know what it is about that particular book that gives me such pause but i'm ashamed to say i've never gone beyond the introduction. {i realize that Jesus calls us to daily pick up our cross...die to ourselves...and follow Him...and it's my prayer that is what we all make an effort to do as believers but let's just be honest and transparent for a moment and admit that it's a tall order and it's difficult. it's not impossible and it's not just for the super spiritual but it is a challenge. every. single. day.} maybe it's because in his introduction, he asks for a solid and serious commitment to the journey or maybe it's because the call to die isn't a very comfortable topic of study.

fast forward to this past week in my life and guess what the theme has seemed to be? yep, you guessed it...submission, dying to self, not my will but Your will. nothing major has happened this week but it seems as though the Lord is working to effect some change in this heart of mine. you see, over the last month or two the Lord and i have had the same conversation {well, it's not been much of a conversation because for the most part, i've been the one talking without slowing down to actually, you know...listen.} where i give Him suggestions as to what i would like to happen or if He would just listen to me, things would work out so much better. then in the next breath, i admit that i don't want to take a single step outside of His will. talk about feeling conflicted! :) sunday morning we had the opportunity to worship at my home church and the sermon was all about...you guessed it...choosing obedience, submission, etc. the passage was out of mark when Jesus was praying in the garden of gethsemane and the Lord {gently} spoke to my heart reminding me that Jesus is my example. His choice to go to the cross was not easy, as that is evidenced in His agonizing moments in prayer to the Father but even as He pleaded for the cup to pass from Him, He ended every plea with, "not My will but Your will." quietly, i heard Him speak to my heart and all i could say is, "not my will but Your will." then, {oh yes, there's more} my apples of gold mentoring group's {older ladies mentoring younger ladies} Bible study this week was on submission. seriously? all i could think was, "okay, Lord, whatever You are trying to teach me, i'd love to learn it quickly because obviously, i'm not getting it." it was amazing that all He has been teaching me fits together...it's as if He has a plan or something :).

there is a reason i believe Jesus tells us to daily deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him because doing it yesterday just doesn't get it done for today and sometimes, it's a choice that we make over and over throughout the day. my heart and my desire is to willingly deny myself and take up my cross as i follow Him in my marriage, my work, my friendships, and my interactions in daily life. isn't it just like the Lord, though, to highlight two very important relationships in my life at the same time to show me how the lessons are related? the importance of obedience and submitting my will to Him in my relationship with Him and then also the importance of submitting in my relationship to my husband...the Lord has an order for the Church and a similar order in the family. can i be honest? i didn't realize how truly selfish i was until i married joel {and i know all my friends with kids will tell me just wait until you have a child} but the act of submitting doesn't always come easy. it doesn't mean i don't want to or that i don't have the desire to submit but i'm human and sometimes, my selfish desires want to be heard. i am thankful, so very thankful, that i have a husband who fulfills the challenge given in ephesians 5 to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. it definitely makes it much easier to submit when you know your husband has your best interest at heart.

so maybe, just maybe i will pick up that devotional sometime soon and sign the commitment in the introduction to complete the 40 day fast. either way, i am already on this journey with Jesus and i'm thankful for the way He speaks, teaches, and then gives the opportunity to put it into practice.


"when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." ~dietrich bonhoeffer from the cost of discipleship

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1 comment:

Jennifer Raack said...

Wow, that was beautiful! You write so well! You could write a book and I think the readers would never lose interest!