Thursday, October 27, 2011

freedom in submission.

Did you cringe a little at that title? It's ok if you did. I'll admit it's a scary word.
Inclined or ready to submit; unresistant or humbly obedient. 
I often resist.
My heart rarely holds the humility it should.
I ignore and disobey and fight for my way almost daily. 
I'm far from submissive. Let's make that perfectly clear. 
I am learning, though, that submission doesn't mean subjecting myself to chains. Oh no. Quite the opposite. 
When I submit, I'm free. 
When I release control of my life, I'm liberated to live life with open hands, equally grateful for what the Lord brings and what He takes away.
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21 
When I come humbly before the Lord, I can trust that He will provide for me in His time and according to His goodness.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." I Peter 5:6
When my desire is to be obedient, He will make the way clear to me.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
And there is an overwhelming and invariable joy in obedience. This I've come to know well.
But there are two big places in my life where obedience has been lacking...and I can't fight God on them anymore. 
My hands are open.
I want to obey.
I long to submit.     

I'm writing a book.
I want to write. Many of you are aware of that. Hence...a blog. It wouldn't appear that I'm necessarily being disobedient in this area. However, I'm fully cognizant of the stories God has put in my heart that I've been refusing to tell.   
Because of insecurity. 
Because of doubt.
Because of fear. 
None of which have any place in my life if I'm hidden in the Lord. And I am. Make no mistake.
I've resisted because it's scary, and choosing to be obedient doesn't scatter that fear. It's intimidating to walk through a bookstore and feel like my name doesn't belong on those shelves. It's discouraging to think that a story I pour my heart into may never be anything more than a manuscript--a stack of copy paper that's never read or understood or experienced. It's just as horrifying to think that people may actually read it. Autobiographical or not, my heart will be all over those pages. It's nerve-wracking.
But, I'll write it. And I'll trust that the God who authored salvation is the same God who was gracious to put these stories in my heart...and He'll be faithful to carry them where He wills.
I'm embracing the gifts God's given me to work with children in ministry.  
(I'm bragging on the Lord here, y'all. Not myself by any means.)
I've been passively saying "no" in this area for years. Long years, mind you. 
But I love little hearts, and it's about time I owned up to it. Life is better and faith is sweeter when you sit in a circle on the floor and listen, wide-eyed, to the stories of Christ. Seeing a little girl begin to develop a gentle, but valiant faith or a little man learn early that he has infinite strength and courage in the Lord challenges me like nothing else. 
No one is more receptive to the beauty of the Gospel. 
No one teaches me more about having full, joy-filled faith. 
I want to love and serve little hearts...however and wherever God will have me do it. 
I'm grateful for what He's placed in my hands.
I want to humbly please the Lord.
I pray that I submit to Him well.
"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Have you experienced stepping out in obedience? How did you trust? 
Are there areas where you need to make that choice to submit?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Psalm 38:9

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. (ESV)

All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. (NIV)

Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. (Amplified)

Yesterday, in the middle of between-classes hustle and bustle, I sat on a bench with a new friend and she asked questions: How did you get here? How do you hear the Lord? Who is your family? They're simple questions that are rarely asked; and as I walked away from her, I felt so refreshed. Some encounters feel like a deep breath in, but this one felt like a deep breath let out. Like I got to let a little part of me out where it matters. Out where someone can hear it. Out where someone can know it. 

It was a moment of conviction for me. How often do I stop in my whirlwind of a week to learn something new about a friend, let alone a stranger? How often do I ask those questions that trigger that heart feeling--that feeling that says, "This person is safe. This person wants to know you"? Rarely, to be honest. It's a thing I plan to work on, an area I want to grow. I want to be a story collector.

As I went through the rest of my day, I kept thinking, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you for that sweet moment of feeling known." But in an instant, I felt:

I know you. Have you forgotten that?

And the reality and truth of it sat me down for a moment. Because I had forgotten. This little, heavily significant truth had slipped from my mind and heart...and the absence of it was devastating. 

The awakening was dizzying. 

Our Father knows us. He formed us. He loves us. He hears us. He guides us. He saved us. He knows us. 

What a sweet privilege that is. What a gift to be known and still loved by a God who is holy, loved by a God who is so unlike us--so infinitely above.

The past few seasons have (not actually been, but) felt empty for me. I felt left out of great things I was seeing the Lord do. I saw, what I thought were, perfect opportunities for the Lord to use gifts He gave me, but I was still left on the sideline. I watched as others served God the way I wanted to. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of redirected focus, and a lot of faith to get through those seasons. A lot of faith that my desires wouldn't be forgotten, that, when He saw fit, He'd call me into the game. 

For one thing, I realized that I wasn't on the bench. I wasn't serving Him the way I thought I should have been, but He had places for me to work out my faith in other ways--ways I never would have dreamed; and I'm grateful for that. But...

In the past week, God has placed opportunities before me that I was not expecting. At all. Opportunities that are similar to the capacities I longed to be a part of before, only better. Only more perfect for me and where I am. Our Father is good like that, is he not? 

I've found myself thinking, over and over, "How sweet that You know me, Father...that You remind me how deeply I'm known." I'm just about bursting with gratitude. It's bubbling over all over the place. There's a sweet little children's song that sings: Jesus knows me, this I love. Yes, Jesus. This I love. 

*Below is a song that's so beautiful it makes me hurt. Almost literally.