Monday, June 8, 2009

Willingness -cont.

So, I'm still meditating on the whole willingness factor...and just seeing it more and more crucial in the life of a Christ follower. I'm just surprised that I don't hear more on it (unless this is just a given and it's only profound to me...but regardless, I'm enjoying this new revelation). I mean...willingness, the ability to choose to submit and surrender to God, instead of being controlled by your flesh, and it actually also insinuates an eagerness and joy with it! I guess you could put it under the umbrella of self-control, but I see it so much more as the heart of the issue than just learning discipline. I see it as truly surrendering to God as the authority of your life, allowing Him to dictate instead of self. Anyways, just love that word...willingness...makes me think of meekness and gentleness as well.

Which leads me to what we often after to submit or surrender to.....sacrifice.

I read something the other day about sacrifice, and we, as a culture, and I'm guessing as a generation, of believers have moved further and further away from the Truth that being a follower of Christ means that we will have to sacrifice our own lives - that we take up the cross (our impending death) and follow after Him with it - and then willingly crucifying our flesh whenever and wherever He directs. Oh yeah, did I mention daily?? Appealing, huh? Anyone want to be a Christian? No wonder we don't really include this as the selling point in our evangelistic pursuits, huh? :) much of our philosophy these days (for lack of a better term) is about how being a follower of Christ means that we're going down the right path, and therefore all things will go smoothly and succinctly (efficiently) and along this perfect time table that we know are able to determine because 'we have the mind of Christ.' But what life am I mirroring with this? Is this how I perceived Christ's life to be? Is this the picture that He desires to show the world through my life?

Really, if you look at that statement, it's pretty revealing of what Jenny values, and not necessarily God - comfort, smooth ride, efficiency, things happening when I want them's probably a good practice to test yourself, the next time you're describing things, to see if it's truly Biblical, or just your version of Jesus.

Can i just say that God may be and probably is efficient in some things, but that He is also extravagant and sometimes, if we were honest, we'd probably even consider wasteful at times? Look at His love, poured out, for everyone - even for those that He knew wouldn't receive Him??!!

I must admit that I used this example in an argument with my husband once. He had said something that was a little insensitive and careless, and his response was that he was just trying to be efficient (which I admire in him most of the time :)), and my response to Him was that love is not efficient. And it's is anything but efficient. Love doesn't just measure out the minimum in a particular situation, but it covers over a multitude of sins.

So, did I just contradict myself is saying that God is efficient if God is love?? Somehow, being God, I think He can probably do both. But I'm not claiming any new theology here! :)

Anyways, back to the point - labeling our walk with God has smooth, timely, succinct.

If anything, I think this speaks more of the call to perfectionism that the world sends than the call to the cross, where grace is extended for the imperfect. The world is the one that tells us that we have to meet a certain standard to be accepted, when God is the one that sent His Standard so that we could be accepted.

So much of my walk with Christ has still been about striving to be this picture in my head of someone that perfectly understands God's will for her life and doesn't live the way she used to, has her life things together. But I'm learning more and more of the liberating and motivating nature of grace, that tells me it's not about 'me' getting things right, but about receiving God's acceptance as I am. And then because of that, wanting to live differently for Him, through the power of His Holy Spirit- not pursuing acceptance, but pursuing a life that is a response to that grace, and is truly an offering, a living sacrifice that is pleasing to God.

Because when I'm striving to produce anything in my life, it's no longer about giving my life to's about me building my life, about me pursuing my idea of what my life should be like (often under the guise of following Christ.) But when I surrender my life and let the Holy Spirit lead, then I'm pursuing Christ and am truly transformed.

All this to say, I've been intimately reminded lately that often it's about the path God is leading me on that is the much narrower, rockier, harder way, and my willingness to follow Him down (or up) that path. But it makes sense if I exchange my value of perfectionism for willingness, and knowledge for trust. Because if God values my willingness and trust more than my ability to get things right, then it makes sense that He would choose these means to cultivate my character, not about me accumulating my accolades.

For example, let's say the goal or end destination is to get to the other side of a mountain. Our culture tells us to get there first, to make sure that we can capitalize on all that is there before all the opportunities are gone. So, if we're following this path and letting the culture dictate our values, then we'll probably just go around the mountain, anxious to get our share and make a name for ourselves.

And what if God seems to be directing us to the other side, too, but that He tells us that He has something on the top of the mountain for us, something special. Are we willing to value what God places value on? Or are we so anxious to get to the destination, which is ultimately the same as God's destination(right?), that we just say - I'll just go the easier, faster way?

But maybe we don't realize that, so often, going up the harder, rockier, narrower way, we ultimately gain a perspective that we wouldn't have otherwise. What if we were go trust God, 'forfeit' the world's calling to compromise by doing things easier, and go His path. I bet you that you'd find, once you got to the top of the mountain, that the destination on the other side wasn't what it was all cracked up to be, not from up here. And that the top of the mountains was so much greater than you could have ever imagined. AND if you hadn't climbed up, and built that endurance, you wouldn't be able to handle the thin air of the high altitude. But God, through His wisdom, knew that you needed the climb as much as you needed the mountaintop.

So, yeah - I imagine you get my point. This life is so often about something different than what it appears, and until we can see through God's eyes, we better just learn to trust Him and continue to pray for willing hearts to go the hard road despite the one that seems so much easier right in front of us.

And honestly, I think if there were more trusting and willing Christians out there, we might be a little bit easier to handle than a bunch of people that are striving to live perfect lives under the guise of following Christ. Because if we're pursuing perfectionism, we're not really pursuing Christ, are we?

A good friend once told me, in response to my honest question, "But aren't we supposed to be like Christ?"

"No, Jenny." he said, "We're just supposed to follow Him, and He makes us more like Himself."
- Kinda takes the pressure off, huh?

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