Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

What Am I Doing, and Why Am I Doing It?

I had some prayer time with God today while I went for a walk, and I was confessing some things to God, among them an addiction (I have tried not to call it that, but it is what it is) to gambling. I used to love going to the casino and playing/watching poker, largely because I was decent at it, and so didn’t lose the money that most do at a casino. God put a question on my heart today in trying to help me realize some various points He needed to hammer home. The question is this: “If you had $100 to do whatever you wanted with, no repercussions, what would you spend it on?” I wrestled with this. Would I go gambling? Would I spend it on my wife or daughter?

Ultimately I came to the realization that I wouldn’t gamble, which helped me draw the conclusion that God has helped me overcome that addiction. But what was worse was that God made it clear that in trying to choose between a small handful of things, I neglected to ask, “What would You have me do with that?” See, while I might have overcome my addiction, what I have yet to overcome is the selfish attitude that the casino touts as glorious and the word deifies as success. Not once until God made it clear to me did I think that maybe buying food for the homeless or donating it to missions might be a better use of that money than on myself. I didn’t think about what would bring Him the most glory.

Why does God ask us to do these things? It’s a question that I had to ask myself when an atheist recently asked me to put myself into Abraham’s shoes when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac. Though I tried to make myself appear humble by quoting Isaiah 55:9, it made me stop and ask myself what the purpose of going through these things is. I came to a couple of conclusions:

1) God’s ways are not our ways. In the Abraham/Isaac situation, we tend to base the morality of the situation on the action being performed. God’s morality is based on how we treat the request. Our way goes on the physical nature of the act; God’s way goes on the heart’s intent behind the act.

2) God would not ask anything of us that He’s not willing to do Himself. God asks for our sacrifice because He has sacrificed. God asks for us to set ourselves apart because He has set Himself apart. God asks us to go and pursue men because He has pursued us. God asks us to be obedient because He is always obedient to His own nature, since He is clear that He will never change.

I cannot possibly hope to understand everything God does in this world, and why He does it. I only know that He asks something of me, and I do it because there is no reason not to. God has demonstrated why He asks, what He is looking for. When I study, when I listen, He is clear. Perhaps there is so much moral ambiguity because we spend all of our time deciding what we think is right instead of listening for why His way is right.

My verse for this week I think sort of fits in this jumbled mess of a post, because it is about letting self go and understanding that God’s ways are not my ways, but His power is greater than any way I can possibly fathom to get it done:

    “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” — 1 Peter 4:11

Desperate

Many folks in our church are reading the book “Radical” by David Platt. In going through it, one thing stuck out to me in the chapter we read this week about relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. It was a simple question posed right at the end. Platt asks the reader, “Is your life characterized by a desperation for the Holy Spirit to come and take control of your life? Is your church characterized by this desperation?”

This is a really powerful question. When we think about the work of the Holy Spirit, typically it is either in a sort of behind-the-scenes, “all works together for the good” type of way, or it is in the “when I really need the Spirit, then I’ll ask for it” kind of way. Neither way is Biblical!

God has never outlined in Scripture any context where it is perfectly acceptable to go it alone. The Holy Spirit isn’t a failsafe, something that will catch you when you can’t catch yourself. The Holy Spirit is supposed to be a Guide, the Instigator of the work in your life. God is not a background character, resigned to a bit part in the play that is your life. Rather, God should be the co-star, someone that you work alongside of, or maybe even shrink back and let Him get the curtain call. Isn’t that our purpose anyway? To make Him known and to bring Him glory?

So why don’t we do this? Is it forgetfulness? Is it laziness? Or is it a conscious decision not to surrender complete control to the One who made every rock that goes into every patch of asphalt you walk or drive across? Have we deliberately chosen not to give over our steps to the One that designed the feet that make them? Any person, Christian or not, who reads this paragraph and says, “You know, I really think I’ve given over everything to God. I can’t give any more or do any better,” has failed to grasp the nature of true holiness. There is but one Spirit that requires no extra work in order to be spotless and without need to be directed.

So why aren’t we more desperate, as churches and as people, to see this power envelop our lives? Is it because we’re afraid of what we’ll be asked to do and where we’ll be asked to go if His power is pre-eminent? Is it so we’d rather someone else be imbued with such power so we can remain comfortable? If we don’t understand what it means to be under God’s power, we cannot possibly wield it in our own defense, and we can too often take the credit for things that we cannot do without it.

So today, take the challenge to begin to be desperate for the power of the Holy Spirit. Doing so may not be comfortable, but it is respectable, and your Heavenly Father is glorified when you do so. Fulfill to the best of your ability the purpose for your creation, but never do it on your own strength. When you do that, you are not desperate in vain.