Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bearing the Cost Meets Acceptance with Joy

So here's the deal. I'm really struggling today. And I'll cut to the chase. I'm tired. I'm tired of the battle and the constant conflict. I'm tired of the brokenness. I'm tired of that aching longing that I feel for eternity, for that time when things will all be new and whole and we'll be really, truly free. I'm so ready for that day when the flesh won't have so much power over me. I want to be done with this whole refinement process. Yet I know that as long as there is breath to fill my lungs, there is more. There is more to this journey. There is more adventure to be had. I just wish it didn't involve quite so much pain or frustration or work or sorrow or suffering. And I know that this brokenness creates the very stones that build a deeper intimacy with my Beloved. I know that it is sorrow and suffering that drives me to His throne of Grace. I know that I only discover the fullness of His glory when I am facing the darkness. I know Hope only holds significance when it is juxtaposed with feelings of hopelessness. I know (in fact I preached a sermon on it in my last post...) that the brokenness of this world and the pain that we face is not without purpose. That purpose is our refinement. The entire point of life is for us to be transformed into Christ's likeness. The whole reason I'm on this journey is so that I can be transformed from glory to glory. Still, I'm not going to lie. I so wish there was an easier way! And I know I'm not alone in that cry, and I don't think we're wrong either. Didn't Christ Himself beg the Father to remove the cup from before Him? He cried for an easier way, but His cry for God's will to be done was so much louder and so much deeper. And I pray that is so in my own life.

I have this vision of the way I'd like to live, and I can sum it up in two words: GIVEN OVER. I want to lay my entire life down on the altar. And not just my life, but my will and my dreams and my deepest desires and my passions... everything. With that comes this idea of joyful abandon, of release, of surrender, of letting go, of strivings ceased, and of true freedom. I want to lay down this life that I'm holding so that I can just run after my Beloved. I don't care where we're going or what we're doing when we get there. I just want to run after Him. I just want to be where He is. I want to be available for Him to use me as His vessel, His instrument. And it sounds so appealing, this idea of being given over to God's power and love and will and Presence and glory, and singing at the top of my lungs, "You can have all the world. Give me Jesus!" Yes, it sounds wonderful. It sounds like an adventure. And nothing gives a poet more to write about or a singer more to sing about than a life of adventure. Hear me on this, I really believe that's the way we're supposed to live. Given over in joyful abandon to the Lover of our souls, the One who has hemmed us in behind and before. I'll confess though... it is SO much harder than I ever thought it would be. Words are one thing. Living them is something completely different.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy. Who in her right mind would chase after a Spirit? Who would ever live life moment by moment, totally okay that she doesn't know the details of what's going to happen? Sometimes I feel alone, like there's no one who really understands the passion or the faith that's driving me. Sometimes I feel confined, whether by my own fear, or by the fear of the well-meaning people who love me. Sometimes it just plain hurts, which brings me to the idea of bearing the cost. I guess I hadn't realized this, but it costs something to live given over. It makes perfect sense. If I lay something at the altar, I lay it there because it is a sacrifice, and sacrifices are costly. I lay it there to be consumed by fire from Heaven, and fire burns. If I'm going to live life running after my Beloved, after Jesus, I'm going to have to bear the cost. He said it like this, "Take up your cross and follow me." I don't know why it's taken so long for me to understand that. Maybe it's because I thought taking up my cross meant intense persecution or seasons of pain and struggle. That's not the case though. When I made the decision to live given over, my life changed. The desires of my heart changed. God sowed a seed in my heart that pierced my flesh, and left me aching, longing for Him and for His perfect, eternal love. That too is a cross to bear. So I daily bear the cost of my choice to live given over, but it is so worth it! To see God move in my life. To watch Him orchestrate every last detail. To feel His comfort after the pain. To experience His faithfulness. These are the things, though so often surrounded by pain, make life worth living. This is abundant life. Just because it hurts doesn't mean He's not in control, and it most certainly does not mean He's forgotten us or doesn't love us. It doesn't even mean we're on the wrong path. It's just a hard journey. And yet our Shepherd is a good and faithful guide. We hear His voice, even when we can't see or feel Him. And that is where acceptance with joy comes in. We bear the cost of our sacrifice, and we accept that with joy, because we know that He who called us is faithful, and though we experience sorrow and suffering, it is never unto death. Jesus chose to bear the cost so we might have eternal life.

May He reassure your heart today, and renew your faith to continue bearing the cost and live given over, for that is where we find abundant life.

Given over,

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