Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cultivating Oranges, Part 2

Please see Part 1 of this post for the beginning of the thought.

The second barrier to giving control of my life to God is another big one: PRIDE. I don't want to admit that I have limitations. With this barrier, I am in good company. Back in the garden when the serpent was tempting Eve, he promised her that when she ate the fruit of the tree she would “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Pride is the original sin. I am personally convinced that when Paul said in “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” he could have added “and the one right before it is pride” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

We all want to believe we are in the driver's seat of our own life. Sometimes we admit to being human, as in, “Hey, leave me alone, I'm only human!” But emotionally, deep in our hearts where no one can see, we still regret our limitations. “I wish I could have done better on that test.” “Why can't I be a more capable parent?” “I hate this feeling inside me that drags me down all the time.”

Have you ever stopped and thought about the fact that God made us just the way he wanted to? Poor memory, frustrating situation, depression and all. Seriously, he did it on purpose. God made us the way he did, put us in this part of the world, in this moment in history, with this set of circumstances, On Purpose. Because in our shortcomings, we learn to come to God, who IS perfect. We depend on him to complete our flawed story with his perfect ending, and in so doing, we learn to love him. So when we fret about our limitations, we are committing the sin of pride, of saying that we think we could have done a better job of orchestrating our lives than God. Better than the same God who intricately created the Universe, and who purposefully created each one of us.

The prophet Isaiah uses the illustration of a potter making a clay pot: “Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you are doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be!' (45:9) We did not put the world into being. We did not set history in motion. We did not even have anything to do with our own birth on this planet. We are that clay pot, and God is that maker. When we accept the limitation that we will never be the maker, we are able to surrender our need to control the circumstances. Once we look at life with the view that we were created with a purpose, all that remains is to ask God's help to fulfill it. And all that anxiety about orchestrating and fixing the microscopic details that drive us crazy? The pressure is off.

The third barrier to intimacy with God is CONFUSION about what it means to surrender my life to him. It doesn't make sense to surrender a percentage of my income to the church, because then I may run out of the money I have. It doesn't make sense to surrender a certain amount of time each day to reading God's Word and praying, because I already don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do. And it really doesn't make sense to surrender my dreams, because that is the most hopeful part of my existence.

And yet, all those things are true. I believe it was CS Lewis who said, the more we let God take over our decisions, the more like ourselves we become. Because God knows how he intended us to be, and each moment of surrender brings us closer to that ideal. Romans 6:13 says, “Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.” To be honest, surrendering our money, time and dreams is not a suggestion for those who have placed their hope in God. It is a mandate.

But never fear, there is plenty of blessing waiting for those who are able to get past the barriers and surrender everything to God. The prophet Micah shares a promise: “'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the Lord Almighty, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!'” (3:10)

So how does one overcome one's Fear, Pride and Confusion, in order to trust God and worship him? Seems like it boils down to a few critical steps. Get to know God. Admit my Limitations. Surrender my Dreams. Then God is able to pour his grace all over the sections of my heart. I imagine it like honey poured on a grapefruit. When he is able to direct and pour grace on every area of my life, he is able to more completely shape me to be all he intended for me to be. And that is the kind of meaningful life that my heart longs for. How about you?

To hear a podcast of the message that inspired this train of thought, click this link.
Cultivate for '08: Worship

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