The Closing of one year and the Opening of Another

Two years ago. about this time, I was beginning to consider another year with One Word. That word that shapes one’s perspective for the year. I started doing this about 5-6 years ago.

It seemed like a good idea at the time… I picked out a word that I was comfortable with and knew I had to work on its presence in my life for a year. You know, anyone can do that for a year…

That was when “I” picked out the word.

Two years ago, God took that task on for me. He very strongly impressed on me that surrender was to be my One Word.  And, it was.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and that word and how it’s supposed to work in my life since then. And I’ve discovered that surrender, no matter which way you look at it, is what He desires from us all. Not just in the big things. But in all things.

That’s a hard place to be. Surrender. I’m definitely not comfortable with that word or how it fits into my life. But as I’ve lived the past two years with this word, it has popped up in conversations, in something I’ve read,  as something I’ve heard on the radio or tv and around almost every corner of my life. It is ever present in my thoughts.

Hear me: I don’t want to surrender. To wave a white flag. To give up. Because to give up, wave the white flag and to admit to God or the world that I just don’t have it anymore is admitting I never did “have it”. That’s hard for me to do willingly.

Sometimes the horse has to get mighty thirsty before it’s willing to take a drink from strange waters. Well, this horse anyway.

God can do some pretty amazing things when we let Him; when we admit that we aren’t in control of the situation, our lives, our families’ lives, our work life. Those amazing things look different in every life.

Whatever that is to you, I’d like to ask you to stop and take a look at life and consider whether surrender might be something that He is asking of you.

I don’t have any over the top stories other than the way He keeps bringing it up in my life. But that’s enough for me. No shockers here, no sudden winds of change. Just me being obedient in surrender. Day by day.

Some days are difficult. My human nature is to grab hold of something  and to not let go. {confessions of a packrat}. But here I am, still learning Who He is and who I am and what He wants me to let go of so that He can accomplish His purpose in my life.

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Any thoughts on One Word? Any stories? I’d love to hear yours!

Surrender 2016

“Surrendering your will to God lies at the very core of whatever grieves you today.” – Wayne Stiles

I copied this quote a while back. I’ve come back to it from time to time- not quite ready to move on. It’s haunting me, dogging me, taunting me, pushing me, stretching me, teaching me.

What?

How does that work?

Am I galvanized in the grief of a lost relationship? Holding on? To what? What once was, but is not now? Or to what I thought once was?

But what never actually was?

Or was it simply for a season and I’m reluctant to let go?

How does that connect to the surrender of my will, which, by the way, I’ve done over and over again.

Why, you ask?

Isn’t it a once and done?

Shouldn’t it be?

Ahh… evidently not for me.

Because I keep grabbing it back in selfish ignorance and then in those moments of lucid vision (light bulb moment) I gingerly give it back to God like it’s a live wire I want nothing to do with anymore.

Haven’t I learned? Shouldn’t I have learned by now?  Shouldn’t we all have learned?

The reality is that learning to surrender completely (meaning it’s finished when you’ve surrendered), is a process. We give up, give in. Easily. Readily.  Then we reach out with our grubby hands and hold on for all we are worth. Because we keep forgetting that surrender is freedom and life.

In Christ.

Alone.

How do you get on with surrender? Is it important to you? Difficult or easy?

Take a look at the exchange between Jeremiah and King Zedekiah and the fulfillment of prophecy from the Lord  in Jeremiah 37-39:6.

I SURRENDER ALL.

 

How Surrender is Clearly Revealed in a Murky Pool

Yesterday, I went out to the pool to do the usual maintenance and was stopped in my tracks. I walked along the edge of the pool, staring into a turquoise, murky mess with skimmers clogged with leaves. It’s summer. What in the world?

I could not see the bottom of the pool. It had rained the day before with two heavy downpours accompanied by strong winds. I was seeing the results. The chemicals in the pool hadn’t been able to compensate for the detritus that the rain had brought. I had my work cut out for me.

On another front, I had been dealing with a situation that was complex and needed a quick resolution if a large, unexpected expense was to be avoided.  In my eagerness to restore equilibrium I could only see what was apparent to anyone. There needed to be a change and quickly. I could only see one resolution. The one of my own making.

I learned two things {again} from those examples given to me yesterday.

            1. There are times I have to address an issue immediately when the solution is obvious.

            2. There are times when I have to sit, be still, turn it over and let the Lord handle it.

He gives us a brain, He gives us ability, and He gives us the proper tools.  It’s what we do with these that can make all the difference.

In the first instance I took the most likely action that would restore the pool to its usual state of sparkling blue clarity; trusting that the mixture of the chemical treatment and physically addressing the removal of leaves, etc. would quickly resolve the murk.

On the second issue, I spent the entire day turning possibilities over and over in my head. I tried to reach the likeliest outcomes from every angle I could perceive and the damage control that would be required to minimize the expense that would be incurred in each instance. My minimalist conversation with the Lord was one-sided and rather short.

“Lord, how in the world can You provide something so good and take away a portion of that provision at the same time?”

I think you can see where I’m going with this. It goes back to the one word that keeps staring back at me when I look at my blog. Surrender.

The murky pool was the object lesson. The one thing was showing me what I needed for the other. There are times when we cannot see clearly; the whole picture is murky and complex. On the surface, we see a little, but the deeper we go the more difficult it becomes. The solution becomes more elusive. 

“The Worst Case Scenario” kept my thoughts occupied. Instead of turning to God and laying out my case to Him and trusting Him for the best solution I kept wanting to do something. I didn’t want to wait. I wanted it wrapped up and tied in a bow solved.

What strength have I left, that I should wait and hope? And what is ahead of me, that I should be patient? Job 6:11

Then He did something that brought my consuming thoughts to an abrupt halt by resolving the issue that was really out of my hands from the beginning. 

This morning, I am fully amazed, not at His provision, but at my dullness and density. Like looking at the murky water and not seeing the bottom, I could not see the solution, but He could.

It was His action that was needed to take care of the problem-not my dithering about. I was not able to change one thing about that situation. His grand resolution showed me that my self-reliance interferes with my ability to surrender.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

Again.

Surrender: Letting Go of Who You Think You Want to Be

This little word came to me in December; God whispered: “this one, this word, surrender, we have work to do here, daughter.”

Since then He has whispered something about it nearly every day in many different ways. {He’s very creative and He knows how to get my attention}

Surrender- it may be the one thing I need to tattoo on the back of my hand where I can see it every day.

Surrender don’t come natural to me

I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want

Than to take what You give that I need

-Rich Mullins

Because, you see, I have to. Surrender. Every day.

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I have an elevated confidence level when it comes to my profession. Not when it comes to self {still working on it}.

My self-confidence was so low as a child and as a teen and as a new mom, I’m not sure I had any back then. Heck, I barely knew who I was.

Then came nursing school and my instructors taught me that women living in the era we were living in had the right, nay, the responsibility to be bold, assertive and confident if we were ever going to get anywhere in that socio-medical minefield that was female nurses caring for male doctor’s patients.

The times they were a changin’.  Women’s lib and feminism made the headlines. Every day. Our attitudes about ourselves changed with each new item in the news.

After all, I was entitled. I was woman…. Thank you, Helen Reddy, for that one…

We skipped completely over “do unto others” during the late 70s to the rhetoric that said – you have rights, you are whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do and no one can take your rights away.

We bought into the mantra that said: “I want what I want and I should have whatever I want, whenever I want it, and my wants come before everything and everyone else.”

So much for families, friends, faith….

My wants came first and people were in my life to ensure that I got what I wanted or they needed to get out of the way because they were hindering me. My wants were paramount.

That was the loudest message I received in nursing school. Everything we were taught was wrapped up in those newspaper articles and tied with the bra straps from the burned bras.

It almost destroyed my family without me even realizing it. Submission was a dirty word in my newly grown up world. It was all about me.

Then God got my attention and put my head back on straight. It wasn’t a bolt of lightning or anything that was sudden and public. Just some circumstances at church, a nugget of a verse here and there, comments by friends and then, umm, there was that whole month my husband and I did not say one word to each other; and the kids, oh, yeah, the kids, who were all of 2 and 3 then- I did have to think about the kids didn’t I?    {insert sarcasm}

There were some tense conversations when we did talk and I woke up one day from the “dreams” that had been placed in my head; the tape set on repeat that said: “All that matters is what you want ”.

It was, of course, the enemy, whispering to me as my instructors treated me as if I were the darling of the class many days and encouraged me to strike out on my own. I could do anything, be anything according to them.

Oh, how that stroked my infinitely small quantity of self-worth.  Perhaps you know the feeling?

When your ego is pumped by people with no vested interest in you, it can be very flattering.

It’s one thing when the people who love you compliment and build you up- that’s their job after all, right? They’re saying it because they love you, right? But when someone in authority over you chooses to stoop low and boost your confidence it must be real, mustn’t it?

Go ahead and laugh.

I was that naïve that I didn’t see the truth at first.

Oh, he’s an expert at that.

Reality check: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

By the Grace of God, I got back on track. Yes, I was living through that period of time when women’s lib was front page news every day, and I was still in nursing school, but the reality of the fact that I was a wife and mother first and my responsibilities were to them had pulled me back from the brink of destruction of a family- mine.

He helped me realize:

First: I am His child

Second: I have an earthly family that came way before the world’s siren call

Third: I am responsible and accountable to Him for the way I behave, treat, and teach that family

Fourth: His purpose for me uses the brains He’s given me and the knowledge I learned to help others, not further my own selfish agenda.

Fifth: I am His child. He will not let me fall.

Stumble, maybe. Learn from it, definitely.

Surrender. Yes.

Those “dreams” that weren’t part of my calling.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV

 

One Word

wintertreeweb

SURRENDER

This word came to me in the weeks before Christmas. I wasn’t praying about it; I wasn’t even thinking about “One Word”.  But it came, nevertheless. And it made me feel like this tree in the picture- dry, no evidence of life, with arms outstretched to Heaven. Reaching for warmth in the cold of winter.

I suppose you could say it came on angel wings- if you wanted to be poetic about it.

I suppose you could say it came because the year was coming to an end.

I suppose you could say it came because those three words I chose at the beginning of 2014 were sitting there staring at me every time I looked at my blog: Grateful- I was determined to be grateful if it killed me; Stand-I wanted to take a stand and stand firm on the solid ground of the Gospel; and Forward- I was looking forward to the place where I belong, where being an alien is not possible-the place where the streets are made of gold- not painted with gold, not covered with gold, not sprayed with gold, not gold filled, but solid gold streets.

Ok.

 You get the picture.

How did I do over the past 12 months?

I was grateful: for my home, my family {when they agreed with me}, for my faith, for all I’ve been given; yes, you could say it was semi-successful if you were measuring it as the world measures. But I couldn’t.

 I tried to stand on The Rock. But it was clear by Mother’s Day I was not able to keep from falling physically. I developed an imbalance. It came suddenly with vertigo as the herald. My head spun like a top, I lurched across rooms, reaching out for something to hold onto to keep from falling. It was clear that I was not going to stand very well. This was also true as I read scripture {between FB posts, emails, texts, phone calls, errands, etc.}; but my deep study that had been there in the past was not present this year. My grasp was loosened and I sat back and watched others serve, participate and grow. I did not stand very well at all.

I did move forward toward that City with golden streets- how can we not even if we are standing-eh, sitting still? I’m still an alien on this plane of existence. I am still looking forward, as time moves me forward. But honestly, I don’t anticipate leaving here and going there as much as I once did. There are too many little joys in my life- nine to be exact.

 When I was a young adult, maturing and discovering scripture in depth for the first time, my brain would take apart the words and I would eat them one at a time and truly begin to understand more than The Creation Story, Noah’s Ark, Jonah, the arrival of Jesus every year at Christmas and His Resurrection at every Easter. Then, I relished the visions of the Revelation given to John. I looked forward with great anticipation, joy, even. Now I wonder if I’ll be ready to lay down those things and people that I hold dear and go without reluctance when my time comes to change addresses the last time. His Return would be far preferable to see in this body.

I do look forward to that return with joy, anticipation, fear. Who would not be afraid? The awesome Majesty, the end of sorrow, suffering, hunger, pain, anger, violence, death, frustration; all those things gone in a flash. To be in His physical presence; close enough to touch, see, hear and walk the path together. Now that is pure joy.

 As I’ve come to the close of 2014 and am staring 2015 in the face, I write for the first time in a good while because this word arrived and carved a spot in my heart.

Surrender.

How does one describe something that hits you hard between the eyes? I surrendered my heart to Jesus long, long ago as a small child. This word has a much more complex meaning than giving my heart to my first love. It also means giving up those last vestiges of self control {an oxymoron if ever there was one} of my time, my space, my body, my hands, my feet, my eyes and ears. I must acknowledge that He is in Control and to learn to be totally submissive, accepting, and content. (ah, there’s that word I always seem to be tripping over)

The coming year will be a new journey for me- discovering what surrender really means in my life.

The dictionary defines it thus: to yield (something)to the possession or power of another; to give oneself up; to give up, abandon or relinquish; to yield or resign in favor of another; to submit. It comes from the Old French surrendre “give up, deliver over” (13c.), from sur- “over” + rendre “give back”.

I think the French got it right- I’m giving my whole self back and my life over to Jesus. He already has my heart, but He has asked for all of me and that is what I will strive to give to Him.

Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)? Romans 6:16 Amp

This song  that’s been playing over and over in my head describes it well-

The Violet Burning: Mon Désir

The radio plays

On New Years Day

And all I want is you

Through the snow and the rain

On New Years Day

All I want is you

There’s a driving rain

Pouring down on me

Through a broken life

You have carried me

When there are no lights

You are all I see

All I want is you

All the promises made

On New Years Day

And all I want is you

And the meteors came

On New Years Day

All I want is you

We came in there through Chicago

Beneath a blinding light

You came all the way from heaven

Between the sorrow and the night

I was waiting for your gift, Lord

In the palaces of song

I knelt down to forgiveness

For all I had done wrong

I’ve got one more change

I’m gonna leave it behind

All I want is you

I was alone and I was broken

Beneath a blinding light

I went out into the darkness

I was holding to you tight

All I want is you