It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been a while since I felt I had anything to say. Why? Where have I been? The short answer: I’ve been in transitional seclusion. I felt God calling me to come away for a while and be quiet; to ponder, consider and reevaluate my life and my place.
Add to that an unexpected and abrupt end to my husband’s career. Relocation. Home-renovation. Navigating swindling contractors. Church hunting. And community integration. With all that was going on, I knew not to open my mouth in a public way. In the carved out space of intentional seclusion, this fast from noise, I was able to hear God’s voice again. I listened hard to what God was saying to me.
There’s nothing as effective as life disruption to get our attention.
Years ago there was a treatment program designed to help people quit smoking. Frustrated with her lack of success in giving up cigarettes, my aunt parted with a good amount of cha-ching to participate in hopes of becoming a non-smoker.
Early in her program, I noticed a heavy-duty rubber band around her left wrist. She explained that part of her program required she snap the band each time she caught herself desiring a cigarette. I suppose the idea was to reroute the neurological pathways in her brain associated with her use of cigarettes.
It’s difficult to break bad habits. We all have them and we all battle to be victorious over them. Without realizing it, these habits and practices fade into the background white noise of our lives. I have bad habits. I head to electronics, shopping or the refrigerator when I’m upset or feeling off. I’ve developed an unconscious habit of distracting myself from unpleasant feelings or situations.
While my mouth was shut and my ears were open I had become acutely aware that my orientation to Him had shifted. I was neglecting our relationship. I allowed myself to become the center of my world. I took an honest inventory of my life in God and realized I had reduced Him to an administrative assistant/benefactor.
I needed a rubber band.
I asked God to help me live a truly surrendered life. No justifications. No excuses. I’ve been asking Him to check me when I navel-gaze or become preoccupied with myself, my goals and my presumed importance. I asked for a spiritual chiropractic adjustment.
Essentially, I had slipped into the bad habit of taking my cues from my own heart and mind, rather than God’s. The use of my time and money reveal that I’ve shifted my focus from Him and His kingdom to my building my own. There was nothing “sinful” in what I was doing except running out ahead of God, leaning on my own understanding, following my own inclinations. In my state of spiritual amnesia, I forgot to remember that my life isn’t my own.
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 NLT
This isn’t to say that I passively abandon the stewardship of my life, my gifts/abilities, my personality/temperament, my purpose/calling, my vision or heart desires. I understand that He places His desires in our hearts and so in a sense Follow Your Heart isn’t necessarily a carnal mantra.
Follow your heart.
These three words look great as wall art or printed on tee-shirts and mugs but in this process of reorienting myself, once again, to Him in humble submission and love-driven devotion, I saw those words staring at me from my desk in a different light.
I think most of us would agree that we’re living in a time like never before. Narcissism and relative moralism are almost, if not, pandemic. It’s slipped into our church culture as well. Our modern-day maxim seems to be: Not only do I matter, but I’m all that matters.
Here’s the good news…our Redeemer loves us too much to leave us as He found us. Our Father loves us too much to indulge and cater to us. The Holy Spirit loves us too much to rob us of sanctification and transformation.
God interrupts our arrogance, our ignorance and our willfulness. He lovingly and repeatedly lets us realize the deep dissatisfaction and painful emptiness of living our lives for ourselves.
If I love the Lord in an intimate and experiential way and do so with all my heart, soul, mind and strength then it won’t be so difficult to surrender.