Submission: How to Want To Do It

Has your husband ever done something that just dropped you to your knees? You know, that submissive position–but in a good way?

dogs

We often bristle at the word “submission.” It makes us feel beneath someone else, second rate and spineless. But I wonder if God’s command for submission should have a whole different feeling, flavor, context and evoke a different physical reaction …

So I ask again: Has your husband, or anyone, ever done something that just dropped you to your knees?

Maybe he knocked 15 things off the “please, honey do list,” or you came home from a long day and he’d vacuumed the house and done laundry. Maybe, on the way home from work he picked up your favorite coffee. Maybe, he dumped the cat litter pan even though that’s “your” job. Maybe he did something 1000 times better, but often, for me, it’s something relatively small but shows that he knows me, my desires, my heart and my needs.

When Patrick turns off the alarm on a Saturday morning, rolls over and pulls me into him, I’m suddenly awash with a gooey feeling like, “I’ll do anything you want–ever!” Or, if he pours me a beer and suggests we sit on the back porch in the evening and listen to a thunder storm, I’m struck with an almost primal-deep desire to do something for him in return, something he loves and longs for. Suddenly, I want to make his favorite dinner, or offer to not give him grief if he wants to play a video game for five hours.

His kindness toward me evokes a response of submissive love, gratitude and a desire to serve him. For a moment, I’m not huffy at all about doing what he wants, about seeking out his desires or preferring him to myself (Philippians 2)–about submitting to him. 

And, I wonder if that’s really how we are supposed to submit to God?

I was reading Psalm 45 this morning. It’s a riveting love song. Truthfully, it can be applied to Christ and the church, to the relationship between Jesus and me. Listen to verses 10-11:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

I heard the Father say to me: Imagine one day being loved like you’ve always wanted. Imagine that everything you’ve ever hoped your husband would do for you, every word you longed for him to say or expression of affection is granted–liberally. That’s what it will be like when you walk with me face-to-face. Indeed, I love you that much now, but your human eyes and heart don’t have the capacity to experience it. Just wait … 

Imagine indeed. What kind of response would that kind of love evoke in me?

And there I think is the key to submission to the Heavenly Father, trusting His goodness and His (often difficult) will, embracing His purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves. Did you catch it?

The key to embracing God’s purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves is understanding what He has actually done for us … for you … for me. 

Unfortunately, that’s where we fall short. That’s another hurdle that our human minds can barely, if at all, clear: what Christ has done for us. The essence of the Gospel. Admittedly, on a daily basis, I glimpse only shadows of the very truth I have staked all my eternity on–the selfless act of Jesus Christ on the cross and three days later, the powerful act of Almighty God erupting from a tomb.

I don’t know the secret of keeping the Gospel always before my face, but I do know it’s the key to igniting that irrational love response that says, “God, I’ll do anything you want!”

What do you do to keep the truth of the Gospel always before your eyes?

On another note, a wonderful novel based on this passage of Scripture was written by a friend of mine and edited by yours truly! Check it out:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016AYQV9S?keywords=the+king+will+desire+tomko&qid=1444491137&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Advertisements

Deflating the Misery Index

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy … “ Romans 15:13

Statistics show that you are miserable—albeit less miserable than you were last year.

Did you know that there’s such a thing as the Misery Index? In the 1970s, Arthur Okun, created a simple formula to measure the happiness of the average American. The equation is the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate, and as of February of 2015, the number is the lowest it’s been since the mid-1950s.

But, Americans still express a dismal outlook about the next six months. A recent article on NPR suggests that the formula is just too simple for today’s economy. They factor wage growth and consumer debt into the equation and surmise that the economy is still the culprit for our misery.

But what if there’s more to it? St. Augustine said, “”You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” And God’s own Word tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Even those who deny the deity of Christ or shun His saving sacrifice, understand the need for hope, joy and peace. It is the lack of those things that inflates our misery index—not simply empty pockets. As Christians, we possess the antibody to the world’s misery. In the grip of Christ, misery is indeed foreign to us; the love of Christ has dispelled it.

As we brave the world today, let’s flavor our witness with joy. The world is ripe for it.

 

How to be Served

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with beholding-his-splendor-111076-mGod something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Phil 2:6-7

Most of the time, when challenged to think about biblical servanthood, my mind charges into a list of opportunities: what can I do? Who has God called me to serve? What are my gifts and who is most at need of comfort, encouragement, prayer—anything?

Of course, I can list a myriad of ways that I fall short—things I’m not doing. And, I’m grateful the Lord allows me to serve others in many ways. But, as I mulled over being a SERVANT sister, the Holy Spirit trickled thoughts into my mind, like tiny cleansing rain drops, offering me a fresh perspective on servanthood. I distinctly heard Him say, Who is serving you? Whose kindness and generosity are you benefiting from?

He led me to a verse that I’ve skimmed over many times, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me: to the one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23

Maybe there’s more to “ordering my way rightly” than simply doing as much as I can for other people—more to service than serving.

This last week, I went through my normal routine: cooking and cleaning in my home, volunteer work at the hospital, laundry, helping at church, praying for others. Occasionally, these things inspire me to pat myself on the back. Sometimes they even leave a little chip on my shoulder when I think I’m doing more than my share of serving.

But, what if biblical servanthood is equally expressed through a humility cultivated by knowing how well I am served? What if it includes gracefully acknowledging and receiving service?

I thought about who serves me:

My husband who works everyday to provide for our family

The kind lady on the phone who helped me work out a banking issue

The friend who texted back immediately when I cried of being lonely

The Starbucks guy who gave me my coffee for free after I waited in line

The man who came to fix my washing machine

The humorous cashier at the grocery store whose smile brightened my day

More than any of those and certainly more significant than any act of service I have ever performed, is the example Christ set in His service of me. Often, I forget to look at His sacrifice in that context. I fail to be grateful that He still serves me by continually cleansing me from my sin and always interceding for me before the Father.

Father, make me a servant like Jesus. Open my eyes to see and receive the goodness of others with gratitude and humility. And above all, thank you for Jesus’ willingness to be a servant and to save me. 

 This was first published on the delightful website http://www.servantsisters.org

Disciplined or Driven?

I’ve always been a black and white thinker. I remember my therapists saying, “You’ve got to chill out, let there be some gray areas!”

And I remember thinking that was compromising, only wimps compromise. Is that true?

I’m wondering what you do halfway?
And are there some things that deserve to be done halfway?
And is halfway related to balance?

Imagine the teeter-totter from your childhood. That hinged pyramid was situated exactly halfway between the ends of the beam where you balanced your butt. Ideally, two similarly sized individuals capitalize on that middle ground and lazily bound up and down. That’s a positive perspective on halfway.

But normally, when I hear halfway, I hear lazy, uncommitted, indecisive, watery, wimpy, undisciplined. Right or wrong, that’s my default interpretation.

So the concept of moderate exercise? It doesn’t exist for me, or didn’t until the uncompromising Jesus began to cultivate in me the mind of Christ.

The idea of a balanced budget? Not my cup of tea. Just ask my hubby. I’d rather watch the savings account bulge than enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Recently, the cogs in my brain have been on overdrive. I can literally feel my mind overheating. You see, I told you that I am writing a book. It’s a good idea, a God idea. I know that it is what He has been calling me to do for years and only now have I unearthed the courage to obey Him.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Can I fully obey God and still fully rest in Him?
Can I be disciplined to sit down and write this book and still be able to set it aside and engage in relationships and enjoy all the other things God has put in my life and enabled me to do?

This is me naked.
This is me rambling slightly, trying to let you inside my head. It’s a little embarrassing that I can’t find the halfway point between doing something well and doing something obsessively; between doing something for God’s glory and feeling like I am responsible for God’s glory; the difference between writing a book because I have something to say and feeling like a failure if I don’t say it all today; the space between BIC (butt in chair) writing and waiting quietly while God puts the words in my heart – in His time. That’s the key: Obeying God, in His timing. 

I think, perhaps that’s why God is so insistent that we wait on Him. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, that we are to come to Him and share His yoke, His burden. That implies that He does have good things for us to do. The problem is that I often bend down, shoulder the burden and then try to run off and plow the whole field on my own. “Look Jesus, see how strong I am?”

For you, naked truth now,
Do you struggle with commitment in anyway?
How about self-discipline?
How about resting?

Do you see a fine line? And if you can see it and if you can balance on it, will tell me how?

Clothed in Christ

Whatcha wearing?

No, that’s not meant to be an indecent question, or provoke impure thoughts. On the contrary, it is intended to direct your thoughts to righteousness. So, what are you wearing?

I appear to be wearing black yoga pants, a three-quarter-length T-shirt sporting my college mascot, Pistol Pete, pink and black sneakers and the ever present hairband on my wrist. But I wonder, is that really all there?

Only recently have I noticed the similarities between how our physical eyes see things, and how spiritually we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, come to look like Him and how we are called to display the glory of God.

Shapes, colors, objects only appear to us only by their relationship to light. We cannot know the real substance of something or someone in pitch darkness. So it is with our souls. Outside of the light of Jesus, the light of the world, we can never fully know ourselves or be known.

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Ps. 36:9

And consider, when we step into the light of Jesus, that we discover our truest selves. Made in His image, as we reflect His glory, our actual shape, bent, calling and nature are brought to light, made tangible, made real. The Hebrew word for glory, is more specifically translated to mean, “outshining.” Remember the story of Moses’ face glowing after he spent time on Mt. Sinai with God? It was the result of being exposed to God’s glory, or the outshining of God’s presence.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

Isn’t it amazing, that the very Creator of our eyes related our physical bodies to our spirits? To truly see our physical world, we need light. To truly see ourselves, and become all that we are made to be, we must be exposed to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

So, what are you wearing? Are you glowing? Can you see yourself in the light of Jesus?

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Phil. 3:9

Questioning a Prayer

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17

I was praying through this passage this morning and two related questions came to mind.

1. Does Christ’s authority (rule) bring peace in my heart?

2. Do I see peace as my calling?

Thoughts?