Living a “Yes, Lord” Life

A middle of the night phone call wakes me ~wrong number~ and I take it as God calling and get up to hear what He has to say.

“Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in His ways and revering Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land…” Deut 8:6

It was next in my Bible reading plan, and I know it is Him speaking, so I pick up pen and paper and list three specific paths He is guiding me in right now, 3 ways He wants me to “observe.”

It’s the middle one that strikes me most. He’s been kneading it into my heart over the past several months, ever painting a clearer picture of what it looks like: Live a “Yes, Lord” Life.

And I jot this beside it: Practice replacing fear, stress, anger, feelings of being overwhelmed, irritation with interruptions, etc with “Yes, Lord. And thank You.” Allow all of those little things to be triggers for submission to and reverence for Him.

You see, I can sure be a Naaman. You know the story… Naaman had leprosy and Elisha sent a message to him and told him, “Go wash in the Jordan River seven times” and Naaman said, “That just sounds like foolishness! How in the world can that dirty water make me whole?”  (see II Kings 5)

And I do the same thing, say when I’m preparing dinner and a child interrupts for the 13th time and it is back and forth between the dinner and the children (sound familiar to anyone else???) and I start wondering how in the world this kind of halting life- where I can’t even finish a thought- can add any spiritual character to my roots because it sure isn’t conducive to praise and worship and peace and calm and happy feelings.

But then that is the Naaman in me telling God how to best clean me up. {i.e. The long quiet time with the emphasis on quiet. Ahem.}

But God gives me the day as it comes and yes, it’s the dirty Jordan and not at all like what I think should do the trick, but it is the foolishness of the cross, after all, that is the power of God unto salvation.

So He says, “Live a ‘Yes, Lord’ life.”

Do I really think that submission and obedience to God is primarily in the big things, like teaching a class or going overseas or adopting a child or giving financially…or in the “spiritual” things like reading the Bible and memorizing scripture and praying and fasting?

It is bit by bit that a life is lived, little by little that character is forged.

It is primarily the small things, then,  that make me the most like Christ.

Like when the quiet time gets cut short (as it inevitably does) by a child waking up before sunrise and I respond with a “Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

And when the phone call takes twenty minutes I don’t have to give and I say “Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

When the dinner burns and the children screech and Little Bit rebels and I’m not sure how to parent and the pitcher breaks and the bills pile up…”Yes, Lord. And thank You.”

Bit by bit, piece by piece, forging a life of Christ like character.

It’s what God wants of me. Sure, I’ve done some “big” things…but He’s shown me that genuine maturity isn’t in those, it is in the small, seemingly insignificant ones. He who is faithful in little will be faithful with much.

He is telling me to trust Him. He will orchestrate my day and test me to see if I’ll say “Yes, Lord,” moment by moment, again and again.

He wants me to live a “Yes, Lord” life.

It’s the way a wise woman, a noble woman, a woman of character,  builds her house. Bit by bit.

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When Navigation Systems Fail

I’ve been vigilant to check the maps, to watch the weather, to make wise choices. I’ve hedged against the danger and the risk.

I’ve used the mind God gave and employed it as an instrument of navigation, have listened well to its warnings. I don’t like going out in stormy darkness with waves tossing.

But following Jesus has taken me straight into danger, dark and deathly.

“I’m not smart enough for this, God.” I’ve finally figured that out.

It’s an SOS, whispered from a captain who’s been entrusted with lives aboard the ship. We are all in danger.

I’m in way over my head, literally. Navigation systems do fail.

That’s when He reminds me. “You’ve relied on your wits and your smarts long enough. I’m teaching you to hear Me with your heart and trust Me in Your spirit, for this is where communion with Me truly takes place.”

This is part of the un-sheathing. It’s okay to have no earthly idea what I’m doing. He knows what He’s doing.

“As long as you are relying on your mental abilities you will cave to fear and control. You will still try to fix what’s broken. Only when you embrace your “systems failure” as an ir-repairable, unchangeable fact, can you begin to tune in to My Spirit who navigates the storm.”

Let go of the wits that kept me from danger in childhood? The smarts that protected me from further abuse? Yes, that. Abandon the systems I’ve trusted in.

There’s something better.

It’s been a long, stormy ride to get to this point. I’ve done everything possible to get the navigation system up and running again, to eek out just a little more safety, just a blip of guidance. I’ve held onto it even when it stopped working straight out, afraid to let it go.

But I’m ready now.

Maybe I’m desperate enough. Maybe I’m convinced enough. Maybe it’s just grace.

But I’m ready.

The spirit system is already crackling. I’m getting the signal. It’s just on a completely different frequency.

I feel like a live-wire, like this Signal is not just navigating but electrifying me.

I’m alive.

The storm still tosses. The danger hasn’t passed, but I’m not afraid.

Because the storm isn’t actually what this is about.

I’m plugged in. He in me and I in Him and I get it now.


The Grit and the Glory

We planted the bulbs a few weeks back, digging our hands in the soil {and finding worms along the way}

Funny how God can use a bulb to teach and dirt to nurture.

I’m decaying, like that round lump. I’m unsheathed.

The shoots are poking out of the ground now, tiny blades far stronger than they look. Their life is real, unexplained. Their Maker sprouts them from decay and Sustains them in dirt.

And I can’t explain why this makes sense, why it fits, but it does: this new life is about abiding in Him.

The awe that I get to commune with God and in this find my life, my breath, my identity, my very being.

It is the absence of self reliance, the death to protective barriers;  just the simple trust in His beauty and grace in the form of Christ within.

“I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.” Sarah Young, in her “40 Days with Jesus” devotional

Yes. It is about abiding in Him no matter what the clutter in my heart, in my home, in my surroundings, in my relationships. The life springs up when I “die” to the distraction of all those things and keep rooted only in Him.

And He is always there, larger and more real than anything else.

“Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.” Sarah Young

It is possible and I’m finding out the glorious truth, the beauty of Un-sheathed.


American Idol: The god Named Control {The Surrender Project Part II }

 One of the biggest lies I’ve believed is not that I can “have it my way” but that I want to.

Long before Frank Sinatra…in the garden, actually… this lie was introduced to mankind, the lie that we are better off having things our way, on our terms. We are better off being the one in control.

The frightening condition of our culture today, however, is that it has become so prevalent, even among Christians, that we fail to recognize its demonic origins.

This will undoubtedly be one of the most important posts I ever write. More than words on a page, I pray for the truths here to be written on my heart, truths from God’s word that untie the cords of control.
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She was a princess, the daughter of a king. Her father ~ the king of Tyre~ was named Ethbaal, meaning “with Baal”, and her name? Well her name was Jezabel. They were an entire family of souls sold to Baal.

Baal means “lord” or “to lord over” and by serving Baal, they served the god of control.

Ahab, the king of Israel, made a decision that was so distasteful to God and so destructive to the nation, that he “provoked the LORD God of Israel more than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” His decision was to marry the woman named Jezebel. In so doing, he not only became a Baal worshiper himself, but he became one “lorded over” ~by his own wife!

Get this. The name Jezebel? It means “un-husbanded” or “unable to covenant.” Here was a woman exalted by her false god Baal to the place of being unable to attach and submit to her husband. She simply refused to be under authority. She had to domineer and be in control.

She controlled her husband Ahab. She controlled the religious environment. She controlled generationally through her children. She controlled the entire nation of Israel. She lived as her own authority.

The god she served ~Baal~ gave her “permission” to be in control, to be her own authority, and to not be subject to anyone. No one was going to tell her anything and she sure wasn’t going to let anyone do anything to her.

Now why in the world should this matter to me?

For the very simple reason that Baal is alive and well today, this god of control, and so is Baal worship.

This god is demonic. It comes along and, like the cunning snake, says, “Take charge.”

“Take charge of your own righteousness; take charge of your relationships; your children; your finances; your future; your career; your body; your time.” It tells us “Don’t just trust; Take charge.”

It tells us “Don’t risk too much. Don’t give too much. Don’t trust too much. Don’t sacrifice too much. Self protect. Take care of your own…”

It tells us, “If you don’t control, protect, manipulate, manage, withdraw, domineer, etc, just imagine what will happen!”

We as women are especially prone to it’s tactics of intimidation.

In turn, we tend to clamp down, clam up, do our best to protect and manage while never recognizing the god named Control as it loops its cords around our souls.

This god of control has generational roots. It is passed down from one generation to another and blends into the background of our makeup and culture. Over and over in Chronicles, it speaks of godly kings who followed the LORD “except he did not remove the high places from Israel.” (For example see II Chronicles 20:32-33)

This is what happens when we tolerate sin in our lives: it becomes a generational stronghold.

Control has become so “normal” that it serves as the backdrop of our lives and we’ve become dull to it’s real identit. You would think that the Israelite kings would have recognized the high places- they were right there in front of their eyes! But I believe they were so much part of the culture and even the geography that they were blind to them.

The allusion of control is safety. Security. Provision. Protection. Results. Guarantees. But it fails to deliver.

Fortunately, Jesus came, told us the truth, and showed us the way out. “In this world the kings and rulers lord it over their people, yet they call themselves “Friend of the People.” Luke 22:25, emphasis mine

Yes, that is what control does. It comes as a “friend” to help, as the solution to fear and desperate, terrifying need. But it lords over. It is a master. It rules.

Jesus continued, “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” vs. 26

The way up is down. The way to strength is weakness. The way to life is death. The way to more is to pour out.

We can let go.

We can start opening palm and unclamping heart and unwinding tangles and unfolding grace and start learning that it actually is going to be alright.

 Because we were not made to live under the tyranny of control.

Listen to this verse: “When that day comes’, says the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my Baal’ (master, lord).” Hosea 2:16    Perhaps it begins with understanding that Our God is not a God who lords over us. He is a God who husbands us, tends us, woos us, cares for us, nurtures us.

We are safe with Him. We CAN trust. We can let go of control. We can start today by simply confessing our idolatry and our Husband will take us back and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Martyred Missionary Jim Elliot

 

Q4U: What area(s) of your life and heart are you still controlling?

 

Are there any generational strongholds of control within your family?

 

Are you willing to confess these to the Lord and let Him walk you through to full surrender?

 

To be continued…

Related Posts:

The Surrender Project (Part I)

Self-Sufficiency in Christianity

**I am indebted to Pastor Rick Atchley for the title of today’s post.