Archive for November, 2012

Let Go, and Live

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10

A flower blooms with the birth of spring. It doesn’t determine the time. It doesn’t make itself bloom. It isn’t beautiful by its own design. It resigns to God’s timing. God’s design. God makes it beautiful. When free, the flower obeys and opens itself up to a Humanity longing for its life, its beauty, its joy.

But … when a cluster of elements infiltrate its soil, it becomes a prisoner within its stem. There is no joy within a deadened stem.

Who or what has stolen your joy? What are the elements that hold you hostage to something past, or something present?

The elements. Death. Divorce. Job/career loss. Poverty. Relational decay. Anger. Bitterness. Sickness. Rejection. Violence. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Trials and past wounds will do one of two things: they will either chain us to our pasts, holding us hostage to regret and pain; or, they will strengthen and better us as we move forward in God’s grace and healing, in the freedom that comes from the liberation battle that Jesus Christ won for you, won for me.

A stem wanting to bud. We know how things should be in our lives, and we remain tied to our expectations with such determination that days of stubborn stillness seep into years of dark resignation–we succumb to “this is just how life is: one heartache after another.” We go through the motions until God will finally recant His will and do what we want. Only, He doesn’t. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. A stem can’t determine its time.

In the first few chapters of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp laments about the deaths of those she loved. She questions God’s will. God’s goodness. Her brother-in-law has lost two of his infant children to the grave. Voskamp wonders how he can still cling to God’s goodness. He answers with an Old Testament story regarding Hezekiah. He says:

“God gave Hezekiah fifteen more years of life … because he prayed for it. But if

Hezekiah had died when God first intended, Manasseh would never have been

born. And what does the Bible say about Manasseh? Something to the effect that

Manasseh had led the Israelites to do even more evil than all the heathen nations

around Israel. Think of all the evil that would have been avoided if Hezekiah had

died earlier, before Manasseh was born. … Maybe you don’t want

to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.”

My stem story. “How could I thwart God’s plan?” How would I alter the way God has guided my life? What event(s) in my life would I have God omit, prevent from ever happening so that I could live within my expectations and plans? How would I thwart God’s plan?

My parents would not have divorced. They would not have committed that covenant-breaking sin. But, they did. They sinned. Isn’t that what sinners do, apart from saving grace? So, I’d thwart their sin. They’d stay together. … Only, I’d never have my beautiful sister, Kris, in my life. Who knows where she’d be. There’d be a void. I enjoy her sisterly love, her encouragement. Her very presence is the sun. I would not have met Marilyn (my stepmom now). She’d never have been around to believe in my dad, persevere in prayer for him to the point where he was healed from his past wounds, and liberated, redeemed, set free to love and be loved by our Savior. Redeemed into saving grace. Her very presence is refreshing rain. I’d never know how to brave the elements that lead to forgiveness and love despite past mistakes and conflict. So, now, how would I thwart God’s plan?

When his brothers “threw themselves down” at Joseph’s feet, Joseph said to them, “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:18-20). Satan would have us submit to his authority. We do, when we choose the past over straining toward the prize of Christ, His glory and redemption. I could continue to question God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His love in the face of not giving me what I want, or in the heartbreaking trials I’ve had to endure over the course of almost 40 years. I could exist in the void, waiting for life to be as I want it to be. Merely existing in the void. When I live this way, I have truly surrendered–to the warden of my incarceration. Incarcerated in a dungeon of regret and derailed expectations. I determine the duration of the sentence Satan handed to me.

I made a choice, not so long ago. Now, I am free. My chains are gone, as the song goes. The thief can no longer steal and kill and destroy what Christ died for me to have. Freedom. Life. Joy. Peace. Fruits of reproduction. I live life free in a kingdom of mystery, goodness, love, and perseverance–a kingdom where I’m not in charge, nor can I control. Fellow disciples, such freedom is a gift to all. We cannot change the past. We shouldn’t wish to rewrite the story. The scars remain. Fragmented ashes from imprisonment and pain. Trust me when I say, God’s healing is a salve that mends wounds. And better yet, His glory, redemption, and plans are like crisp, fresh air to the once suffocating stem. Pure spring water to the parched soil. A feast for the hungry flower longing to bloom. The elements are fleeting toils compared to His everlasting glory.

Each of us is a flower. Let go, and live.