Now that I am truly trying to "lose my self" you have to know
that God's calling me out, right? It's as if He's saying:
"Oh, you're ready to get serious now? Okay well let me point out this and this and this...."
All of my flaws are coming to the surface. What I hear on WGRC each morning while I'm on my route, what Derek and I have been studying in "The Purpose Driven Life," and the scriptures in my Inbox all week are like arrows piercing right through my heart. God's saying:
"Since you're finally letting ME be in charge, we're gonna work some stuff out."
I envision God and I in a boxing ring - gloves on, but before the fight begins, I scream "I forfeit! I concede! You win!"
But He retorts, "Oh Danielle. You are not getting off that easy. I've already scheduled you for the after-the-match talkshow circuit! Blog about what you're being taught so that others might be encouraged."
My first scripture that "hit home" was Matthew 3:11.
"I indeed baptize you with water . . but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire."
"My Utmost For His Highest" states:
"Have I ever come to a place in my experience where I can say - "I indeed - but He"? Until that moment does come, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Ghost means. I indeed am at an end, I cannot do a thing: but He begins just there - He does the things no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come as long as there is anything in the way either of goodness or badness. When He comes am I prepared for Him to drag into the light every wrong thing I have done? It is just there that He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean, He will put His feet; wherever I think I am clean, He will withdraw them.
Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am utterly helpless; I know all through me that I am not worthy even to bear His shoes. Have I repented like that? Or is there a lingering suggestion of standing up for myself? The reason God cannot come into my life is because I am not through into repentance.
"He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire." John does not speak of the baptism of the Holy Ghost as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. "He shall baptize you." The only conscious experience those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost ever have is a sense of absolute unworthiness.
I indeed was this and that; but He came, and a marvellous thing happened. Get to the margin where He does everything."
I am at this place. I have finally grasped the key to this understanding. "I indeed, but He." I might be able, but He can. I might, but He will. I should, but He does. I cannot stand on my own strength. I am nothing without Him. He is dragging "every wrong thing I have done" into the light. Wherever I am unclean, He is putting His feet.
One area where He is putting His feet has to do with one of my most taboo subjects: Money. You see, I have always had a "You can't take it with you" attitude about money. My hope was always for heaven, so why store up treasures here? When I had money, I spent it - plain and simple. Besides, I have struggled so much in life, at times in my life when I came into money, I deserved to have fun and splurge a little, didn't I? I lived by faith, and faith alone meant God would provide when I needed it. Well, like I said, God dragged this attitude into the light, and I couldn't have been more wrong.
While doing our Devotions from "The Purpose Driven Life," Derek and I were challenged by Rick Warren's chapter on "Seeing Life from God's View." In this chapter, Rick Warren brings to light that life is both a test and a trust. I am all too well aware about the test part. I have intimated to you that I have often seen myself as David. I have been tested over and over - some tests I have passed, some - not so much. But I do know that God has always been faithful to me, even when I've failed.
But life on earth is also a trust. Rick Warren states, "Our time on earth and energy, intelligence, opportunities, relationships, and resources are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to our care and management. Now I have had no trouble understanding the value of time, energy, intelligence, opportunities, and relationships. I know that God is Master of these, and had entrusted them to me. Even my children belong to God, not me. I have simply been entrusted to raise them for, and with the help of, God. I can honestly say when I look back on my life, I have done my best in the stewardship of all of these. Resources? You mean money and possessions?
According to "The Purpose Driven Life," money is both a test and a trust. God uses finances to test our faith in Him, as I'm sure we've all experienced. But God also entrusts us with money. The Bible says "If you are untrustworthy about wordly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?" - Luke 16:11. I had never realized the true meaning of this passage before, but it is so obvious. If we know that this life is temporary and we are simply preparing for life with God in heaven, this is the training ground. Managing money well, managing a household - even (wince) keeping our car's interior clean all impact how God sees us managing His resources.
The second scripture which called me out this week was Matthew 7:9. It states:
"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"
The illustration of prayer that Our Lord uses here is that of a good child asking for a good thing. We talk about prayer as if God heard us irrespective of the fact of our relationship to Him. Never say it is not God's will to give you what you ask, don't sit down and faint, but find out the reason, turn up the index. Are you rightly related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your fellow-students - are you a "good child" there? "O Lord, I have been irritable and cross, but I do want spiritual blessing." You cannot have it, you will have to do without until you come into the attitude of a good child.
We mistake defiance for devotion; arguing with God for abandonment. We will not look at the index. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want when there is something I have not paid for? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? I have not forgiven someone his trespasses; I have not been kind to him; I have not been living as God's child among my relatives and friends.
I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light. Prayer with most of us is turned into pious platitude, it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. Spiritually we are all good at producing fogs. If we turnup the index, we will see very clearly what is wrong - that friendship, that debt, that temper of mind. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then, Jesus says - "Everyone that asketh receiveth."
Ouch. I am guilty of all the above! Ouch again! I have to turn up the spiritual index! When I ask for something, I can't boohoo when I don't get it if I'm not being who God called me to be! That's like my kids asking to go to Knoebels after they've played all day, dragging their toys all over the house and leaving them there! If I say "absolutely not" to them, how can I expect God to say "yes" to me?
In acknoweldging these faults, God has already begun to bless me. He blessed me with money yesterday. I'm not going to squander it. I'm going to manage it well, so that He knows I'm working towards being trustworthy. I'd also like to mention, (while also giving God All The Praise,) that Derek and I were really able to discuss this shortcoming of ours. It was a true blessing to me to be able to talk about this issue without it becoming a point of contention in our marriage.
Before I ask, beg, plead, wail before God, I'm going to take inventory of myself and my actions. If I'm not who, or where, I need to be, I should be ashamed to come into His presence, let alone, ask for something and expect to get it. And this inventory, I'm certain, will continue to cause more issues to be drawn into the light, which will challenge me even further to keep pressing on. But it's all worth it. There is Victory in Christ!