February is crunch time for so many of us when it comes to decisions about our spring breaks, our summers, and our overall future. Some of us are spiritually mature enough to be in a place where we are truly surrendered to God, willing to accept whatever we believe God would desire, even if it means lack of ease or comfort. It is these people that might need to believe that God can give them desires and passions that He would want them to pursue.
Most of us, however, are probably not as spiritually mature as we may think. We are quick to accept that God would want us to follow our desires and passions without reflecting much at all on whether or not we are wholly surrendered to God in the first place. This little article is for people like me.
SOME WISE WORDS
Francis Fenelon was a French minister and theologian living in the 17th century. He proved to be a spiritual mentor to many. Take a look at one example of his spiritual guidance:
"Look carefully within yourself. There is somewhere within you a limit which you will not go beyond in offering yourself to Him. You dance around your reservations and make believe that you do not see them. If you let yourself see all your reservations, then you will have to do something about them!
If God ever breaks through your defenses, you will be cut to the quick and left to find all sorts of excuses to justify yourself. The more you hide from giving something up, the more obvious it becomes that you should give it up. If you were truly free you would not spend so much time arguing about it! Don't bargain with God to get out of this mess in the easiest, most comfortable way. Embrace the cross. Live by love alone. Let God do what He needs to do to root out your self-love."
The Seeking Heart, p. 96
THE FREEDOM OF SURRENDER
Much of what Fenelon has to say is related to surrender to God. It is not overly eloquent; it is straightforward. The idea is that there is a limit to our surrender. But what is worse is that we deceive ourselves into thinking that limit is not there. Instead we bargain with God by offering what is hardly sacrifice at all and convince ourselves that we truly are surrendered.
One could argue that living in American culture today, it is harder than ever to live truly surrendered. There are more comforts than ever we feel we are entitled to. Yet, how profound to realize that true freedom is actually surrender. How we deceive ourselves into thinking that bargaining with God actually gets us what we want; that bargaining actually chains us down. If we believe in Jesus and believe we are following Him at all, we must recognize this truth: letting God do what He desires to do in our lives, especially rooting out our self-centeredness, is in our best interest and brings true freedom.
A PRACTICAL PRAYER
Lord, I confess I am too easily focused on convincing you that my own plans should be Your plans. I envision a future where I can have both a life following Jesus, and a life of comfort and ease. I find the easy things to lay down at your feet and convince myself I've truly laid down my life. I confess that rather than letting you reign in my life, I let the fear of pain or discomfort be my Lord and dictate how I live. Lord, help me. Help me to believe more deeply than ever that You are trustworthy. Help me to believe that receiving discomfort is worth it if it means following You. Help me to believe Jesus when He says that saving my life is losing it, but losing my life is finding it. Amen.