When the world around you is crying…

IMG_3736Have you ever loved so much it just hurts?

Sometimes I can hold back loving so much so that it won’t hurt so much to let go. Because truth to be told, God has called us to love without reserve, but at the same time, He asks us to release.

This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately. Sometimes my heart hurts so much with the reality that the people around me that I care about are in pain. The world is in pain. Everywhere you turn, someone is aching and someone is crying inside and just needing to be valued and loved. Sometimes God opens the door to extend that love, and sometimes He doesn’t give the opportunity, and we have no choice but to leave them in His hands and know that His love is so vast and so much greater than we can comprehend and He holds them in His hands.

Lately my heart has been so weary of the pain that surrounds me. I want so badly to fix it all for the people that I care about; that are close to me. But I can’t. It brings me to the edge of a place of vulnerable trust unlike any other. It’s one thing to trust Him with your own story. It’s another to trust Him with the stories of people you care about so much it just hurts. There’s a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability in that, and it’s an opportunity for a different kind of surrender.

It’s where I’ve been lately, and it’s not fun, to be perfectly honest. What does God ask of us in these places?  I don’t always know what it looks like, and that frustrates me, to be perfectly honest. But sometimes I think He wants us in those frustrating places, when we honestly just don’t even know what to do with it all anymore…except turn to Him with hands uplifted and say, “Ok, God. Take it all. Take them…the ones that I care about and love. I know that you love them so much more and so much deeper than I ever could. So I trust You again to do what’s best.”

Sometimes all I want to do is be a fixer. I just want to do everything in my power to make it all better. But the truth is, that kind of attitude and fix-it attitude can totally mess up what God wants to do. Which is to bring each one of us to the cross, and face to face with Who He is for each of us. And for each of us to know Him, crucified. He’ll use whatever leads us to the cross.

That’s one thing when it’s just me…but when it’s someone that I love, I can hate it.

Release.

We can trust our God. He knows what He’s doing.

He is with us. Always.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Is. 40

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You take my heart and breathe it back to life…

“To be a living sacrifice will involve all my life. My emotions and desires are to be actively dedicated to the Lord, with one burning desire, to worship Him more worthily and to serve Him more wholeheartedly. I relinquish the right to choose whom I will love and how, giviing the Lord the right to choose for me. This is not fatalism , but a responsible act of my free will, and I must consciously seek to know His will and direction. I accept His law in His Word as my standard in this, as in all other departments of my life…I gladly accept His best will for my life. I must bring all the areas of my affections to the Lord for His control…I need to sacrifice my right to choose for myself. I dare not trust myself…God knows that which is in my own best interest, and which will make me more wholly available to Himself for the fulfilling of His perfect law of liberty.” 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24, 25)

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How easy it is to say such words–to affirm them even–and how hard it is to live them and mean them.

The past few months or so have been some of that going deeper, of that dying, of more letting go, more surrender. Questioning everything, understanding nothing. I was studying that verse one day, and asked God, “Show me what it means to die–I want to be willing to die for You.” When you pray that prayer, He goes in deep. Some of the most gloriously, intense, painfully beautiful moments you’ve ever experienced. Some days, you just breathe and take one. more. step.

Why?
The question that is never far away…

In asking this one day, I read this:
“To burn brightly, our lives must first experience the flame. In other words, we cease to bless others when we cease to bleed.”

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Breathe. Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through…

Cause sometimes we have to remember that He knows what needs to happen in order for fruitfulness to take place. We want Him to use us, but can we let Him break us down in order to lift up His Name?
Whatever it takes.

It’s like the woman who, as a missionary in the Congo, was kidnapped by rebel forces and held as their prisoner for five months, during which she endured beatings and rapings at their hand.

“suddenly the ‘Why?’ dropped away from me, and an unbelievable peace flowed in, even in the midst of the wickedness. And He breathed a word into my troubled mind: the word privilege. ‘These are not your sufferings: they are not beating you. These are My sufferings: all I ask of you is the loan of your body.'”

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It’s too much, we say. Comfort and pleasure is too valuable a price to pay. To give up my body is hitting too close to home. Desires and dreams at the very core of our being–now that’s death. But can it be worth it, if it means the privilege of displaying His splendor in a dark and hopeless world?

“To be thus transformed, was I willing—am I still willing–for the whittling, sand-papering, stripping processes necessary in my Christian life? Am I prepared for the pain, which may at times seem like sacrifice, in order to be made into a tool in His service? My willingness will be a measure of the sincerity of my desire to express my heartfelt gratitude to Him for His so-great salvation.”

It’s gut-wrenching and it hurts, and we don’t like it–those times when He digs deep and asks for more; for all. In those moments as our hearts are crying out in pain so deep we can hardly move—a miracle happens as He transforms from the inside out.
I had one of those miracle moments last night. When joy welled up inside of me so deep it bubbled over—and I knew He had done it again. He’s doing it. Filling me with His joy and Presence in order that I might display His splendor. It happens in the darkest and hardest of times, when we’re stripped of self and wander if we’re recognizable anymore.

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You take my heart and breathe it back to life.

“Can I see such minor ‘sacrifices’ in light of the great sacrifice of Calvary, where Christ gave all for me? Can I see the apparent cost as minimal compared to the reality of the gain? Do I accept His right to demand my willingness to pay such a price in order to enter into the privilege and joy of being used in His purposes?”
“He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” (John 14:21)

Quotations in italics taken from the book “A Living Sacrifice” by Helen Roseveare. Highly recommended by me. 🙂

Contentment

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19)

“My children do not enjoy immunity to trouble, but in the midst of each painful experience My Spirit is at work fashioning beauty in the soul.

Be patient in tribulation and I will minister My grace to you and your heart will rejoice, yes, more than in the day of pleasantness. For when outer blessings are withheld, inner peace is deepened, for the soul turns to worship with less distraction.

Disappointment is foreign to the Spirit, for it has no part of faith. The trusting soul possesses all things in Christ and looks not to others for blessing: therefore he can never be disappointed. Joy and contentment crown his head, and peace reigns in his heart.”

(On the Highroad of Surrender, by Frances J. Roberts)