Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My struggle, part 2

If every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17), and I take for granted Whom the gifts come from, then I am in the wrong. As I said in the last post, I believe that everything in my life, including my life itself, is a gift from God; therefore, everything must be subject to God's authority, and nothing really belongs to me at all. So what happens when I try to claim ownership? Am I trying to supersede God? That, my friends, is what I believe to be the definition of living "in the flesh", which is sin.

When I was born, and until the age of 15, I thought I had control of myself and everything I owned. (Well, I suppose my parents held the claim during my diaper years, but you know what I mean.) My emotions, thoughts and decisions were mine. My heart, in all of its joys and breaks, belonged to me. But on April 13, 1988, I lay my heart at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to take control of me, and to live through me. At least I thought I did. I knew that a transformation had taken place, but there were many, many things I wasn't giving up—most of which it took years to realize. I had heard the message over and over, that unless we give Him full control of our lives, we can't enjoy His full blessing. I had stored and understood that fact with my mind, but my heart knew that I still had things I wanted to hang onto. Only today am I beginning to grasp the full scope of what total surrender means.

This morning, I sat here trying to imagine what life would be like without the use of my five senses. Without vision, I would be in total darkness, except for what the eyes of my mind and my memories would see. Without hearing, there would be total stillness and silence, and I wouldn't be able to hear anyone's voice, or music. Without smell and taste, there would be no enjoyment of food, or a flower, or the wonderful smell of my girlfriend's hair. And without the sense of touch, my whole body would be totally numb, and I wouldn't even know if I was alive.

Without all five senses, how would I be able to communicate? How would I know when someone is loving me? Would I go insane? Or would I do the only thing that I could: to remember the promises of God, to worship Him with my mind and heart, to call upon Him for perserverance until the day when He calls me home?

After I came to that conclusion, I began to imagine life without the other gifts from God: available food and shelter, easy access to His Word, the love of family and friends, the relationship with my girlfriend, etc. Could I live without those? With a heart of total surrender, today it is easier to say yes. But do you know what? There's nothing wrong with not wanting to be without those gifts. Nobody has ever said that the only way to please God is to actually walk away from everything and everyone, living a hermit's life in the mountains with nothing but a loincloth and a sharp stick. God does not give us anything without reason. He wants us to enjoy life and be thankful for everything, even our very lives. He wants us to praise Him for his grace, that He has given to us when we deserved nothing from Him. (Ephesians 4:7) He wants us to fall at His feet and worship Him, God who is the Giver of life, who sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3-4)!

God wants us to ask Him how we can use what He has given to us for His glory, not our own. (And then, when He tell us how, to actually obey Him.) Otherwise, why else would He have given anything to us?

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20