But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it.
They don’t listen and then forget,
but they put it into practice in their lives.
They will be blessed in whatever they do.
Freedom is a word that has been buzzing around my head for at least a year now. I was introduced to the idea of “living free” last year when I attended Captivating by Stasi Eldredge. I do feel like the Lord has freed me from many strongholds in my life; most definitely severe anxiety and fear. I can hear the wind whip around my house and the rain and thunder come pouring down without being completely paralyzed.
I’ve learned what it means to cling to a verse in those times. To repeat a Scripture over and again and truly pray it and pray that the Spirit would use it to calm my anxious heart. And He does.
But there are other things in my life that I’m not moving from. This verse (and the study that I’m doing in James right now) has really shook my heart. Freedom doesn’t come from knowing God’s word, but from claiming it and living it. And not merely claiming it when the winds are howling. But claiming every tiny minute of my life. In my longing to be a confident woman, confident that I am loved by the King himself; and in my longing to be authentic towards those around me I know that it won’t come by merely listening to the Word.
I can listen to all the sermons in the world. I can study and do all the Bible studies. I can pray my tiny, quick prayers, but unless I am praying for true heart change nothing is going to change. I need to pray, with confidence, “Lord, I want to be altered by You!” I don’t want to remain the same. I want your Word to transform my life.
That is a scary prayer. It means we might be taken to places and asked to do things that we don’t want to. I might have to love people that I don’t want to love. I might have to release myself and love these people in my house. I’ll be asked to do things that the Lord has been tapping my heart with (and I’ve been ignoring). But I’m praying now that the Lord does more than tap at my heart. I want Him to be like my five year old daughter who is exasperated when my eyes are fixed longer on my phone or computer and not quick enough on her.
I want Him to move my eyes, to move my heart…to fix them fully upon Him and no one else. I don’t want to be merely touched by Him…but radically changed, so I can radically love.
Here is the scene:
Saul has been made King at the demands of the people.
Samuel tells him that he is to to and destroy all of the Amalekites.
All of them and everything they have.
He is to keep and spare nothing.
Saul obeys and receives what the Lord has promised Him: victory.
But he doesn’t release.
He takes what he wants and justifies his partial obedience.
Samuel is beside himself with anger.
The Lord is grieved.
The Lord takes delight only in our full obedience.
When I pray
“thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven” it’s not me praying for only partial obedience.
I can’t pray that God would work with me; as if He is “my accomplice“.
He is not.
“God’s ways are always in danger of being overruled by my will”
~ A.A. Calhoun
I cannot believe that obeying and relinquishing just a little bit is enough.
I must be
“willing to receive what He gives,
release what He takes,
and lack what He withholds.”
~ A. A. Calhoun
But Samuel replied,
“What pleases the Lord more?
Burnt offerings and sacrifices, or obeying him?
It is better to obey than to offer a sacrifice.
It is better to do what he says than to offer the fat of rams.
23 Refusing to obey him is as sinful as using evil magic.
Being proud is as evil as worshiping statues of gods.
You have refused to do what the Lord told you to do.
So he has refused to have you as king.”
~ I Samuel 15:22-23 (NIRV)
Lord Jesus, take away all presumption, all rebellion from my heart.
Lead me to a place where I daily can receive what you give and release what you take.
Lead me to a place where I can find contentment in the things that I might lack.
Praise you Jesus that You are all I need.
That to obey you is all I need to do.
It’s all I need.
My husband and I are currently living in our eighth home in nearly fifteen years of marriage. Our first 6 homes happened within our first 7 years. Some of those moves were more necessary than others,
but all of them were opportunities for us to wait on the Lord.
Oftentimes we didn’t.
Both of us tend to jump too early. We think we “know” where the Lord is leading and in the past when we’ve seen a great opportunity we’ve taken it. Taken it without a lot of thought.
It’s only been in the past few years, call it maturity, that we’ve started to really stop and wait and pray for discernment. But it’s been a long road full of lots of bumps and struggles.
All because we were moving ahead of the Lord.
First Samuel 13 is the story of Saul and a battle with the Philistines. The Philistines are coming against him and he is losing, but he has been told to wait for Samuel.
He was told to wait.
But he doesn’t. My translation says that he “forced himself and offered the burnt offering.”
He forced himself on the Lord. I read that line and it crushes my heart and my sin.
How often do I force myself on the Lord? I want to be the one to dictate where my life is going.
I want to be the one in charge; to offer the burnt offering.
The enemies are approaching fast and if I don’t do something, then I am going to be crushed.
The Lord doesn’t seem to be moving quick enough or at all –
but the truth is, He is always moving.
All things work together for good, declares Romans 8:28. He is working for my good.
Whether He is moving quick or slow or even asking me to wait.
He has a plan and He knows it declares Jeremiah 29:11. He knows the path ahead and
he knows when and if the enemy is going to strike.
We have to make the choice to follow Him – to move as He moves and wait as He waits.
How different Saul’s story would have been if he would have trusted and waited.
For many people their lives are framed by experiences or pictures that they take and freeze in their minds.
My life is framed with words. Words that I hear the Lord speaking to me, a phrase repeated over and again.
Call it a breath prayer that is prayed over me by the Spirit Himself.
Where the words “let go” have framed the last few years of my life,
the word “RISK” is framing it now.
There are so many areas where I feel the Lord asking me to take a risk:
~ loving a friend whose daughter is having health issues
~ loving those at my children’s school who are different from me – oh so different
~ giving up on me providing any sort of financial support for our family
~ forgiving a church that continually bruises my heart
~ loving my husband to the edge of vulnerability
~ loving my children even in their sin
~ trusting the Lord as I take the space to write and create
~ being with other women
me letting go of my expectations and trusting His. Seriously, fully and completely trusting His.
refusing to hibernate in my fear and grief and frustration and hurt
being vulnerable towards everyone around me
fully receiving the invitation to move within His frame
but knowing that I have nothing to give but what He gives me.
“We can’t control or earn love, mercy and comfort – they are healing gifts that come when we have nothing to give.”
If there is a stronghold in my life right now, it is with validation and where I am looking for it.
Being noticed. Having your voice heard. Making a statement. Making others laugh.
This is the essence of our culture right now.
It is why facebook, blogs, twitter, myspace…
why they all are flooded with people.
They are filled with people who are looking for some sort of validation.
It is why I long to check my email, long to check my facebook wall, long to check my stats on my blogs.
But I am never going to find what I think I’m looking for there.
I can sign on and off of the internet for hours, days, weeks at a time. But it’s still never going to stop that longing.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
There is a longing in my heart. And the longing is only going to be answered when I seek Him out. And He is there. He is waiting for me to only turn my head towards Him. He is cultivating an obedience in me.
Not an obedience to confine my life, but an obedience that leads to freedom.
And an obedience that finally satisfies and validates.