Monday, March 30, 2009

Accepting with Gratitude...

Wow, today has been a learning experience. I know that I have been slacking (again) about writing on here, and this time I have no excuses, except for the ever famous "I didn't have time". However, a friend recently pointed out to me that we make time for the things that are important to us...which is totally true! So I am left without excuse I suppose.

I find it amazing how God teaches us things in such specific ways. This morning I received a letter from home, and in it, my friend was really challenging me to pray about a certain area of my life. Oh how often my flesh wants to defend myself! No one likes being told that they are doing the wrong thing or have areas of there life that they need to focus on...but what is REALLY convicting is when the person actually notices enough to tell you about it! Ouch!

My first thought was anger, which I know that it shouldn't have been, but it was. I was angry that someone presumed to know what was going on in my life when they really didn't. But then, as I started to think about it more, I realized that the words they spoke to me were partially true...and that is why they hurt. Our immediate instinct is always defense. We try to "save face" as often as possible, when, in reality, everyone knows that we all have our own areas of struggle. People can only pull off the "perfect person" mask for so long before everyone catches glimpses of the true self.

So anyway, as I let these feelings of anger and bitterness wash over me, my poor brother tried to understand why I was so upset. He is always so supportive of me and I knew that he was genuinely trying to figure out what the big deal was. He helped me to see that I was taking the entire thing as a personal attack, instead of a correction in love. I was still genuinely upset after lunch, but I couldn't exactly pinpoint why. When I came up to my room and got on my computer to check my email, I clicked into my devotional that is delivered to my inbox every day:

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture Reference: Mark 15:31 Matthew 16:25

Saving Ourselves

Today I was tempted in a new way (the Tempter has a bag of many tricks) to "save" myself. This time it involved a matter of "face." The Lord reminded me that I should let it go.
We are always trying to save ourselves in one way or another. It is impossible, except on the terms Jesus gave the disciples: let yourself be lost (Mt 16:25 NEB). It was the only way Jesus could save the world, though the people challenged Him to save Himself. "Himself He cannot save"(Mk 15:31 AV) was what they said, uttering an eternal principle far deeper than they had any idea of. It is true for us as well. If we are going to obey the will of the Father, we cannot save ourselves. We must give ourselves up, be lost--then, and only then, will we "find" ourselves.

WOW! Talk about conviction! It was as if God himself came down and said "Now Emily, why are you still trying to save yourself?" It is natural instinct to want to save ourselves, but the Lord showed me today that there are times when we truly just need to let go. Our prideful hearts want to show the world that we are somehow "better"; that our sin is not really all that sinful, and that there was a "reason" that we acted in the way that we did. However, a big part of humility is learning to take those corrections and criticisms for what they are...without offering excuses and without trying to "save face".

It does hurt to learn lessons like these... I am the type of person that enjoys pulling all my sins into a little closet and locking the door. When someone starts to peak through the keyhole... I use excuses like "HEY...that's personal! Get out of my life. You don't know are just being judgemental." But how awesome it would be if I really used those opportunities to learn and grow in my relationship with the Lord instead of letting them fuel my anger.

I need to take the corrections that I receive with love and humbleness. Whether they be from friends, family, or acquaintances, I am praying that I learn how to receive them with grace, even if I don't agree.

In Andrew Murray's book "Humility - The Journey Toward Holiness" he quotes:

"Place yourself before God in your helplessness; consent to the fact that you are powerless to slay yourself; give yourself in patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look upon every person who tries or troubles you as a means of grace to humble you."

I actually tried doing this one day, and I was amazed at how much freedom I felt and how at peace I was. To not have to constantly be arguing over things but to simply accept whatever comes; Not trying to prove that I was right, but simply resting in the fact that the Lord knows the truth; Accepting every humiliation as a means of grace to humble my heart.

Here is one other quote by Murray:

"Accept with gratitude everything that God allows from within or without, from friend or enemy, in nature or in grace, to remind you of your need for humbling and to help you in it."

I find that the accepting with gratitude part is the hardest. The majority of the world has not learned to say thank you for the moments that humble them, because those moments are uncomfortable. However, those moments have the potential to become the foundations of humility for us, if only we will let them.

I am learning more every day about this journey that we call life, and I thank the Lord for every person who has helped direct my gaze back towards the cross. The Lord is teaching me how to receive corrections and confrontations with grace...though I do have a long ways to go. However, now I have something to strive for, and I hope, with God's help, to be more aware and diligent in this area of my life.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who am I at Home?

Wow, friends! It's been awhile! My school has been keeping me so busy lately...but that is to be expected and the saying goes that you can always make time for things that are important to you. Unfortunately school has been taking precedence right now, but I decided that it was high time that I wrote down some of the things that God has been giving me to contemplate lately.

Do any of you ever feel fake? Random question, I know. Well it all started when I had a conversation with my sister the other day about how people act differently around their family. Some people might deny this at I did...but then, as I thought about it more, I realized that it is true. It is really hard when you realize that the person that you are at home is the person that you really are...the true person that has removed every mask.

When we start to get comfortable with who we are, we tend to let our guard down. But sometimes when we do that, we let our defences down way too far, and our hearts and minds are an easy target for Satan. The majority of the people on this planet are the most comfortable when they are around their family members. Unfortunately, the home then becomes a place of lowered fences, that Satan can easily scale. How I wish that my family would see the best side of me, not the worst!

As I sat thinking about all these things, I realized that something had to change. I didn't want to be content anymore, simply basking in carelessness. I want to shine Christ wherever I go, no matter who I am with. This is definitely easier said than done...but realizing that I had gotten lazy around my family really brought me back to the point of surrendering all to God and imploring Him to come help change me to the person He wants me to be.

I received a journal from a friend this past Christmas, and for the longest time it was simply sitting on my shelf, because I had no idea what to write in it. On the front, it read "Teachers Change Lives." Stumped about what I could write, I let it sit their for three months...hoping I would figure out something to write. Finally, an idea came to me: Why not let the divine teacher change my life? So now, each day, I write something in that journal that I would like Jesus to help me change. Yesterday I wrote about being "real" because that is my hearts desire. When you remove all the masks and facades...who do you become? Does your image reflect Christ? I truly desire to answer yes to all of these questions, and yet...I hesitate. I know that my refining is not done and it never will be done here on earth. It is always a continuing that I hope to eventually win with God's help.

Lord, help me to become the woman that you desire me to become, especially at home. Thank you for continuing your refining work in me.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

"And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."

Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 25

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