Tag Archives: Surrender-Submission

The Secret of the ‘Next Chapter’

14 Nov

I love mysteries … the humorous kind. I ran across a website called “Stop, TrustGodWithTheNextChapterOfYourLife_LOLwithGodYou’re Killing Me” that made me think of a funny Christian mystery I read in the past. I wish I could find more of them.

I think I love mysteries because there is the “thrill of the unknown.” Part of the adventure is not knowing what twist might occur in the story.

And I love humorous mysteries because I love to LOL with God … especially in the middle of a surprise!

Years ago, I was one of those people who skipped to the end of a book. I wanted to see how everything would end before I decided whether I’d buy it. It finally “dawned” on me how I was destroying the mystery of anticipation!

So I stopped reading the ending and now read each new chapter of a book in succession.

(The only exception is when I read the Bible. Sometimes I skip to the end because all those last chapters remind me God has a plan, and that gives me hope in the midst of the world’s chaos!)

I think I’ve learned the secret of life’s “next chapter” … the anticipation of a new adventure with God. I don’t have to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

In fact, that might not be best.

In a negative sense, we’re not to worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34 says, “…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Worry doesn’t make sense (Matthew 6:25, 27), because the eternal God is already present with us in our future. God invites us to throw all our anxieties on him, because He truly cares about us and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He will give us the strength we need to face anything that it tough, but our worrying about it today won’t help.

But in a positive sense, is it really best to know everything about tomorrow? Might it steal something precious from those moments?

Think of a child’s anticipation of a trip to Disneyland, or waiting for gift-giving on Christmas Day. Think of a bride’s anticipation of her wedding day.

NancyAndRobertWolgemuth_WhatASurpriseMy friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is marrying Robert Wolgemuth today, November 14, 2015. Her story about their love and courtship is just plain amazing. And it’s something that totally surprised her.

She wrote, “… no one could have been more caught off guard by this turn of events than I. In recent years, I have found myself in the most settled, contented, healthy, fruitful place of life and ministry ever. I did not have the slightest inkling that He was about to call me to step out into a whole new realm of faith and service.

“Enter the God of love, mystery, and surprises!”

Nancy tells women,

“…God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story.” 

Yes, the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). It may lead us through seasons we cannot understand this side of heaven, but we can rest in Him and believe He is writing a big story for His glory, our good and—in working through us—blessings for others.

He is preparing unimaginable things in heaven for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9), and we get to experience a foretaste of that on earth.

In the words of an old hymn:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine … Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.  This is my story ….”

The secret to receiving and enjoying God’s good will is to trust Him with the next chapter of your life … and the next … and the next.

It is anticipation with surrender and contentment.

Anticipation with surrender says, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You” all along the way—even when my story’s chapters don’t unfold exactly as I thought they would. Even when I might have written my script in other ways.

Anticipation with contentment allows me to rest in God and His will for my life and leaving lots of room for Him to take me on unexpected detours.

In the big story of our lives, each unfolding chapter allows us to LEARN DEPENDENCE on the Lord … and to praise Him for His goodness and grace as our story unfolds.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t think Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth would either!

Are you worrying … or are you anticipating the next chapter of life with Your Creator? Be ready for the God of love, mystery and surprises!

– Dawn

Graphic adapted from photo at Pixaby

 

 

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Let Me Do It

14 Sep

Waiting for a friend, I watched a rambunctious little girl at the mall, obviously in the throes of stubborn independence. Everything was “no” this and “no” that. Then suddenly, she took advantage of her mom’s focus at a kiosk to reach up, grab the handlebar of the baby stroller and take off running.

HatchingAPlan“I do it! I do it,” she yelled with glee.

The mom, clearly upset, chased her daughter as the little rebel barely missed hitting a couple. The baby in the stroller woke up and started crying.

“No, Emi. Stop,” the mom yelled.

It’s amazing how a little one can run. The mom caught up with her daughter, swept her off her feet and plopped her down on a mall bench. I watched as she emphatically explained to little Emi why running off with the stroller was wrong and even dangerous. Emi wasn’t ready to listen.

“Look at me,” the mom said.

The little girl never actually looked her mom squarely in the eyes. She sort of glanced sideways at her. And I thought I saw an impish smile … a plan hatching.

Believing she had won, her mom turned back to shopping.

“I do it. I do it!” The little rebel was off and running as the baby in the stroller wailed in protest.

Poor mom. It was going to be a long day.

Aside from my own thoughts about parenting that day—how I might have handled the situation and stubborn child differently—my mind drifted back to my own childhood.

That phrase “I do it” reminded me of an attitude-altering story.

I won a sewing contest in grade school. The Sears store near our home in Chicago sponsored the contest, and winners in different categories also had to model their creations in a store fashion show. My peach-colored dress and short cape, all edged in peach and turquoise floral trim, was cheerful and elegant (lovely for Easter).

I won … But I wasn’t happy at all.

You see, while I was sewing the garment, my mom repeatedly took the material out of my hands. “Here, let me do it,” she’d say. I stood by her at the machine with a frustrated frown.

When the outfit was completed, I figured Mom had sewn most of it. She deserved the prize, not me.

[I wonder how many children feel the same way when moms or dads take school projects out of their hands. And yes, I was guilty of that … surprising, considering my own story.]

After the fashion show, I was determined not to let ANYONE take things out of my hands. My “I do it” spirit was alive and thriving. I just didn’t make a big deal out of it. When people offered to help, I responded with an simple, “No, thanks.” It wasn’t that I thought I could do better; I just wanted control.

Even if I failed, I wanted to be in charge.

Although I had prayed for wisdom as a young girl, I wasn’t willing to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t have a teachable spirit. I was proud and stubborn.

Outwardly I cooperated. Inwardly, not so much. It was like the little boy who, told to sit down, obeyed. But he told his mama, “I’m standing up on the inside!”

I was acting like the Israelites in the Old Testament. They proved over and over again the foolishness of their obstinance and disobedience; and under the law, this stubbornness was a serious matter (Deuteronomy 17:12Zechariah 7:11-12).

It’s still a serious matter; but I am so thankful for the grace of God. I’m glad for the covering of Jesus for my sins—including stubbornness.

For so long, God wanted full control of my life, and I resisted Him. It was like I wanted salvation; I even said, “Jesus is Lord.” But the truth was, I thought I could run my own life.

I’m glad God showed me my heart after I joined a revival team in my early 20’s. One day, listening to a revival message on stubbornness, I was deeply convicted of my secret rebellious attitude (1 Samuel 15:23a). (Yes, even a “good girl” can be stubborn and rebellious in her heart.) And I discovered stubbornness is linked to a “stiff-necked” lack of belief (2 Kings 17:14).

How? When we are stubborn against our Father’s will for us, we don’t believe He knows best.

That day, it was as if the Lord was saying to me: “Here, my child … let Me do it. Let me have control. Let Me change your life. Let me live out My life in and through you.”

My heart broke and I stopped resisting.

The years of “Leave me alone; I can do it” arrogance melted away in sweet surrender to the Sovereign Lord.

I determined to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-27) with a teachable spirit (Psalm 25:5; 86:11). And I discovered a powerful truth: when we surrender everything to Him (our plans, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, habits—everything), He can run our lives infinitely better than we can.

How foolish to resist His loving guidance and help.

There may be an area of your life where the Lord is whispering, “I care and I want to help you. Will you let Me do it? Will you trust me with your heart?”

How will you respond?

– Dawn

Photo adapted, Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change? You’ve Got Everything You Need.

16 May

TwoCaterpillarsTwo caterpillars were chatting on a leaf. Suddenly, a beautiful butterfly fluttered by.

One caterpillar turned to the other and said, “You’ll never get me up on one of those butterfly things!”

It’s always dangerous to assume we know all the answers, and to resist change because we don’t understand.

The truth is, we have to stop being caterpillars before we can MonarchButterflybecome butterflies.

After my dog barked at a caterpillar the other day and I rescued the little stripped larvae (envisioning the gorgeous butterfly that would someday take flight), I thought about that caterpillar joke. How pitiful that the caterpillar didn’t understand the destiny of change.

I am tired of listening to Christians grumble that they “can’t change.”

And I’m not being critical of others. I’m just as tired of hearing my own complaints and excuses.

Like many people, I’ve caught myself saying, “I can’t change. It’s just the way I am.” No – I need to wake up to all that I have in Christ and my true destiny in Him. I need to step out in faith, courage and obedience – to walk as a child of light, pleasing the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10). A child of light; that’s who I really am. I just keep forgetting the power that is mine.

Let me rephrase that. It’s not my power. God’s “divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord is our El Shaddai – God the all-sufficient One – and He perfectly supplies our needs. Although the primary focus of this passage in 2 Peter is our spiritual rather than temporal life, God’s children attest to His care, even in the storms of life.

Still, Paul said he considered everything else he had “a loss” and even “garbage” compared to the “surpassing worth” of knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:8). He understood that to know and “have” Jesus is to have everything.

Many Christians don’t think this way. They don’t believe we have all we need to live a godly, purpose-filled life. They’re always looking for an allusive something that’s missing so they can “have victory,” “find purpose,” or “live for God.” They think it might be in the next blog they read, or the next Sunday message. The truth is, God is actively seeking to change my life and make me more like Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:23). I am a work in progress, and God has given me the Word and spiritual tools for change.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “encouraging, comforting and urging” them “to live lives worthy of God” who had saved them (1 Thessalonians 2:12). But why did he tell believers to “make every effort to add” to their faith so they will be effective and productive in their knowledge of God and service for Him? (See 2 Peter 1:5-10; 3:18.) Why? God expects us to grow! Though we may face trials, God continues to work in us (Philippians 1:6 ). When we suffer and stumble, He restores us and make us “strong, firm and steadfast” for His glory (1 Peter 5:10).

When my husband recovered from knee surgery, we kept the post-surgery swelling down using a machine that streamed icy water through a rubber mat. The first time I wrapped the mat around his knee and plugged the machine into the wall, I thought it was broken. It took me a few minutes to realize a tiny wire at the top of the machine’s casing was not completely pushed in. What appeared to be powerless or even broken was simply a disconnected wire.

In the same way, I have everything I need to live a godly, effective life, but I need to make sure I’m connected each day, mentally and spiritually. I need to remember the cross, and think about who I am and what I have in Christ. The scriptures tell me my life is “hidden with Christ in God” and therefore, I am “qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 3:3; 1:9-14). That is the truth. That is why I can walk in light. (I have been justified; I am being sanctified.) I can make the daily upgrading choices that align with God’s plan for my life.

God expects my cooperation – a willing, surrendered heart. So I will strive for excellence in all things, desiring to reflect the glory of God. I will pursue holiness and be careful in my behavior, walking in wisdom and making the best use of my time, doing my best to understand and follow the will of the Lord (Ephesians 5:15-17). I will “walk worthy” of my calling (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27a; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

I’ve got everything I need for change; and if you know the Lord in a personal, redeemed relationship, you have everything you need. Believe it.

When is it hardest for you to believe you’ve got everything you need?

– Dawn

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