Friday, March 27, 2009

"Little Deaths" ... More Thoughts from Passion and Purity

Warning! Warning!
This is gonna be a long post! So get ready! .... Don't be intimidated by its length ... if you don't have time to read a long post right now, then come back when you do! ... Go grab some hot tea or a bag of popcorn, and then come back and get ready for some powerful stuff! It hit me hard, and I wanna share it with you all. :)

A few posts ago I mentioned that I'm reading Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. Amazing book. Everyone needs to read it, but especially if you're longing for your guy to come along ... or for the guy you want to come around. ;) It's a book all about giving your love life to Christ. Again ... amazing stuff. ... Well, I was reading this morning, and chapter 15 is crazy good! VERY convicting! And VERY good! .... So! In the following paragraphs, I will share "snipets" from chapter 15 of Passion and Purity, and then chat about them a bit. .... It should be fun! Read on! :)

The University of Oklahoma, where I studied linguistics, has an enormous stadium. Nothing was happening there during the summer, so I often climbed to the top row of bleachers, following supper, to enjoy whatever breeze there might be after the day’s scorching heat, and to watch those sensational Oklahoma sunsets. It was a lovely place to be alone to think, read, and pray.

I was disturbed to find that I could not think, read, or pray except about Jim Elliot. He loomed in every thought, every line I read in the Bible or anywhere else. He got mixed up in the morphology, syntax, and phonetics I was stuffing into my head. He distracted my prayers. It is a good thing the Lord has compassion on all those fear Him, knows how we are made, and remembers we are only dust. He loved us both, knew exactly how we loved each other, and used even the detours to bring us home again. Someone once observed that the toothache you have this very minute is the worst pain in the world. Love sickness may seem a trifle compared with other maladies, but the one who is sick with love is sick indeed, and the Heavenly Father understands that. He steadily draws us along the pathway to glory, if our deepest heart is set on His kingdom, if we are not of those whom Psalm 78:8 describes as “a generation with no firm purpose, with hearts not fixed steadfastly on God.”

Has anyone ever felt this way? When it doesn't matter what you do and EVERYTHING reminds you of that guy? When thoughts of him are lingering in everything? Yep ... I can relate to ya, Elisabeth. Daggonit! Why is my love for this guy so daggone strong? Powerful. I agree with Elisabeth ... Goooolllly! "It is a good thing the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him, knows how we are made, and remembers that we are only dust." Yep. 'Cause if not ... He would've given up on me oh, so long ago!

I wait. Dear Lord, Thy ways are past finding out, Thy love too high. O hold me still beneath Thy shadow. It is enough that Thou lift up the light of Thy countenance. I wait because I am commanded so to do. My mind is filled with wonderings. My soul asks “Why?” But then the quiet word, “Wait thou only upon God.” And so, not even for the light to show a step ahead, but for Thee, dear Lord, I wait.

This is such a great prayer about waiting!!!!

“When the will of God crosses the will of man,” Addison Leitch said, “somebody has to die.” Life requires countless “little” deaths – occasions when we are given the chance to say no to self and yes to God. The Apostle Paul said, “For continually, while still alive, we are being surrendered into the hands of death, for Jesus’ sake …” It is not that everything that has anything to do with ourselves is in itself wicked and deserving of death. It did not mean that when Jesus said, “Now my will ….” There could not have been even the smallest part of His will that was wicked. It was a choice to lay down everything – the good He had done and the good He might do if He was permitted to live – for the love of God. The same choice is offered to us. To see Bert’s profile, hear him sing; to contemplate the blessedness of marriage as I watched couples who were taking the same course at the university; to call up in memory the sweet anguish of those hours by the Lagoon; to picture Jim’s face as we said good-bye at Union Station – only “little deaths,” but little deaths have to be died just as great ones do. Every reminder that aroused a longing had to be offered up.

Man! This is the toughest lesson ever! It's the biggest lesson I'm learning right now. ..... I don't think my desires are ungodly or selfish .... but I'm confident that my desires are out of God's timing. So ... I MUST offer 'em up to God ... Every. Single. Day. ..... Boy, it's a challenge. It seems like every prayer these days is about ___________. _________ "looms" in nearly every thought. ..... Little deaths. They must happen every day. Every moment of everyday. .... "Every reminder that arouse[s] a longing [must] be offered up [to Jesus]."

I was e-mailing my friend, Alex, about this concept just yesterday, and as I was typing, a thought occurred to me. It relates back to an earlier chapter in Passion and Purity where Elisabeth Elliot states that "Passion is a battleground." Alex and I love word pictures, so I threw out the idea of God being our Commanding Officer ... telling her how thankful I was that HE is our CO. I went on to throw out more ideas concerning this idea. .... God is our Commanding Officer in the battle (the WAR!) of passion. And in this crazy fight, He is the Commanding Officer who not only LEADS us into battle (and out of it) and helps us OVERCOME (or win!) .... He also, and most importantly, LAYS HIS LIFE DOWN FOR EACH OF US. ..... That is powerful! ....... So in return, I should be MORE than willing to lay down my life for my Commanding Officer. I should lay down my life concerning my love life ... I should be jumping on opportunities to die these "little deaths." .... It's crazy-hard work, but passion is a battleground .... and I can't let my guard down even for a second!

The last part of the chapter that I want to share with you is this ....

There is a big however. It is this: We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead. God could not want that for the creatures to whom He has given the breath of life. We die in order to live.

Wow! That is powerful stuff. Listen to that line again .... We die in order to live. ..... It's true! REAL life only comes from knowing Christ, serving Him, and putting Him first in our lives. When we die to ourselves (give up our desires for Christ's), we live! In dying, we live! A crazy concept. Demanding. It requires E V E R Y T H I N G we've got. Period. God's call on our lives is a mighty one. It is NOT for the faint of heart. It is NOT for "Sunday Christians." It is NOT comfortable or easy .... and sometimes it is downright no fun at all ... at times it is the most difficult thing we will ever face. But it is our calling. It is our purpose. It is our life's mission. "Take up your Cross daily, and follow Me." .... Jesus never said it was gonna be easy. What, in that sentence, sounds easy? "Take." That's a command. Commands are not usually easy. "Your Cross." Our Crosses, in this case, are our very lives. Yep ... that's right! Jesus wants it all! Ha! He's not asking for much, is He? ;) .... "Daily." We are to offer up our lives every single day .... not just on Sundays, not just when we feel like it, not just when we're not very busy. And "follow Me." ... Lastly, Jesus calls us to follow Him - trust Him, serve Him, seek Him in all things. ....... Whew!!!! Crazy! Difficult (to say the least)! Purpose. .... OUR purpose. .......... It's not easy (not by any stretch!) ... but let's learn this lesson of DEATH TO SELF so that we can truly LIVE FOR JESUS. :)

Well, as you can see ... Passion and Purity is not a book for the weak-willed or lazy Christian. It is a book with a high standard ... the highest standard there is - God's standard. Please read this book! God is sifting through the silt and rocks (uglies) and the deepest longings (God-honoring parts) of my heart with each page of this book. Convicting me and challenging me in incredible ways! It has NOT been easy, but it's been so good for me! Take the challenge! If you are struggling to bring your love life under Christ's control ... or really ... if you're struggling to bring ANY part of your life under Christ's control ... read this book.

Okay .... I've repeated myself a thousand different ways .... hopefully you get my drift by now. ;) .... Good stuff, huh? ;) .... Let's keep surrendering our lives to Christ ..... everyday. :)

2 comments:

bmhs said...

Mical!
I'm back in the States! Back in Indiana! Back where you can drink the water that comes from the faucet!

*ahem*

Great post! A nice expansion upon the thoughts you placed in our recent email. I will reply to it when I get a chance...give me a few days to readjust, please. ;)

Death brings Life.

Every little death we make takes us a little bit closer to life the way God wants us to have it.

Juan 10:10 dice:
"Yo he venido para que tengan vida, y la tengan en abundancia."
That is,
John 10:10 says:
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." [they being the sheep to whom He is the Good Shepherd.]

Yes, Mical, my friend...every little death you make ties a heart string between you and God.

A closer walk in His way brings you closer to Him. Not because what you do makes you more lovable to Him, but rather, because He is in the light, as you stay in His light, the more of Him you can see and know.

There will be a blog post on this on RRR soon....so keep watchin'. :) It's something I chewed on while in Mexico.

Pues, voy a leer la proxima "post" que tienes. :D

Alex

Sniz said...

Mical,
I know we don't get the chance to talk as much as I'd like and getting a chance to really see your heart...well, it is such a privilege. Thank you so much for you sincerity, your openness on your blog. I feel freshly inspired reading this. Thanks again.