If you want to seriously have your world rocked, you need to read Restless by Jennie Allen. I started reading it in March, after IF: Gathering.
I read that if I want God to use me – if I want to dream and not just dream my dreams and ask God to approve them, but dream within the framework of God’s will and for the benefit of his people – then I need to surrender.
That is, bring Him my white canvases, and say,
“Here, you take these, and paint on them what you will, how you will, when you will.”
As I was hurtled into this working-out of whether or not I could or would give myself over to whatever, however, whenever, the many reasons my mind could find to be afraid came flooding in. Up until this point I had never considered fear a problem for me. I’m a firstborn, so I’m fearless and strong and I always [like everyone to think I] have everything figured out. But here I was, a lifetime Christian, if you will, seriously afraid and seriously mad and seriously holding back.
What if you take my kids?
What if I have to watch them suffer?
What if you take my husband and make me a widow?
What if we have to give up our house or we lose it?
What if you decide to make me an object lesson?
And while we’re on that topic – why do you have to do things like this anyway? Aren’t there different ways for others to get whatever it is they need (comfort, salvation, help) without making me suffer? Because you have made me suffer, and I’m not really a fan.
And why did you have to allow free will and sin in the first place? None of this had to happen this way!
Is this some kind of big game?”
You see, I want to have a radical calling on my life – I want to dream, and I want to have a purpose, but from here on out I’d rather it not hurt me.
* * *
It was Sunday. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready for church – I was on the praise team that morning. Steve had to be there early for media team, so we were driving together and my sister, Katharine, was getting the kids ready and coming with them later.
Those thoughts rolled around my head as I got ready, and as much as I wanted to let go and trust the Lord, I just kept shaking my head no. No, I don’t want this. No, I am too afraid to willingly let you have your way in my life.
I turned on my hair dryer, set my little leather-bound copy of Daily Light in my lap and turned to the March 2 morning reading as the warm air blew:
Gen. 41:52 God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
2 Cor. 1: 3-5 Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7 Now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:17 The Lord stood with me and strengthened me.
Well, if that isn’t à propos…
It was still dark and in the negative temperatures. Steve was warming the car. I walked out, and the cold air hit my lungs like a shock. I recognized the song he was playing from outside the car:
You call me out upon the water
The great unknown
Where feet may fail
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the water
Wherever you would call me…
“I didn’t know you owned this song,” I said, as I got into the car.
“Yeah, it’s one of my favorites,” Steve answered, as he pulled the car out of the driveway.
“Really?” shocked that we shared a favorite song that I didn’t know about.
“No, I was kidding. I’ve never heard it before – it’s Pandora.”
We drove along in the dark as the music played and I watched the snow-covered farmland pass by.
“Steve, what did you dream about being when you were a kid?” I asked.
“Oh, I guess I wanted to be a policeman… and then a businessman… I guess after a while dreams become secondary because your primary concern is providing for your family,” he said.
At church we turned on the lights, and Steve started the whirring of the computers, sound board and other equipment while I turned on the speakers. He plugged his phone in and I turned on one of my playlists.
Bless the Lord, O my soul…
Worship His holy name…
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning…
You call me out upon the water
The great unknown where feet may fail
Good one. Well played, God.
Light and momentary.
Those are the words that came to me as I sat there in the pew in the empty sanctuary with that song pulsing through the speakers.
Do you recall that the Bible says the Holy Spirit will “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I [Jesus] have said to you” (John 14:26)? I couldn’t have told you where that verse was. But I knew I had read it before. So I looked up “momentary” in the concordance in the back of my Bible:
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
In the grand scheme of things – grand being the story of God that has been forever and will be forever, of which our lives here on earth are but a breath – in 10,000 years when I am with the Lord in heaven, will I wish I had played it safer so that I didn’t suffer? Or will I look back and think it was all worth it for the Kingdom? Am I willing to spend myself for the good of others – to help them flourish and know God – or would I rather live safely in the little bubble of my life – head down and trying not to hurt?
Look, I can’t promise you or myself that we won’t be hurt. I can’t say that there won’t be sorrow. But I can say that it is momentary and that it is purposeful.
“that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I’m not trying to explain all the bad things that happen in life, I just know that God is good. And I know that if we are going to play it safe so that we never lose anything or are never affected by anything or never feel pain we will most likely not do what we have been called and designed to do. Because loving and serving people and obeying God is hard and messy.
[Art print by Social Proper.]
So, I’m surrendering to God – trusting him for the next step before I can see it. I’m dreaming with the Lord about what He wants me to do with the time He’s given me.
[via Christine Caine]
[Photos taken by Katharine G. Smith Photography]