To Follow You To ANY End

I’m only eight years old, as an … acceptor of Christ. I date that age to three specific events of divine intercedence. The first, of conception perhaps, was when I stood in shock, finally seeing what I had just done to myself. I felt as if I’d been spiritually slapped to life. In the second, when I was thinking I was abandoning life, Christ appeared, gently scolding the attempt to flee, and then took my place, quite literally. He showed me how love is done. Then the third, moments later, was when I did, in fact, confess all and agonizingly cry out to Him. It was then I truly and deeply – to my core – experienced, “Your will, not mine. I no longer can care what you decide to do with me.” At that instant I was saved, and born anew.

Today, remembering the intensity of my Christian birth, I realize that there were two parts to my coming to complete abandonment of self: an increasing understanding thankfulness at being truly loved, and a full, utter surrender of every scrap of myself – including all fear, avoidance, or thought of controlling how, when – or even whether – “I” would end. I now can gratefully accept His never calling me home – or being taken before I finish writing … I proclaim, “I follow You, Lord and Savior, to any end.”

There is, I have found, absolutely no greater affirming feeling than coming to know The Creator and His love for me. This awareness started as the tiniest spark of “what if” what they say – what God says – is real? That flame caught on the tinder of ample evidence – people, places, and things constantly turning out just right. An infinite list of provision. Miraculous blessings. Every ‘impossible’ circumstance that He pushed me or pulled me through. I hesitatingly ventured to trust, and consistently everything (sometimes eventually) worked out for the best. Soon I chose to be dependant on it. It is fact: I am still here, alive and somewhat well, despite many incredibly difficult situations (far too many of which I myself made that way).

It was because of this – that I was the cause of so much of my own trouble – that the guilt and shame remained as an open, visible sore to be picked at. The pain became unbearable, until it was greater than my fear of change, of giving in. I had tried to escape it in every way. Yes, every way. Yet He kept me. And He intervened. And then, only then, was I ready to confess and accept all. “Confess and accept all” sounds so much simpler than it was.

How can I describe the complete acquiescence of every bit of pride, of self-preservation? The unhesitating able-ness to freely admit how far I had gone, how low I had fallen? It was an uncaring desire (if such an oxymoronic emotion is possible) to be free of who I was, of who I had let myself become. The only way – the only thing I wanted – was to let it all go. Let it all out. “Lord and Judge, do with me what you will.”

He responded with the biggest miracle of all. And left me in slack-jawed awe, more grateful for this one act of unconditional love than all that had happened before or has happened since.

I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.
Jeremiah 45:5

So, then, I can truly appreciate the meaning of James 5:16:

So always tell each other the wrong things you have done. Then pray for each other. Do this so that God can heal you. Anyone who lives the way God wants can pray and great things will happen.
ERV

Oswald Chambers puts it better than I can:

“…once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do.
“Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.
“And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. Go will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have give you your life.”

AMEN!

A Prayer of Readiness

Heavenly Father, Perfect Creator, You determined and set in motion Nature’s laws, but You transcend them. You define science; science can not define You. We very finite beings either deny this Truth, or we grow to gratefully accept You and whatever You give us, and we come to praise You in all Your Being. In learning this lesson, we become able to put aside the greatest of fears – that of the unknown, of thoughts of the worst that could happen in anything we attempt, and we simply begin to trust You. We trust that You are in charge of all outcomes, even that final one, which, at long last (or maybe sooner), will return us to You. This returning is the ultimate unknown, and so it is our biggest fear. Sadly, in our apprehension of “what happens when”, we over-focus on staying safe, and seek only to avoid and postpone this inevitable event. We try to be “ready”, thinking we can keep death in the far future by preparing and hoarding worldly goods in constantly shrinking barns. We push away – not always politely – any person, place, thing, or calling which might expose us – by what it asks of us – to this mysterious, shrouded, possibly painful end. Instead, should we not anticipate? Death is just an ending to this phase of existence, this time of practice for the next part of life. Once gone from this earthly classroom, we will either live on, literally with You, our Maker, as promised, or we will live on only in the dreamy (or nightmarish) memories of the people still waiting. Either way, our status with them will be based solely upon their direct experience of us, which reflects You, rejects You, or leaves them uniformed as to our true character and motives. Only one of those sounds pleasing.

So I will not, do not fear my passing. At times, I wonder about it, often with impatience, for I believe I have seen much, if not all, of what this version of reality has to offer. But I turn back, because I know there is always more “home work” I can do, studying Your gift of peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and I do my best to pass each test as I encounter it. You give many opportunities for me to change my grade. Father, hear my prayer, that improvement is the lesson.

Because it’s “good” to be “nice”. NOT!

Well, “not enough,” is what I really mean.

So, in the wake of yet another mass killing, I posted a meme on FB which (in summary) said, “The problem… is a Godless society.” It was questioned by some of my (atheist, I think that’s how they would describe themselves) friends, who tried to bring the blame to religion. I replied, “God, not religion.” And then, when they persisted:

Again, God, not religion. A deep, studied, learn-ed relationship with The Creator. A foundation for/of morals and ethics. …the difference between faith and a set of do’s and don’t’s (that oh-by-the-way everyone should follow; it therefore being ok that they are made to follow, or else …removed). Spiritual formation. The WHY we do and live rightly and goodly, not so much the how. Personal, individual, trusting-yet-testing against the delivered-over-generations Word of said Creator, and daily “communication” (for want of a better word) from/with The Creator. The #1 question we all need to ask ourselves: IS there a being, a higher power who created all? If I believe, I live one way; if not, it’s all about me (and others’ lives/lack doesn’t matter).

Let me be clear: I’m talking about where I come from, Western Civ, arguably founded on or with a very healthy dose of Judeo-Christian principles.

[But] “progressivity” has taken spiritual, moral, and ethical development out of the basic education of people for generations now. This part of learning used to have the practical, secular by-product of good citizenship, (even in non-radical theocratic societies (or so conservative people of those faiths seem to claim – I have limited knowledge in this area.)) However, TRUE Christ-likeness is peaceful and supporting of all, exactly as they are.

There’s a “sham” good without New-Testament God, because the “why” question is never answered. And what’s the #1 question children ask? “Why?” Why? Why? “Because it’s good to be nice” isn’t sufficient as an answer.

Let me be further clear: Conservative != Christ-like.

I stress, the “religion” commonly known as Christianity is, in many ways, a farce. It’s a show: church on Sunday, maybe, but without even dusting off The Family Bible (if there even is one in the house), and then complete lack of faith-based living in the rat-race rest of the week. The condition of first world, western civilization, (truly, the have’s of the world) which has been failing to invest in/failing to back spiritual… maturation for its people is partly to blame, in that it’s non-God-of-all-based living has fostered the acceptance of radicalization in those brought up in other faiths (mostly the “have nots” outside of western civ).

Wow, “There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates. What is it that you (are trying to say)?”

“Christian” is not something I do; it’s who I am. It starts at an individual level, one-on-one, between God and me. It forms how I deal with, treat, serve, love, accept, give to others – expecting nothing in return, because that’s how God, The Creator, is with and to me. It’s a daily, on-going process; for example, every morning I ‘meet with the big boss’ so-to-speak, deliberately thinking upon my blessings, and thanking Him, and looking at areas for improvement in how I measure up to the standard He has set, Jesus Christ. (And I admit, I have a long way to go to even come close- but that’s another post.) In other words, spiritual growth. Just like exercise for physical health, and training for career improvement (learning by doing is best). (And by-the-way, I was one of those non-Bible-opening “Christians” growing up. I left it at the words of the preacher. Now I know this is not enough.)

Followers of this Christ-likeness gather together in the body of the Church. As an organization, the Church further clarifies/educates, and treats with, serves, loves, accepts, gives to other peoples and organizations. But again, regarding this education – it first has to pass the individual’s test, based on his/her reading and understanding of the divinely-inspired word, (which means, he/she actually has to read it, and know it.) Frankly, I’m not sure I know too many professing Christians who read the Bible at all, certainly not daily or deeply. And non-Christians (ok, non-religious) people seem to have absolutely no way to develop and grow their morals and ethics. (Which explains how things are today.)

The Church’s intended work happens to some extent these days, but not nearly enough. Instead, we people build our bigger barns, improve our little estates, enjoy our entertainments, our bread and circus, and wonder why the rest of the world hates us, and who should do something about it. It’s the same as in our political lives: “Vigilance is the price of freedom.” (And, really, this election cycle should make clear to us all our lack of vigilance.)