a deeper surrender

it’s been a few weeks, i think i’m ready to share the difficult news.  sometimes i wish i could just share pieces and pictures, words and quotes on pinterest. it’s been good to take time to share it personally by email and by phone and in person. it’s also been good to have some time to sit with the reality and finality.

i’ve heard that there are two messages that Christ calls us to. Come and Live, and Come and Die.

One is an invitation to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. The second is a funeral of your dreams, desires, and death of self. A total repentance.  A deeper surrender.

I have now been in Chicago for 4 months, tonight. Through the past few months I have sought the Lord for an answer to the question, ‘what are you asking me to give up or let go” I have drawn a blank for most of the time, oblivious or unaware of the answer. Finally, one night I get an answer as I journal and pray. One word.

Diploma.

I was confused at first, as I had just looked at the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, his only son. And following with another sermon series about Elisha, who burnt his plows, was I to burn my diploma?

I immediately went into defensive mode and got very whiny with God.  Why, my pretty framed B.A. diploma, why? I soon learned that it didn’t need to be burnt literally, but that it was something symbolic, and soon found out what it symbolized.

the answer, i soon discovered was wrapped in entitlement, pride, arrogance and probably envy.

the words stung as my pastor gently and firmly spoke truth. the words needed to be heard if i was to grow. i could no longer continue pursuing music ministry while those ugly sins were attached. and so the challenge was given, and accepted through painful tears.

I repent of my sinful attitude of entitlement, arrogance and pride regarding music, music ministry, and dreams and hopes for a vocational pursuit of worship ministry.

I have pursued this path for 15 years, and graduated 7 years ago. I can’t say for sure at what point in time my priorities got jumbled and my determination and stubbornness kicked in and I allowed this thing to become an idol. What matters is that it happened and I mustn’t allow this sin to entangle me or weigh me down any longer.

As I read Hebrews 12 this week, I was amazed at the weight of the words in verse 1 and 2, as I watched this take place in front of me, inside of me and around me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

This passage is followed by what I’m sure is everyone’s favorite word: discipline.

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
(Hebrews 12:10-13 ESV)

That you may be healed. That it yields fruit. Isn’t that what we want ultimately?

There can be no beautiful ending without a conflict in the story. I was able to make this surrender because of who I know and trust my God to be, and because of who he has shown himself to be in my life. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He knows me deeply and intimately. He is trustworthy, and because I know that he made me, I can offer back to him what he has gifted me in and can trust that he has good plans. He is King and he sits on the throne. I must remove myself and my life and sacrifice and let everything go. I must release my grip and let go.

My fear in sharing this is that it would be taken one of two ways. Too lightly, or met with a few “buts.” Please understand that I just let go of a lifelong dream and pursuit and passion. This was no easy decision. Please know that this was done under wise counsel and was affirmed by leaders, friends and peers in my life.  He must increase, I must decrease.

The day after taking this step, I felt very limp, very broken, and very numb. I was in shock as I grieved the death of my dreams, hopes and a great deal of my life. Slowly as the days progressed I was able to move into a place of calm and trust and openness. I am a clay in the hands of a potter and I am being Reworked.

This is a very new place for me to be… open, moldable and teachable…to be starting over in a sense, putting on the new nature. Experiencing a cleansing of heart. Not a clue what tomorrow holds. Not hopeless, not hoping in my own plans, but trusting in a God who gives me hope, joy and life. Every weight has been stripped aside. And now I can say, “I am yours.” Make me who you want me to be, lead me and place me where you want me.

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