Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Striving, surrendering, falling apart.

My mind gets caught on all the does and don'ts of Christianity...my Bible study book keeps telling me to work out my salvation. I want to hind under a pillow, to hide my face of shame and failure.

Philippians 2:12-18

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

I lift up my head when I hear the words "children of God" I look up to God. 

I can not work out my own salvation...not on my own. I fail miserably every time I try. And from around me I can hear voices of Christians around the world yelling accusations.  They say I've not tried hard enough. That I have not submitted myself entirely. That I don't read my Bible enough....It's never enough. 

I remember the phrase that I repeat to my damaged heart by the hour - "look out and up" Look out to others and up to God. And as I do my perspective changes. Instead of hearing these accusations I hear desperate cries for help. Because these same people are just like me...they are falling apart and they need to know that God is the one who puts together the broken pieces. They yell because they see these faults in themselves. They cry out because not even these things are enough. And I know what they need - for God to be enough.

God is enough. He's enough to work in you and to save you. And my tired body gives up the fight. And his arms hold me up because I can not stand on my own. And that is when I read those verses again and say - obedience starts when you learn to give up the fight and allow God to fight for you. 

It's in that moment of complete failure that God says "just love me". And the greatest commandment to love rings true. "for it is God who works in you" and he will work to create a masterpiece when your heart is consumed with love because love breaks down barriers. And isn't that truly the problem? Isn't Paul telling us to allow God into every part of our lives. And isn't my greatest hurt surrounded by walls and isn't it soothed when God's love and mercy surround it.

And here stops the striving, because in God's love the walls are broken down. And I'm freed to live in complete freedom and obedience. And how could I grumble when my eyes are focused away from myself. And I begin to shine. I shine through the cracks of my brokenness and his love pours out because it can do nothing else. 

So I take the step of surrender, and I open my heart. This love consumes and I am whole.

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