At the beginning of the new year 2014, I didn’t make any resolutions. I decided instead to set some priorities and commit myself to living in balance. Nope, No resolutions here.
I did, however, ask a question. Father, what areas of my life need to be radically changed by Your Love.
Fast forward to now. Lent (for those who are non-liturgical) is the 40 day period which begins after Mardi Gras on Ash Wednesday and ends on Palm Sunday. It is a time of reflection and penitence to prepare one’s heart for the celebration of the Resurrection.
Lent, for me, began with a fast on Ash Wednesday. A day devoted to Scripture and prayer that helped me to focus my heart by examining my spiritual walk. Where am I with Christ? What are the areas of my life that need to be pruned, readjusted, or realigned? Each Wednesday I attempted to focus on fasting (not always successfully) and prayer, and as each week passed, another layer would be tenderly exposed to the Refiner’s Fire:
My journey into Lent revealed, I believe, some interesting answers.
Desires- There are lots of things I do. Lots of things I feel called to do. Yes, they are good things. Family. Church. Music. Work. Many of these things I have a passion to do. They motivate and excite me. When I get the opportunity to pursue my desires, I feel like I am fulfilling the purpose for which I was made. I am being what I was made to be. This is a good thing. This is a God thing. If I’m not careful, though,
I could let I have let the pursuit of my desires drive me to achieve, to accomplish or to strive. Then, I would fall prey to thinking I have to achieve or accomplish in order to be accepted. But the truth that God so gently revealed to me is that those God-given desires are meant to draw me to Him. Pursuit of those dreams apart from Him will only serve to push me toward goals that will never truly satisfy. While recognizing, though, that these desires are meant to be the vehicle that drives me to knowing and serving Him more completely, I understand better that the end goal is knowing Him and the glorious benefit is that He uses my desires in the process!!
Surrender- As good as my life is, there are still things I worry about. There are things I wish I could change. There are things I stamp my foot and whine and wish were going my way. And, then there are things in the depths of my heart I have a longing for God to make right, and I keep wondering when that will happen. When those worries, frustrations, and pains sometime bubble up to the surface, I get mad and agitated when the situations are not fixed right when I want them to be. Sometimes, I even begin to doubt if God can really change them at all. Sure….most of us know the song…”I surrender all, I surrender all”. And we know in our heads we are to surrender ourselves to Him, and we say we do with our mouths, and then we go right on worrying as best we can. But, I was reminded during this Lenten journey to surrender. The circumstances and people in which I wish to see change need to be surrendered to Him. This doesn’t mean I stop being concerned. Rather, this means I continue praying as best I can and keep surrendering (often again and again) so that it gets ME out of the way so God can work the situation according to His plan!
Attention- I’m still a little raw and tender about this one. I am a pleaser. I want people to like me. I confess I even want people to like me more than others. I want people to like what I do. And yes, I confess I want people to like what I do more than others. Needing this attention comes in the form of desiring acceptance, affirmation, approval and the like. Oh, I know…it’s human nature to want such reassurances from others, and it’s not entirely bad to desire this. However, at the core of this attention seeking is insecurity. Down in the depths of my spirit, what I am really desiring is to be recognized by Him, the true Lover of my Soul. I realize I’ve had these longstanding insecurities, and they were so common to me I didn’t think much about it. But the Father lovingly points out when I am asking those attention seeking questions (Does she like what I do? Does my one-and-only-fella like the way I look? Do they think I did a good job? etc, etc, etc), I need to allow those questions to drive me to seek Him and allow His Word and His promises and His presence to fill me with His love.
Yes, His Love.
His unending, saturating, completing Love is the only thing that can be the fulfilling of my desire, the calming to my surrender, and the satisfying of my attention.
Now, a new practice needs to begin. I must retrain my thinking when these well-worn habits rise up to release this prayer:
Father, Use my desires to help me seek you more, help me surrender my worries to trust You more, reveal my need to be liked the best to find You already like me the best! Amen
What areas of your life need to be radically changed by God’s Love?