Reckless Abandon

What do you think of when you hear that phrase? Probably something drastic, right? If you’re a Christian, you might think of something like going off into the jungles of Africa… or vowing to live a life of self-sacrificing poverty… or choosing to be single forever… or something like that.

As I was washing dishes a while ago, and then again more recently, I was pondering this…

We are called to live with reckless abandon– to Christ. We are to completely abandon our “selves”: our desires, our dreams, our hurts, our thoughts: everything that is our “self”… completely.

That means… counting all of this world as nothing: that you may gain Christ. Actively choosing His will over yours. Leaving your life, your family, your loved ones, your future, your job, your stuff–everything–in His hands. Trusting Him to take care of the details… even if you don’t like the outcome or can’t see how it will “work out”.

And that can take any number of forms… sometimes what self wants is to do something big and drastic and noticeable… and what God wants at that time is for you to be taking care of a little sibling. It doesn’t always involve going off to the ends of the earth and getting yourself killed… Sometimes it means being still before your God. Sometimes it means speaking in front of a big group of people when you’d rather be anywhere else– doing anything else. Sometimes it means giving up a hobby you love dearly. Sometimes it means getting rid of some clothes.

And sometimes it does mean giving up all you know and love and going wherever God calls. Sometimes it does mean literally giving up your life for Him.

It’s willingness to do whatever He asks, mixed with utter trust that He knows best.

Because… He is worth it. So much more than worth it.

Random Thinks

Sometimes, when I look waaay ahead, I get scared. For one thing, I don’t know exactly what it is I’ll be facing. For another, somehow it seems certain that it’ll be hard. It’s just… overwhelming. As I was thinking about it lately, I realized part of why this happens: why I can handle the hard things that come up today, but freak out about hard things I see coming in the future. See, God provides what we need when we need it. He doesn’t give us strength for every hard time we may face (or every hard time we imagine) at once: He gives it to us one day, one moment, at a time. Hence: do not worry about tomorrow!! You can’t handle it today–you don’t have the strength for it. Yet. And on top of that, it’s pointless. Worse than pointless: not only does it accomplish nothing, it weakens your today, shows a lack of faith in God, is in direct disobedience to His command not to worry, and so on and so forth.

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It’s so important to remember that there’s more going on in people’s lives than what we can see… To remember to be sensitive. There have been a few times when I was struggling hard over something internally, and a careless word by someone was enough to bring me to tears. It wasn’t what they said, really, and I knew that they didn’t intend to hurt me. It was just that with what was going on inside, words that normally wouldn’t have bothered me hurt badly. It’s so easy for me to forget this, though… but He’s teaching me, slowly, of the importance of being careful in my words, even when I can’t see any particular reason to be.

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Before I really started getting to know God, I was in this dreadful state of being caught between two worlds: sick of this earth and all its troubles, and not wanting heaven, either.

This world seemed to have very little good in it… I had very few real friends, and most of the friends I did have were far away. The political and economic world is a mess, which bothered me greatly. (you may not realize it, but I am and pretty much always have been interested in politics.) I saw immorality everywhere, including in me. I felt alone in my desire for something more than simply being a “nice girl.”

I was on the verge of this thing they call “Adulthood”, at eighteen… and yet I felt like neither a child nor an adult. On one hand I was more childish than others my age–and on the other, I was much more mature.

I was trapped. Trapped inside myself, trapped between two worlds: wanting neither. No one noticed, or if they did I never knew they did. I myself hardly realized my dilemma: I lived in it.

Thinking, always thinking. Wondering if anyone else struggled like I did. Wondering where I fit in this world. Wondering what my life would hold. Quietly. Holding it in.

Wanting to know God–but He seemed so far away. Wanting to do right, but failing again and again. Wanting to fit in. Wanting to be noticed. Wanting close friends.

No tears. Just quiet, restless, incessant thoughts.

A heart that pretended to be soft, but was hardened.

Slowly, slowly… He broke through my walls.

Friends, prayers, books…

His word.

Real, not imagined pain.

Bringing me to the end of me.

Breaking me to the point of tears.

Holding my hand.

His glory.

His love.

He brought me out… is bringing me out.

And now I have hope for here. I still see all of the horribleness of this world. I still see the wretchedness of my sin. But I see something more: I see God’s hand, over it all. I see God working, in and through me… and in and through those around me.

And not only do I have hope and joy for here, on earth, I now long for the day when I will finally meet my Savior face to face… when I will be able to see Him, hear Him, feel Him. When I will no longer have the sin… when all the troubles of this world are gone.

Finally, I am beginning to be… in this world, and looking forward to the next.

No longer trapped.

Free, in Him.

Reckless Abandon

What do you think of when you hear that phrase? Probably something drastic, right? Like going off into the jungles of Africa… or vowing to live a life of self-sacrificing poverty… or choosing to be single forever… or something like that.

As I was washing dishes a while ago, and then again more recently, I was pondering this…

And I realized something: we are called to live with reckless abandon– to Christ. We are to completely abandon our “selves”: our desires, our dreams, our hurts, our thoughts… everything that is our “self”… completely.

That means… counting all of this world as nothing: that you may gain Christ. Actively choosing His will over yours. Leaving your life, your family, your loved ones, your future, your job, your stuff–everything–in His hands. Trusting Him to take care of the details… even if you don’t like the outcome or can’t see how it will “work out”.

And that can take any number of forms… sometimes what self wants is to do something big and drastic and noticeable… and what God wants at that time is for you to be taking care of a little sibling. It doesn’t always involve going off to the ends of the earth and getting yourself killed… Sometimes it means being still before your God. Sometimes it means speaking in front of a big group of people when you’d rather be anywhere else– doing anything else. Sometimes it means giving up a hobby you love dearly. Sometimes it means getting rid of some clothes. And sometimes it does mean giving up all you know and love and going wherever God calls. Sometimes it does mean giving up your life for Him.

Mainly… it’s willingness, mixed with utter trust. Because… He is worth it. So much more than worth it.

Prayer: a Journey

I think it started back when I was eighteen, this journey He’s taken me on.

I began reading “The Necessity of Prayer” by E.M. Bounds in January 2009… I caught glimpses of the power, the importance and the beauty of prayer. In spite of seeing those things, however, prayer had still not become a crucial part of my life. I would easily skip praying for days on end… of course, when I realized it had been a while, I felt bad and tried to get back to it again. Still, however, it was more of a nice idea than a reality in my life.

Not long afterwards, Pastor Mark preached on prayer and challenged us to spend a minimum of ten minutes in prayer daily. I decided to take up the challenge: didn’t always make it to a full ten minutes every day, but I tried. And through this practice, I became more and more consistent.

In May of 2010, God started impressing on me strongly the need to pray for one person in particular–so I started doing that.

God was drawing me steadily nearer to Him… through many sermons, books, and so forth. The days when I did not pray became fewer and fewer and farther in between.

In January of 2011, I read the book Forgotten God, along with several other fantastic books: God Smuggler (Brother Andrew), Brucko, The Hiding Place, and more. I also refrained from internet use (for the most part) for the entire month–which meant more time to pray and think. Something happened that month. I am not sure how to describe it, or what it was. But something is different.

In June I read the book “Wrestling Prayer”… wow. I highly recommend it. In that book, it mentioned a book called “Intercessor”. I was just going to read the other two books it mentioned, since I had those. However, a friend of mine mentioned Intercessor and said I must get it. Since I had the money in the bank, I ordered it that day– and got it two days later which was… crazy.

I finished Intercessor in July and was moved by it in many ways. I “happened” to be reading it during a time when a group of people especially need powerful prayer… which worked out really well.

I have since read “The Power of Prevailing Prayer”, “The Power of a Praying Woman” and very recently “Why Revival Tarries”… each one broadening my understanding of prayer and of God and increasing my delight and awe in it… and Him.

I used to hear people saying that prayer was like a conversation. I wondered if it were really true. I never experienced it like that… But now–I have.

I used to read about people praying for hours and wondered how on earth they could keep praying for THAT LONG. Now… I understand. I still don’t do it, at least not regularly… but I’m beginning to see how that works.

Now… I don’t know what it is to go a day without prayer. I don’t think I could do it if I tried–God has made it so much a part of who I am that I do it without even realizing at times. Sometimes I will be in the middle of something–anything– and I suddenly know I need to drop everything and go pray.

I’ve experienced His presence in awesome ways… seen Him do so many incredible things, big and little, through my (and others, I’m sure) prayers… grown to know and love Him like never before.

Why do I tell you all of this? To brag on how wonderful my prayer life is? No… not at all. There is so much to be desired in my prayers. There are still many days when my prayers are brief and lack passion. There are still days when it feels like a chore. There are still so many more “levels” of prayer that I have not yet attained.

Rather, I want to encourage you on in your own prayer life: just DO it. Make yourself take that time every single day to spend 5-15 minutes in concentrated prayer. After awhile, it is no longer a chore: it becomes a joy and a privilege.

There is simply nothing like knowing that your prayers affected eternity… that God used you and your words to bring about something amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how much God cares about the little things: and then, on the other end, how He effortlessly makes impossible things happen. It’s so, so important to always remember that no prayer is too small: and no prayer is too big. (provided, of course, that you are praying according to God’s will and character.) God is all powerful: thus, to God, there is no real difference between what we as humans view as “hard” and “easy”. Don’t belittle God by not asking for big, “hard” things!!

The fact that we can talk to God is… mind blowing. It’s one of those things, I think, that is so beyond our comprehension that we barely even realize how very awesome it really is… And then… not only are we allowed into His presence in this way… but He listens to US! To us! Remember who we are? We are indescribably small and horridly wicked… and yet… He not only allows us to come before Him: He longs for us to do so!!!

Oh, there is so much to say on this topic… all I can really hope to do is get you excited enough to learn about and experience prayer for yourself.

In closing… a few quotes from some of the books I mentioned.

“O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper–and sleep too–than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber.”– Andrew Bonar

“…remember, God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ask or think. When we pray things that are on our King’s heart, no matter how outlandishly audacious your prayers might seem to your own ears, they are nothing in light of God’s willingness and ability to answer them.” –Eric and Leslie Ludy, in Wrestling Prayer

“The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed the anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother, of a thousand blessings.” –Chrysostom

“Let our prayers, then, be for Christ’s sake. If we want our sons and daughters converted, let us pray that it be so for Christ’s sake. If that is the motive, our prayers will be answered. If God gave up Christ for the world, what will He not give up for us? If He gave up Christ to the murderes and blasphemers, and the rebels of the world lying in wickedness and sin, what would He not give to those who go to Him for Christ’s sake? Let our prayer be that God my advance His work, not for our glory–not for our sake–but for the sake of His beloved Son whom He hath sent.

So let us remember that when we pray we ought to expect an answer. Let us be looking for it.” –D.L. Moody, Prevailing Prayer

Some Benefits Suffering In Our Lives

I didn’t actually write this list… it is from a post by Nella Camille from a study on the Rebelution forums about the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I have always remembered it, though, and wanted to look up all the verses for it… and this post reminded me of the list. So, here it is. 🙂

1) To stimulate spiritual growth (Hebrews 12:11)

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

2) To point out sin in our lives (James 5)
3) To show us God’s faithfulness (Psalm 119:75)

I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

4) The strengthening of our faith as gold (1 Peter 1:7)

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

5) To work through trials for our good and showing us His commitment to us throughout the stages of salvation (Romans 8:28-30)

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

6) To discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-12)

5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

7) To prove our character and show God’s greatness (Job)
8 ) To help us sympathize with others (2 Corinthians 1:6)

 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

9) To help us rely more on God (2 Corinthians 1:9)

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

10) To encourage prayer (2 Corinthians 1:11)

 11Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

11) To humble us (2 Corinthians 12:7)

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

12) To perfect Christ’s power in us (2 Corinthians 12:9)

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

13) To produce steadfastness (James 1:3)

3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

I’m having trouble settling down to any particular topic.. .so I thought I’d try and free write a bit, just to find out what’s going on in my mind. I’m listening to Be Thou My Vision… I was trying to work on a post about “Reckless Abandon” and before that one about Prayer… but both of those topics are too big for my mind at the moment. The house smells delicious right now–Hannah is baking samples for people to try at church tomorrow (so they will buy some to raise money for her upcoming mission trip.) The air is lovely… not too cold and not too warm. It must be breezy out.. the wind chimes are clanging cheerfully. I’m now listening to “Who am I?”… it’s amazing. God is amazing… who but Him could come up with all of this? Who but Him could love us?? What a God we serve!

Over and over, I keep thinking… there really is no other choice but to be fully devoted to Him.. completely surrendered. It’s the only thing that will make sense on judgement day.

There’s… so much more to this whole life thing than merely being a “good Christian” who goes to church, doesn’t do anything too awful, has a nice house and two cars, gives money to the church sometimes… the world is sick (and dying as a result of) of such shallow Christianity… as I saw it written recently… “materialism with a few Bible verses tacked on”.

I recently had the privilege to be able to talk to a few people about Church… and God. One girl said she wasn’t into the religion stuff… she’d had Catholicism forced down her throat when she was little. I tried to point her to The Real Thing… God Himself. “Religion”, at least the way she meant it, is man made. (Trust us to make God and His Story boring!!) I shared my excitement over realizing that the God who made all of these marvelous things loved me and died for me… This is exciting, folks!! People should see it in our faces, hear it in our voices. Oh, that God would fill us to such an extent that we could not contain our joy in Him! Would that His hope and love would spill out of us! That people could see Him in us!

I talked to another lady who had neighbors who attended church every week: and were mean every other day of the week. She said they thought they could do whatever they wanted and then be forgiven at church. And followed that up with “that’s not my kind of God.” Of course I cringed inwardly–it isn’t up to us what kind of God there is. But on the other hand: those people were representing God. Granted, they were doing a terrible job. But regardless, they were representing. They had branded themselves as at the very least “Religious”… and so people looked at them and took their actions to represent their god.

People do the same with us. They know, especially when you make distinctly unworldly lifestyle choices, that you are (or at least claim to be) Christians. Followers of Christ. What they see in me… is what they will think of Christ. Yikes. * is very glad His power is working in me * Oh, people! This is SO important. People are DYING. They are going to hell.

And why? Because we do not know God. Not really. If we knew Him… how could we go on calmly playing and working for vain things– letting people perish? How could we go on skimming glibly through His Word? How could we go on praying fake, passionless, small prayers? How could we go on caring about which color flip-flops we have or don’t have? How could we go on allowing sin in our lives?

We don’t have time for this! Eternity is too long for this! We must seek Him. We must get to know Him. And how? By reading His word, by praying, by observing His creation… And then we must share this glorious relationship, this most wonderful of news… WE can know GOD!! 😀