Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doing the Hokey Pokey (or How I'm Trying to Give More of Myself to Christ)

Come to me, my sweet friend,
Can you feel my heart again?
I'll take you back where you belong
And this will be our favorite song.

Come to me with secrets bare,
I love you more, so don't be scared.
When we're old and near the end,
We'll go home and start again.

This song, "Come to Me," by the Goo Goo Dolls, was not written from a Christo-centric point of view but it fits, for me anyway.  I first heard it 2 1/2 months ago, in the parking lot of the Walmart in Madison, IN.  We were up there for my husband's grandmother's funeral.  My first thought was. "This would be a great song to dance to if Dave and I ever renewed our vows!"

**Cue sappy awwwwww**

Still, the more I listen to it, the more I feel it is about the intimacy Jesus calls us to; the love affair He wants to have with all of us.

More and more, I feel His pull in my daily stress.  He has shown me over and over and over again in the last 3 weeks how possible it is to be engaged in His love every minute of the day.  In that awareness, He does His best and most brilliant work and I'm at my most peaceful and energetic.

Yet, the pull of more intimacy with Christ is always countered by the pull of the "reality."  I put reality in quotes because I'm finding what I think is real isn't real at all.  Usually, it is my emotions or the enemy playing tricks on me.  Even being as busy as I am (and we are busy right now), I feel the call to change my response to that apparent reality; to ways that glorify God and promote the Kingdom. 

That's the real reality, the abundant life.  It's a life with God in charge not only of the spiritual, but the everyday, ordinary.  It's a Jesus-centric Monday through Saturday and double of Him on Sunday.

However, there is still a lot of noise: emotional, physical, relational noise that fills up the spaces of my mind and heart.  Towards the end of the day, I start to leave Jesus in the other room.  He's there, in the house, but not as close as He could be.  Or really, I've gone to sit somewhere else.  I've reached the top end of my tolerance for noise and want peace and quiet.  So, instead of scooting closer to Him, I turn on the TV (for example).

(Dummy, that's just more noise!)

Instead of asking the Lord to work in the end-of-my-rope-and-day moments, I do the hokey pokey: My whole self in, but right foot out.

He's been calling me to quit the hokey pokey because He is ready to speak, ready and available to work in everything I experience - if you can believe it.  When this God-in-every-moment thought first started moving in my heart, I wasn't sure it was possible.  But I know enough now to say confidently, even if you aren't in a convent or in full-time ministry (like me), God can be in every breath you take, every day.

This is where I am.  We are working together on how I can learn to breath Him in and out.  It's makes me vulnerable to Him.  It makes me transparent to others.  It's a little scary, this transformation.  Ok, more then a little, so Jesus and I do it hand-in-hand, taking very small steps.  There is shrapnel lodged in my heart and it must be dealt with.

I expected opening myself to live this way would be painful because being this vulnerable always is.  But it hasn't been what I've expected.  He is helping me, gently and patiently.  The more I submit, the more I relinquish control over my day, giving up my agenda and actively seeking His, the more freedom becomes tangible. 

Less stress, less effort, less force on my part is required to pursue the assignments He has given me.  No feelings of being overwhelmed, only the feeling of being right where I need to be.  Eugene Peterson, in the Message, rewords Jesus' command in Matthew 11:28-30 so powerfully, it has become my lifeline. 

Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. (emphasis mine)

These unforced rhythms of grace are the real way to live.  They lull me to rest even especially during the busiest parts of my day.  When I reach a fork in the road, I'm learning to ask Him where to next.  An invitation to the Holy Spirit removes my need to control every detail.  When I place the details in His Hands, how I feel about the situation isn't the biggest factor.  I can respond in grace, love, faith and hope; eternal investments of my time, effort, money, prayer, heart.

If you find yourself with a desire to unclench your hands on some part of your life; to experience more of the life God meant for you, start by asking Him questions.  Start inviting Him into your day, whenever you think of it.  Here are a couple of suggestions:

What next, Lord?  
Where to now, Lord?
How would You do this, Father?
Thank You for helping me right now, Jesus.

You tell me where to go or what to do - I'll follow the path of peace in your name, Jesus.

It's much more than WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?  It is living as Jesus does because HE does it for you.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  It can be simple and that's probably the scariest thing of all.

Shrapnel will need to be dealt with because when we position ourselves to give more to Christ, He always deals with our hearts.  But it doesn't have to be painful.  That might be a radical thought, but it's true.  Not everything God does involves gut-wrenching change.  

The end result will be radically different though.  For you, to be carried through your day, rather then having to push or trudge through, slug it out or put up with things until you can get to a certain hour of peace and rest.  Can you imagine having peace and rest all day?

Take some baby steps and see what the Lord will do in your willingness to give more of yourself to Him.

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