Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reality Check: Almost Doesn't Count

God has been teaching me a lot lately about who He is and who I am. As I’ve studied His attributes in comparison with my human nature, here is what I’ve discovered:

He is supreme. I am dependent on Him.
He is holy. I am sinful.
He is pure. I am corrupt.
He is true. I am deceitful.
He is righteous and just. I am immoral and undeserving.
He responds to unholiness with wrath. Sometimes, I don’t even notice.
He is unconditional love. I am situationally selfish – loving and hating who and what is convenient for me.
He is goodness. I have a sin nature.
He is gracious. I am disrespectful.
He is merciful. I am heartless.
He is steadfast. I am unstable.
He is spiritual. I am worldly.
He is wisdom. I am foolish.
He is faithful. I am a traitor.
He is peaceful. I am rebellious.
He is perfection. I am flawed.
He is glory. I am shame.

As I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord, I’ve turned over nearly every aspect of my life to Him. And until this weekend, I’ve been okay with that. But I know that’s not good enough. God doesn’t want nearly every aspect of my life. HE WANTS MY WHOLE LIFE.

However, there are a few areas where my flesh has continually refused to submit control over to God. Looking at the characteristics of God above and comparing them with the standards of the world, I have to wonder - what am I really holding onto? Rebellion? Sin? Shame? Why would I consciously do that when I have the opportunity to have a complete new life in Christ? II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Imagine getting a new pair of jeans. They are the perfect shade of denim. They actually fit in length, waist, and hips. (As a female, a practically impossible feat!) In addition to feeling as soft as sweatpants, they were given to you for free. Your old jeans are about an inch too big in the waist, could stand to have a little more room around the hips, and they are only the perfect length with your tallest pair of boots. Not to mention, they have permanent grass stains, a hole in a place that no one would call fashionable and a zipper that only goes up halfway.

The next morning, you go to your closet to get dressed for the day. Which pair of jeans would you get? The new ones, of course! So why am I capable of seeing the obvious choice in this situation, but continue to put on my old life with all of its flaws when Christ has given me the option of Him living through me in new life? Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Later, in Galatians 5:24, Paul writes, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” If I haven’t turned over all of my personal passions and desires, do I really belong to Christ?
This past weekend, 412 Ministries (http://college.fielder.org) had the privilege of hosting the Jeff Johnson Band for RED RIVER LIVE, an evangelistic effort alongside the infamous Texas Longhorns/Oklahoma Sooners rivalry. Jeff Johnson’s lyrics to “Ruin Me” were the tipping point for what I am praying is my complete self-death.

The song’s lyrics are, “Woe to me, I am unclean - a sinner found in Your presence. I see you, seated on Your throne – exalted, Your Glory surrounds You. Now, the plans that I have made fail to compare when I see your glory. Ruin my life, the plans I have made. Ruin desires for my own selfish gain. Destroy the idols that have taken Your place 'till its You alone I live for, You alone I live for. Holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! Holy is the Lord!”

The song comes from Isaiah 6, when Isaiah sees God sitting on His throne. He is so overwhelmed by God’s presence that he realizes how much he truly needs a Savior. Isaiah – one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament – realizing His shame before Almighty God. Once He saw God’s power, His life changed. The plans he had were ruined because Isaiah finally realized how insignificant he was in comparison to the Lord.

In Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah responds, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah didn’t wait to find out what the assignment was. He didn’t see if it conveniently fit with his work schedule. He heard God’s voice, and He responded immediately. In Genesis 12:1, God told Abram (later Abraham) to leave his country and his family to go “to the land which I will show you.” Genesis 12:4 records that Abram “went forth.” He didn’t even know where He was going, but He knew He was following the Lord, and that was all that mattered.

If you’ve read my testimony, you know that I battled anorexia for four years. While I no longer give into Satan’s temptations to restrict food content, I have also not relinquished control of my personal appearance to God. There are days where the priority of my workout comes before my personal time of Bible study and reflection. There are days when I worry more about gaining weight than the genuine prayer concerns of my family and friends. Although I know that children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), I often find myself fearful of what pregnancy will do to alter my body.

There is nothing wrong with staying healthy through exercise. However, there is something wrong with valuing something as fleeting as beauty when the fear of the Lord should be the ultimate goal of a Godly woman (Proverbs 31:30).

God has ruined areas of my life before. He ruined my life when I didn’t win Miss Tennessee. I had such great intentions of using the title to spread the Gospel across my state. Plus, I would have had the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss America and be able to share His love with our country. I prayed for God to either open this door or close it. But judging from my good intentions of using the title to further His Kingdom, how could God not be on board that was the perfect plan for me?

But He wasn’t on board. Not only did I not win, but I was the only preliminary winner that didn’t make the Top 10. Watching my hard work go down the drain as my life was ruined right before my eyes as the crown went on another girl’s head, I clearly felt God’s presence and His voice say, “You asked me to open this door or close it. Not crack the door, let you make the top 10, then gently shut it. So, I slammed it.”

His plan for ruining my life included me moving to Texas to begin seminary. Three weeks after the move, I met the man I married five months ago. Seeing the full picture now of God’s intentions in ruining my life, I would have him ruin my life over and over again to be where I am right now, serving in ministry alongside my husband. Because when God truly ruins your life and you submit control to Him, reward and blessing will follow. These gifts may not always appear on this earth, but His gifts are eternal, fully capable of surpassing the human boundaries of time.

This is my public request for God to ruin my life - once and for all. Not just most areas, but all of me - whatever that may mean. I am releasing all that I am to Him and His control. I have a feeling I am in much better hands that way.