Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SELF



I feel a little disclaimer is in order before I begin writing this post. After much flip-flopping around since I first began my blog I have come to view it as a place for me to put down markers as I live out my days. Sometimes they are just the daily events that have special significance for me - things I don't want to fade with the passage of time. Sometimes they are things I'm grateful for, and the recording of them somehow makes them all the richer. Often times it is the things the Lord is teaching me through the Word, answers to prayer, books or the people He places in my life. I have made the mistake of thinking I will never forget such important things, but time has a way of stealing even the most precious of memories. So I write...
I don't write to admonish anyone else. I don't write because I think I have all the answers. I certainly don't write to portray myself as someone who has it all together. On the contrary, I have so very far to go, and I am simply trying to record the journey - to gather the precious stones along the way, build a little altar of sorts and remember - the way they did in the Old Testament. Then, as I walk that path again, I will have something to mark the way.

We walked early this morning, before the heat of the day settled in. As I made my way down our little country road I began to pray. All goes well until I come to the part where I confess my sins. Then the guilt and despair set in - guilt over having to confess the same things over and over on a daily basis - those "besetting sins" - and despair over the fact that I seem never to get it right.

As I named them, I realized that they could all easily be put under one heading: SELF. The root of all of them is my own selfishness - my unwillingness to fully surrender, my need to have some degree of control, my seeking after the approval of others. They are not "terrible" sins. In fact, no one else would even guess that they are there. But they are sins nonetheless, and there really is no degree of sin in the Father's eyes.

I thought about how I often struggle with knowing what God would have me do in a certain situation because I no sooner sense Him putting something on my heart than I begin to debate with Him about it. I stepped outside of myself at that moment and looked at who I am and who He is and wondered how I could have such audacity. But there it is...that "self" pushing its way in at all costs.

On the surface I am a very compliant person, wanting to please everyone and avoid conflict at all costs. But underneath that placid surface runs a current of rebellion and selfishness that ripples the surface with those "besetting sins".

The reading in my devotional book this morning was about sanctification:

"There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. 'If any man come to Me and hate not...his own life, he cannot be My disciple.'...

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to 'me,' determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with everything but God.

When I pray -'Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,' He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me(I Cor. 1:30)"
Oswald Chambers - "My Utmost For His Highest"


I never cease to be amazed at the way the Lord reinforces the truths He wants to write on my heart. Today it was a call to die to self. It is Paul writing in Romans 12:1,2:

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable...Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

His will is good, pleasing and perfect, and there I stand with arms crossed insisting, however subtly, on my own way. Why would I be willing to give up His very best just so that I can do what I want to do? Having it my way brings very little satisfaction when all is said and done. It leaves me feeling rather empty. It is time to come with open hands to Him and surrender those things which are not His best for me so that He can fill them with what is.

Blessings,
Linda

picture:flickr - Aditi Kidambi

16 comments:

Jess said...

I think we all struggle with this....it's so hard to give up that last little bit of "control". Good post, and I really enjoy your thoughts and honesty. I have really been using this as food for thought and more to chew on in my own devotionals.

Love, Jess

Dawn said...

Oswald Chambers would probably enjoy your writing as much as you enjoy his!

Anne@Rosydreamer said...

exactly what God reminded me of today. my life , my interests are all about me. thanks for sharing... :)

Prairie Chick said...

I love the reasons you write and I completely understand what you are saying in this post. You are NOT alone... We all struggle with self, it's the plight of fallen humanity (((Linda)))

elizabeth said...

I love this post and love your disclaimer. Too many times I want to post things like this and I'm so afraid people will misinterpret and think of it as 'finger pointing'. That's never, ever my intent, but like you I just want to share what God has put on my heart. I need to stop the worry and start the sharing. Thank you for helping me with this using your beautiful post.

christy rose said...

I love your transparency and honesty Linda! God can move in the heart of the one who looks inside to see what areas need to be cleaned up. Your heart really touches mine.

grammy said...

Thanks for your sincere thoughts that cause us to reflect.

Bev said...

Loved this - every single bit of it. You spoke volumes to me, and probably to many others. xoxo

Nancy said...

An excellent post Linda, and a reminder that I need to try harder each day to put God first, ahead of self. I just love my visits here and feel blessed to have found you years ago. Please try the FB thing again. I think I'm the only Nancy Goforth Carson but if not try my email address, carson132@bellsouth.net

Teena said...

Thank you, Linda for sharing. Again you spoke to my heart. I think often others see as as "having it all together" but that isn't how it is at all.... is it? I appreciate your honestly and your words. I am blessed to have found your blog.

May the Joy of the Lord be yours~

Becky said...

Dear Linda, This is my first post of yours I read (don't even know how I got here...just surfing)....but, just wanted to say you expressed yourself so beautifully ~ both inside and out....from the heart to the words. Plus, it was if you have been reading my mind. Self. Self. Self. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I do what I don't want to do, and don't do what I ought...deny self, and pick up the Cross.

Your description of the reason you blog also resonated volumes with me....as I have just started blogging, and I am trying to find my voice and formulate my purpose. I want to glorify God and not have it take up too much of my time, and thoughts. So, just trying to be prudent. We'll see what happens.

Anyway....I just had to 'comment' because I LOVED this post, and now I'll close, so I can go back and read some more of your blog.

Blessings,

Becky

emily wierenga said...

linda,
this is so brave and beautiful. thank you so much for linking up with me. do you think you could add the button, so people can be directed back to the literary community? i LOVE that you linked up, sister. i love you. e.

SuzyQ said...

This was such a beautiful post for me to read today. A balm for my soul. I have been going through similar struggles :)
Thank you so much for sharing.
God Bless

Claudia said...

This is beautiful Linda - and so honest. I wanna learn this as well - stand before God with arms open wide..
Claudia

julie said...

How did you know? This is where I am, right now, in my stubborn, halted, defiant walk with God. Too often lost in myself, ignoring His whispers in my ear. Thank you for sharing.

Julie

joanny said...

The small 'self' gets us into trouble every time.
Willful beings are we, to become woeful beings, time and again.

Joanny