First I want to say that the thoughts and message contained in this post are in partnership with LifeHouse East, Hedgesville’s parent church. As a Network of LifeHouse Churches, we look to share resources and ideas because God blesses us through our unity.
What are the things in life that bring you the most fear? That hold you back from experiencing new things? That stifle your abilities and God-given curiosities?
Are they things that really do deserve your fear? By not doing, do they keep you and/or your family safe? Are they merely a form of protection from letting others know what you are afraid to try?
I know when I see the Citicard commercial of the lady climbing and standing on the pinnacle of the rock ledge looking out over God’s beautiful creation, I feel the tension stirring inside me. I feel the queasiness of knowing how I can’t stand heights, and how that despite the magnificence of the adventure, you will never find me there – which is okay because my fear keeps me safe.
Yet, there are areas where I know my fear of the unknown keeps me at arms distance – a safe distance – from experiencing some of the greatest beauties out there. I know my fear of driving in big cities keeps me from experiencing some of the great things a city has to offer.
So there is a tension within all of our lives to keep MY SPACE, MY SPACE, and to establish boundaries that won’t let others into that space. And so we compartmentalize life into convenient categories.
But we find that it’s a struggle to balance these compartments in life because some areas spill over into other areas. For example, what about the frustrations at work that I bring home? Or, what about the argument last night at home that I took to work today? What about the depleted checkbook that robs me of my Christmas cheer? We try so hard to guard our fragile compartments.
And safe to say, we also do this with God. We have compartments for Him like: Sundays before noon, grace before dinner, in moments of crisis, an occasional prayer after we hit a golf ball or while stuck in traffic. God has His place in our life; church fits into our boundaries, where we keep things from getting too uncomfortably close.
We certainly don’t let God invade our whole world, rock our status quo, or give Him the keys to every door and closet in our home.
Well, let’s look at a young lady who did just the opposite of what we do with God in the routines of our lives.
In Luke 1: 26-38 we see Mary, a young teenage girl minding her own business and doing the normal, when God interrupts. He disrupted her normal routine with an invitation to become uncomfortably close and intimate with the Christmas experience. This invitation was going to profoundly alter and interrupt her life.
Yet Mary sets an amazing example and provides and incredible challenge to us. And through her example we see God’s Big Idea: Allow Christ IN Every Part of Life
Why? Why should we let Christ into every compartment of life? Why should we be willing to break down those compartments when it comes to God? Why should we accept God’s invitation to live within us?
We should because God’s presence within us is far greater than God’s presence with us. When He is in us, He is with us all the time and everywhere we are. But when we compartmentalize Him and only desire His presence be with us, we limit His ability to actively help us when the miracle can’t be seen, found, or heard.
God in me provides me with peace when my world is falling apart. God in me provides me with strengthwhen I am being attacked. God in me provides me with joywhen I should be crying. God in me provides me with lovewhen I feel like hating those who’ve wronged me. God in me is freedom – freedom to be the person God intended me to be.
And because Mary willingly submitted to allow God to be in her, literally, Mary’s life became blessed to the point we still tell of her story today.
Did she become an image of worship? No! But her example is truly one for us to follow with God because she said “yes” to something that ridiculously made no sense then, and still makes no sense to many today.
Think about it: She was betrothed to be married to Joseph – she was a virgin – and yet by agreeing she would now become pregnant with the child of God.
What did this mean? It meant she could be considered mentally insane, that she was no longer of value, that she would not be cared for the rest of her life, most likely considered an outcast by her people and her own family, and could possibly mean being stoned to death for her promiscuity – her adultery. I mean after all, how else does pregnancy happen in their day without the union of male and female – let alone saying the conceived child is God? It’s all blasphemy! Blasphemy!
Yet with all these risks, she let God into every compartment of her life, by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She willingly said to God in my words, “You can have all of me. I will do as you want me to do.”
How often do we say what Mary said?
I think we often say, “God, you can have this part or that part, but You can’t have it all. You can have this part because I’m comfortable with giving you this part. But don’t ask me to do something that will push the boundaries. Don’t ask me to teach children. Don’t ask me to give up addictions. Don’t ask me to preach or lead worship. Don’t ask me to serve. Don’t ask me to make a commitment, to get married to my fiancé, and to love him/her when trouble comes. Don’t ask me to love my wife and children as Christ loved the church. Don’t ask me to communicate with others when I feel like going into a shell. Don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask.”
Jesus said in speaking about his coming death, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life (the man who understands his need for a Savior) will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12: 23-26
God wants us to be like Mary – to willingly submit ourselves – to die to self and gain – so that we can be honored in the presence of God Almighty. God wants us to be transformed from just learningabout Him to knowing Him intimately. God wants to move us from mere knowledge and romanticized feelings about Him to pure obedience when He calls us. God wants us to say, as shared with us in Galatians 2: 20, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
In order to be all that God wants, we can neither resist nor assist. If we resist, we’re not open to God’s calling. And if we think we can assist God, then we believe we can tell God what to do, which is a little pridefulJ
All we can do is be like Mary who responded willingly and completely, and then offered herself in full service.
Are there areas in your life that you’ve tried to do God-size things on your own? Like trying to quit a life-controlling habit or addiction, overcome past hurts, forgive the abuser, heal the marriage, conquer a fear, defeat the worry?
We can’t do it on our own.
We can try, but as always, God’s grace cannot shine through if we’re trying to resist by doing it all on our own or trying to assist by telling God how to do it. We must be willing to openly surrenderour will and allow the Invitation – the Christ – in every part of life. Then, and only then, will we see the true gift of what Christ can overcome in our lives.
IMAGINE IF WE LIVED LIKE THIS.