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Posts tagged ‘peace’

The Invasion

I have been invaded. Or maybe I should say, my kitchen has been invaded. The invaders come in swarms, too numerous to count. They make trails, devour anything tasty, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

In case you haven’t figured out what they are yet, I’m referring to ants.

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Specifically, honey or sugar ants. These little critters love anything sweet, and seem to smell it from wherever their home is and come after it. Leave an empty but unrinsed bowl of cereal in the counter, and in an hour or two it will be teaming with the little critters. Spill a drop of juice or honey on the counter and fail to wipe it up, and soon there will be a trail of ants going to and fro, the drop itself obscured by their little bodies.

Lately, with my diligence to get the dishes done right after meals and leaving the sink spotless before bed, the tiny ants have not had much motivation to come into my kitchen. However, one night recently I was just too tired. I didn’t shine my sink and I didn’t wash all the dishes. When I walked into the kitchen, they were everywhere. Climbing in and out of dirty bowls by the sink, making trails on the walls and counters, and in general making a royal mess. But I had to get breakfast ready, and I was too hungry to wait until I had cleaned up the kitchen to begin. So I cleared an area near the stove to work on and began, trying to ignore the devastation going on behind me.

I took a package of tofu out of the refrigerator and drained it in the sink. I noticed that an edge piece was loose and decided to have a nibble (I love raw tofu). I have no idea how it got there, but suddenly the flavor of honey ant filled my mouth. If you have never tasted it, you have no idea how awful it is. It’s not the kind of taste that makes you gag, but it is extremely unpleasant, and totally unexpected.

Well, I just lost it. Somehow that taste in my mouth–which doesn’t just rinse out, by the way–was the last straw. I was tired, my husband had yet to come into the kitchen yet (I don’t know if he was up yet–probably, but just hadn’t come out yet), and the kids were already up, and ants were crawling all over me, and I just couldn’t take it. I called him to come help. I knew if the kitchen were cleaned up, the ants would disappear, but I had already started breakfast and couldn’t just stop and clean for 15 minutes. I did take a minute to spray a cleaner on the ants (which has a soap in it, smothering them and killing them instantly). My dear husband came in and washed up the dirty dishes and wiped down the dead ants and any other ones he found wandering around the walls or wherever.

I know I had been tired the night before, but honestly, 10 minutes to right the kitchen would have been much less traumatic than eating an ant the next morning! So lesson learned: Make sure the kitchen is clean the night before; and if I don’t really have the energy to wash the supper dishes, at least rinse anything sweet out of them! And take a minute to wipe the counters!

There is another lesson, however. Sometimes we allow things into our lives that seem harmless, or maybe it’s just a little neglect of duty, such as really taking the time to spend quality time with God. It wasn’t some big rebellion, saying “God, I don’t need You. I can do it on my own.” Just little neglect. But suddenly, life becomes overwhelming and we just can’t take it anymore. Everything is out of control, and we realize that we just can’t do it on our own after all. Then we must cry out to our Heavenly Husband to come help us. He will clean up the sin and the mess, and bring peace and harmony back into our lives.

Oh, that I may not neglect those little things!

I’ve been reading the book When God Writes Your Life Story, by Eric & Leslie Ludy, and I am just blown away. I’ve known for a while that the Christian life is surrender, but somehow the depth of it never hit me until last night as I was sitting in bed, waiting for my husband to finish an after-hair-cut shower, reading a few pages.

They went to the lives of several spiritual giants from the past–Hudson Taylor, Dwight Moody, Oswald Chambers, among others–and shared how these men had all come to the point of realizing that their religion was powerless and empty. At the point of desperation, they realized that they were still in control of their lives, that God was merely their hired servant, coming to fulfill their bidding, to carry out their plans. And they made the choice to give all, to surrender entirely everything they were.

I would like to quote from the couple of pages that struck me the most:

So how did this amazing transformation happen for these men and women of God? Just what is the secret to a victorious Christian life that each of them discovered?

It was an exchange.

An exchange of the most dramatic and life-altering proportions.

They gave up their very lives in exchange for the very life of God. They allowed their bodies to be taken over, like a town surrendering to the invasion of a foreign power. They allowed their being to be possessed by a Spirit so holy, so pure, so righteous, that any remnant of selfish sin was burned away with the fire of God’s perfect presence. They relinquished complete and total control of their lives to their King, for Him to dispose of as He saw fit. They invited the most divine Guest into the center of their existence and said, “Make this humble stable your princely palace, O holy Lord!”

They each made an exchange. . . . They exchanged life as they new it for life as God knew it should be.

They exchanged the right to do with their bodies however they saw fit for the life of a servant who only does what the Master requests.

They exchanged their dreams and ambitions for God’s great and dramatic plan for their lives.

They exchanged a life ruled and controlled by sin for a life victorious over sin, clothed with joy and triumph.

Such is the secret of every great man and woman of God. It’s the solemn exchange of a humble human life for His majestic holy life. 1

Listen to how Walter Wilson, a respected young Christian physician from the early 1900s, expressed his surrender:

Lord, I give you my this body of mine; from my head to my feet, I give it to You. My hands, my limbs, my eyes, my brain; all that I am inside and out, I hand over to You. Live in and through me whatever life You please. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. You may blind my eyes, or take me with Your message to Tibet.  You may take this body to the Eskimos, or send it to a hospital with pneumonia. This body of mine is Yours alone from this moment on. 2

I finished the chapter just as my husband came to bed, and as he turned out the light, I rolled out of bed and knelt to pray. As I knelt there before God, the words I had just read started running through my mind, and I realized that the life I have been seeking had just been described–and it was a life of slavery. Being a bondslave of God forever.

In the Old Testament, there was a ritual mentioned about a servant who wanted to stay with his master and never be free. Normally a servant would serve for 6 years or buy his freedom. But a servant could freely choose to remain with his master forever–meaning until he died. As a sign of this, his master would take an awl and bore his ear through onto the doorpost of his house. This hole in his ear was a symbol of his submission for life to his master. See Exodus 21:2-6

There is no Biblical account of any servants ever making this kind of submission to their masters, but the story is there for a reason. You see, there was One whose ear was pierced, symbolically.

Mine ears has Thou opened . . . I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.

The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 3

It is obvious from the context that both of these verses are speaking of Jesus. What is not obvious is the connection to the ear-piercing ceremony. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word “opened” in these two verses means “pierced.” Do you see the implication?

Jesus was a slave of God. He sought only His Father’s will, not His own.

And He is our Example.

All of this flooded over me last night and I knelt before God. And suddenly I realized I had to get up and write in my prayer journal. I wanted to keep a record of what was going on in my mind. Here is part of what I wrote:

I am to be a slave, with no will of my own.

Paul called himself a slave of Jesus Christ. This is what I must be. A bondservant. My highest aim must be His will.

Wow. That means I consult Him about every decision. This doesn’t mean He will always tell me what to do. He is my friend and calls me a friend, not a slave. But I must make no decision on my own.

Am I willing to take this plunge?

I guess I liked the word “surrender” better. Slavery seems so final. But this is what I must do. I must have my ear opened, or pierced, as Jesus did, and learn to delight to do my Father’s will.

Am I willing?

I want to–but I am afraid. Why? Because it is so … final. Being a bondslave is not something one could ever get out of. It lasted until death.

But I should rather focus on the joy that this surrender brings. Especially when I consider that Romans 6 teaches that we are all slaves–either to Satan or God, sin or righteousness. We cannot serve two masters, but we certainly always have one.

Which means that when my master is self, it is really Satan.

And that means I am bound for hell.

Lord, if I do this, You will have to remind me frequently. I am not in the habit of seeking Your will moment by moment. But You have begun a good work in me, and if I cooperate, You will finish it.

All right. I am Yours. All of me. Take my body and do with it as You will. Take my mind and fill it with love for You and zeal for Your Will. Take my hands and use them to minister Your glory. Take my feet and send them where You will. Take my tongue and bridle it. Tame it, that it may only speak words that will glorify Your name. Take my heart, cleanse it, and come dwell in me. Take my eyes and ears, that they may only see and hear what will honor You. Take my appetite and subdue it. May I let only what You permit pass my lips. Take every last piece of me. I am no longer my own. I am bought with a price. Praise be to God.

Can you sense the struggle? I have surrendered so many times, but it seems that in the back of my mind, many times subconsciously, there was a caveat, a condition that I would have the option to go back to the old way if it didn’t work out. But I had tasted the old way, and I was tired of it. I wanted something more. But as I wrote those words of surrender, a peace flooded over me. I put the book away and quietly went to bed. And I woke this morning with a hunger for God. And I felt led to write out this testimony during my quiet time. I wasn’t sure why at first–normally this isn’t something I would do during my devotional time–I rarely use the computer and try never to use the Internet. But now I understand. Something about going over it again has strengthened my desire, deepened my decision. I have yielded myself to the King of kings, and I will serve Him from this day forward. Praise the Lord!

 

1. Eric & Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Life Story, 68, 69

2. V. Raymond Edman, quoted in When God Writes Your Life Story, 70

3. Psalm 40:5, 8; Isaiah 50:5

I think I have finally figured out the secret to parenting.

Okay, when I say “figured it out,” I don’t mean that I have a 100% perfect understanding of it. But I think I have enough of a concept to apply it and to share it.

And it wasn’t my original discovery. It comes from the book Parenting Your Infant/Toddler by the Spirit by Sally Hohnberger. And “it” is the parenting pyramid.

In my own words, this pyramid means that God is at the top, desiring to communicate to my child and me. Because I am the parent, I need to open up the lines of communication–two-way communication. I need to make sure my heart is fully surrendered in the moment. And let me tell you, lack of surrender on our part is a big reason why we fail to bring our children to true obedience. Just try making a child obey cheerfully by yelling at them!

The second aspect is that God also wants to communicate directly to the child. However, the rebellious, tantrum-throwing two-year-old isn’t listening. So we as the parent, now surrendered to the Lord, will communicate to them, and direct them to listen to what God is saying to them. Then we lead them to surrender as well. Once they surrender, the lines of communication are open between both parent and child and God and child.

Now, that’s good in theory, but let me make this practical with some illustrations from my life today.

It was time to pick up the toys and get ready for worship. But neither of my children wanted to pick up the toys. Manny tried to throw a tantrum and Gislaine started to cry. Because I couldn’t deal with them both at once, I sent Gislaine to her room and told her to wait until I called her. Then I told Manny that he needed to surrender his heart to Jesus and put the toys away. I said, “Let’s pray,” but he jerked in defiance. So I took his hand and said, “We need to go for a run.” We ran the length of the house and back. Then I knelt again and asked him to pray with me. He knelt, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. Then he repeated after me. “Dear Jesus, please help me to put my toys away happy. Amen.” Then I showed him the toy, and repeated my instruction. He put it away. At first he was just compliant–putting it away under protest. But as I directed him to put more and more away, his heart softened until by the time he was done, he was a cheerful, happy little boy. And Daddy noticed later, after I had gone to the gym, that he was the happiest, most obedient, surrendered little boy that he had been for a long time, and commented on it to me when I got back.

Once he was busy putting his toys away, I called his sister out. We knelt and I led her in a similar prayer. Then I asked her, “What is Jesus saying to you?” She said, “To obey.” That just warmed my heart! Jesus was speaking to my precious daughter, and she recognized His voice! I said, “That’s right. Now please put the dolly’s bed away.” And she did. She also helped her brother put some things away. And she was happy when it was over.

And so was I!

Yes, it took extra time to do it, but the end result was happiness for everyone, and peace in the home.

Yes, this is the secret: a connection with God, listening for His direction, and following His guidance. Most of the time, we won’t know for sure if the ideas that come to our minds are from Him or not, but we are to test the spirits, and move forward in faith. But being surrendered ourselves–to take our toddler’s hand for the grizzly run (because they are too young to run by themselves), even when we don’t feel like running–makes all the difference. Because we certainly cannot bring our child to surrender if we are not surrendered ourselves!

I’m reading this book through for the second time. I can’t say I’ve read enough recently to do a proper review of it, but I would still highly recommend it. And all the other books in the series.