Sunday, July 27, 2014

At the Impulse of Thy Love

Soooo many thoughts, tonight, as I process the events of the past day, and the present one that marks 51 years of my life on earth. I am reminded, once again, that my God sees me. He is intimately acquainted with all of my ways. How do I know these things with any certainty? Well, to be honest, I take a lot on faith; I am blessed to have been so richly endowed with faith allows me to see life from a very unique perspective.

For example, when I came to the end of a deeply emotional day yesterday, my whole soul was eager to meet God in prayer, and to press into God's arms, letting Him enfold me as I shared my heart and sought His wisdom. He was present and waiting for me with this verse:

Hebrews 12:1New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Jesus, the Example

12 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
As my prayer embraced this verse, I became confidently aware of a few things:
First, I am not alone. God sees me and all that concerns me. In fact, all the saints in heaven, and indeed the heavens themselves—the stars that He calls out by name—are a great cloud of witnesses with whom I share a testimony of my God as my creator and redeemer who lives. 
Yet, I was not only keenly aware of His presence, I also found myself reminded of how the troubles of life are not impenetrable walls that prevent me from a blessed life. I am charged, in fact, with a duty to lay aside EVERY encumbrance—especially my sinfulness—that might inhibit me from not only accepting the life that was given to me, but embracing it and living it with endurance, and with God's end, not my own, in mind. 
I asked myself what it really means to lay aside every encumbrance, and I realized quickly that God never asks us to lay aside reality, only any weight of reality that  threatens to hold us back from saying, "Here am I," as Samuel the prophet did, when God calls us to something…no matter how challenging. So, for example, whether I am carrying the weight of illness, poor finances, or even profound grief and suffering, God says I am to lay down any part of these things that limits my ability to take the life that is set before me, and live it daily in service and obedience to Him who is able to keep me from falling.
We might think of it this way: God would never ask us to deal in unreality. If we are sick, or poor, or grief-stricken, etc., God doesn't ask us to stop being ill, or poor, or bereaved. He only asks that we let Him sift off from our troubles any part(s) that stand between us and His will for our lives—the lives we have set before us. 
So, God would never say to me, "Anne! You are not allowed to feel any sorrow or discomfort in this life!" Instead, God says, "Anne, you must not allow your sorrows or discomforts to stand in the way of your full obedience to me." That means my troubles are not an excuse for my disobedience.
In fact, I think it's quite the opposite! I think laying aside encumbrances and running the race of life means taking my troubles and using them as spiritual energy to help me draw nearer to God—receiving His strength in order to obey Him despite my human weaknesses. I don't get to say, "…but God, my body is broken with illness, my piggy bank is broken with financial pressures, my heart is broken with some terrible tragedy." Instead, my job is to persist in the endeavor to obey God at every unexpected twist and turn in life…from the highest highs to the lowest lows. I am to surrender myself and my whole life to God and His ways…whatever the path He has laid before me. 
Oh sure; I can pretend at obedience on the surface, and then resent it down deep, but God sees. He knows. He is present…slow to anger and abounding in love. He has given us not only the freedom to disobey, but also the tools to obey…to run the race with endurance.
In doing so, when we say, "Here am I, Lord," we are to do more than simply report for some kind of spiritual KP duty, and then kvetch the whole time. We are to report as hands, feet, hearts, lips, and eyes that move "at the impulse of His love." So we can be sure, whether we are asked to love our enemies, our neighbors, our families, or even ourselves, He has already given us His love to do the job, and to do it well for the long haul. He has already loved before us.
We do well to ask ourselves, then, if we are living fully surrendered lives that move at His impulses, and not our own. If we are not, we can ask God, "Why?" but He will undoubtedly answer by giving us some sort of reminder that we have failed to lay aside any weight that keeps us from acting at the impulse of His love.

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