Tuesday, December 26, 2006

laying it down

I am currently reading the Gospel of Luke for my devotional time. I'm still using my trusty Ampliphied Bible even though I asked for The Message for Christmas. I realize I need to keep my scripture reading fresh and interesting. But the Ampliphied is like the queen mother of versions to me because it turns over every stone of implication and shade of meaning in key words and phrases. I never fail to receive fresh revelation from it, and today was no exception.

I was reading chapter 14, which is a difficult one. Jesus outlines the cost of discipleship. He says that anyone who values their family more highly than God and their life of service to Him is not worthy of Him. He goes on analogize about a builder who first counts the cost of his project before starting and a king who is contemplating battle and considers the strength of his enemy. We are instructed to consider the cost of following and act accordingly. I would submit that this accounting occurs every time someone or something comes into our lives or happens that challenges our loyalty to God. In my case presently it is my son, and my influence in his life.

Verse 33 struck me most powerfully, "So then, whoever of you does not forsake-renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say goodbye to-all that he has cannot be My disciple". Whew, how does a body do that? I was brought up short by the "surrender claim to". All of this addresses our will. Obviously everyone and everything belongs to God, but we do "lay claim" in our lives. The most compelling place is often with our children. I bore them, I raised them, I have a say and I demand an accounting from them-they are mine! We think we are able to release them easily, but let something come in the way of the bonds that attach them to us, and we grab all the more tightly. This is what the Spirit spoke to me regarding my son-I have to renounce my claim to influence in his life. I have to renounce my plans for him, my wishes, my desires, all of that. The Father knows. But all of those things are getting in the way of my relationship with Him. I am not trusting HIM to lead my son. I have to distance myself in trust. This is so difficult, but other places in my life where I have done so has opened the door for the things to happen that should happen! I'm not forcing it open. My surrender lets the Spirit flow right through it.

I began to consider other areas where I lay claim. One place is my body. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but I do not treat it as such. I treat it as my servant and my property to do with as I see fit. The hardest thing in life to do I feel is surrender completely without the expectation of anything more than that. Jesus said a servant should not expect to be rewarded for their service. In truth we are bountifully rewarded-we are friends of God and His children if we forsake all, not merely servants. Our lives are given back immediately in the spiritual realm times ten thousand, so why cling to the shreds of the old life? It is hard to let go. I love the contemporary song, "Surrender" (can't remember the writer!), but it goes something like, "I'm giving You my life, I'm waiting at the cross, and all the world holds dear, I count it all as loss, for the sake of knowing You, the glory of Your Name, to know the lasting joy, even sharing in Your pain....and I surrender all to You, all to You...The more we surrender and the longer we walk, the more we know there is no turning back and only one answer when Jesus says again, "Follow Me!"


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