I'm a forgetful person. This year I learnt what it means to trust God and what it really means to die to oneself. I learnt what it meant to obey God and what it means put His will in place of ours.
I don't really know how to write this post. I don't have a structure that I'm going by or anything. I'm not even quite sure how to approach it. One thing that stands out in my head is Genesis 22 where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Kind of a crazy thing for God to say since Abraham wanted a kid so bad and God gave him Isaac.
I don't know about you but Gen 22 was always a story I couldn't identify with or appreciate fully. I couldn't comprehend the thoughts, the sadness and the confusion that would have went through Abraham's mind. Imagine wanting one thing and then suddenly God tells you no. How are you supposed to react? One thing I can say about that chapter is that it was an incredibly stretching time for Abraham. I was inspired to write this post after reading Brennan Manning's book The Ragamuffin Gospel so most of my quotes will come from that book. I highly recommend you read it because it's simply such an amazing book. It's also really helped sum up the season and things I've been going through.
These are some of the things I've learnt this year:
- Trusting God means trusting with no expectations for your own will to be done. I know this sounds so simple, but in practice it can be so difficult because we're such limited creatures wanting the best for ourselves when it comes to crunch time.With what happened this year, I expected God to do certain things my
way. I expected things to go my way but I trusted that He would carry it
out. It's some sort of weird paradox because I was trusting God to do
my own will. I trusted God with my feelings but expected a certain outcome. An 'it would be nice if this happened' mindset is completely different from an 'I expect this to happen'. I convinced myself I was thinking the first when really I was the latter. In summary, I wasn't trusting God because if I did, I would have trusted Him with whatever outcome He was to carry out. I am truly inspired by the faith Abraham had and how he pushed his feelings and his desires to the backseat and obeyed God. Such strength. He desired not to slay his son, but proceeded to do so and trusted God's plans and goodness.
- When the craving for reassurances is stifled, trust happens. I craved tangible reassurances in the form of friends. The truth of this lay veiled by a lie which asked for support. I needed support yes. But there was a point where I started questioning my value and the desire for me to be included in things and then it began being measured by the people I could turn to. I think this passage by Brennan Manning in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel sums everything up perfectly.
'The sunrise of faith requires the sunset of our craving spiritual consolations and tangible reassurances. Trust at the mercy of the response it receives is a bogus trust. All is uncertainty and anxiety. If she does not receive proofs from the Lord she suspects her relationship with the Lord is over or never existed. If she receives consolation, she is reassured but only for a time. Tangible reassurances, however valuable they may be, cannot create trust, sustain it, or guarantee any certainty of its presence. Jesus calls us to hand over our autonomous self in unshaken confidence. '
Most of the people I could connect with left in the past year. This was something I expected to go through since I'm going to an international zone cell, but I didn't realise the potential impact of it. I'm not the type to have many friends. I'd much rather prefer deep relationships over casual ones. But this year left me feeling lonely after they left to their countries. I actually discussed my season with my cell leader and we came to the conclusion that this was possibly a season of solitude for me. She also told me that she thought I was a bit dependent on other people at times, and maybe this was a time where I was also learning to be more independent with what I wanted or what I stood for. It was a good wake up call because I know that I wasn't the type to do that but over time I'd started to be more dependent on other people. I'm okay with being alone, but I think is a season more about the things that I stand for, the things I believe in etc.
- 'The grace to let go and let God be God flows from trust in His boundless love' (Brennan Manning). I think it's so easy to limit God's love for us in a tiny box based on the love we've received or think we've given.
- 'Human love will always be a faint shadow of God's love.'
- 'Only love empowers the leap in trust, the courage to risk everything on Jesus, the readiness to move into the darkness guided only by a pillar of fire. Trust clings to the belief that whatever happens in our lives is designed to teach us holiness.'
I never realised how much I'd focused on my feelings. I have a tendency to get carried away with my emotions but this year has really called me to put my emotions to the backseat and to obey God regardless of how I feel about it. I can't even comprehend the feelings going through Abraham's heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. An angel was called to intervene before Abraham slayed his son. I can't imagine how God felt when no angel was to intervene the crucifixion of Christ, but He allowed it to happen because He loved us that much. I never realised my focus until the truth of what God did for me pierced through the darkness and my heart.
During this year I spent a lot of time confused by what it meant to trust God, what it meant to let go and let God, and what was that freedom everyone talked about. Trusting God doesn't mean that you don't have any desires. You tell God your desires, you have things you want, but above all else it means you want what God wants for you. So regardless of what happens, you know that God's giving you the best for you. Trusting involves having faith that God loves you. That is, really believing that God loves you.
Letting go refers to letting God take control. It's so easy to want to take over and say God, "you're doing an absolutely shit job and everything's crap right now". Trust me, I've been there. Have definitely been there this year. I thought I was letting go by trusting Him with the outcome. But I challenge you today to really let go. Let go by letting Him do His thing. Let God be God. For me it was letting go of my feelings. It was letting go and saying 'God, you provided before. I will let go and let you take over and if what I desire happens or not, I still choose you and trust you and praise you for it'.
Freedom. For me I didn't understand what it meant by freedom because in my head I didn't think I was a captive to my thoughts or my feelings. But, the freedom I now see is the freedom in knowing I don't need to worry about the outcome because I know God is in control. It's the freedom from worrying about what will happen because you know God loves you and will give you the best things for you at the right time.
I don't know what will happen to me. His timing will tell. But, I challenge you that if you are struggling to let go of something, if you are struggling to trust, remember that He knows best and that He loved you so much that He sent His one and only son for You. I pray the weight of this truth of His love for us pierces your heart and that it frees you today because you were born to be free.