The people who are the most well-adjusted, who enjoy the most productive lives, are those who are able to accept life as it is. Did you think I just advised you to ‘give up’ on making life better? I did not. Acceptance allows us to stop pretending, excusing, living in fantasy so that we will deal with life as it is in reality!
There is a kind of Christianity out there that turns life inside out. The power of God is turned into a tool that we use to make life what we believe it ought to be. God exists, in that mistaken view, to serve us, to ‘fix’ life.
A subtle conceit is taught that hides inside of the language of ‘faith’ that suggests that if we learn the ‘right’ prayers, if we do the ‘right’ things, if ‘know God’ intimately, then we can master our universe and turn life into a perpetual experience of happiness, untroubled by sickness, disappointment, or death. So many Christians who have been taught to think in this way live without the peace of God and often feel ashamed of their prayers that go ‘unanswered’ because they conclude that they must be doing something wrong.
Consider this challenging, inspired passage, that Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers. Speaking of his ‘thorn in the flesh,’ something that caused him pain, he says “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NIV)
That is acceptance! “This is the reality of my life,” he says, “and I will not pretend it is better than it is, try to make it into something it is not. In fact, I will DELIGHT in the very things others despise.”
He knew that when he accepted life’s reality, he was in a position to be used of God as He desired. Those who live there experience great serenity. The grand paradox is this: the person who knows his own inability to ‘fix’ the world and rests in the Lord is the one who brings about the most lasting transformation in the world. That person who knows that they are held in the hands of God, who access His Presence with faith, discover a quality of spiritual power unequaled by those who constantly demand that God act, heal, save, or change their situation.
Ben Patterson, campus pastor at Westmont College, wrote transparently about his journey of faith in a time of suffering that uncovered his desire to control his own life. “For 6 weeks I was totally out of commission. During that time I crossed a frontier in my prayer life… toward the end of my convalescence, I had a conversation with the Lord that went something like this: ‘These times of prayer have been sweet. I’ve actually had time to pray for every single person in this congregation, every day. It’s too bad I won’t have time to do this when I get back to work.’ The Lord’s reply was quick and blunt. ‘Stupid, you have the same 24 hours when you’re well as when you are sick. The trouble with you, Ben, is that when you’re well, you think you’re in charge; when you’re sick you know you’re not.’ “
When we adopt the idea that God is just a part of our equipment to deal with life, that we can ‘use Him’ to make our plans work out, our faith becomes religion, our submission to Him lost. In that place we risk turning into one of those Christians who is disillusioned, ill-tempered, and ineffective. Though we would not likely say it out loud, in our heart we wonder “Why doesn’t God do what I ask of Him?” We may even conclude that He is cruel or unkind, a kind of abusive Father. Conversely when life is going well we will conclude we must be living right, earning His favor, and in that spiritual pride become an ugly, judgmental person of those who are hurting.
God works with people who have come to the end of Self, who are ready to ‘get real’ about themselves and life. He is the Friend of Sinners.
Consider the life of Moses. The man had great abilities and was trained in the school of Pharoah. But, he became a failed prince and a fugitive murderer. He had 40 years in the desert tending a flock of sheep becoming nobody. Then, he met God who handed him a tough assignment! Moses’ knew his limitations and even tried to sidestep the call of God at first. He wondered, “How will I inspire a people enslaved by a powerful nation to leave behind the lives they have known for centuries? How will I get the Pharaoh to let the people go?”
God’s answer was a focus on HIMSELF, not on the prayers or personality of Moses. “Who should I tell these people has sent me? What’s your Name?” The LORD reveals His majesty saying, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:14, NKJV)
Are you struggling to make sense of life today? Pray to learn the gift of acceptance, to ‘be’ where you are, fully present to yourself, your family, your circumstances AND at rest in the Presence of the Spirit of God. There in the hand of the One who is the great ‘I AM‘ we find the great faith that makes us useful to Him. “His grace is sufficient!”
The word from the Word is that passage I quoted earlier. Meditate on it, prayerfully asking the Spirit to settle your soul today. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NIV)
Hold On To Me
(Lauren Daigle sings a prayer!)
When the best of me is barely breathin’
When I’m not somebody I believe in
Hold on to me
When I miss the light the night has stolen
When I’m slammin’ all the doors You’ve opened
Hold on to me hold on to me
Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see You
When I am sure I have reached the end
Hold on to me when I forget I need You
When I let go hold me again
When I don’t feel like I’m worth defending
When I’m tired of all my pretending
Hold on to me
When I start to break in desperation
Underneath the weight of expectation
Hold on to me hold on to me
I could rest here in Your arms forever
‘Cause I know nobody loves me better
Hold on to me hold on to me
Lauren Daigle | Paul Duncan | Paul Mabury
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