Friday, August 28, 2009

Trust and Obey

I think way too much. Ask my wife and my therapist . . .don't ask my therapist, he's not talk'n 'cause I pay him not to. But if you did, he would say " George spends quite a bit of time calculating risk. He also spends alot of energy trying to avoid failure." Joline would tell you " My husband takes himself way too seriously." I agree with both of them. I think God has wired me in such a way to be very thoughtful in my approach. My life events have taught be to use that energy to calculate risk, avoid pain, and only take steps that have a high percentage of success. In spiritual terms we call it "counting the costs". In plain language it's called "fear".

We worship safety and security. The moment it's jeopardized we scream bloody murder. We want stuff fixed now. We want to move on from pain as fast as possible. We want to name it and claim it. We want comfort. We want assurance that nothing bad is going to happen, and if it does we want to make sure it's not our fault or responsibility. When was the last time you saw a public figure step out and say "Yep, it's my fault. I am responsible for what happened"? I have a hard time remembering one. The most recent one was Commander Scott Waddle of the USS Greenville, the US Submarine that hit the Japanese fishing boat in 2001.

Having not even been on the bridge when the accident happened, Waddle took full responsibility because he knew ultimately the ship, no matter his location, was his responsibility. Most of us would have pointed the finger in the other direction and said " I wasn't there. Its not my fault. The crew should have done a better job." I pray I have that kind of integrity and character when the hour strikes. Could this be an example of "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance?" (Matt. 3:8)

What does this have to do with Trust and Obey? When we worship security; when we live out of a state of fear we will do whatever it takes to maintain that security. We will do whatever it takes to avoid the pain of loss. We will sell our integrity and our freedom. We will deny our faith. We will say "I was never with Him."

Over the course of my young 40 years I have faced this more than once. I have done well, and I have failed. While I have never outright denied Christ, I have denied him in more subtle ways. I have worked hard to maintain a veneer of holiness that required little sacrifice. I have flown under the radar screen of failure. I have only surfaced when conditions were optimal for good responses.

God has given me the gift of anxiety. That is not easy for me to say (and I barely got it typed). I have seen anxiety as a curse and sin for a long time. I have read Jerry Bridges book on acceptable sins that includes anxiety. I have read scripture that encourages us not to be anxious or fearful. I love those passages. Then I read the Psalms and I see a lot of fear and anxiety. I see people who are crying out to the Lord and giving thanks for deliverance. I see the natural ebb and flow of a life that is filled with joy and suffering. I see a book filled with anxiety. I see a Savior who was more than a little anxious in the Garden.

Don't get me wrong; I'm tired of waking up in the morning feeling like I already have a millstone around my neck, but that millstone has kept me tethered to God in a way that I never have been before. I read scripture more intensely. I pray and journal with purpose. I am able to see and hear the pain and suffering of people more clearly. Simply put, I think I am coming to know Christ more in His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering; something Paul prayed for in Philippians 3. A prayer that I thought was outrageous the first time I ever read it, and asked " Who would want to know that?" Paul did. He wanted to see, hear, and feel with the heart, soul, and mind of Jesus. You can't know that without suffering. You can't look upon people with compassion if you haven't felt pain. Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:7-9)

Was Jesus fearful? Was he anxious? Look to the Garden. He cried out and wept. He didn't just 'man up". He pleaded for a different way. That is a Savior I can follow. He knew that no matter where He was, as long as He was with the Father, that place was perfect. No matter where I am in my pain, my anxiety; as long as I am with the Father, that place is perfect.

What is that place? Trust and obey. Jesus didn't worship security. He worshiped the Father, and his whole life mission was to be be with the Father and to do the Father's will. Period. He placed Himself in the care and providence of God and sought only to do what the Father had made known to Him. The garden was painful. The cross was painful. The garden was perfect. The cross was perfect. Not perfect in the sense we think of it(beauty), but perfect in the sense of being complete, attaining it's intended purpose.

Are you pursuing a life void of fear or one full of purpose? For a long time I thought I was pursuing purpose. I made deals with God. I attempted to do the right things in order to make God happy, and He in return would protect me from pain. But then pain came. And what was my response? Why Lord? I thought we had a deal? Sound familiar? Anxiety is the "perfect" response to a life that seeks to avoid pain. Anxiety is made complete. It has attained it's purpose. How is that purpose redeemed? At first, in the life of a Christ follower, it brings that person to thier knees, where the only prayer that is audible is 'Help". You come to realize that you have nothing but God. It then draws that person into a deeper sense of humility, a deeper sense of connection. It is then made perfect (complete) in a deeper sense of trust and obedience. Consequences become secondary. Surrender becomes primary.

So then, how do I pray? As the Lord taught me. I give him glory. I call for His will be to done. I ask for His provision. I seek his forgiveness and to forgive others. I ask to be directed in the pathe of righteousness, and to be delivered from the evil one. I pray for myself and others in this fashion, according to his will.

Friends, you may be asking "Why am I going through this pain?". My prayer is that you would come to the place where you can ask " Lord, how will this pain serve your perfect purpose in my life?", and " How am I to trust and obey?" Seek healing, ask for healing. Jesus is able to heal. Also give thanks for the pain,and that it might be made perfect in your life.