Monday, August 1, 2011

The Absence of Struggling

I'm a big fan of devotionals, and I have probably subscribed to way more than I can keep up with. But about eight weeks ago, the writer in one of my devotionals expressed the realization that he doesn't have to struggle anymore if he abides in Him. The very idea of the absence of struggle got my attention and I've often pondered on the term "abiding" every since--but not as consistently as I should have. I've occasionally asked God to show me what it is, but never consistently. Truthfully, although I wanted to know more about abiding, I've never been all that serious about seeking it. I guess i didn't want it all that badly until today.

This morning, as I prayed I thought about the things I said, thought and did over the past 24 hours. I grew increasingly frustrated with my ability to make a mess of things. I asked Him to help me to understand "abiding" as I confessed my fear of this destructive nature I possess. I mean, I struggle a LOT. It's a constant struggle for me to NOT make a mess of something. And the more I grow, the more aware I am of the dangers of turning away from Him and doing things my own way. In some sense, I am afraid of myself and the sin I am capable of. Today, more than ever, I need to understand what it means to abide in Him.

Shortly after praying, as I moved on about my daily routine it hit me. I had one of those "Ah ha" moments of a divine nature. I get it! I understand it now. The only regret I have now is not being more serious about this sooner.

In showing the meaning of abiding to me, the Lord took me back about a week ago to a conversation between my husband and me in the van. As we were pulling in the parking lot of my husband's work. I was telling my husband about recent times when the Lord has taken some things I've prayed for help with and handled it. I was excited about the fact that in doing so, I'm not left to figure anything out for myself. As an overthinker, the mere fact that I'm not left to figure something out is huge. It's an absolute miracle. I tend to obsess about the little things to a degree that I'm ashamed to admit.

I hadn't thought anymore about that conversation until this morning. It was like I was right there--back in that conversation again. Abiding is giving it all to Him and not just waiting on Him to tell me how to deal with it. It's all about the battle of my flesh fighting to handle things vs truly giving my issues to Him. I realize that there are times when I ask for His help but I hang on to the thing I need help with, waiting on Him to tell me how. I see now that He can tell me how all day long but He wants me to trust Him enough to hand it over. He wants to make my burdens light.

Those times that I hand things completely to Him in faith have proven to be the most rewarding because He does take it all. He puts the pieces together and makes it all make sense. But when I ask for something and cling to it, thinking I have to fix it by doing what He wants me to do, I struggle. I over think, I guilt myself. I get discouraged and I struggle some more. And those are times where I secretly wonder why He makes it so hard. But He doesn't make it hard-- I do.

To be honest, the times when I get it right are by no act of mine. I truly believe it's His intervention because it's not in my nature to let go of anything. I believe that although He gives us free will, He does intervene sometimes to give us a taste of how things can be. It's up to us to choose, of course.

Many times in the past month or so, my husband has expressed a need to "shut himself up /get himself out of the way". After today, I hear those cries in a whole new light. Our nature is to ask for His help but then try to do it on our own. It goes against the nature of man to ask Him for help and hand it over to Him completely. We just don't realize how much He wants to handle things for us or how often we fight Him on that by refusing to give it up.

It's not that we're no longer being held responsible or that we sit idly and do nothing. It's that we have to change our focus from ourselves to Him and His abilities. It's that we ask, hand it over and then let Him reign in us as we march forward. If we'll get out of our own way, and let Him take over in us we might just be surprised at how little we struggle. I think the hardest part for most of us is letting go of our own predispositions, assumptions and thought processes. Just let go---it seems so easy right? No, it's not, but it's far more rewarding. The process of dying to self is the single hardest part of being a believer because we still live in the flesh, and our flesh gets set in it's ways.
We must be intentional about our focus and about letting go. Our ways are so deeply ingrained that in order for us get any real understanding of Him and His greatness, we must intentionally focus on giving all of ourselves (junk and all) to Him.

Webster's Dictionary defines "Abide":

1. To wait for; to endure without yielding; to bear patiently; to accept without objection. 2. To remain stable or fixed in a state.
It seems I'm not alone in that I must learn to wait for Him, endure His will without yielding to my flesh, bear hard times patiently and accept His way without allowing my flesh to object, even subconsciously. I must learn to remain stable in Him, fixed on Him--and all that He can do in me and with me.

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