Thursday, March 12, 2020

Peace in Total Surrender

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

There is a beautiful song I heard years ago on a homemade cassette tape that I have really come to love.  It became one of my dear Mom's favorite songs to listen to, and the other morning, Kevin began singing it in the car.  I hadn't heard it in so long, and its words washed over me like a soothing balm.  I wish I knew who wrote the song, so I could attribute credit, but I believe it must have been written by the unnamed ones singing the song on the tape.  I don't even know the title of the song, but here are the words.

"Oh, the joy beyond all telling in the center of God's will,
When my sins are all forgiven, and my heart is calm and still.

Chorus

How I love Him!  Christ, my Savior!  Oh, what fellowship divine;
He has filled me with His Spirit, and His blessings now are mine.

Blessed fellowship with Jesus, how it thrills me through and through,
As I follow where He leads me, ever faithful, ever true.

Love, the world, and all its pleasures, He has turned my heart away;
Now I live for Jesus only, and His blessed will obey.

He has satisfied my longings, I am His and His alone;
No one else can be my master, for my heart is now His throne."

As Kevin and I sang that song together in the car the other morning, every, single word resonated within my inmost soul.  I could truly sing each one of them from the depths of my heart.  I am not in ANY way boasting.  Believe me, I have nothing in the world to boast about.  I echo the Apostle Paul's words in Ephesians 2:8,9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  not of works, lest any man should boast."  

All the "works" I could ever muster would never come close to being enough to bring about peace with God.  In fact, finding complete peace in one's soul requires just the opposite of "works."  Peace demands a total surrender of our own works, and a whole-hearted yielding and abandonment of one's  self and every desire and pursuit that is contrary to God's holiness.

As I look back over my Christian walk with the Lord, I can identify seasons of a lack of peace, and I realize that those times always followed some type of rebellion on my part.  There was some part of me that refused to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.  Those were times of deep spiritual unrest and were peppered with discontent and tension because we were not made to live at odds with our Creator.  He created us because He craved fellowship with a being that would love and honor and serve Him willingly and on purpose.

He created Adam and Eve in His own image, and oh, the joy beyond all telling while they were living in the center of His will!  Can you even imagine those precious moments of fellowship?  There was nothing at all between them and the God of Heaven—just total and complete harmony and a sense of togetherness so intimate that Genesis 2:25 says, "Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."  

Why would they?  Shame wasn't even thought of, at that point because they had never sinned, so the pure holiness of God's nature was in complete unity with the essence of who they were.  One day, they made the conscious choice to openly defy the one command God had given them to not eat of the "knowledge of good and evil tree" that was in the midst of the utopian Garden of Eden God had created for them.  The minute they disobeyed, they suddenly knew they were naked and began to try to cover themselves. 

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."  Genesis 3:6,7

In that instant of enlightenment to the "knowledge of good and evil," they suddenly became aware of the sensation of guilt for the very first time.  They knew they had chosen evil over good.  Fellowship with God was broken.  Things were no longer the same.  Later, when God came to commune with them in the cool of the day, they drew back from His presence.

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  Genesis 3:8-11

Isn't that just the way we are?  When we sin, we are internally aware that something has shifted.  We no longer feel a sense of thrill and anticipation about being in His presence, but instead cringe and draw back, dreading the moment His righteousness illuminates the blatancy of our sin.

The pain of living out of fellowship with God is beyond miserable.  There is this constant, nagging awareness of discord between the soul and the One who made it that is hard to fight against.  The only path back to peace is full surrender, and oh, the joy that is restored when we finally make the choice to give in to His sovereignty and stop fighting against Him!  Then, and only then will we find true soul rest.

This rest is available to each and every one of us—at the end of our struggle to have our own way.
When we fully give in to the Divine will of God and make up our minds to follow Jesus, regardless what He asks or where His path leads us, when we release the notion that we will ever be able to find a sense of peace outside of that, when we stop trying to "work" our way to an inward calm, we will find the inner rest our soul craves.

"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His."
 Hebrews 4:9-10

Our "own works" are the very thing that keep us from finding soul rest.  It is true that we are our own worst enemy.  There are tendencies in each one of us that hold the propensity to lead our souls astray to a place far from God—to a place where the sweet communion we have had with Him in the past is replaced by a sense of shame and guilt.

In reality, no matter how much we try to "cover" ourselves or the wrongs we have done,
"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."  Hebrews 4:13

Thank God, HE wants fellowship restored just as much as, if not more than, we do.  We have ALL sinned and come short of His glory, but He is a forgiving, merciful God who longs to restore complete communion and glory with Him.

King David, who had blatantly and repeatedly sinned said this,
"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."  Psalm 86:5

After reading about the repetitive sins of the children of Israel, we read this,
"But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them."  Nehemiah 9:17

After Jonah ran from God and His call upon his life and found himself in a place of total rebellion to His will, he prayed this prayer,
"Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm."  Jonah 4:2

Where are you today?  Are you living in sweet, complete fellowship with the God of Heaven?  Do you look forward to your times with Him when He condescends "in the cool of the day?"  Or is there something between—something that causes you to feel hesitant to approach His presence?

If there is something that is robbing your inmost peace and communion with God, regardless what satan may be telling you, finding your way back is not complicated.
It simply involves uttering from the heart the words Jesus spoke in the darkest hour of history,
"Not My will, but Thine, be done."  Luke 22:42


Graphic Design by Zach Smith

As soon as you surrender and say those words from the heart, inward calm is enacted and peace is restored!

"So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm."
Joel 2:13



God bless each one of you today as you seek a closer, more intimate walk with Him!

8 comments:

  1. My words for the year are "submit" and "trust." We do find our soul's rest when we completely surrender to God's will for us, trusting that He will make all things possible, and will forgive those times we stray from Him.
    Blessings, Cheryl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that is surely where peace and rest are found - total surrender at the feet of Jesus. Many blessings to you, too, Martha!

      Delete
  2. Trust. Peace. Submit. I'm trying my dear friend. This is such a trying time for so many people. I'm praying so hard for God to grant my Mama heart peace. Thank you for these scriptures my dear friend.

    The book arrived yesterday in the mail and I'm looking forward to reading it very soon. I think I will have lots of time available!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, sweet friend. I am surely praying for you and your burdens, too, and trusting God for the very best outcome. I am so thankful you got the book! Trusting Jesus that it will minister greatly to your soul and comfort you. Much love to you. Keep encouraged!

      Delete
  3. Zach Smith is a good graphic artist.

    Trust in God always.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Victor! I happen to think Zach Smith is a good graphic artist, too! He is such a dear blessing. Thank you for your kind words, and may God bless you, too!

      Delete
  4. Oh Sweet Friend thank you for these convicting words delivered in love. When you said, "Or is there something between—something that causes you to feel hesitant to approach His presence?", I was instantly convicted as I had never thought about this before. But lately, because I have been so busy with Small Group Bible Study, Ladies Bible Study, My blog, I have been hesitant to do my own personal reading, almost feeling resentment number one that I haven't been doing my own reading, but #2, and this is where I was convicted, there has indeed been a hesitancy in me to do it which is now causing me to look deeper to see where my rebellion is, and I already have an inkling...

    I confess that saying "Not my will but yours" is one of the scariest phrases to me. Yet you put it in perfect Biblical perspective for me that indeed that phrase is actually the most freeing to utter.

    Thank you for faithfully sharing what the Lord has laid upon your heart with humility and grace. I thank God for you and your ministry here, and I thank God for the friendship and kindredness that we have.

    Sending you much love,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I thank the dear Lord so much for you, your ministry, and your precious friendship, too, sweet friend! You are a continual blessing in my life, and how I appreciate your kindred spirit, also! Thank you for your transparency here, and it is so wonderful to know I am not alone in my struggles. Praying for you, sending much love back to you, and will be in touch very soon via email, Lord willing! God bless you abundantly!

      Delete