The Sacrifice of Surrender

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“No God… No.” I cried out in my bedroom as I rocked my 15 year old self. Tears flowed from my eyes as I sought the Lord on my knees that night. Within I battled the fear that overwhelmed me. I feared trusting God. I wanted to, yet at the same time, I longed to cling onto my ways.

We have all, as Christians, have had those moments where we must choose surrender. Those moments where we battle letting the Lord rule and control the outcome or our own willful selves.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

Before Christ, the Israelite nation had been commanded to sacrifice the first born of their livestock to the Lord. It was a sacrifice, and since it was the first born, they had no promise of another animal. They had no knowledge if the other sheep would give birth to healthy lambs, or even if their lambs would survive the birth on a cold night.

That is the essence of sacrifice, giving a circumstance or thing to God, even with no promise of return.

We are commanded in Romans to sacrifice ourselves unto God as a living act of worship.

 

How can you practically sacrifice unto the Lord as an act of Worship?

 

 

The Fear of Hypocrisy


It was a normal Monday afternoon as I logged my hours into the database of the pregnancy center where I work. Out of nowhere
came a sting of guilt as I remembered the quick temper that I had displayed to my brother as I rushed out the door. Pondering my actions, the enemy began to whisper lies to my soul, “Who are you to work with this Pregnancy Center? If they only knew what you are really like, they would never want to have your service. You are just a hypocritical Christian. You need to resign and step down from all the ministry you are part of.”

Shame shadowed my face as I finished up my tasks and headed to my car. “Maybe I should just step down from ministry until I get my life together?” I pondered, as the engine began.

I wish that I could tell you that I didn’t listen to those lies for long. I wish that I hadn’t lived believing them for so long. Yet, honestly, I stayed in that place of shame for many months, and still to this day struggle with the guilt of not being completely sanctified.

The greatest fear I have isn’t the fear of being murdered in my sleep, of the darkness, or even of heights. My most monsterest of fears is the fear of being a hypocrite. I fear preaching one thing and living another. I fear failing God and not living in a way that honors Him. I fear causing the same amount of pain that I have experienced
from others. I fear being labeled a hypocrite.

I know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this lie. The lie that the enemy so often speaks, attempting to disqualify us from the work that Christ is doing.
There is a clear difference between a hypocritical Christian and a true follower of Christ.

A hypocritical Christian claims to be without sin, yet knows that sin is within their lives. John warned the church of this very thing, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
A true follower of Christ is a work in progress. He or she doesn’t claim to be perfect but simply on the upward climb toward sanctification.

I am not a finished project.

I am not sinless and it seems that the closer I draw to the light, the more dirt and grime shows within.

HE is still working on my soul.

I continue to strive toward perfection, Yet all the time allowing Him to sanctify me.

The Danger of Walls

 

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29
I have a confession to make. I am a stone mason. Whenever someone or a circumstance causes bone-crushing pain, I quickly begin my occupation. I snatch up my chisel and gavel and begin to build up my fortress. Fashioning the four walls with the stones of bitterness, fear of rejection, and the marble of falseness.

Once complete, my masterpiece towered 15 feet high. I huddle in the darkest corner finally believing myself to be safe at last from any enemy fire. Yet, the longer I stay within those walls, their beauty turns into darkness. The protection that the walls falsely promised, soon turn into my very prison. I assumed that none could enter those walls that I had built. Yet many characters entered and seeped into the room that I had fashioned; a man named condemnation stepped in, along with depression and loneliness. These three companions became my daily torturers, gagging me and not allowing me to answer the calls of my friends standing outside my walls knocking.

I attempted to break free from my bounds. I tried to run, but, in my insanity, I had failed to build a door of escape. There was no way out of my ‘wall of protection’. In defeat I crumpled to the ground.

Though I thought I only had three companions, there was yet another. He was the silent type. Only speaking when needed and with a very gentle tone. In my yells for freedom, he replied.

“My child, your only escape is through me. The world outside these walls you have built will bring pain. The world out there is one of harshness, but also of joy. It is one of disappointment, and pain. Yet I promise you this, I will never leave you or forsake you. There will be moments where you long to build a fortress of protection again. Nonetheless, I ask that you remain purposeful in being open with others. Do you care to scale the wall?” He asked with love in His voice.

Nervously I replied with a nod, and we, together began our climb upwards. It took much time, yet He was patient the whole while. Once reaching the other side, His words  were proven true time and time again.
There were many moments where I began to carve my stone walls again. Yet each moment He gently took my gavel from my hand and with His carpenter hands began to teach me to build houses of safety. These houses were not for my own protection, but as a place of healing for others.


In Darkness and Pain

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Note from the author~ I am currently receiving medical treatment, counseling from my parents and professional in regards to my struggles. 

Chronic pain… it’s more than simply having daily pain. It’s more than hurting every moment of every day. It robs you at every level: mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Maybe you are reading this and know the pain of a chronic illness, yet for those who don’t know, here is a slight exercise for you to see what we live with everyday. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine sitting on hot coals. These burning embers won’t leave your skin, even if you twitch your leg. Now hold your breath. Even if you want to take a breath, keep it in. After doing this for one minute, you are done.

That was hard wasn’t it? You probably have a headache now. That is a small picture of what chronic pain feels like. Simple tasks such as breathing hurts. The thought of getting out of bed is hard. It is terrifying to think of going out in public, not knowing when the next flare-up will happen.

Not only this, but add the greatest challenge of attempting to live a normal life and the expectations that others have for you to live just as everyone else.

Friends, I struggle with suicidal thoughts. Not because I am being selfish. Not because I want to hurt others in my life. Not because of a hard past. Not because of guilt. But because sometimes, that is the only answer my mind can think of when I am in toxic pain. Sometimes the pain of my illness is so intense that death seems to be the only possible answer or solution.

Some of you may ask, “If suicide feels like such a reasonable answer, why are you still around?”

I choose to live because I know that God is bigger than my pain. I choose to live because life is worth living, even with the pain. I choose to live because I love my family and refuse to have them suffer even more than I do by my death.

I choose to live because Christ has given me life and that more abundantly. He has promised that He will work things for my good. So when the days are rough and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I look to Him and take one step forward.

In the Valley…

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“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.”
Hosea 2:14-16

The scorching dessert heat is never pleasant, especially on my fair skin. To be completely honest, I don’t enjoy blistering days. I would much prefer a cool autumn evening, than the noon day soon.

God spoke this prophecy to Hosea, over 3,000 years ago. It was a promise of leading His people into a dry season.

Yes, you read that correctly, a dry place and season. God leads us to dry places on purpose. Though we despise the blazing heat of purification there is reason beneath the pain.

God lovingly cares for each of His children, yet He also knows that one won’t be strong unless they are brought through the heat. Just as a sycamore tree’s roots won’t deepen unless it sits in heat and dryness,  we too will not deepen in our knowledge of Him unless we are tested.

It is in the dryness of seasons, where we learn to dig deeply into our Savior. It is in the blazing heat, where we begin to learn that God is more then just our Master.

To the woman who weeps alone, because no one understands.

To the man who drinks himself sick, because that is all there is in his life.

To the girl who thinks of killing herself as the one and only solution.

Keep fighting… God is working even THIS for your good.

 

 

 

 

When I Long for Times of Old

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“With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”… By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:15-25

I was driving down the highway this morning headed toward my college campus as this story played from my radio. Growing up in a Christian home, one can so easily miss the nuggets of truth that are hidden within God’s word. We so often over look the simple things within God’s Word that were placed there for our instruction. Thankfully, the Lord began to lovingly teach my soul as I continued driving.

Lot’s wife was obedient to the Lord in the beginning of the journey. She harkened to His words, and yet, stumbled at one microscopic level. She began the journey up the mountain. She did obey. Yet, she looked back and suffered the consequences of her disobedient actions. Just as Lot and his family were commanded not to look back at their former lives, we too as Christians are told, “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'” Luke 9:62

A simple thought came within my soul as I heard this heart convicting verse,  “Eliza, have you looked back? Have you turned your back on your Savior to have one last glance at your former life? Have you promised yourself, one last pleasure, before following Christ with your whole heart? Why do you turn your gaze to the dried fields of your former life, where no beauty or fruit grew?”

Reader, have you, just as Lot’s wife, begun this journey? Have you answered the call, yet somewhere along the trek, looked back, longing for your former life? Have you turned toward your old ways?

Let me encourage you, dear one, God’s hand is withholding the outpouring  of wrath we all should have. Turn back to our Master and follow His lead up the mountain while you still can.

Sufficient Grace~

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Poland… A place of beauty and a rich history. The smells of dark coffee and freshly baked pastries seep out of the country cottages. Gorgeous men, woman and children wander through the busy town of Warsaw. Their deep set eyes scan the surroundings as they greet each other.

Last June I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Wheels for the World to Poland.

It was there that God showed me that weakness is where His strength can shine forth.

It isn’t when we are strong that God works most mightily, but in our weakness.

Not when we are brave, but when we trust Him.

Not in our strength, but His.

Not in our athletic skill, but in His ability to enable us to fulfill our calling.

Not in our eloquence of words, but by His love.

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In the country side of Radom, Poland,  the understanding that God uses weakness began to drench my soul.

Wheelchair? No problem! Chronic pain? Yes, He can use that too. Past mistakes? He can handle it.

Maybe, you have some ashes within your life too. Maybe there are moments that you wish would be swallowed within the past.

Yet, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

“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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)