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How to Relinquish and Trust

how to relinquish and trust

How to Relinquish and Trust

There’s been a lot of tension around here. It begins every morning before breakfast, as my daughter, Taylor, and I exit the house. Our task sounds simple enough: walk the dogs. The problems begin as soon as we leave the driveway. Every. Single. Day. Max wants to meander slowly, stopping often to take in all the neighborhood sites and smells, making note of each crow, all squirrels, every cat’s perch, and the latest announcement of dominance on tree trunks and fire hydrants by the other pets trodding the same daily neighborhood trek. His sister, Lola, on the other hand, has her nose to the ground but at lightning speed, like a Hoover vacuum that’s been shocked with a supernatural electric surge. She pulls on her leash with herculean power to hijack the leader’s authority in order to plow through the neighborhood, preferably down the middle of the street.

Neither approach is working for us. Walking either dog leaves us a sweaty mess by the end of the trail. When you think about it, learning to walk is so more than just the walking, but about relinquishing control and learning to trust the master.

I thought about this tension today as we finished because that same kind of tension is inside the house, as well. You might be experiencing something like it.

Should we go to school in the fall? Or should we take the on-line option and stay at home?

What about the mask? Should we wear them? Or does it infringe upon our rights?

Should I keep my business open and hope we get through this difficult time or look at other options?

Can I allow my child to spend the night at the friend’s house? Visit the parent? Keep the appointments? Go to the mall? Eat in the restaurant?

There is tension in these issues that can be seen, felt, and heard. But this kind of stress does not even begin to compare with that of what Jesus endured on our behalf, and wrestled through unto victory. He exactly models how to navigate our strains of today. No. He didn’t have to wear a mask. His was a crown of thorns unto death. And it was for you. And for me. To show us a way through.

From Life Principles for Living Out the Greatest Commandment

I first saw The Passion of Christ, produced by Mel Gibson, on Easter in a small West Texas theater. The most memorable and moving scene came as Jesus was in His horrifying state: beaten until unrecognizable, exhausted, and about to endure the sin of all humanity and the turning away of His Father. The cross is lying on the ground. Jesus crawls of His own free will upon that cursed structure and stretches out His arms for them to kill Him.

No other visual compares with this one as I think of John 10:17-18, where Jesus says:

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (NIV)

I wonder if these words and the actions of Jesus that followed them influenced Paul’s concept of a living sacrifice:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1, NIV)

Have you ever considered what part of us controls whether we heave ourselves upon that altar in the first place? And which part pulls us off? I don’t have a definitive answer, but I know myself and my girlfriends. What controls my decision to heave or hold is the same part of me that chooses cheese balls over apple slices. It’s the same part of me that replays the tape of hateful scenarios of what I should have said to that awful woman instead of practicing pure thinking, thankfulness, or anything praiseworthy.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, (Romans 12:2a, NIV)

Just as we operate the renewing function with our thoughts, we decide in our own minds to what degree, when, and how we offer ourselves as living sacrifices before the Lord. I have the power, using nothing but my mental faculties, to lay my life down on that imaginary altar and to pick it back up again. And so do you.

If we look closely at this relationship between the concept of laying our lives down and taking them up again, it looks a lot like relinquishing and trusting. This is a relationship wrought with tension. We can envision this relationship in the lives of biblical examples:

  • King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:17-37) when threatened by Assyria
  • Daniel (Daniel 6:1-9) when thrown into the lion’s den
  • Jesus (Mark 14:35-36) just before his arrest, while praying in the garden

In fact, we will almost be able to feel the tension, because we all know what it’s like to struggle with everything in us to resist doing what we want, in the hope of experiencing a superior outcome. How we handle this tension in our daily walk will determine the degree to which we leave our lives on that imaginary altar.

This ability is mental prowess—a kind of silent strength blazing forward in a victorious moment of relinquishment—with the only assurance being “I don’t know what is going to happen, but I trust You with my very life.”

Jesus repeated his relinquishment of self and placement of trust at least three times that night in the garden (Mark 14:32, 39). How much more important for us to pray for the mental strength to fling ourselves upon that spiritual altar, not knowing how it’s going to turn out—to say “I trust You” and repeat this process at many times as it takes or until our dying breaths are silenced and He ushers us into His presence!

What kinds of things keep you and me from flinging ourselves upon the spiritual altar in the first place? Maybe, like me, you have practiced the fling many times before, but you keep pulling yourself off. Why? What is driving you to pull off? What should you do to get back on? Maybe you have learned a thing or two about staying on that altar. How could you encourage the rest of us?

Challenge

Today, begin to turn yourself and every situation over to Him. Determine to make relinquishing your habit until you no longer pick yourself back off that alter in complete trust of the God who loves you first.

Adapted from Principles for Living Out the Greatest Commandment, by Cheri Strange, AMG Publishing.

Thanks for being here. I always enjoy meeting you here. Today I wanted to give you a taste of the Bible study, which is available at your favorite book retailers.

You can find more from Life Principles on this website here:Life Principles for Living out the Greatest Commandment

If you would like to sample more from this study, you can read more here or on the Bible app, YouVersion. This reading plan also provides video clips from Cheri’s series which accompanies this 8-week study. You can view all of these here.

As always, it’s a joy and pleasure to do life with you, even in the crazy.

For His Glory,

Day 10: He Waits for You

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Bible Readings for Day 10: He Waits for You–Psalm 27:8; 42:1; Nehemiah 1:1-10; 2:1-5; Acts 9:1-8.

The King waits for you. He holds His plans for you in His hands. He tenderly speaks to you, but He will not push you out of complacency. Your God, the lover of your soul, waits for you to want Him.

We will not find our souls panting feverishly for anything other than ourselves in a rushed fifteen-minute “quiet time,” in a frantic completion of our group studies, or in a prayer life consisting of our own concerns and the concerns of the ones we cherish. The glorious enlightenment experienced by those whose souls pant for God (the kind that illuminated the very face of Moses) resulted from the discovery that God does not have to conform to our fractured understandings resulting from our limited engagement.

In the movie Galaxy Quest, Tim Allen plays an actor in a TV series mimicking our Star Trek. Allen portrays a character similar to Captain Kirk. The movie opens with Allen and his co-stars attending a Galaxy Quest convention crowded with people dressed in costumes associated with the series. Allen meets an attendee in space garb who asks for his help. Allen misinterprets the request as a public-speaking gig and agrees to go. He finds himself in outer space on a spaceship identical to the one he pretends to navigate, fighting alien enemies. When he returns to earth, he hysterically reports to his undaunted crew, “It’s real! It’s all real!”

At some point in time, those whose souls panted feverishly after God came to this conclusion: He’s really real! And there is nothing on this planet that can compare to the thrill of Him! Their lives began to take on a dimension I can only describe as spiritually derived passion.

The signature of those who leave lives of complacency in exchange for the lives God dreams them to live is passion. Intensity, fervent devotion, and inexplicable joy, even amid adversity, exude from a passionate follower of Christ.

Both Nehemiah and Paul accomplished greatness for the kingdom. Their compulsion came from within. One simply possessed an acute awareness of God and His promises for His people. The other experienced a face-to-face encounter with Jesus. Both allowed God to change the direction of their lives, putting aside previous dreams to pursue something bigger than themselves.

Spiritual encounters with Jesus continue to have the same effect on people today.

Let’s not keep Him waiting to be wanted.

Cheri

He Waits for You from Cheri Strange on Vimeo.

Psalm 27.8 Printable

Click here to download this FREE printable!

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Day 9: Dream Big Expectant Dreams

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Bible Readings for Day 9: Dream Big Expectant Dreams–Genesis 18:14; Amos 7:14-15; Matthew 14:15-16; Mark 9:22-23; Ephesians 2:10.

Along this journey of seeking what it looks like to love God with my entire mind, there is one lesson I need continuously drilled into my hard head. As you read through the lesson today, please know that both the subject and the pointed presentation are directed at myself before anyone else. I need it this way. I wonder if you need it this way too.

Stop thinking so small! Stop talking yourself out of believing that God can accomplish the miraculous using your life. Take back the promises and methods of God you have rejected because you thought they couldn’t possibly be meant for you. Take them back by letting go!

God does not call us to small thinking. Small thinking results from a lack of exposure to the Word and a lack of ownership of the Word. Today, let the Word of God speak possibility and limitlessness over you. Maybe you have never given God the opportunity to dream with your life. Maybe you are afraid to take that next step for fear you will be disappointed. Maybe you feel insignificant, convinced small is just your size. Leave it behind. Small thinking limits who we become and what we are able to accomplish in the Lord.

The enemy knows this. He is constantly filling our minds with thoughts and ideas contrary to the Word, and even though they are opposed to the Word of God, these thoughts can make sense to me. They confine possibilities to what I can see. They confirm my own beliefs about my weaknesses. They keep me from loving the Lord with all my mind and restrain me from taking that next step of faith.

Sweet friend, it’s time for you and me to let go of small thinking. God calls His people to tasks and opportunities greater than we can imagine. Ponder the possible ramifications found in your reading today on your own life.

There is work to be done. Someone with just your personality, with your gifting, in your situation is exactly who God needs to accomplish His will (Ephesians 2:10). Anything He asks you to do is important, purposeful, and significant.

Cheri

Dream Big Expectant Dreams from Cheri Strange on Vimeo.

Ephesians 2.10 printable

Click here to download this FREE printable!

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Day 7: Faithfulness in the Small Things

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Bible Readings for Day 7: Faithfulness in the Small Things–Exodus 13:17-18; John 12:49-50; 14:15; 30-31; 15:9-10; Philippians 2:5-8.

If we were to take our cues from Scripture, focusing on the relationship between the Father and the Son, we could make the case that God receives love through obedience.

Succinctly stated, “Christ emptied himself in order to be filled up with obedience.” (ref. 15)

I can think of several other things I would like to be filled up with rather than obedience. (At the moment, M&M’sÒ would be at the top of my list.) Herein lies my problem. As Philippians describes, Jesus understood best how to love God with all His heart. He knew His purpose and fulfilled it completely. I struggle with this combination.

Our willingness to do what God desires is a crucial element to loving God with all our hearts. This call can be found in most books of the Bible. Many individuals failed to heed the call. Most chose their own way. But if we want to become passionate followers of Jesus, obedience is imperative.

Is Jesus a broken record on this topic, or does He simply understand my yearnings for M&M’s over obedience? Why the frequent parallel between love and obedience? How will my obedience enable my relationship with the Lord to flourish?

My efforts to shed light on my own ponderings brought me to Exodus 13:17-18.

What if the process is entirely the point? Suppose God is more concerned with the journey marked out for each of us than the final destination? If this is accurate, He would want the relationship to be marked by learning to Love Him in response to His love to us. But (and this is where my candy bowl overpowers me) we are not like Him. Instead, we are impatient to arrive at perfection. We are not satisfied with baby steps and scenic routes. We don’t want to wait to grow and learn. We have no interest in serving our desert time and taking the long road. Like the Israelites, we want to be in our promised lands or back in Egypt. No, the prospect of the process being the point is not appealing.

He could make us godly through our pillows overnight. That route would indeed be shorter. But that is not His style. Instead, He woos us through a dynamic, growing relationship all the days of our lives.

Cheri

Faithfulness in the Small Things from Cheri Strange on Vimeo.

John 14.15 downloadableClick here to download this 6×4 FREE printable! 

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Day 6: Is God Ever Going to Act?

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Bible Readings for Day 6: Is God Ever Going to Act? 1 Kings 11:26-40; 12:28-33; 2 Peter 3:9.

While Jeroboam heard God’s plan for his life, he seemed to want to help Him accomplish the plan right then, putting his cart before his horse. I know someone else who does that too: me. I know all too well how this works: I think I have received a specific word…so I begin working all the angles to bring it to pass.

Loving God with our whole hearts requires having patience to wait for God to move. We submit to His timing. Scripture contains the memo in 2 Peter 3:9 I always miss: Although it feels like He’s late, God is always on time.

The choice to rebel against God’s timing is a heart issue. We want God’s promise now. We fear that if we wait we might miss the blessing, or maybe this great thing will never happen. We think, I’d better act now, before it’s too late.

The truth is, just as for Barak, our fear of forfeiting our blessing while we wait on God’s timing is misplaced. God will not give your hero-making moment to another unless you refuse to believe Him. Even then, I’ve known Him to be gracious. Many times I have waited for God to do what He said He would do, only to lapse into discouragement, questioning my ability to hear Him. This is not what Jeroboam was doing. He was taking the blessing prematurely by force.

Choosing not to await God’s perfect timing—attempting to orchestrate His blessing ourselves—is always disastrous. When Solomon eventually died, everything changed within a matter of days. Solomon’s son Rehoboam acted upon advice that convinced the majority of people to reject him as king, inadvertently facilitating Jeroboam’s ideal opportunity—just as God promised. The prophecy became Jeroboam’s reality.

However, when Jeroboam perceived problems on the horizon, instead of relying on the Word of God, he forged his own path. Unfortunately, that progression of heart-to-thought is familiar to me too. I lose sight of what God said, exaggerating my challenges through my “life lenses.” Overwhelmed with a sense of urgency to act, I start thinking my way is the only solution. This is where heroes are lost, and this is exactly what happens to Jeroboam.

Let us not miss the blessing because we have given up on God’s timing.

He will not be late.

We will not be disappointed.

Cheri

Is God Ever Going to Act? from Cheri Strange on Vimeo.

2 Peter 3.9 downloadClick here to download this FREE printable!

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

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