Thursday, September 4, 2014

Use. More. Duct. Tape.

Recently I made yet another cross country move. This time from Seattle back to my hometown in Ohio. Moving is really never FUN and believe me when I say that adding the cross country element does not make it any more so. Even still, the time had come, and with the help of my mommy (who I am forever indebted to) I somehow managed to survive this massive transition.

But therein lied the problem...I was merely surviving it.

Of course there is something to be said for times of transition being stressful and overwhelming. It's only natural that with so much change at once (location, relationships, time zones, jobs, banks, addresses, etc.) a few mini meltdowns are to be expected. But I am of the firm belief that I am to be embracing life rather than just facing it and let me tell you, (and you can ask my mother...poor lady survived me at my worst once again) I was NOT embracing anything. Every day felt like a chore and I was just a giant grumpster for much longer than I was comfortable with.

Thankfully I have amazing mentors and friends who are always there to snap me out of these sorts of places. One of my lovely mentors gave me some good reads to take with me as I left Seattle and well, I dug right in. I devoured In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson in which he encourages readers to chase after whatever it is God is putting before them despite the amount of risk or large potential of looking foolish. This was a nice little kick in the pants considering I was about to take a pretty large risk and look pretty foolish for leaving behind a fairly rooted life. And then there was the book All In (also by Mark Batterson)

God has this way of speaking to me through written words...putting books in my path JUST at the right time and even somehow leading me to read certain sections at just the right time. I don't and Jesus just have this connection through ink on paper.

I promise I am getting to the point.

I was pretty excited about reconnecting with my home church RUSH. One of my first Sundays back, Pastor Jim was teaching on humility and surrender. During our reflection time I decided to have a little chat with Jesus. I explained to Him that I was very aware of things I had NOT surrendered. It wasn't that I didn't want to surrender them I just simply didn't know how to do that! I honestly told Him, that for the first time in a long time I didn't feel like we were on the same page. I didn't understand what I was doing back home at the age of 25 with no real plan or even direction towards one and a pretty rough year of failed plans behind me.

And here is what He had to say.
Of course He led me back to the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. He always seems to take me there.
He explained to me in His kind way that I had a few misconceptions about this story. I always read the story and took Isaac to be the most important thing to Abraham. So my take away was always this idea that we need to be willing to give back to God whatever is most important to us (in Abraham's case that was his son Isaac.) That's not a bad take away and it is true, but God wanted me to see something more in this story this time around.

See, all year I had been struggling most with trying to sort out what in the world was most important to me in order to then see if I was willing to lay that down for the cause of Christ. But that is where my misunderstanding of the story was all along.

When we read the story, it seems as though God asked one thing of Abraham simply because Isaac was one person. But what God showed me that Sunday is that even though Isaac was ONE person and ONE physical thing that Abraham placed on the altar, Isaac represented EVERYTHING to Abraham. Isaac was Abraham's past and present and all of his future! He was his hopes and dreams, his inheritance, his legacy all of his deepest fears and failures and all of the promises God had made to him. What God was asking of Abraham that day was for him to literally lay his EVERYTHING on an altar and TRUST. Trust that God would provide however He saw fit and that however He chose to provide would be the best way possible even if Abraham didn't understand. Maybe He would spare Isaac and provide another sacrifice, maybe He would let Isaac die and then resurrect him, or maybe Isaac would die and Abraham would have to wait for another son to fulfill God's promise. However it looked, Abraham chose to trust that if he was faithful to obey, God would be faithful to make good on every single promise

And that's when it hit me. That was why I was here. It was never about ONE thing but rather about EVERYTHING. God wasn't interested in what was most important to me and whether or not I knew or if I would give that to Him....He's interested in my EVERYTHING and whether or not I am willing to give that to Him and trust Him with it. Funnily enough my reading that evening out of All In was a chapter entitled "What's your Isaac." I took that as affirmation that maybe God and I were finally landing on the same page.

On one hand, this was a rather overwhelming idea because how in the world do I let go of EVERYTHING at once when my whole prayer in the first place was that there were SOME things I wasn't sure how to let go of....and also it's all so figurative. I mean I can't literally make an altar and tie my dreams and my hopes and desires to it. But somehow at the same time it was SO freeing. In that moment I realized what it was God wanted me to do...not a whole lot of anything!

 I am a doer and a fixer. I want to be busy and feel like I am DOING something and working toward a goal or a plan like all the time. It's exhausting really. But God is gracious and in his ironic and humerus way he answered my prayer and gave me something to do.

Wake up every day and put EVERYTHING on the altar, keep my hands off and walk away. 

Because the  hardest truth in the story is that Abraham had to tie Isaac on that altar so that neither of them would let their own desires and fears interfere with what God was wanting. And that's the issue often we try to let things go, but we keep picking them up again because we just cannot bear to relinquish control. But believe me when I say...I like control more than I should, and this revelation has honestly been the MOST freeing thing for me!

Now I know they didn't have duct tape in the time of Abraham and Isaac (or maybe they did...?) Anyways. Here's my challenge. Don't even bother figuring out what it is you need to put on that altar just resolve that you are going to put EVERYTHING there and that you are going to stop touching it and walk away and wait hopefully and expectantly for God to show up and provide in the BEST way possible. If that stuff wriggles on the altar, hold it down with some duct tape. If you are tempted to go grab it off the altar, add some more duct tape. I don't care if you have to use every last roll of duct tape from every store that sells duct tape in your area, just do whatever it is that you have to do to genuinely give your EVERYTHING to Jesus and allow Him to bring life to it the way that He sees fit.

Every struggle, every hope, every desire, every failure, every dream, every fear, every attitude issue, every piece of anger and bitterness and un-forgiveness, everything you might be grasping too tightly. All of it is material for sacrifice. Although real sacrifice always requires death, God restores life in ways that we could not have even dreamed of or imagined in the first place!

So get to it people! Go get yourself some duct tape!

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