Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Chance to Die

Things were supposed to slow down after Easter.
I promised my wife that I would be more available after the flurry of activity surrounding Passion Week. But alas my predictions were way off. Because of a "late" Easter, the end of the school year activities came quickly on the heels of the holiday. My administrative assistant had her baby two weeks before we expected. This meant that our new pastoral intern was thrown into his role as church administrator with no training. On top of this we are launching a day camp this summer--a new ministry for us. My reaction to this type of perfect storm, of course, is to go into "Superman mode" and think I can single-handedly get everything off the ground at once. Things never go as planned. You would think at 43 I would know this by now. Not so.

When things speed up, the chance of things going wrong increases. And that's what has happened since Easter. From my perspective, a boat load of things have gone wrong. The elusive "have it your way" promise that I think is made to me everyday has vaporized. What I need to realize is that in order for a promise to be kept, it needs to be made. And God hasn't dealt me the "have it your way" hand. It's just not in the cards. What he has promised is that "his way" is always better than "my way." What I really want is for "his way" to trump mine. But in order for that to happen there has to be a surrender of my will to his. This always feels like death--small or large--a death nonetheless. Today's devotional from Elisabeth Elliot says it well:
To be transformed into the image of Christ I must learn his character, love his obedience to the will of the Father, and begin, step by step, to walk the same pathway. For Christ the pathway of obedience began with emptying Himself. I must begin at the same place.

He "made Himself nothing." (Phil 2:7 NEB)

"You must arm yourselves with a temper of mind like His." (l Pt 4:1 NEB)

"If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind." (Mt 16:24 NEB)

What does this mean? Is it mere words? How can one leave self behind, make himself nothing? The answer will not come in a vacuum. If a man or woman honestly wishes to be a follower, the opportunity will present itself. Christ will say, "Here is your chance. Now, in this situation, you must make your choice. Will it be self? Or will you choose Me?"

An older missionary said something to Amy Carmichael when she was a young missionary that stayed with her for life. She had spoken of something which was not to her liking. His reply was, "See in it a chance to die." (from A Lamp for My Feet)

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