The “What If” Challenge
Bonnie challenged readers last week to identify what has been holding them back from growing their relationship with God, follow through on one, and see what happens. It was providentially-timed for me. I’ve been teetering over the edge of a few big steps for months, maybe longer, not moving forward but unable to change direction either. At exactly the time that this internal battle came to a tipping point, she wrote about spiritual tipping points.
The areas that came to a head during the past week are three:
1. What if I give up trying to control my life and acknowledge to myself and God that God is really in control…of everything…take myself off the throne? What would that look like?
2. What if I accept God’s forgiveness for everything and shed the guilt I’ve been carting around?
3. What if I stop working (at an outside job) for awhile?
Numbers 1 and 2 are closely linked. Carrying guilt for past mistakes has been one way I’ve tried, in my head, to keep control of the things around me. As if by self-flagellating, I can somehow make those things right. Um, hello… isn’t the whole gospel message about how we can suffer enough ourselves to cancel out our sins? How we need a perfect sinless infinite being to pay that debt for us? And how we only receive that forgiveness by giving our entire lives to God (the perfect sinless infinite being who redeemed us)? And there is the connection to item 1 above… taking my crown off and surrendering control, completely.
My Self has grown strong, shrewd, and convincing lately. I’ve been reading “The Pursuit of God,” by A.W. Tozer and the following paragraph punched me in the gut:
“There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in our hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly, fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. …We have but to look into our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.”
quoted from “The Pursuit of God,” by A.W. Tozer, c 1982, 1993, chapter3, pp 43
In another post, I’ll detail more about the process of getting to the point of stepping off the throne and finally resisting the arguments and defiance of my Self. Previous posts have detailed how I’ve felt stranded on one river bank, trying to find stepping stones to the other side rather than making flying leaps without any solid foundation to start from. The good news is that those stepping stones are there, the foundation is assembled (though I keep having to remind myself what it is), and the slow work of reconstruction is underway.
In all of this wrestling and turmoil, in the aftermath of the loss of our daughter, and in light of the rebuilding that is currently underway, it became clear that I needed to rest, reclaim time, create margin, build cushion, plan ahead for bad days. One of the options I’ve looked into is reducing the hours worked outside the home temporarily. That request has been well-received, so I’m looking forward to a much less-hectic schedule starting soon. My prayer is that I return to a normal schedule refreshed, calm, and at peace with God and the life given to me.
What is holding you back today? Where do you need to build some cushion and slow down?