SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by MARSHA BURNS, August 5, 2014
Growth is the epitome of incremental change, and your desire for spiritual growth requires change. The only thing holding you back is your resistance. You can’t keep things the way they are and grow at the same time. Something has to give, and that would be your will. Be willing to let go of everything that has outlived its usefulness in your environment, says the Lord.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
Moving away from family for the first time as a mom and grandmother has brought me to a place of wrestling with God about who I am now. What is logical and reasonable to my mind doesn’t fit with the resistance in my heart. This working-it-out process with God has been painful, but He has been merciful, as He always is, in showing me truth about myself.
Born into a world that is controlled by our adversary, we begin our lives learning how to survive, to force our way in and try to find the answer to the question our hearts want to know: “Why am I here? Do I matter?” We see ourselves in the faces of others and in their responses to us. And there begins the tension. If only we could know and accept at the early age of infancy that we are born to die: To die to self-interest, to striving, to making our own way. We are born to die to flesh and live in spirit, in His Spirit, in freedom.
But it is for mercy that we are not allowed to be spiritually reborn in this way, for He wants our hearts, by choice of our will, to be given to Him that He might live through us. Is anything valuable without sacrifice? His sacrifice on the cross proved we are valuable to Him. The willing sacrifice of our lives proves our love to Him. And then we can go home. Everything stripped away: Self-protection, futility, strife. Our souls are now satisfied.
Weekend before last we made a quick trip home to do some repair work on the home we have for sale, and naturally I wanted to get in all the time I could with kids and grandchildren. But it was stressful and unsatisfying. Spending time with the Lord this week, He showed me that I was forcing my way in, frantically wanting answers to the questions in my heart: “Are you glad to see me? Do you still love me? Am I still important?” Again, tension.
I’m genuinely thankful and excited to be on this new path the Lord so clearly has led Mark and me to take, but I can’t walk down this path and keep everything the same. I’m not an in-town grandmother anymore. My family can’t just drop over to my house. I can’t meet them for walks with the children. I can’t bring them all together under my roof. I have to let go and embrace the new path. But I am still a mother, still a grandmother, still me. I am just realizing how much of my identity was wrapped up in being loved and accepted by them and a part of their lives.
God spoke intimately to me through Galatians 5:16-18 in The Message: “My counsel is this. Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as a free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.” Sinful self-interest. That hit me between the eyes. My frantic need to be loved and affirmed was all about me, which is pride, and it put me into bondage to self.
I started writing this blog over a year ago after the death of my mother. Sitting with her through the night as her life ebbed away stirred in me a passion to find out the answer to this question: Who did God create me to be? And now I know. It’s so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t see it then: His. I was created to be His, nothing more, nothing less, a dearly loved child of God.
Embracing the truth that my identity is in Him will bring freedom and give me the ability to love not for what I can receive, but for what I can give. And though my interaction with family will be different living away, it will be good, and it will be healthy, and it will satisfy my heart. Lord Jesus, I still have so much to learn about being yours. Help me be willing to see myself as you do. You are the one who knows me best. Amen.