Friday, July 22, 2005

Perpetual Stew

Have you ever stewed for hours – or even days – over a wrong you endured at the hand of another? Frankly, there are times it is easy to do. To be angry over a wrong makes sense. In fact, anger is a reasonable emotion at times. Yet, there is a difference between being “angry yet without sin” and hanging on to bitterness over an offense that we know God says to forgive. To embrace – even emotionally relive – the occurrence and remain in a “perpetual stew”, is to harm ourselves and cling to “one of the greatest bondages” we can choose to endure. Worse yet, we may even stew over the petty as well as the consequential.

We may fume and fuss over simply not getting our way and the offense at the root of our fuming may actually be no offense at all. It is only that our stubborn will and cherished plans were thwarted. Trumped, if you will, by the will of another who chose to play their figurative Ace of Spades rather than fold to our wishes.

This week’s chapter was really helpful. It took a direction that that surprised me – in a good way. I guess I fall into the camp that has seen the abuses of “submission teaching” and could easily “throw out the baby with the bath water” if not encouraged by the likes of Richard Foster. Likewise, I’m quite stubborn, too. I’ve had to learn – by God’s grace and His willingness to “send me to the woodshed” (Hebrews 12:4-11) – to be schooled in choosing to trust Him in matters of authority and demonstrate that trust by submitting to others. In the end, I've learned i
t’s far better to be teachable and obedient than to put God in the spot of having to enroll me in disciplinary remediation.

A Song:

Maybe you can identify?

Surrender don't come natural to me. I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want than take what you give that I need. And I've beat my head against so many walls I'm falling down, falling on my knees (Rich Mullins, Hold Me Jesus)

It’s too bad that some things we choose to learn the hard way. Nonetheless, praise God that He loves us enough to grow us as his children and progress us towards His character.

Points to ponder:

“Every discipline has a corresponding freedom.” In fact, “the purpose of the Disciplines is freedom”. “In and of themselves, they (the disciplines) are of no value. They only have value as a means of setting us before God so that He can give us the liberation that we seek.”

“The freedom in submission is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always having to get our own way.”

“In submission we are at last free to value other people. Their dreams and plans become important to us. We have entered into a new…freedom-the freedom to give up our own rights for the good of others.”

“Do you know that liberation comes from giving up your rights? “ “It means that at last you are able to break that viscous law of commerce that says, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back; you bloody my nose, I’ll bloody your nose”. "It means you are free to obey Jesus’ command.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Jesus calls us to self-denial without self-hatred.” Self-denial is “a way of coming to understand that we do not have to have our own way”. “Our happiness is not dependent upon getting what we want.” It “means the freedom to give way to others” and “ hold others’ interests above our interests”.

“Our difficulty is due primarily to the fact that we have failed to understand Jesus’ teaching that the way to self-fulfillment is through self-denial.” “Perhaps…we can look upon self-denial as the liberation that it actually is.”

So Much More:

There is so much more in this chapter to grasp and unpack than what I can take the time to develop right now. The concept of the cross-life is absolutely – upset the apple cart of tepid living – fantastic. ( “The cross-life is the life of freely accepted servant hood.”) The limits of the discipline of submission, the need for discernment, the value of dependence and the good of not having a “book of rules” to cover every circumstance in life all merit discussion and I feel a real sense of loss in needing to wrap up this week’s study and post. Nonetheless, I need to break away to get some rest. My youngest son needs his dad to spend some time with him over an early breakfast and “let’s go fishing” guy time. So, let me practice submission and give way to the needs of my son. I look forward to your posts.

In closing, the seven acts submission toward the end of the chapter may be a recipe worth noting. I began this post with the idea of the perpetual stew – Foster’s reference to the uptight, bound up, and ulcer afflicted. May we opt for a stew of a different sort? May we opt for liberation?

God Bless.


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