I have mentioned in my previous posts that I love the idea of a clean canvas. The symbol for starting new and fresh. Not trying to fix a picture already drawn. No, being able to start again. A big element I realize God wants to instill in me in 2018 is: The FREEDOM To Live. A breath of fresh air into my entangled life.
The Lord is giving us an element of freshness in regards of schooling for our two oldest kids for this year. I am surprised at the amount of excitement and freedom this brings to my spirit and how my expectation for the new year has been altered. This change releases me from a few very practical responsibilities and I am so thankful to Him for that.
I also know that this makes me tick: the spontaneous. When we move a room, or change the garden or try a new recipe. These things awaken an excitement in me I cannot describe. I am made this way, I guess, enjoying the fresh and new things. Embracing change.
My holiday reading (actually… listening while I iron) ended up being the amazing book: Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. This book is truly an experience of compassion you will not easily find anywhere else. God knows me, and my expectations for the new year, if I look back I can see how systematically He prepares me for the work He wants to do in me.
Gregory’s interesting take on success hit a nerve. In the book he quotes Mother Theresa where she says: “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.”.
I could just feel with the amount of impact those word landed on me that God is trying to really get to something here. He stopped me and looked me in the eye, and asked: “Did you hear that? Successful and faithful are two different things.” While driving home a few days ago He reminds me again:” No amount of effort you put into your life, or work will make Me love you more, I already love you completely.” Isn’t it just amazing how hard it is for us to understand this?
Gregory goes on to profoundly say:
“If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business.”
Wow! These words just plainly shut me up. Because … YES! … God’s success I prefer.
I must admit that most of my life, I have tried to control outcomes and dreams in my life thinking: “If I just push a bit harder, try a bit longer” only to end up in utter disappointment and despair. Not always, in every dream, does the expectation play out this way, but often. This approach leaves me twisted up in a cycle of discouraged exhaustion.
Now, in this transition to the new, I am reasoning: “Maybe, if I rather choose (please note: it is a choice – every time) the freedom of living now, together with what is in my hand now, I might find what I have been missing out on in my life journey…”
But then, maybe it takes 41 years of exploring this planet to finally… let it go?
I do realize that self-actualization has a very strong element of self-discipline attached to it. While everyone famous and rich will encourage this form of motivation, it seems to me that there is a fine line of still living under the law or “rules” that steals your joy, AND being faithful. You see, faithful do not focus on the five-year plan. It says: “Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart.”
The difference between self-discipline and self-control lies in where the effort originates.
Self -discipline is an effort that originates from yourself with an underlying tone of punishment when you might miss the mark. Positive encouragement is mostly not in the mix here, but a fear of failure is very present.
Self-control, on the other hand, which is a fruit of the Spirit solely relies on the work of the Holy Spirit. No amount of commitment from our side can create this fruit, but it is rather a result of the Lord’s Spirit working in us. Our part? Growing in our relationship with Him.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1)
Freedom from sin and performance … how wonderful that would be.
If we can be aware of the way this world and the evil one constantly wants to entangle us into slavery, it might help to fight off the chains. Gal 5:1 encourages us to be diligent in fighting off the chains, to stand firm. Deception is exactly what it was meant to be, that is, make believe. We are not in control of our lives, God is. Everything we have is but by grace, not our own effort. If we can exchange control for surrender, will freedom show up?
This year, I want to let go of the reigns a bit. Surf the wave, and enjoy the splashes of water.
So then, with a clean canvas before me and a surfboard tucked under my arm, I am running towards the new year. May God give me the grace to not surrender to slavery again.
Would you like to join me?
See you on the other side!
Written by Johanni Meiring