Looking Forward to Giving Up

I am in a season of change. It started with my decision to walk with Jesus to Jerusalem during Lent. Well, actually, it started a bit farther back than that. In fact, it probably started just under a year ago.

But as I am prone to do, I continued my walk, my wandering through the dry, dusty desert of my life instead of resting in the lushness that Jesus offered to cultivate through some heart-wrenching circumstances. In effect, I ignored his invitation to sip a cup of cold water and to tend the garden of my broken soul. Instead, I pushed onward mostly in my own strength though I talked a good game of leaning on Jesus.

And I was leaning on him. I was casting my cares on him. I was laying my burdens down at his feet, but I wasn’t doing any of this consistently. And, with some things, I wasn’t doing it at all.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle with the idea of surrendering all of me to Jesus. I come by this fiercely independent, I-don’t-need-any-help streak honestly through my blue-collar, Irish-protestant roots. However, it’s not necessarily a positive attribute when applied to my relationship with Jesus. You see, what I tend to do is hand over almost all of my struggles while keeping my fingers tightly wrapped around at least one thing with a child-like grip that clearly says, This is mine and you can’t have it.

no, you can't have it. it's mine.

no, you can’t have it. it’s mine.

In other words, I practice obedience when it’s convenient or comfortable for me. Maybe you’ve done this, too.

But as I mentioned yesterday, Jesus is good, but he is not safe. And if you spend any time at all with him, it becomes dangerous. Especially if you are not all in because that’s what he wants. He wants all of me and he will use the parts of me he has access to do draw me ever closer, even if it means he has to pursue me through the dry, dusty desert of my life.

Which he did. And then he gave me another nudge closer to him, closer to that refreshing drink of cold water. And once again he used the messy circumstances of my life and my marriage. And this time, he had my attention and that cup of water in his hands looked far more inviting than the arid clay upon which I stood with my parched throat and broken heart and wrecked faith.

By now it was the day before Thanksgiving and I realized that I was living my life too small and too scared. As Advent approached, Jesus invited me to reflect on getting ready for his entry into this world, into my world. We started spending more time together, Jesus and I, because I still held two handfuls of the broken shards of my heart and had no idea how to fit them together into anything functional let alone abundant.

The more time I spent with him, the more of a gravitational pull he began to have on me. New Year’s came and went and I realized that I had the gift of New Year’s Day every day in Jesus. He makes all things new – my relationships, my heart, my marriage, my life. He makes the desert into an oasis and he reshapes the way the broken shards fit together so that they create something dazzling, something more.

the invitation of the oasis beckons us.

the invitation of the oasis beckons us.

And then, Ash Wednesday, and memories of the small group Bible study in which I’d participated in Boston.

The idea of extravagant love and walking with Jesus to Jerusalem.

That journey has changed everything for me. It has changed me, and the way I look at the world and the way I see my girls and how I envision my marriage. Because spending time with Jesus is dangerous. He will take everything you give him and he will transform it. He will make it greater than you can imagine.

And that is where I am. I have been living my life too small and too scared, and that is not the abundant life that Jesus offers. But that abundant life comes with Jesus and only with Jesus. In other words, I cannot live my life hiding in a locked upper room afraid that I will be associated with Jesus, ostracized because of Jesus, abandoned because of Jesus. Nor can I live my life afraid to let him have complete control of my messy, broken life.

He created me in his image. He knew me before time began and formed me in my mother’s womb. He has a new name for me that only he knows written on a white stone.

Really, he knows me better than I know myself. And I am looking forward to hearing what he knows about my dreams and my heart’s desires over the next 30 days. I am looking forward to him taking the remaining broken shards to which I have clung, which have cut my flesh because I refused to release them, and seeing what dazzling creation he gives me in return.

I am looking forward to finally giving up trying to do it on my own.

I would love it if you joined me on this journey, this waiting in Jerusalem to meet Jesus before he ascends to the Father. I would love to encourage you and to hear your joys and your sorrows and watch as you live out your life transformed by the journey laid before us.

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