Every Empty-Full

So if we don’t begin with surrender, we inevitably dream with vanity, with ego, with control.
Jennie Allen, Restless

To present myself in surrender to God means I bring Him every empty, full thing.

I come to Him with hands stretched heavenward, filled with every empty placebo – every offering of a life lived for Him in the guise of my own desires and visions of my own making. Simultaneously, I bring all the longings straining to break free within while I release my grasp instead of clutch aimlessly for all I’m worth.

Funny how I cling so tightly to this filling of empty which has consistently proven to only steal my innocence and my peace.

By bringing all my empty-full, I am declaring my surrender. Presenting God with this blank canvas of a life made new in Christ, inviting Him to pen the desires of my heart. Asking Him to fill me with the beauty of His dreams which far surpass anything my finite mind could create on its own.

In this place of sweet surrender, I come to know the One whose design is the perfect masterpiece for my life. Not for yours. Not for anyone else.

Simply, perfectly designed with me in mind.

I am amazed to be a part of such abstract and colorful dabs of dreams and thoughts and gifts and opportunities extended and brought together – swirled into one breathtaking collage where His glory is both felt and revealed. Bit by bit. Moment by moment. Memory upon memory.

Even the drops which seem to bleed me out and and drain me dry burst into life and goodness at the touch of His hand swirling colors upon palette. Not one drop hits the canvas without determined purpose. There are no random smudges, no shadowing without the consuming of radiant light. All comes together, every scary unknown and every stretching of the canvas, to create a work declaring Father’s fame.

In this surrender, I am reborn to life. To love. Held secure while released into this aching world by the Builder of dreams and of wild imaginings.

Breather of Life, come and fill me with creations of Your grandest desires as I pour forth from earthen vessel yielded to Your hand. Make beauty from my every empty-full as You reveal Your glory from the inside out.

I surrender.

week8-largeAnd so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.   – Romans 12:1, NLT

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One Life to Lose

The Word of God, in reference to Samson, states: “Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” (Judges 16:30)

Often when I read through the story of Samson’s life (found in its entirety in Judges 13-16), I find myself thinking, “Why in the world would God use such a selfish and lustful  man to perform such mighty deeds?” Then that thought is quickly followed by relief that God did use him, because it leaves room for hope for people like me.

It seems it was not until the end of his life that Samson actually began to “get it.” Only after he became a prisoner – completely stripped of his strength, humbled without his eyesight, and relying on someone else to guide him in his steps – did he call to the Lord in prayer. And even then, his prayer seems somewhat selfish. Kind of reminds me of… well, me. If there were not reference to Samson in Hebrews 11:32, I might question if he really had much faith in God at all. A question that, again, causes me to note a striking resemblance to myself.

Regardless of the motives of Samson’s heart, God answered his prayer by granting him the greatest victory of his lifetime. Yet this victory came at a price. It cost Samson his life.

Living victoriously comes at the price of dying.

And perhaps that, my friend, is what true victory is really about. Surrendering ourselves so completely into the Father’s care that it is as if we have died… so that we can live.

Lost so fully within the desires of God that we begin to find ourselves in His will in ways that we have never before experienced.

Trading our finite dreams, our pride, our way of doing things, our wants and wishes for something bigger. Something beyond this temporal world.

Something eternal.

Gaining great victory means that we must be willing to forfeit everything. Giving every last bit of our life for the sake of the Cross.

In the words of the song One Life to Lose by Laura Story, we may find ourselves coming face to face with this tug-of-war between living and dying to ourselves:

I’m torn again, between my pride, my old friend
And who You’ve called me to be.
I’ve sworn again, to lay it down, to bring an end
To this life lived for me.
For I’ve one life to lose, one chance to find
A newer, better me, the old one left behind.
For there’s one Lord who leads, though steep the cost.
I have learned when I am lost,
It’s there that I am found.

As frustrating and arrogant as Samson seemed throughout the majority of his life, I can’t help but think I might have liked the man he became in the end. A broken soul who realized his need for a Savior. A man lost, but found.

In this story, I am reminded that there is only One Lord who leads. And though the cost of following Him may be steep, it is so worth it.

For I have learned when I am lost, it’s there that I am found…

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Releasing the Melody

As I sit and listen to the deep tones of the wind chimes striking chord against chord, my heart is stirred with melancholy fascination. Something about this music in the wind captures my soul’s attention, drawing me to come and ponder a depth that lies hidden, yet yearns to be uncovered. A deep desire to be known. To be heard and understood.

Perhaps it is the reminder that so much untapped melody lies within the hearts of men. Within me. God-ordained, God-desired music. A symphony of love songs held in timeless, sustaining rest, awaiting the moment to be released and poured across the staff of life. A deep, rich melody yearning to be heard. Yet all around resounds a cacophony of disharmony. Or worse, an overwhelming silence where music was created to dwell. The songs of destined praise too often drowned out by the chaos of  the world.

Intent on playing our own tunes while dismissing the Divine Conductor, we release a jumbled noise instead of the grand symphony that has been given us to play. Like clattering cymbals placed in the grasping hands of untrained children intent on being heard. Attention demanded, regardless of the annoying sound. We ignore the surrender that’s required to bring forth the melody from the touch of the Maestro’s hand. Instead, we struggle against Him thinking we know best the music we are to play.

Oh, it’s easy to speak the words, “Lord, have Your way in me,” but how often do I truly submit my heart to what that statement would demand? Instead, I resolutely stiffen the cords of my heart and lay down a list of stipulations, carelessly scrawled as notes to a tune of my own making. Though fashioned by God to be as melodious wind chimes, I refuse to yield my heart. Laboring to bring forth a melody without the wind, I hang still and silent. Yet crave to be heard.

But what good are dormant wind chimes?

Desiring to be a thing of beauty, I instead settle for becoming a cheap imitation. Chimes of dainty shells and beads fashioned by the world’s hands. Mere decorations. There is no music within these hangings. When a wind chances to blow against these fragile chimes, they simply clatter. And when the wind becomes too strong, they are soon destroyed. Dashed to pieces because they are not designed to withstand the elements. They are made only for times of calm.

In contrast, the chimes with the richest musical tones and qualities are most often large and rather plain in design. Purposefully crafted to withstand the harshness of the wind. Yet not just to withstand, but to yield to it. Cords strung to hold fast, yet bend with the weight of the breeze. These stalwart chimes do not unravel when knocked upon, but respond. Respond to the wind and bring forth the melody inspired by their Creator.

The song of these chimes is a soothing sound. The melody sending ripples through the hearer’s soul. And as I listen, I come to an understanding that my life is to be as these chimes.

I am purposed to release the music that God has placed within me in such a way that it soothes the hearts of those who hear it.

So help me, Divine Maestro, to come to You without stipulations. Without my own song to sing as a counterfeit to Your own. To yield to the bending, to give sway to the fiercest of winds knowing that the harder it blows against me, the stronger the sound of praise will ring forth.

However You choose to come in the stirrings, may my heart choose to yield to the weight of Your hand as I succumb to the rhythm of grace at work all around and within. May I trust in Your leading, the strength of Your might, to withstand and surrender to the winds of Your Spirit.

Open and laid bare before You. Raw. Vulnerable. Revealing.

Let not the music that is in me die! May all of me respond to Your purpose as I bring forth the melody You have created for me to sing. With the voice You have given.

No longer hidden and lost, but open and found, revealing the beauty of the One who lives within.

When the winds are raging, may I cling tightly to You, absorbing Your melody and singing out praises with all that is in me. And when the air is still, may I rest in breathless anticipation awaiting the wonder of the next opportunity to be a love song for You.

Made whole, in perfect harmony with the Maestro of the universe.

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