In this second installment of the Formed series, Seth explores what it is that holds us back as followers of Christ, or creates a gap between the person we want to be and know is inside of us and who actually are. We know that Jesus wants to give us an abundant life, but our reality is often one of spiritual scarcity and daily bondage to destructive ideas and behaviors. In this message we examine what it looks like to surrender our will and trust in our heavenly Father.
We all have a word or words that would describe a central idea or theme in our life that holds us back from the life we desire in Christ. There are things we take on that are heavy. They weigh us down and keep us from stepping in to the abundant life Jesus offers. For Seth, that word is rejection. He did not know his biological father and when he was about 3 ½ years old, his biological mother placed him for adoption. He knows that written on a very deep part of his heart is this defining idea of rejection. He still lives in a mental reality that says at some point everyone will abandon and reject him. He feels this as a very immense and heavy burden. On the flip Seth’s given name actually means chosen. So there is a narrative describing his life that says he’s rejected, but also another very real story about him being chosen by his adoptive family. We all have situations like this where we’re presented choices daily about what story we’re going to choose to live in.
In reality the truest thing about us, no matter where we’re at in life is that we are a son or daughter of the most powerful King in the universe. This King has an incredible inheritance He desires to bestow on His children. He desperately wants to give us the gifts of His Kingdom, but there are parts He can’t until we’re mature enough to handle the inheritance. It can be dangerous to give powerful things to children.
Unfortunately we have a bit of an epidemic in our country where people are growing up later and later. So for many of us our challenge is to grow up in Kingdom maturity so that we can handle the inheritance God wants wants to give to us. Being mature doesn’t mean having it all together; in fact it’s actually the opposite. Kingdome maturity understands that on my own, I’ll never be able to get it together – my will power can’t transform me. Being childlike in our faith is much different than childish. God has more for us. He has designed us for life and life abundantly.
There are many examples in scripture of people who just took what little they had, surrendered it to God and amazing things happened. Sometimes our need is very large, and our resources are very small, but all God asks of us is to move forward with what we have. We’re not the only character in the story. It may seem like a giant gap between the person you are and the person you want to be, but we need to know that we have enough right as we are. We start the journey with what’s in your hands, and God provides the increase.
We don’t often think of Jesus in terms of being “smart” in our 21st century context. Sometimes we picture Him as a nebulous magician instead of the author of creation. When He turned the water in to wine, it wasn’t because he just prayed and hoped. In reality He is the master of all molecular connections and understands the minutest differences between water and wine. Jesus is incredibly competent at everything He does. He healed the sick and the blind because he understands the human body down to its last detail. He knows how the optic nerve, the pupil, and the retina work. He is the master and creator of the human body. We don’t see Him in these terms often, but Jesus is incredibly competent. There has never been a better decision maker than Jesus, and if I get him involved in my decisions things will always go better. The problem for us is the only way Jesus will agree to be our teacher is if we surrender.
The bible would diagnose our problem as having a stiff neck. We are stubborn. There is a gap between the person we are capable of being and the person we actually are because of our stubbornness. We don’t and will never have enough will power to close this gap. The only thing we have the power to do with our will is to start something, in this case our surrender. The only power in the universe that can change me as a person is the power of God. Our job is to hold out our hands, stretch out our arms, and let Him catch us. Just as a trapeze flyer has to let go of the bar in order to be caught, so also we have to let go of the bar of control over our lives and let God catch us.
The first discipline we have to fully buy in to is the idea that we can’t do it by our self. Just like with AA, I don’t say I’m just going to stop drinking. I say I’m powerless over this by myself and I need someone to help me. A yoke is great picture in scripture that helps us understand this concept. A yoke is used to join two animals together to plow. A mature experienced animal is paired with a young stubborn animal in order to learn and get the job done. Jesus’ yoke is great for a stubborn stiff neck. Jesus can teach us, but we have to be yoked with Him. Our job is to recognize and trade in what we’re yoked to, accept the gift of the Kingdom.
We can live all our life yoked to a word or idea that improperly defines us, like rejection. That yoke can be heavy and hard. Our goal is to take the will we have and use it to open our hands and trust that God has the care and competence to catch us, and Jesus has the brilliance to be able to teach us His ways.
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