In my own experience of being faithful to God, I have come across many areas of resistance that I have had to lay on the altar to find help in overcoming, to be healed of, to let go of. The Bible uses the timeline of 40 years to suggest a long, long time, for the Israelites in the desert, forty years, to give up their rebellious ways; for Jesus it was 40 days facing the devil in the wilderness. It takes a long time to confront all these tendencies in us and to lift them up for healing. They are so natural to us, that we often don’t even see them as problems. Here are some of my major rebellions, in no particular order:
- I had to understand why something was happening, before I could consent to it! I was constantly asking why this and why that without getting an answer that would satisfy me. It took me years to understand that it didn’t matter why something happened; understanding wouldn’t change the fact that this, whatever it was that I resisted, was in my life and I needed to deal with it. And so I finally gave up having to know why.
- I had to give up my own self-image and learn how to love myself. I lived for so long in fear and doubt of myself; I could not see myself clearly or compassionately. I didn’t even know that there was a purpose for my life, or who the “I” was who had a purpose until the thought crossed my mind: “I have an agenda for my life.” I had to start all over again to discover who I am by asking the question: What do I really want to do? Not what should I do or anything like that coming from outside myself. Later on I made a decision to turn the eyes of love on myself, accepting all that was and had been in my life, just because I believed God loved me.
- How can you say you love God, if you can’t love your mother? This question that I heard loud and clear within me challenged me mightily—I couldn’t love my mother, because she never got me. Just one example, I grew up in a hell-fire-and-damnation Presbyterian church in Louisville KY from 2 to 13 years of age. In my 40’s or 50’s I was telling her what a huge burden that church had put on me, and she said, “I can’t believe you took it that way.” This healing came to be a big step along my spiritual journey with the Lord. I tried unsuccessfully for two years to give up my passive-aggressive attitude towards her and to be an adult with her, and then God wrapped us both in a cloud of love on a railroad platform which healed both of us. I could love my mother from then on and she was grateful for every single thing I did for her from then on.
- I thought that God had done a lot of healing in me until I turned off the radio in my car for a year. I found there was nothing but anger and impatience and railing at the drivers who I thought were making me late, or slowing me down, or making me stop when I shouldn’t have had to, or who were driving crazily fast or recklessly in city streets. Without the radio to distract me, I became aware of how much anger and fear was still in me. And I gave it up to God.
- I wanted to complain about this new thing in my life to God before I could even begin to surrender to it. I knew that I would surrender, because that is what I had been practicing for the years since I gave over my life to Him, but I also wanted to air my complaints before I did. It didn’t matter that I offered them up; I still had to surrender to this new thing. Now I know that resisting some new thing in my life has added tremendously to my suffering. When I can just go with what is and figure out how to deal with it, there is no additional suffering in the challenge.
- Lately, I have been aware of deep, pre-cognitive resistance in me I am pretty sure it was formed before I was three years old. Just one example: One day I was trying to make a left turn into a neighborhood. Two trucks blocked my way and I burst into tears, because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. Now that is not a reaction of a 77-year old woman, but of a little child, probably around 2 years old. Layers and layers of resistance are in us, waiting for healing so that we can be free of the rebelliousness within.
Maybe you’ll recognize some of your own resistance in my confession here. I have learned so much about myself over the 35+ years since I surrendered my life to Christ. 10,000 surrenders is what I can this stage of the journey. All the little things that drive you nuts—surrender to them, so that surrender finally becomes a habit that just kicks in every time there is something new to deal with. And the big things, too, like my husband’s death from Lymphoma at age 60, surrender to them, too. I think two things about his death now: 1-he was ready to die; he had healed all his childhood stuff and he had a lot of it; 2-there is life for me after death, a career in writing that I never imagined. There are lessons to be learned in every single thing that happens to us—positive and negative things. Find out what the lessons are.
Surrender is the way into the heart of God, into the life of partnering with Him. Surrender of our expectations, assumptions, desires all in the face of His complete knowledge about what we need at any moment in time; surrender to his benevolence and providence to His ways. Surrender all our rebelliousness, give back to Him our own free will. Surrender of our own small-minded lens on ourselves and others and that leads to living in the truth. And finally, we are then free to be who we were created to be without the burdens that the world puts on us.
I don’t know what other lessons I have yet to learn, nor how much more time I’ll have here on earth. But it doesn’t matter. When I am done, I’ll be done. I am content with whatever the Lord sends me.
Questions to ponder over the week: What are my major rebellions? Have I given them up to God for healing, for release? Do I even know that I am rebellious? Am I more apt to go along with the culture’s teachings than with God’s? How much of my good, creative energies am I pouring into rebellion and resistance?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have set aside our rebellious ways and are faithful to God’s will for us. May we live in the truth about ourselves. May we give ourselves totally to God in love.
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