As we surrender our lives to God and follow His leadership in our lives, there is one issue that seems to come up late in the process. Just as in my married life, where it took Hank and I 15-20 years to get to the point of no longer taking his anger at me and my anger at him personally, so in our spiritual lives, we are to no longer take anything that happens to us personally, or with judgment or with expectations or any other loading. We are to be as free in our personal lens as Paul was facing prison or shipwreck or criticism as he carried Christ’s message throughout the Mediterranean area.
When Paul went to Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. He trusted what the Lord said to him, and would not dwell in fear of whatever happened or take it personally at all.
We are so set in our expectations and desires, the lenses through which we see our lives and everyone else, that we take everything personally, as if it was done to anger or annoy us or hamper what we want to do. One day late in September I had driven two hours to meet some internet installers at our cabin. After waiting 3+ hours for them, I called to make sure they were still coming. I found out that they had cancelled my visit, but never told me. I’m afraid I wasn’t very polite to the woman on the phone, but I couldn’t believe that no one called me to report this cancellation.
And there I was, feeling insulted and uncared for, taking the whole situation personally, as if they had meant to injure me. I was soon laughing, because I realized that I was meant to take that drive and see the beginnings of fall color emerging which I love. I got some much-needed writing done on a book on the poor and needy in the Bible. And the Lord was saying to me that this was how the day was to go.
We have a choice to go with what happens as it is already here in our lives and way too late to complain about or to complain and rant and rave. It may be that it is God’s will for us in that moment. Surrender, acceptance, and embrace, even, keep our suffering at zero, and we develop the capacity to get on with what is real and true in our lives– without any loading. It’s really about our ability to deal with the truth and to live in that truth that is the core value here. No matter how we might see what is already happening through our personal lens, the truth is that this is what we now have to deal with. So we might as well get on with it, because “the truth will set you free.”
We no longer have to be captive to the lies that burden us, the suffering we have endured, the ways of the world that don’t belong to us. Jesus came “that they may have life, and have it to the full.” After He was tested in the wilderness, He returned to Galilee to the synagogue, reading a scroll of the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
And the recovery of sight for the blind,
To set the oppressed free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus brought good news, freedom, healing, and more freedom. This is the package he offers us—freedom from our poverty, our captivity, our blindness, our oppression and our burdens. He helps us heal into the health of a person living in the kingdom of God. He will carry all our burdens and set us free to be who we were created by God to be, free to be able to live in “love, joy, peace, patience[forbearance], goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
This is the good news of the Gospels. The only questions we have to address are these: am I living the “good news?” Do I experience peace, joy, love and patience in my life now? Am I good and kind and faithful and gentle and self-controlled in my daily life, towards myself and others? Do I truly understand that self-controlled here means total trust in God’s providence for me, not clamping down on my thoughts and feelings? Am I listening to the Lord and doing what He suggests to me? If the answer to these questions is a hearty “Yes!” then we are free, living the “good news!” that he preached.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I take what happens in my life personally? Or am I able to surrender to each thing as it comes? Do I turn to God with each new event to see how to deal with it? Do I resent the changes that I hadn’t planned for? Or do I embrace them as just what I need to address now? How do I handle all the curves and unanticipated events in my life? With resentment or love?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who accept whatever happens to us with grace and welcome. May we be open to learn the lessons of our lives. May we live in peace always.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 11.15.19s is entitled, “A Process for Loving Yourself as Jesus Taught.”
 Acts 18:9-11
 John 8:32
 John 10:10
 Luke 4:18-19
 “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30
 Galatians 5:22-23