Since this turned into something of a series on abundant life and reigning in life (see The Day After and Abundant Life?), it probably would have been helpful to title them consistently and add numbers. I guess hindsight really is 20/20. Thank you for your patience, I am learning as I go and really enjoying the process.
The process, I use that term loosely, but what I mean by that is sitting down and talking to the Lord about the things He is doing and has done in my life and asking Him to help me articulate them…as much for me as for anyone else. So if it ever seems as if I am thinking out loud on the computer screen, I probably am.
My thoughts turned to abundant life and reigning in life as I reflected on the importance not only on the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, but celebration of the Resurrected life. The truth is, as believers the cross represents the crucifixion of our old self (our human spirit that was dead to God), our burial, and our resurrection (us made alive together with Christ). Shouldn’t our lives be different? If ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is true, well…that’s a total game changer, if we let it be.
Thinking about this it seemed the obvious place to start was with what abundant life is not, since that really is the part I am most familiar with :). I think I made a good case in my last post for the idea that TRYING HARDER IS NOT ABUNDANT LIVING (is it true that when you use all caps it’s like raising your voice to your reader? Please let me know because I want to scream that from the mountain tops)! My life is an honest example of the truth in that statement.
Another honest example from my own life is that FEAR is not reigning in life. The fact that I had so many of these to choose from (fear examples) made this post hard to write. Fear based living could become a series within a series…or a book. The easiest one to see is in how I mothered my girls.
Every decision I agonized over was based on the fear that if I made the wrong one their lives would be forever off-track, the perfect track, God’s track. School was a big one for me. I knew early on that homeschooling was not for us, but I didn’t feel public school was ‘safe’, so at great financial cost I insisted my kids go to Christian school for several years. That way they would be in the right environment, with the right friends, learning the right Christian things to keep their lives on the right track.
It finally became financially obvious that we could no longer continue in Christian school, so we enrolled them in public school. You know what? In the beginning I felt very defeated by this, like I had failed and because of that the enemy had really gotten a victory. However, it turned out to be the best thing we could have done for them (one more instance of lacking perspective). Has it been perfect? No, but honestly the things we’ve faced in public school were not really any different from Christian school. People are people wherever you go.
I am not advocating thoughtless, careless parenting, but at some point don’t you just have to trust that God is bigger than your mistakes? I can’t protect them from every possible danger that can potentially come their way, but I can place my trust in the One who can.
While mothering has been a very pronounced example of how I’ve lived in fear, the truth is I’ve lived afraid of a lot of things. Afraid that if I didn’t pray and read my Bible every day that I wouldn’t have God’s favor. Afraid that if I made a mistake God wouldn’t love me, bless me, use me (fill in the blank). Afraid that as a Christian I wasn’t representing God very well if my life wasn’t perfect (talk about carrying a huge weight – it’s a miracle I can even stand up straight any more). Afraid that if I wasn’t doing enough for the Lord He might get angry.
What was I afraid would happen? The absolute worst, whatever that was.
The apostle John had this to say about fear:
1 John 4:18 (NASB) – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
John was exactly right. I had met Perfect Love, but I didn’t really trust Him to be Lord. I walked around waiting for the other shoe to drop, expecting the punishment I was sure I deserved for all the mistakes I was sure I was making.
But you know how the Lord handles our mistakes? He confronts them with His love, not His wrath. Two of the biggest mistake makers in the New Testament, Paul and Peter, prove this. Paul was actually murdering followers of Christ and was on his way to kill even more when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and you know what Jesus said to him?
Acts 9:4-6 (NASB) – “… and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am
Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the
city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
Paul wasn’t even a believer at that point, but Jesus simply confronted him with a question. A question that immediately revealed to Paul (then Saul) what was in his own heart and who Jesus was. And then He told Paul what to do.
Then there is Peter. The disciple who swore his willingness to die for Jesus (John 13) and then turned around and denied even knowing Him that same night (John 18). Talk about a mistake! How did Jesus handle it?
John 21:15-17 (NASB) – “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Jesus dealt with his mistake by asking him questions that caused Peter to think and then He gave him instructions. Just like He did with Paul. Their mistakes were confronted by Perfect Love, not punishment.
So, all that to say, living in fear is NOT reigning in life, but apparently living loved IS.