Friday, May 4, 2018

Lord, I'm Done

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (MSG)
There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Lord, I'm Done
Have you ever just had those times when you say, "I'm done"? A time when all the pressures of life, at that moment, have taken their toll on you and you have nothing left to give to the situation? I just recently had an experience like that. As I prayed and sought the Lord as to what it meant, I realized that it was not entirely negative. Surrender is not always bad. In fact, in our Christian walk there must be complete surrender and consecration before anything else will change. Personally, I realized that what I was really feeling and saying was "I'm tired of doing this in my own strength."

The author of Ecclesiastes had some insight to this thought process. He seemed to understand that everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) has a purpose. Life cannot, and unfortunately will not, be a bed of roses all the time. I think I thought this kind of outlook was a lack of faith on my part; but God is showing me otherwise. If we look at the life of Paul, it doesn't take long for us to see the continual struggles in his life. He said it this way: "... {I have} been put in prison..., been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:23-28, New Living Translation).

Life was not a bed of roses for Paul. But what I love about his testimony is that regardless of all the adversities (brought against him or his own inward struggles), he never lost sight of God's grace and who he was in Christ. If we continue reading this passage in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11 and into Chapter 12, Paul goes on to say, "... I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Why would Paul boast in his weaknesses? Because when he (or we) boast in our infirmities, the door is swung wide open for us to boast of Christ, who took our infirmities. This word "infirmities" means feebleness (of body or mind); by implication malady; moral frailty (disease, sickness, or any kind of weakness).

The scriptures fully indicate that this was part of Jesus' ministry, "... thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, 'He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases'" (Matthew 8:17, Amplified).

When I resign, surrender, or in essense say "I'm done", am I not really just saying "Lord, I need your grace"? It is necessary for us to resign at times. Otherwise, we may be found guilty of taking the grace provided through the cross in vain. Whereas, we prefer to look only on the bright side of life, there are times that we must look THROUGH the hard times in order to appreciate the Light. If we look again at the words found in Ecclesiastes, this time only looking at the hard times, what will we find? There is a time "... for death ... {and a time} to plant, a right time to kill and ... a right time to destroy ..., a right time to cry... {and} a right time to lament ..., {a time} to abstain {from making love}, ... and another {time} to part {and} ... count your losses, a right time ... to let go, a right time to rip out and another to shut up ..., a right time to ... hate, {and} a right time to wage war..."

That's almost too harsh for me! But I can't continue going through life like an ostrich with its head in the sand, paying attention only to the things that are easy and fun. True growth in my life will take place when I willingly look at the hard parts and say, "Lord, I'm done." Pain can be my teacher, if I allow it to be.

Concerning these thoughts, I am encouraged by the scriptures. Jesus said, "So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). Paul said, "Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?" (Romans 6:16). The bottom line is: surrender is necessary.

The good news is that when we do finally surrender, God says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Then suddenly, through the eyes of grace, we can see the flip side: There is "... a right time for birth and ...another to reap, a right time to ... heal, {and} and another to construct, a right time to ... laugh, {and} ...cheer, a right time to make love and ...a right time to embrace ..., a right time to search and ... a right time to hold on ..., {and} ... mend, ...{a time} to speak up, {and} a right time to love {and} ... make peace." Daphne Delay

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