Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Separation From God vs. Yes To God

I am doing an on-line book study with some other women. It's been great. If you want to join or just read comments, click the button at left to go to Lelia's site. We are reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called What Happens When Women Say Yes To God.

Here are my thoughts:

If you are a Christian you have had to say "Yes" to God at some point in your life -- "Yes, I am a sinner and yes, I need your salvation God." But saying "Yes" on a daily or even moment to moment basis is a difficult, even a monumental task. Given everything that God has given us, you might not think it would be so hard, but when I am honest, I have to admit that it is.

In chapter 4, "You Never Know How God Will Use You Until You Let Him," Lysa writes, "Only the pursuit of God's righteousness leads us to His best." God always wants the best for us. When we seek God -- pursue -- God's righteousness that leads us closer to God. But sometimes this can be a scary place.

Jesus went to the poor, the weeping, the sinners, the prostitutes. They aren't places that I normally want to go to. But God calls me to those places.

As I was reading, I was reminded of a woman I worked with whose two boys were in foster care and she was 8-9 months pregnant. I did fairly well with many of my clients even if I didn't agree with their choices. But this woman grated on every nerve I had.

We were not obligated to transport parents. In fact, it was common to expect them to make their own way to visits and appointments. For many of my clients this meant the bus. Even though our city isn't huge, getting from point A to point B could take and hour or more. They were dropped off down the road and then had to walk the rest of the way to our facility.

It was hot and sticky and after the visit, she had to walk back down the road and stand and wait for the next bus. She asked me if I would drop her down the street. It was not one of my better moments and I said, "No." I rationalized it as a natural consequence for her choices. I rationalized it that I didn't have extra insurance and I was using my own car and if something happened she would undoubtedly sue for every dime she could get. But really, it was just that I didn't like her.

I didn't like her. Ouch. That haunted me the next several days. The next week, I asked her if she wanted me to drop her at the end of the road. But God said, "That's not quite enough." Though it lengthened my day, I began to drive her across town and then transport the little ones to the foster parents' home.

I can't say that anything miraculous happened. I left the agency before the case closed. But, in saying "Yes" to God in those moments, I began to see her not simply as a client -- and one I didn't like -- but as someone who was made uniquely in God's image. If it were Jesus who needed a ride, would I hesitate? But then God reminded me that it was Jesus who needed the ride.

One of the things that struck me was Lysa's comment that Satan's name means "one who separates." Indeed that is what he does. He is constantly pulling and tugging and enticing us away from God and His best for us.

In church today, the altar is usually in plain sight. My church doesn't even necessarily have an altar per se. (We use a horse trough for baptism!) In Jesus' day, a curtain separated the altar from public view. When a priest would go in, they tied a rope around his foot in case something would happen and they would need to drag him out.

But when Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was torn. It is so specific that it says from top to bottom rather than bottom to top. We could not rip it up and reach up to God. So God, reached down and made the way.

Lysa writes, "The truth is the name of Jesus causes us to pause and redefine ourselves. The truth is that love compels us to embrace the calling to be Jesus' ambassador. The truth is freedom to soar above this life and learn to live beyond ourselves and our circumstances." I sense the dangerousness of it, but "Lord, make me pause in that redefining way. Lord, help me choose to embrace your calling on my life and to say 'Yes' every moment."

It's easy to say and harder to walk out. There are some situations right now that aren't very pretty in my life. I won't air them here, but please pray that I would say "Yes" in a moment to moment way and that I would choose that over separation from others and, most importantly, separation from God."

One last thought from Lysa that touched my heart:

With God's amazing love settled in our heart, we have His power to keep our faith steady and to experience lasting hope and joy independent of our situation.

It's true -- God wants it all. and it's in exchange of what we want for what God wants that we experience the adventure and freedom and power of saying yes to God.

I want that. Do you?


MrsJoeB said...

Amy-I want it! The more I want it the more I find Him leading me into areas I am not comfortable in. But I am going and by His grace I will fulfill His calling. It's tough-such as the situation with the women you shared...but we do as we are convicted and please God. And we become more like Him!! I just want to shine His love and grace. If I continue to look at what I have been it will never happen. I think God I am not that person anymore!!
In His Graces~Pamela

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing in this post.
Your honesty speaks to me.
It is so hard to treat people in life that we don't like the same way that Jesus treats them, with love, patience, and kindness.
I want to say, "Yes, God," too. Even when (in my flesh) I don't want to.

Great post, Amy!:)

Lelia Chealey said...

OH wow!! Amy, that was great!
What you wrote here struck me: "It's easy to say and harder to walk out."
So true sister!! Words come easy, moving our feet is a different story.
This was an awesome post Amy!

Lizerd said...

Your post was insightful and challenging. How many times do I choose to not say yes to God because I don't like someone??? I have before and am tempted to even today. Thank you for your honesty. It is easy to say, isnt' it? But putting our feet in motion sometimes feels like wearing lead boots. I will pray for you...please pray for me as well!

Sarah said...

Great thoughts. I am meeting Lysa tonight as a women's conference here in PA where she is coming to speak. I have never met her before. I am so excited.

Take care and have a wonderful weekend!