Posts Tagged 'crucified with Christ'

Waiting Rooms

I started out this last week with a doctor’s appointment at 9am Monday. This was a reschedule, when my appointment the previous week had been cancelled. They warned me then that the wait would be “longer than usual” because they were transferring all their patients’ files over to digital. Well, I figured that with the 9am appointment being among the first of the day the wait wouldn’t be so bad. I figured I’d be home by 9:30, 10 at the latest. So confident of this was I that I didn’t eat breakfast, partly because I didn’t have time and partly because I wasn’t yet hungry.

I was in that office nearly two hours, most of it spent waiting first in the waiting room (an hour) and the exam room (probably another half hour to 45 minutes). I read Everyday Life in Ancient Rome until I got bored with it. Then tried writing in my morning pages journal, but my hand went to sleep. I asked God why He’d set this up. I was just sitting there, doing nothing, my time wasted…

Tonight, in Bible Class I believe He answered. As I think I may have mentioned Pastor Farley has been teaching lately on Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh(body) I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”

Specifically that the old me, the fleshly me, the one that gets angry and discouraged and fearful and is unloving and unkind and impatient, that me has been crucified with Christ. She’s dead, and her problems and limitations have no place in the life that Christ is wanting me to allow Him to live through me.

We live the Christian life the same way we came into it — by faith in the work of another. Belief in the person and work of Christ on the cross is efficacious for salvation,  yes, but also for everything we do afterward.  Because all the things we’re commanded to do as Christians, loving the brethren, loving our enemies, the fruit we’re supposed to have — we can’t do in ourselves.  Only He can.

I’ve known this in part for some time. What I’ve not understood is how it’s actually implemented. I’m still not sure, though I’ve written posts about letting the Lord have control, and letting Him fill in the details of my days, and take care of the book and the deadline and the audience.  The book and the deadline and the audience I understand better than the first half of that sentence. How exactly do I let Him have control, anyway?

Recently, having determined that I was going to relax and not have a routine and just let the Lord direct me,  and then bungling around and not really making the kind of consistent progress I’d hoped, I came upon an article by a prominent Christian stating that it’s clear that if you want to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile you must deny yourself “a thousand unimportant things and a few hundred important things in order to do the one thing that matters most…” She went on to say specifically that this applies to writing. That writing is, in fact, “entirely a matter of self discipline.” You have to sit yourself down. You have to shut yourself up, you must restrict your enthusiasms, you must control your maunderings.

I immediately thought that that made perfect sense and the Lord had sent it along to remind me that I did need to discipline myself, after all. That all that ‘leave it to the Lord’ stuff was just too lax and this only made sense. And so the pendulum swung back again.

The problem is… I don’t seem to have the ability to do it — discipline myself, I mean. Even when I set myself to it, I fail. Repeatedly. For a myriad of reasons. So now, after that brief regression to the old, temporarily more comfortable, allegedly more “sensible” way, I’ve changed my mind about why He brought that piece to my attention: not to follow its advice but so I could see more clearly the contrast. To show me that it’s not that way. Because that way is not a way of faith in another, but of faith in oneself. I’m the one doing the work — disciplining my self, sitting my self down, shutting my self up, denying my self… I’m the one producing the “fruit” by my determination and my effort, not something the Holy Spirit’s doing in me.

Then there’s the “What Would Jesus Do?” approach, where in a situation you ask yourself what He’d do and then you try to make yourself do that. “Throw that out!” said Pastor Farley tonight. Because that’s not really the life of Christ in you, it’s the life of you attempting to imitate Christ.

No, the answer is faith. “I’m giving the matter of my lack of self-discipline and the whole project of writing this book over to you, Lord. You do it. I have proven myself unable to do it time and again, but I know You can. So I’ll quit trying to scheme and schedule and control and force and demand and reprimand and condemn and deny self and instead, wait for You to come through.”

The only catch is that often when He does come through,  it doesn’t necessarily look the way you think it should. The way you have it planned. It may include long boring waits in a doctor’s waiting and exam rooms where all your plans and expectations for the day are dashed and you have the option of sitting there  mindlessly studying the baby pictures on the wall and wondering when the doctor will come (and he used exactly this kind of situation tonight) or…  you can use the time to recall that the main reason we’re left here after salvation has nothing to do with the natural world, and everything to do with the spiritual world. And you can tap into that, use this alone and “powerless” time… to pray!

Whoa. Never thought of that.

And Pastor Farley didn’t mean that we’re to pray for the doctor to come in and stop wasting our time, or the traffic jam to break up, but really pray… for people, for situations you’re aware of, for your pastor, for unbelievers in your life, for missionaries… for whatever He lays on your heart.

It’s not about me and my schedules and my efforts to make everything work out.  Not that having routines is a bad thing — I don’t think it is — just that when those routines get interrupted, there’s no reason to fuss. It’s just a matter of “not my will, but yours be done, Lord.” And maybe to look for some greater purpose in the situation beyond the one you had in mind.

Wordless, Sort of

I seem to have been wordless for the last few days. Not wordless for my journal or my writing logs, but wordless when it comes to writing a blog post, or answering email, or working on Sky. I know I’ve been tired and it may be that is part of the problem. If being wordless is really a problem.

The biggest thing of late seems to have been to stop trying to do it myself, stop trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and focus on Jesus. We’ve been learning about being crucified with Christ. The old man, the old me, the me with limitations and the one that makes all the problems and fusses. The distractable me. The confused me.

I understand crucifixion — that is, I know what it is. I know that Jesus was crucified. I am familiar with Gal 2:20 which says “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself up for me.”

But I only sort of understand it. It’s not a literal crucifixion of my body. It’s a spiritual crucifixion. It means the old me has died, even though experientially it still holds sway over me. Which is kind of hard to understand. Usually if something is dead it just lies there doing nothing. But then, everyone born into this world is born spiritually dead and they don’t just lie there…

So it’s a spiritual crucifixion. And while the old me can have power over me, it doesn’t have to. If I don’t want to be under its power, I don’t have to be, though it seems awfully hard a lot of the time not to fall into it anyway. To even recognize it, is sometimes hard, because not all its impulses and suggestions are obviously bad and evil and sinful. Some of them are good, humanly speaking. Some of the things the old nature can do are the same things the new nature does in the power of the Spirit. Outwardly they look the same. Inwardly, they can too, if my inward sight is not clear enough.

Anyway, I’m grappling with how one goes about living in the fact of having been crucified with Christ, and how that relates to my writing problems… if it does, and finally yesterday I just gave up trying to figure out what I need to do better or different or what have you and just took it to the Lord. “You do it,” I said to Him. “You’ve promised to make all grace abound to me, so I’d have all sufficiency in everything, an abundance for every good deed. If you really want me to write this book, You’re going to have to do it, because I am not able to.

And at the end of the day I looked at the work for about an hour and began to gather various notes on scraps and pieces of paper into a document on the computer. Stuff that might happen in Chapter 6. Stuff I know about the situation in Chapter 6 — a dinner party. (That may be most of my problem. A dinner party is not inherently full of conflict and action…) I know many of the people who will attend. I know in general what may be discussed. I know some secrets to reveal…

Today I added to that document, interspersed with continued reading in my book about life in ancient Rome. I’m getting glimpses.  Small interchanges, images, a sense of place… it’s starting, slowly, to come together.

I have no idea what will happen tomorrow but I’d be an idiot not to go to God again and say, again, “You do it. I can’t. Show me the way I should go here, for to you I lift up my soul.”

More and more He’s showing me — it’s to be a moment by moment thing, where I go to Him, ask Him, stop trying to do it myself… I have limits, I have blind spots, I have no idea where we’re going. He does. And He doesn’t have limits and He has no blind spots. Trusting Him for it all, I think, is living by faith in the Son of God… Faith He’s there, faith He will come through.   Because “Faithful is He who has called you and HE will bring it to pass.”

 

 


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