February 24, 2009

The Emptying of Myself Leaves More Room for Grace

Posted in Devotionals, Prayer Request at 10:50 pm by Sarah Bosse

Today I feel absolutely empty of “myself”.  I’ve run out of resources, out of what I would often call “my own” resources.  You see, in my pride, I tend to think that I am strong.  Yet nothing could be further from the truth!  I cannot claim a single breath or heartbeat – they come and will go apart from my own will or consciousness.  The ability to think a single thought is not my own and does not come from me.  I am unable to keep my bones from breaking; I am unable to keep a single hair from falling out of my head (see bathtub drain)!  


James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.


Why, then, should I think that I am able to endure pain or hardship alone?  
The answer is deceptively simple.  “I CANNOT ENDURE!”  


Did you know that the most remarkable thing happens when I cry to God, “I just can’t do it, Lord!“?  It’s true.  As the last syllable is uttered from my heart, His voice rushes into my soul with a quiet whisper, “My beloved child!  Oh, my child!  I know that you cannot endure!  You cannot breathe unless I give your body My breath of life; and you cannot fight this battle unless I supply My grace and strength.  I purchased your soul, and I am delighted to give you My grace and strength; not a mite would I withhold!”  And then He proceeds to assure me with these words, “I am The Wellspring of Life.  I cause you to thirst and nearly faint so that you might come to My Waters and drink and be truly filled!  Come near, precious daughter, and be filled to overflowing, for I am a generous God!”  


There are many styles of backpacking and hiking.  Some folks take more rations and comfort items with them when they hike than others.  (Just for the record, I take everything including the kitchen sink.)  The man who takes “everything” when he goes hiking is unable to add to his load.  There’s simply no more room in the inn (or backpack), and he is encumbered by the weight of his belongings.  The trail is harder, travel is more tedious, and the hiker is unable to collect new items along the way.  But the kitchen-sink-hating hiker who brought less – “less is more” – is able to climb faster, higher, expend less energy, enjoy the experience more fully, and pick up new items along the way because he left himself behind.  


The same is true in our lives.  The more abilities we claim “belong” to us and “come from” us, the less free gifts that perfectly meet our needs we are able to accept from God.  If a cup is full of liquid, it cannot hold any more.  And if I am full of myself, I am unable to receive God’s grace.


James 4:4b – 10 [bracketted text mine]

Do you not know that friendship with the world [and yourself] is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world [and himself] makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.


In verse 5 we see that the Lord DESIRES to dwell in us.  How may He dwell in us if room is not first made for His presence?  Therefore, as “myself” is removed from me, I rejoice!  And I rejoice freely because God is making more room for Himself to dwell in me.  He wants to be my All-In-All, my All-Sufficiency, my Joy, my Grace, my Strength, my Provider.  But the rosebush must be pruned before it can bloom.  


I would rather be lifted up by God in the dust and ashes of humility than cast down by God in His righteous opposition to my pride.  (verse 6)  Please help me, Lord.  Thank You, Father!


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