Friday, January 6, 2017

All In

 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 
[Jeremiah 29:11-13, Amplified Version]

Last year, I wrote this verse in my journal, and below it I scribbled:

Lord, I hang my hat on this truth. I give myself to trusting You. I believe that You're for me, not against me. I believe that You love me.

I've shared my testimony in bits and pieces, here and there.  I've shared how I feared God.... I feared that if I completely surrendered to Him—like, if I truly let go of everything.... all of it, every area, if I let go, and stopped worrying, and gave it all, every last drop into His hands—that He would destroy it. I feared He would take everything from me. Everything.

I believe we are called to count the cost of following Jesus. In order to go all in, we must know what we are going all in for, and what it means to go all in.

In 2015, there was a moment where I was sitting across the table from my friend Nanci and sharing how I heard the Lord calling me to go all in. She smiled and said, "Hang on a second," as she reached in her purse, her hand reappearing grasping a book with the title All In in big bold letters across the front.

I bought the Kindle version that very minute.

That book, by Mark Batterson, was powerful. In fact, when some friends and I organized a retreat for Instagram ladies, I bought a copy for every woman who came. I knew it was a message we needed to hear.  I knew I wanted to be all in, and I committed to it, but, at the time, I didn't realize that I hadn't really surrendered.

All in is more than something I commit to. It's a surrender. In her book Anything, Jennie Allen writes, "Stepping out wholly dependent on God to come through, stepping away from what is secure and comfortable exposes the holes in our faith. And then if God comes through, it expands our faith. Something about stepping off cliffs where God leads allows God the opportunity to move in greater ways. When we step off and He shows up, we see Him differently than we would if we were standing safely looking over the edge."

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the testimony I posted in my Stories about how I wanted God to show up before I stepped off the edge, but I realized, God's power and might, the grace that I so wanted, it comes with obedience.  He calls us to step out in faith, and then He comes through. I wanted break through. I wanted to see the Spirit do great things. But I wanted Him to do all that first, and then I'd surrender.  And that's just not how it works.

Mark Batterson begins his book saying, "When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding down the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal?"  

He continues, "Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It's storming the gates of hell. The will of God is not an insurance plan. It's a daring plan. The complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn't radical. It's normal. It's time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. It's time to go all in and all out for the All in All."

God used Batterson's book as a sort of John the Baptist messenger to prepare the way, so when I sat there, reading God's heart and purpose of love, not of disaster, I thought, "I want that. I'm going to choose that. I'm going to throw away this idea that the Lord is out to destroy me."

There is one who is out to destroy me, and that's not Jesus. It's Satan. Yes, I could lose everything, I could, but it wouldn't be because the Lord's heart toward me is destruction.  Even if I am destroyed, I believe that it still fulfills God's true purpose of love, prosperity, and well-being which extends beyond the here and now of this fleeting life. There is risk, no doubt.  But I see there's an even bigger risk in living in this self-protective, fearful, so-called "safe" zone.

In that moment, I chose to throw myself upon the truth of Jeremiah 29:11.  The verses that followed began to unfold in my own life. 

Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Deep longing. Vital necessity. That captures the position of my heart!  I literally cannot even function without Him. I can't go on a walk with my neighbor without Him with me, speaking to me. I can't go sit in a women's fellowship if I'm not totally positive that He wants me there. I don't want to get out of bed if I haven't fixed my mind on Him. I don't want to speak or even breathe without His approval.

It sounds crazy, sometimes I feel crazy, but it's where I have to live. I laughed the other day as I was walking to my car, because I realize I look like a freak mumbling to myself, even in public, but I find that I must, I have to, talk to the Lord, and sometimes I must do it out loud! It just seems more powerful!

I feel compelled to share my story, as it unfolds. In the beginning, I treasured in my heart the things the Lord was telling me. I knew I needed to be quiet and listen, even though my heart is always to share and be an open book (maybe a little too much of an open book).  The Lord actually told me to be like Mary, the mother of Christ, who often quietly treasured things in her heart.  I knew He was speaking, and I needed to, like Martha's sister Mary, be still and sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him.

Any time I tried to explain what the Lord was doing in me to a friend, I fumbled with words and felt like I was a rambling, confusing mess. Words failed, and often, it caused confusion in my friendships. How could I explain the miracle the Lord was doing in my heart? I couldn't.  The Lord clearly spoke to quietly treasure what He was doing and speaking and showing me, and also to trust that, at the right time, fruit would be produced and revealed in my own life, which would do the explaining that I could not.

I'm not really good at being quiet, so, um, you can see how this was definitely a struggle for me!

My husband and I both came to this realization that we weren't all in. Scripture says that some things are permissible but not profitable.  We realized we didn't want to live on the permissible line—we wanted to live profitable! God spoke to my husband so clearly that our purpose is to bring Him glory, and that should be the filter through which we run all of our life, from what music we listen to, shows we watch, hobbies we take up, events we attend... from the way we speak to our spouse to the way we discipline our children to the way we manage our money. Over and over again, the Lord shows me that the heart matters. We may be able to fool everyone else. We may even deceive ourselves. But God? He sees the heart clearly. The motivation of the heart is super important to Him. I can say that I want to be all in. I can think that I want to be all in. I can speak of surrender and desire it. But if I desire anything more than Him, then I'm off.

When I was a teenager, I thought living for the glory of God was a boring route to take, but I have found that it's a crazy adventure, and I'm pretty sure we've only just begun.

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