I’ve been pretty quiet on all channels lately. It’s not that God isn’t moving, or even that I don’t have things I want to share – it’s just that sometimes silence is a really good thing. It’s a nice reminder that I don’t always need to process out loud the lessons that God is walking me through. Some things are meant for the sacred space just for you and Him. The silence has also been a gentle reminder that He is constantly working on me and that I don’t need to have the answers – in fact I’m in trouble if I think I do. What I need is a savior and a heart filled with surrender.
And let me tell you, I have reached a new level of surrender. A deeper surrender that resonates in my spirit and leaves my mind void of thoughts. A type of surrender that I didn’t truly believe was possible for me because I’m such a control freak. A die to self type of surrender.
I didn’t start the day thinking that this was “the day” I was going to let God tear off those stubborn pieces I was holding so tightly onto. In fact, I didn’t think I was holding on tightly at all. I actually felt quite proud of myself for the way I was leaning into God’s promptings. When He changed course on us recently, I didn’t dig my heels in the ground, I instead took a deep breath and said “ok God”.
But with a new and deeper level of obedience comes a new and deeper level of conviction, correction and surrender.
A few weeks ago Joshua and I felt like God told us both individually that we were too narrow focused on what this next season was suppose to look like for us. We have spent the past two years praying and working towards building a tiny house on wheels, because for the longest time we felt like that would be the best thing for our family. We knew God had put the dream of owning land and a retreat center in our hearts – and because that felt like a really far away dream, we felt like a tiny house would be a good fit during the first part of the “in between” season of now and a retreat center.
But one Tuesday while I was driving Esther to an appointment, and asking God why we were still struggling to make this tiny house a reality, I heard God say “I didn’t promise you a tiny house, I promised you land.” For a minute I sat there and questioned if it was God that I heard, or if it was a random fleeting thought. But I knew it was His words and I knew it was true. He hadn’t promised us a tiny house. He promised us land – and our heart is to create a retreat center on that land.
Later that day I told Joshua what I thought God had told me. He chuckled and said he felt God ask him that same morning to pray for the land that He had for us. Well, I guess that was the confirmation I needed. I felt convicted that on our journey of taking bold steps towards a God dream we had become so narrow focused and small minded. We took our eyes off of what God wanted for us and became so fixated on how we were going to will the next step into existence.
We began shouldering the burden of the process instead of trusting the One who had begun the process in us.
So our prayers and our focused shifted. We started praying for the land that God had for us and the future dream retreat center. It felt like a refreshing drink of Holy Spirit. We had peace, joy and excitement in our hearts – it felt like we were back on the right track. Sure, my mind questioned how land would become a reality when a tiny house seemed impossible for so long – but I knew God was asking us to trust deeper and believe in Him bigger. So we did. I did.
That’s why I was blindsided when instead of a pat on the back I received a gut wrenching conviction.
It was a week later and Joshua and I were driving to a worship event talking about what God was doing in our lives and dreaming of the retreat center. I mentioned that I thought we should put together a list of what we really wanted on the land and how it would be used – that way we knew exactly what we were looking for. Maybe instead of 60-70 acres we could create exactly what we needed on 30 acres, if the land was laid out right. It made sense to me. It seemed like a good starting place.
And it was a good starting place…for God to wreck me. Joshua asked how that coincided with God asking us to pray bigger. To him it was a question. But to me it was an accusation. An accusation that I didn’t believe enough in what God could provide, that I was still trying to control and squeeze God into a box, that somehow I was still doing it wrong. I didn’t understand. Here I was dreaming and planning for the very thing that God asked us to pray for. How could I possibly still be controlling and limiting my belief in Him? What was I possibly suppose to do?
And then it hit me. Nothing. God was asking me to do nothing.
“Fine. I quit.” I announced through my sobs. “I’m done. If God wants to give us land then He can give it to us. If He wants to keep us here, He can. If He wants to move us He can. I’m done. I’m over it. I quit.” To be honest it started out more as a bratty tantrum then an act of surrender – but the heart of it was sincere. God, I’m done trying to figure this out. It’s yours. Do what you what you want with it.
And I’ll do nothing.
As the thought crossed my mind, I couldn’t even grasp what it meant. My mind raced with thoughts about what “do nothing” actually looked like, and I tried to justify away the conviction that I had felt. But just as quickly as a thought would come through my mind, it miraculously vanished before I could even form the excuse in my mouth. And soon, I was left with no thoughts – not one. No thought of what I could do, should do, no thought trying to reason or plan what was next. Nothing.
It was as if one by one God cut the chain links of excuses and false idols that had me so tangled and confused that I didn’t even know I was being weighed down.
There was nothing left for me to do but crumble and sob. And I did, sitting in the passenger seat of our car I collapsed into my knees and cried tears of remorse and repentance. God, forgive me for holding on so tightly. Forgive me for my idol of control. I cried tears of confusion and clarity. I knew what was happening and at the same time I had no idea what was going to happen. How could I have gotten this so wrong? I wondered.
I couldn’t believe that while pursuing God’s call on my life I had unknowingly made an idol out of answering that call.
I was no longer truly seeking God. I was seeking God’s plan for my life. I placed knowing his path, will and desire for my life above knowing him. And the heartbreaking part of it was that when He stripped me of this idol it was as if the earth had fallen beneath my feet. I froze. When the holy pursuit of purpose was taken away from me, not only did I not know what to do, I no longer knew who I was.
And now I understand the term ‘die to self’. To empty yourself completely. To cut off the pieces of you that feel more natural than saying your own name. The pieces that were intricately woven into your DNA, the ones that make up the very essence of who you are. The pieces that He gave you, He molded into you. He formed those pieces with his own hands like the potter molding a clay vase.
Die to self. The act of giving those pieces back to their rightful owner. The act of giving yourself back fully to your creator.
Maybe it’s possible for this death to be graceful and easy. I wouldn’t know. For me, it felt like a painful, hollowing out death. I woke up the next morning physically tired and sore. I was battered and bruised mentally and emotionally. But my spirit was steady. My heart felt lighter, fuller and freer.
And I guess this is the beginning of a new journey for me, one where I can say, “I don’t know. But I do know my God”.