Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Habits of this Highly Effective (But Lost) Church Lay Leader: Week 4- Absolute Abandonment

"But such an hour is coming and now is here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him." - John 4:23

I have finally returned to the blogging world after a three week hiatus, due to a computer issue! And I have to say, thank you, friends for hanging with me and being patient. Sharing a PC while trying to write a series of blog posts just doesn't work, if both people are active PC users. While I love my husband beyond life itself and I know he loves me, I am not sure he wasn't thrilled to finally have his computer for himself again as of last night. He enjoys online gaming and I think the idea of sharing his computer for three weeks was a bit annoying and put a kink in his system. I am happy to report that I now have a new computer, thanks to Wayne, computer guru extraordinaire, and most everything I had before on the old one has been returned to its proper place on the new one. I am still hunting for a couple of things, but I am sure that I will find them soon.

So, where were we??? Let's review a little bit. The first week, we talked about authenticity - being real before God and before others. The second week, we discussed our conversations with God and learning to pray as Jesus prayed. The third week, we tackled two things - loving others and extending God's grace because He first loved us and, in part two loving God with an exclusive love above all others.

We're ready now to tackle Absolute Abandonment. Now, I have to tell you that in my days of being a lost church member, I really was a bit confused with some of the church language. Such was the case with the phrase, "Absolute Abandonment." I honestly thought that it meant to be highly involved in activities of service within the church body. So much of the time, I was feeling like I was living at the church! I was constantly involved in some kind of ministry activity or program. I was exhausted and I was still missing the peace that only Christ can give. In some ways, I honestly believe that I was trying to find a way to make God notice me... or to love me more. But somehow, I knew I could never measure up! I always felt as if I knew that I would work myself to death in some church activity only to get to the judgement seat of Christ, only to hear the words, "Depart from me, I never knew you!"

I think as we take a look at the definitions of the term, "Wreckless Abandonment", in the context of the life of a Christ follower, we'll find that its meaning is really very different.

Let's pick it apart just a little bit, shall we???

The term abandonment is actually a legal term. In its deepest roots and earliest meanings, it means to leave the care of something that you own completely to the care of someone else, to the point of leaving behind your ownership. In the case of the life of a Christ-follower, this is about extinguishing your rights to yourself and your life and giving God ownership of yourself and your life. In other words, your life when fully abandoned to the Lord Jesus becomes entirely His to do with as ONLY He wishes. He now has full ownership of your life and has the right to decide how you will now live. You no longer have rights over your life. They belong completely to Him.

Every decision.
Every thought.
Every action.
Every purpose.
Every desire.

Every part of our lives:

Our families.
Our homes.
Our jobs.
Our church.
Our friends.
Our enemies.
Our finances.
Our health.
Our activities.
Our mission.
Our passions.
Our dreams.
Our visions.
Our lifestyles.
Our education.
Our calling.
Our satisfaction.
Our comfort.
Our contentment.

Abandonment means that you and I have now given up every part of our lives, including the rights to ourselves. All of our life now belongs to Jesus.... and we really don't have a say in what He desires to do with us. To take back any part of those rights for ourselves would be to live in disobedience to Him.

Sounds awfully legalistic, doesn't it??? To require that every part of our lives must be given to the Master???? Ah, but here's the kicker... Abandonment is just that if it is not first rooted in the love relationship between the Heavenly Father and the child of God.

I have several friends who have adopted children into their families. In every case, these moms have known that this child that they now call their own was meant to be theirs from the very beginning of their search. God made it clear that each one of those children were designed to be in their family as a part of that child's forever family. And as such, the forever family will spare no expense in getting that child into his new forever family. When the child finally becomes legally a part of that family, that particular day is then celebrated as a "Gotcha Day." The former foster care program and/or orphanage and/or guardianship/parental rights have been abandoned, and this child is now and forever more belonging to the new family, where he/she will be raised in a loving home.

Some dear friends just brought home a seven year old little girl from China. This little one has already discovered the love and joy of her new family. But she hasn't been without tears for the old friends... or without need for help in overcoming language barriers and so forth. She is quickly assimilating into her new family because of the love and support of her new family and friends. One of the things her mom told me was that she was eating heavily when they first got her, and now, just a little over two weeks later, she has learned that she will be well-fed, and feels comfortable leaving some food on her plate. She doesn't have to worry that she won't be fed enough. Her parents have fed her well. There is a comfort in knowing that she doesn't have to concern herself with that anymore.

Child of God, Your Daddy gave everything for you, so that you might be adopted into His family! As an adoptive family would go to great expense to bring home a child, a Holy God Who loved you from the beginning of time, spared no expense: Jesus paid the Ultimate price for you! When you made the decision to follow Jesus, that became your "Gotcha Day." It was the day when you became a part of God's family.... His heir... and all of the rights of being a child of God are now bestowed upon you.... There is a love relationship and a bond there that cannot be broken. And in that love relationship, you learn to abandon your old self and old ways to the ways of your new family... The family of God.

As you are wrecklessly abandoned to Him, you will find that He will care for you... tenderly, and in love, as only a Daddy can do. He will laugh with you as there is a need to laugh. He will cry with you when you are crying bitter tears. He will comfort you when you are sad, or when someone has hurt you. He will provide for you, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. You will never have to beg again. He will teach you His ways, and discipline you in love when you are wrong. We don't have to return to our ways of stubborness and self-serving lives.... We have new rights... a new life... and a life that can be filled with love and joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, and self-control (Gal. 5:22.)

He's your Heavenly Daddy. And He is crazy in love with you, precious child. With every gaze into your eyes, His desire is to see a little more of Himself in you. Do you bear a family resemblance?

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