When we ask for God to change us, to put His kingdom first ~ we have to know that this means surrender of control. This means things might hurt. This means things will actually, tangibly feel out of our control. This means our normal, our comfort, our expectations will be disrupted.
I think of Mary, as a teenager, met with a life forever split into Before and After the angelspoke to her about God’s plan for her to become the mother of the Messiah. Mary’s response to disruption was this: Let it be to me according to Your word. (Luke 1:38)
How do we pray that kind of prayer? How do we feel pain, face the unknown, experience the death of all we are and still hold onto hope ~ especially in a world that is already full of disruption?
I think the only way is by knowing, down to our marrow, that God is good and His love for us does not fail. It takes trust in Who He is and His plans for us. You cannot trust someone that you do not know for yourself. It can only come through relationship… talking to Him, seeing Him work in your own heart, knowing the plans for us as individual people and for the world. When we know Him and what He promises to do in us, that’s when we can boldly surrender our lives to what He wants.
Can I reiterate that this isn’t always easy? Our feelings don’t just disappear and it does not mean that you’re doing something wrong if your emotions are up and down. It’s a matter of choosing Truth, even WHILE we are neck-deep in our feelings. Jesus tells us to count the cost of following Him, so I will not ever tell you that it always feels good or is the easy way to go.
But what I can tell you is that it is worth it. He is worth it.
And you have what you need to see this for yourself. God gives to each of us a measure of faith (and just a mustard seed sized portion will move a mountain, so we each already have what we need) ~ and this means we have an “inbirthed persuasion”… a seed of belief planted by God Himself that is ready to rise up and grow.
Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6
Okay, so here’s the BEST PART OF ALL.
When we say yes… when we pray brave prayers and surrender to change ~ we do not have to summon up courage out of confidence in what we can do.
In Joshua 1:6, when God tells His people to be of good courage, He is instructing them to be strong, brave, bold… He is telling them to strengthen, to make firm, make obstinate, to assure themselves in the assignment they have been given to cross into their Promised Land… He is commanding them to to be determined, to make themselves alert, to persist… and He says they can do all of this because He will be with them wherever they go.
When Jesus tells us to take heart in John 16:33, the Greek word used is tharséō4, which is defined as good courage but also tells us where that courage comes from. Thársos, “emboldened from within”, means, literally, to radiate warm confidence because we are warm-hearted.
I’m just going to quote Strong’s Concordance here because it is my favorite explanation ~ “Tharséō refers to God bolstering the believer, empowering them with a bold inner-attitude. For the believer, courage is the result of the Lord infusing His strength by His inworking of faith. Showing this unflinching, bold courage means living out the inner confidence that is Spirit-produced.”
Y’all. He GIVES US WHAT WE NEED EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. The weight is NOT on your shoulders. (Matthew 11:29-30) It is in the center of His capable, eternal, compassionate hands. Our part is to be open and obedient ~ His part is to equip us in whatever He asks us to handle.
And in all of this? In every battle, every domino of tragedy or scandal, in every personal or worldwide disaster, in the trouble that will continue to come ~ we can have that unflinching, bold courage because Jesus has overcome the world.
Do you remember the oldest definition of withstand was to stop or obstruct the course of?
That is what Jesus has done for us and within us. His crucifixion and resurrection stopped the course of death. He stopped the course of sin when He brought us from spiritual death to life. Until the day we see the complete redemption of all things, He empowers us to be the ambassadors of His love and salvation.
Here I go with all caps again, but I truly cannot say this loudly or often enough…
WE ARE NOT ALONE.
He sent His Spirit to dwell within us to give us power, to teach us, to comfort us.
(PS – I don’t claim that this has any actual literal connection, but I sure like the correlation between the fire of the Holy Spirit within us and our warm-hearted confidence!)
I’m still learning how to fully live in this truth, but the Spirit of Jesus abiding within me supercedes what I ever can be on my own. As a Christian, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20) ~ we have the boldness and unafraid Spirit of the Living God right here, right now.
I’m tired of waiting to live like I believe this or living like this only every other day or so.
I’m ready for an abiding yes.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. ~ Psalm 138:3
Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. ~ Luke 1:45