HALFWAY GIVERS

When I try to talk about totally giving myself to God
I struggle with it and just end up sounding pompous or at the least, stuffy.
But I’ve been given a new chance from a couple of different sources.
So I kind of put them together and hope I can see things differently.

It still seems to me it is a matter of building trust in who God is and his trustworthiness.
Few of us come away from that first, life changing encounter with this depth of trust.
It’s a maturing, letting Jesus become part of life, Believer (not a teenage Believer) thing.
I think of it as beginning to look for service beyond the ‘what God does for me” stage.

And we have to experience letting go of things before God can give us something better
Enough times times that we have faith in the process –
Almost like we have to practice letting go before we let go of “me.’
We have to learn to trust: God replaces what we give up with something better.

In reality when we, at conversion, give ourselves to God,
We are committing ourselves to the putting away of things as apostle Paul illustrates
As we grow from childhood into teen, then young adult, then adult Christians.
Some mature quickly and let can go of self in a short span of time, and some never can.

One source drew from Exodus 34:29, putting the relationship in covenant terms:
When God makes a covenant with us our life changes.
But something must die for something to be born born and the hard work.
The writer asks,
“What did Moses have to leave on top of the mountain to come down transformed?”

It seems to him as it does to me that more has to change than just our emotions.
We can’t come away from a transforming encounter with God
Bringing our “old life habits, ways of thinking, ways of being,” acting,
And ways of doing things “back with us if we truly are becoming a new person in Christ.”

The putting away of those things becomes the real spiritual work
That, in the end, brings me to the point of being able to finally let go of self
And enter into a new covenant with God in which He is the stronger partner
And provides love and strength for my giving myself to His care.

The struggle is in trusting enough to give up our old person, whom we are used to,
And believe God will transform us without wiping out who we are.
My second source says “The last thing we want to let go is ourselves.
It is the only thing we really own.”

And now, after giving up all these things, “Christ with imperious demands
Asks for that one last thing.
It is at this place that the real battle is joined.
All else has been skirmishes.”

Matthew 10:37 and Luke 14:25 – 27
Talk about loving God so much you are willing to surrender even family members.
“….Interestingly enough…life or self is the last thing mentioned.
Yes, (he’s willing to surrender) even his own life.

Jesus ….puts it last because he knows it is the last thing we give up.”
But what does our life look like if we stop halfway?
Changing what people can see, or the easy parts
Yet doing our best to serve and love God without surrendering self?

“A Missionary (for example) gives up home and loved ones…but not self…
Finds his inner self touchy over position, place and power.
The minister…finds himself preaching
With a great deal of vanity and ambition mixed in.

The layman (who doesn’t give up self) finds himself easily offended.”
Christ still works through us, but we keep getting in the way.
Eventually we block God’s gifts flowing through us,
And finally turn away from God in frustration.

There is no set timeline – like a second year Christian should have given up
The old way of thinking and by the fifth year, be ready to give up….. .
At the same time, we cut ourselves off from the best God has for us
If we become halfway givers – always holding some part of ourselves back,
Not quite trusting God enough to risk giving that one last thing – ourselves.

Tom Arthur “Disciplines 2013”
E. Stanley Jones “Victorious Living”

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