I have noticed several bloggers selecting a "word" for the year. Something to accomplish, or a way of being. I was not going to pick one, but a word or concept kept coming up. I decided to choose one.
ABIDE - This is why.
This is taken from Desiring God's Will", by David Benner
Kingdom of Self
Ruled by self-interest
Clenched fists and closed heart
Hard and brittle
Kingdom of God
Ruled by love
Open hands and heart
Soft and malleable
"Given the sharpness of the contrast, one might wonder how these two kingdoms can coexist. But they do. Many of us – perhaps even most of us – have one foot uncomfortably but firmly planted in each. Jesus warned about the dangers of trying to do this (Matthew 6:24). But fear, laziness, greed, mistrust and an illusory sense that ultimately we are in the best position to know how to achieve our own fulfillment keep us from an unequivocal surrender of the keys to the kingdom of self. Perhaps like Ananias and Sapphire (Acts 5:1-3) we foolishly make a pretense of turning over the keys but keep back an extra set just in case we need to take control again at some point in the future. In one way or another we try to keep our options open. If I am honest, I have to admit that much of the time I find myself moving back and forth between the two kingdoms. I open my hands and heart to God and others, and then I find myself grasping and controlling life with clench-fisted-willfulness. I catch sight of the grandeur of God's kingdom vision and feel the paltry worthlessness of my own, and then I find I have again turned from God and am busy protecting my petty self-interests and controlling my life to maximize what I think will be my fulfillment.
But after four decades of Christ-following, one thing above all has become supremely clear to me. I can't make the spiritual changes that I want to make on my own. I cannot will myself into surrender. I cannot simply screw up my determination and chose God's will over mine once and for all.
What I can do, however, is talk with God honestly about the realities of my soul. And I can turn back toward God and once again hear Jesus' gentle words of invitation.
Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)
Hearing this invitation, everything within me wants to draw near and receive the gift of love that Jesus represents – not out of obligation but out of a soul-aching desire. And each time I do, my heart is slowly but progressively more aligned with the heart of God – God's desires becoming my desires and God's will becoming my will.
Take some time to prayerfully reflect on the ways you continue to live in the kingdom of self and resist surrender to the reign of Perfect Love. Think about how you spend your money, and use your time. Reflect on your dreams for yourself and others. What do these things tell you about which kingdom has your heart and primary allegiance?
As you do this, don't allow yourself to be distracted by feelings of guilt. They simply point you back toward yourself, typically leaving you still stuck by now more miserable. Guilt is not enough to motivate surrender.
Instead, ask for God's desires and priorities to become yours. Listen to the invitation of Jesus to join him in the reign of love that is life in the kingdom of God. Hear his call to come to him for the rest that results from taking up his cross and his cause. Ask him for fresh appreciation and renewed (or first-time) excitement about the possibility of working with him on the advancement of God's plan to displace all kingdoms of this world and replace them with his glorious reign. As Willard put it: "Review your plans for living and base your life on this remarkable new opportunity."
I want to be ruled by love not by self-interest.
I want to be releasing, not grasping.
I want to experience and live from the gift that has been given, and not seek my worth from my achievements.
I want to give God permission to do the changing, because striving in my own strength does not last.
I want to be sharing this journey with authentic community, not trying to go it alone.
I want to be releasing,not holding.
I want to be willing, not willful.
I want to have open hands and a open heart, not clenched and closed.
I want to be soft and malleable, not hard and brittle.
I want to be transformed, not with just determination that is not capable of lasting change.
The way these changes will take place is abiding. Sitting at God's feet, allowing his ways, his will, his heart to become mine.
A splendid adventure.