I’ve recently been having some startling revelations the way I tend to think. I first noticed it the other day in a kind of silly situation, when my husband was invited to play in a pick-up game of soccer. It was a busy day for our family, and we had a lot going on with our two kids, so he decided to turn down the invitation and not go. I could not handle him missing the opportunity to have some fun! So I started offering all kinds of solutions for how we could make it work. I listed at least 20 different solutions that would allow him to go, but instead of getting excited about these ideas, my husband ended up getting more and more annoyed. His annoyance, in turn, made me annoyed. I thought my ideas were great solutions and I couldn’t understand why they would bother him!
As we talked out our conflict for a few minutes, we realized that it bothered him that I kept offering ideas after he had made his decision. I realized that I was doing this because I felt responsible for my husband’s happiness. I thought that if I didn’t make it work for him to go to the game, if I didn’t solve our problem, that he wouldn’t be happy. And I felt that his lack of happiness would be entirely my fault. In my mind, it all depended on me.
So moving on from that little soccer situation, I started noticing lots of other areas where I tend to think thateverything depends on me. It has surprised me that I tend to think that a lot, and one of the areas I’ve been noticing it is in my relationship with God.
For example, the other day I was just doing my usual stay-at-home-mom thing, mopping my floor, blasting some music. A song came on called Take My Life, and as I listened to it, I started feeling a combination of defensiveness and shame.
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as You choose.
Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.
As I listened to the lyrics, I wondered how anyone with integrity could have even written it. “‘Ceaseless praise? Always…only…for my King? Not a mite would I withhold? All of me, it’s all for Thee?’ Well, there’s not a chance that I’ve lived up to that standard,” I thought. I wanted to just move on to the next song and forget that I had even heard it. I knew my life didn’t line up with those lyrics. I knew that there are so many places of my heart that don’t belong completely to God, and I felt shame.
But as I continued mopping, something BEAUTIFUL happened in my heart as I listened to that song. All of the sudden, I realized that I was looking at it all wrong. I was feeling like it was up to me to love God enough, to make my life be completely for God, all the time. I felt that it all depended on me.
God spoke to my heart then. He told me that it’s NOT all up to me. He reminded me that a huge purpose of His command to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’ is to give me a standard that is so high, that I actually CANNOT reach it on my own. He wants me to realize my need for Jesus, my need to be saved, that not up to me to perfect my life. The Good News of the Gospel is that God Himself, with all the resources of heaven, is committed to developing His life in me. He’s determined to purify me, to give me an undivided heart, to make me like Jesus.
Wow. With that chance of perspective, I suddenly felt rest, instead of shame. I even wanted to keep listening to that song, and to worship, instead of skipping on to the next. Instead of hiding, I wanted to show up before God, to use my strength to thank God for using all His strength, to make me His alone.
I’m so thankful that everything does not depend on me. I don’t have what it takes to make my husband happy all the time, let alone make my heart belong to God alone. What I can do, though, is let me husband decide if he wants to work out a chance to play soccer or not, and as I do my part to need God, I can let God do His part of working out His plan for me to love Him wholly. And that sounds like a much better idea to me.