April 17

“The hand of the Lord hath wrought this.” Job 12:9

In one of George MacDonald’s books occurs this fragment of conversation: “I wonder why God made me,” said Mrs. Faber bitterly. “I’m sure I don’t know what was the use of making me!”

“Perhaps not much yet,” said Dorothy, “but then He hasn’t done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process.”

If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made—let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel—they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory. (Streams in the Desert)

I watched a cow standing in dense green alfalfa strain its neck through barbed wire to eat spindly weeds growing a few feet beyond the fence. Contrary to popular opinion, the grass is not greener beyond our reach. It may be natural to desire something other than what we are or possess, but such dissatisfaction as a rule proves destructive. Beware of any line of reasoning that begins with, “If only . . . “

Jesus weighs in on the dilemma when he emphatically states, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). During the years I taught undergraduate ministry students, I encountered what I consider to be a common misunderstanding of this essential component of discipleship. Perhaps by default, the frequent interpretation communicated to church-goers is that self-denial equates to self-rejection.  Somehow we confuse denying self with rejecting or at least avoiding self-understanding. The difference is colossal; self-awareness is paramount to obeying Christ’s command. Daily denying of self invokes an ongoing process of personal discovery, for only when I embrace the way God has fashioned me am I ready to relinquish all that I am to Christ.  How can I offer to Christ what I am unaware is mine to give? Such a scenario is more akin to hypnosis than surrender. It is ludicrous to think Sovereign God created me uniquely, only to require me to opt for a lesser version of myself. If you want to serve Christ in the way that only you can, develop as fully as possible every gift granted you. The more I acknowledge and embrace my God-granted uniqueness, the better able am I to surrender and use that uniqueness in serving Him and others.

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