As I woke up last weekend, my mind went to Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I heard another version quoted, and it stuck with me: “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Stop trying so hard. She explained how God drilled that lesson into the makeup of her life that year.
Laying in bed on that lazy morning, I asked the Lord what He had for me this coming year. I’d never asked before, and didn’t think it would make much of a difference. How could I ever come to God and expect His Words not to be life changing?
Very clearly and very simply, He said, “Deny yourself.”
Of course my reaction was…”Can’t I get one of those comforting verses like she did? Can’t You encourage me and remind me of how much I’m loved?”
He could, but He knew what I needed more. Because even in that thought process, it was all about me. It was about hearing from God on my terms, in my words. That’s what makes God, God. He doesn’t have to operate on my terms because they are so very limited.
Almost immediately, Luke 9:23 popped in my head: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” You see, following Him DAILY doesn’t come until I deny myself daily.
And that’s something He knows I need to work on. Denial. It’s really easy to deny others, especially when I don’t feel like helping. But to deny myself? A much harder matter. Because my needs and my wants and my dreams seem much more urgent than the ones others have. In fact, sometimes they seem much more urgent than the ones even He has because there’s still so much “me” left to deal with. It’s a struggle I hate to face- one that looks you so squarely in the eyes that you can’t avoid its presence each and every day. Who will be most important today- me or God? Serving myself or serving others?
A couple days later, I read Psalm 131 for my devotional. It’s a short, but powerful one. I couldn’t get over it:
Lord, my heart is not haughty, Nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever. (Psalms 131:1-3 NKJV)
Like a weaned child is my soul within me. A child is denied milk because growth occurs, and there’s better stuff to eat! God weaning me from my selfishness, from earthly pleasures, from satisfaction that comes from anything or anyone other than Him, isn’t because He’s punishing me, but because He loves me. He wants me to experience the fullness of all He has to offer.
So be calm, my soul. Be still, my spirit. My hope rests in the Lord, and not what I can accomplish. This daily denial isn’t made possible through human effort. But, I will not find rest until He is in His rightful place. I won’t find myself consumed with my own comfort until He is made comfortable in this house, this heart, of mine.
Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the Lord, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob. (Psalms 132:3-5 NKJV)
2013: May we find ourselves denied as He is made glorious in our lives.