Abandoned to the Process of Abandonment
Do You Want Flowers?
How many different situations do I need in my life to convict me and break me of an area of stubbornness or selfishness or pride or foolishness or independence or ignorance? How many situations do I need? Well, it depends on how stubborn and hard-hearted and calloused I am. Something may be way past my ability to break through my own stupidity and calloused heart, but if I will abandon to the process of abandonment, God will win.
We have to have that mind in us that we want to be cut by what God wants us to be cut by, and not just by what we would prefer. We must ask Him to bring situations, and we must open ourselves to those situations where He can get into us and lay us bare. That’s the process of abandonment. It’s not that I have the capacity to overcome it, to perfectly feel what I am supposed to feel about it. But, if I know I ought to feel a certain way, then I can ask God to bring everything to bear, no matter what it takes. Even if it takes 58 things for me…if it takes a crisis…if it takes disease…or death of a family member…or blindness…or loss of job…WHATEVER it takes to get through my calloused, selfish heart, so be it. That’s abandonment to the process of abandonment. And I do this because I want more than anything else to be like Jesus, and I realize I can’t just decide to be that and instantly overcome, as much as I would like to. And, that’s not an excuse!
My desire is followed up by begging God to use every available means (and as many as are necessary) in order to get my attention—leprosy or whatever it takes. Whatever the situation, I can at least be abandoned to the process.
If you make the time to read the scriptures and related things, you are bringing yourself to the process of abandonment. On those paths that would lead you to destruction or despair or confusion, you are putting in your way as many roadblocks as possible. You intentionally put barricades in your own way that keep you from tripping down the wrong road.
Question: Throughout the day, I feel unsure of what I ought to be doing, so, I find myself constantly asking God, “What do you want me to do now…what now…?” Is this the way it has to be? It seems like being led by the Spirit must mean more than this.
What would be more precious to you, if your husband asks: “Do you want this? Do you want that? Do you like this, do you like that? What do you want to do, what do you want to do?” OR for him to surprise you with things that you genuinely like, places to go, clothing, flowers, or a kind word at the right moment, offering to help with the children? “Do you want me to watch the children, or not?” Versus just whisking them up and going. Which is more precious to your heart? One is based on an external, trying to do all the right things, and the other is based on his really knowing you and loving you deeply enough that he can sense the desire of your heart. He loves you more than he loves himself. The more that this takes place in his heart, his life and his mind, the more he can feel what you feel and be able to sense the extremities of your emotions and energy levels. He’ll be able to know, even though you’ve never said it, “She would really like this,” and get it for you.
You can sense in your heart the difference between the two. “Do you want this? Do you want me to watch the children? Do you like this? Should I go buy you some flowers? Want me to go buy you some flowers?” What would that mean to you? Nothing! It wouldn’t mean anything, because there is something precious about his just knowing what you would like. That’s really what this is about, the process of just knowing God. “Do you want me to get you flowers or not?!” That’s cheap. It’s not that specific direction in audible voices from Heaven never happens. And it’s not that it isn’t unbelievably awesome when it does, but somehow the overall quality of life doesn’t need to be limited to those times. What are the things that would block your husband’s ability to know just when he ought to whisk a couple of children away? Or what kind of clothing you like? Or whether or not you like flowers or are allergic to them? Or when it’s time to go out to eat versus expecting you to fix something on schedule? If he’s totally consumed with his work, he is not going to come home and notice that you are tired. If he doesn’t pay attention to you, he is not going to notice what kind of clothing you like or don’t like. He’s not going to be aware that your glasses have a big scratch on them and that it would be a wonderful gift to surprise you with a trip to get them fixed. He won’t notice those things if he is consumed with himself. This is where Galatians 5 comes in. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious. When you are consumed with self-centered things, you can’t sense what the one you love would really want. When your heart and mind are cluttered with only thoughts of yourself and your problems, you cannot keep in step with the Spirit. You cannot be led by the Spirit. You cannot hear God and know what He wants and know how to please Him. The more we are consumed with the attributes of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience etc., the less inclined we are to consider ourselves and our own selfish wants and desires. We are more able to notice a scratch on the glasses. We are able to notice what someone likes and doesn’t like, to notice a look on someone’s face. When the sinful nature is taken out of the way, I can know and love God to the extent where I don’t need to say to Him, “Do you want me to get you flowers or not, God?” He wants us to know Him intimately, and that’s not going to happen if we are self-consumed. If I am concerned with what I want, what I like, and what I think ought to happen in my life, I can’t hear Him. When I am blinded by the sinful nature, I can’t see His facial expressions. The object of life is the process of knowing how to know Him, knowing how to hear His voice and be led by His Spirit. By the way, to be led by His Spirit is to be swept into ecstasy. You can’t live in the realm that Jesus lives in, the unseen realm, and not experience some fabulous things.
Let me combine these thoughts. In the process of knowing how to do simple things like spend your day, you must be abandoned to the process of learning how to spend your day. This means that you put as many opportunities in your own way as possible. You hang around people that pick good things to do. You make calls. You listen to tapes. You make notes to yourself. You spend time in prayer and while praying for someone you think of something to do for them and you make a note of it. Then, (by building a life that has all of these components) it blossoms into ten times as many opportunities as you would have thought of on your own.
But, if you only ask, “So do you want me to bring you flowers or not?”, once you’ve brought the flowers, it’s over with. Half the fun is gone. Once it’s done, it’s done. You don’t have anywhere else to go. What do you do with the rest of your night? You look at them and that’s all. But, if it’s a process of learning how to love, then the flowers are just a small part of the evening. Maybe you bring them flowers and they’re surprised, and they pull out some special gift they had, and then you both say, “Hey, why don’t we grab someone else and go out and do what we’ve been wanting to do for a while?” There’s a flow in a situation when you build in such a way as to place opportunities in your path that can convict you if you are trying to grow and that will lead you if you are trying to decide how to spend your time. By praying and asking God, your life can blossom into variables that you never could have thought of. It’s how you build that leads to things happening. If you build that way for a while, then those things will start knocking on your door. You don’t have to create circumstances, but you are now responding to the dynamic world around you. This occurs because you chose to be a giver.
By putting things in your own way that could guide you in a path that’s productive, you will begin to see a return on investment over time. It begins to happen backwards and flow the other direction; once you’ve invested enough in one direction, it comes back at you. And then you have a whole new dilemma of deciding which things to do. But until you’ve paid the price of investing in the first direction, you almost don’t even believe the other exists. “Okay, now what do I do?” is boring, frustrating, and dry. In both cases it’s mostly how you build that determines how a year from now will look. It’s not how determined you are or how sincere you are, but how you build. What you surround yourself with determines how well you can hear God and how abandoned you can be and how you spend your time.