Ya’ll there is so much to process around the idea of ‘burning bright.’ So many thoughts, conversations, scriptures, text messages, etc have contributed to this content, but I pray that you process it all for yourself and seek the Spirit’s guidance as a believer to hear what His message is for you. Because here’s the deal: we’re all struggling in some way or another, we’re all experiencing the uncomfortable feelings, we’re all feeling like we need to change ourselves or others, we’re all considering truth and lies, we’re all wondering how things can get better . . . please stop. Please take a deep breath . . . and repeat this prayer:
I give everyone and everything to You, Jesus.John Eldridge
I had the honor of attending a Hope Is Alive luncheon last week in Oklahoma City. I am left in awe after hearing the incredible stories of the participants and the freedom, restoration, and true hope they now have. And listening to all their stories, there were several common themes that seemed to be present in what led them to their addiction:
Being unable to process pain and stress or hurt in a healthy way.
Believing the lies of the enemy.
Becoming more and more isolated.
Not being able to dive deep into their feelings.
And each relapse is bigger and tougher. It took them truly hitting rock-bottom, and being in a place of full surrender that their life began to change. It was in seeking Jesus alone, getting professional help, and being in genuine community that lives changed. The catalyst was often from a child saying their addict parent could no longer see their grandchild. Or a spouse moving out for a period to get the addict’s attention about the seriousness of all they are losing.
So many of those common themes are relatable to ALL of us. We are ALL broken and in need of a Savior. Just some go-to ‘drugs’ and vices are more socially acceptable or less chemically dependent than others. But as I saw at that luncheon, HOPE IS ALIVE!
In light of the hope we have in Jesus, let’s dive a little deeper into what it means to BURN as a ‘living sacrifice’. Over the next several posts, we’ll discuss the ideas of living, sacrifice, eternity, obedience, and better together with scripture, thoughts, and examples for each.
While the word ‘sacrifice’ may be associated with death, Paul encouraged us to be ‘living sacrifices’ in Romans 12. Those two words paired together might seem conflicting, yet that’s just one of the beautiful ironies of the story of Jesus! Jesus chose to die to be our Ultimate Sacrifice so that we can fully live! And now, we can chose to live each day as the living dying, living in His love while dying to our own sinful desires.
This LIVING out the gospel and enjoying our new life in Christ requires intentional processing, praying, and praising. Our feelings and thoughts must be laid on the altar so that His consuming fire of love can refine and purify.
The truth, however, is that if you have not hit the point in your life of full surrender, like so many participants in Hope Is Alive, you might not understand your need to do any of this. As you read through the contents of this posts and the ones that follow, please consider your own brokenness, your own need for a Savior, your own struggles and sins, your real pain, and your pride and insecurities. We must feel all the feelings in order to burn brightly.
While I was driving our old (yet new to us) jeep a couple weeks ago, this happened. Yup, a back tire actually fell off. Thankfully, the couple in the car behind told me to pull over right as the wheel came off and rolled 100 yard down the street. I am so grateful for how this all played out as things could have been so much worse. And while there were actions and tasks required like calling a tow truck and getting it repaired, I’m learning that it is also important to feel all the feelings. Because for the hours that followed this incident, I experienced all the feelings. Pure fear from what just happened. Pure joy no one got hurt. Pure anxiety knowing my kids sometimes don’t even buckle up when we drive the jeep around the neighborhood. But pure gratitude knowing my husband safely drove the jeep to and from work on the highway just last week. I felt His pure love and protection, knowing how things could’ve gone so wrong.
We have to feel the feelings. And that is not natural for me. Typically I would have forced through the day I had planned and acted like everything was fine because I was physically fine. But as tears ran down my face, and I processed and prayed and praised Him about it all, I was reminded of how our marriage counselor is walking us through how to handle our feelings. And even more deeply, the reality that our feelings, and the processing of our circumstances, allows us to draw near to the Lord, to come to the altar, to surrender the things out of our control, to experience true love and protection, and to truly burn bright!
When we ignore our feelings, we aren’t truly living. Negative feelings and struggles are what you’re supposed to lay on the altar to keep the fire burning. Yet it’s a conscious choice to process, reflect, pray, and praise and use our feelings as a compass, pointing us back to Christ. As we live intentionally in His Spirit and Truth, we have a friend for our feelings.
Reading through the Psalms in the Old Testament reveal tons of raw emotions and powerful processing of the struggles we all experience. Yet the Psalms are also full of praises and joyful truth. I encourage you to read through some this week, slowly taking in the richness of the words.
As we conclude this post, moving on to a discussion about ‘sacrifice’ next time, let’s pray and process these words of Psalms 51. Our brokenness and ability to bring our real, humble, surrendered feelings to the Lord is the sacrifice He truly desires. This is the beginning of truly living.