Monday, 27 November 2006
Emotional Purity — Part 2
Here is part two of what my friend, Mandy Bearden wrote about emotional purity:
In part one I said:
“Worshipping God means loving Him with all our hearts, submitting to Him with our will and knowing Him with our minds.”
My comments focused on the loving God part of worship. However, the surrender of the will is another vital part.
Surrendering our will
God has given each of us a will of our own. He has done that with the desire that we might bring our will into submission to His will. This is surrender. God calls us to surrender every part of our lives to Him and will prune us through painful situations to bring us to the place of total surrender. For single young ladies, probably the biggest thing we will have to surrender is our desire for marriage and romance. I firmly believe that these desires are not wrong — they are God-given. But we must bring those desires under His control — we must surrender them. For us young ladies, this is very difficult because this is probably the biggest desire we will have. But we can constantly thank God for the opportunity to learn to surrender those desires to Him, because it means He is working in our hearts to cause us to surrender the dearest thing to our hearts.
Something that I am learning is that surrender is not a one-time deal. So many times I tend to think of it as being an experience, but really it is a day-to-day walk of obedience. Luke 9:23 commands us to take up our crosses daily! To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of torture. For many of us, this cross will be the cross of singleness. This cross is a hard one to bear, but we are called to daily bear it and follow Christ. To me, this gives the idea that a life of surrender is a continual process of growing and enduring. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will say one day, "Lord, I surrender" and that be it. I will be called to do it day after day after day. And it won’t stop with courtship, for after courtship I will long to be engaged. After engagement I will earnestly long to be married. After I am married I will long for children. Girls, we are called to surrender our entire lives.
Now does that mean that it’s wrong to want to be married? Does that mean it’s wrong to want to have children? No way. Those are natural desires, and if God wills those things for your life, they are actually His desires. Sometimes we tend to think that if we want something, it’s wrong. But that is not always the case! It isn’t sin to have that desire, it’s sin to be controlled by that desire.
For example, I am going to hear the Vienna Boys Choir live in less than a month. This is something I have wanted for years, and it’s like a dream come true for me! Now if something were to happen to prevent me from going, I would be majorly disappointed. It would be hard. I would shed tears over it. But does that mean that it was a sin for me to desire to go in the first place? No way. Now, granted, it would have been sin if I had been obsessed with the Vienna Boys Choir concert. But just wanting to see them is not wrong.
This truth is clear all over scripture. In fact, even Christ Himself demonstrated it. When He prayed to God the Father right before His death on the cross, He expressed His desire. Did Christ have a preference as to whether He lived or died? We find that He did, because He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.
So true surrender, then, is taking these desires and offering them back to God, giving Him the "right," if I may use that term, to do whatever He wants to with your desires. It is total vulnerability. One thing we must keep in mind is that surrendering these desires doesn’t mean that God will take them away. When Abraham surrendered Isaac on the altar, it didn’t mean that He didn’t care whether Isaac lived or died. He did not enjoy the idea of slaying his only son. But God came first, and so Abraham surrendered his will, no matter what the cost. And God chose for Isaac to live. So don’t just assume that if you surrender your heart to God, He will take away that desire for marriage. He may, but on the other hand, He may not. I love the way Elisabeth Elliot put it in Quest for Love. When asked, "What if I never marry — will God then take that desire away?" she replied:
“Perhaps He will, quite suddenly and completely, that we may be freed from that burden in order to assume another. Perhaps He will not, in order that we may understand what it means to be "poor in spirit" — aware of our essential poverty and helplessness, having nothing to be proud of, nothing that would encourage us to think well of ourselves.”
So the idea here is one of total dedication, allowing God to control what happens with your heart. As I discussed this with a young lady recently, she shared that she told God she surrendered every day. "But how do I know if I really have surrendered?" she asked. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what to answer, but since then I believe I have finally found the answer. And that is, we know we are surrendered when our emotions no longer rule our actions. Throughout Scripture, when a believer surrendered to God, he was then given a test. Of course, my favorite example is that of Abraham. He was constantly having to obey God to demonstrate his surrender. He surrendered to God, and God called him to leave his home and journey to a strange land. He surrendered to God, and God called him to take his son, his only son whom he loved, and offer him to God on altar. And Abraham did it.
The same happens with us. When we give an area over to God, we should expect that He will then test us so we will know whether or not we were sincere. This test will come by God’s calling us to either do or not do something. Whether or not we obey will show us whether or not we are surrendered. If we are allowing God to control our will, we will obey. If not, we will go with our feelings. If I surrender to God and really mean it, I will faithfully obey what He tells me to do in that area. If I find myself being attracted to a guy and surrender that to God, He will test me by asking me to obey. This may mean God asks me to totally give up that desire. Will I do it? If so, then I am surrendered. It may mean that He will lead me to try not to spend time with that person. Will I obey? If so, I am surrendered. Whatever it is, you can be sure He will lead you in obedience. And if you do not obey, you have not surrendered that area to God. If you do, you have. It’s that simple.
For more information on the subject of emotional purity get ahold of the book Emotional Purity by Heather Paulsen. This is a brilliant book. It is very helpful and is suitable for young men and young women to read as well as their parents. You could read it with your family and discuss it. For those of you in New Zealand, I sell it. Right now I have it on special at $20.00 including postage. For those of you in the USA you can buy it for USD$12.00 plus postage from www.visionforum.com.
For the Greater Glory of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,