daily devotional

There’s a beautiful song we used to sing in church that I really hate. I hate it because there’s a part of it I just can’t sing. I can’t sing it because it scares me. The song is “More Like Jesus” by Passion. Oh it sounds all nice, and warm and fuzzy until it gets to the chorus and it says “If more of you, means less of me, take everything. Yes all of you is all I need, take everything.”

Nope. That’s some scary stuff right there. Come on admit it, the thought of God taking everything you have brings some pretty nasty fearful thoughts.

In my head that’s the most ridiculous song. No one wants everything they have to be taken, right? No one willingly says, sure come on in and strip me of it all. I bet you’re like me and you’ve worked hard for what you have. You didn’t just wake up and find yourself where you are in life, you’ve had to work your way up, and it hasn’t been easy. Starting over … ahhhhh, no thanks.

So here I am wresting, battling, rationalizing, whining, throwing a 45 year old fit over all the reasons why I’m not willing to say “take everything”. Then, in the middle of this WWE worthy throw down happening in my spirit, God said to me “you’ve forgotten I’m for you.”
In my accumulation of stuff and status, I’ve forgotten God is SO NOT AGAINST ME. His goal is not to strip us of everything to punish us. His goal is to remove anything in the way of our promotion. His desire is to take everything we have and make it better.

Don’t you know EVERYTHING is better in God’s hands. EVERYTHING works better in God’s hands. EVERY THING.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams. He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

Acts chapter 9 tells the account of Saul having an encounter with Jesus. Saul was a relentless man on a mission to stop the movement of Christ followers by taking them prisoner or killing them one by one. He was a bad mammojamma. But you see, he thought he was doing right. He thought he was fighting for the right reasons.

AND THEN HE MET JESUS. In this encounter, you know what Jesus did … he took Saul’s sight. He made him blind.

See, that’s why the words of that song scare me. I like my eyeballs.

After 3 days Saul was healed and he was forever changed. God gave him a new name. Saul became Paul, and Paul was the mighty crusader for Christ who went on to write the majority of the new testament bible we read today. God took from Saul what he had, and changed his entire world by giving him something so much better. His vision is what hindered him, so God took it. His vision is what needed changed, so when God restored him he saw everything differently.

Would you be so bold as to pray and ask God “what is holding me back? What is hindering me from living my best life? Take it God. Take it and do your work in it. In me. Change me. There’s nothing I have that I desire over your best plan for my life.”

That’s a hard prayer to pray. The moment we begin to speak those words, those thoughts slip in of “What if I lose my house, I’ve worked so hard for this house. What if my career is on the chopping block? What if all I’ve been dreaming of is taken from me?” And you know what those thoughts are … they’re fears written by our enemy. They’re his lies that seem totally rational, yet are so harmful. Harmful because they prohibit us from fully surrendering. Harmful because they have us on the run. Running from what God may try to do in our lives is we really say “take everything.”

Looking back, here’s what I realized in my own life …

The moments where I’ve completely run out of what’s in me is where God has done his greatest work. Where I ran empty, he filled to overflowing. When I didn’t measure up, he made it up.

Why am I holding back? Hasn’t he proven himself worthy of my trust? Has he ever taken advantage of my surrender and harmed me? Those irrational thoughts are fears planted by the enemy to keep me on the run. And all I’m running from is God’s absolute best for me. It’s time to stop running. It’s time to lay it all down. Jesus, go ahead and take everything.

And when he takes everything, it doesn’t mean he’s taking it away. It means he’s invited into every detail. It means he’s guiding, he’s directing, and we’re following. Yes, take everything!

The song goes on to say “here at your feet, my dreams and desires, I lay down.” This isn’t a white flag, I give up declaration. This is a moment of fully understanding every dream and desire you have is only possible when fully surrendered to God. All other victories will be short lived. All other progress will be temporary.

I want the real deal. I want real victory. I want full on satisfaction and lasting fulfillment … that only comes from fully surrendered dreams and desires. That only comes from a release of everything.

This reminds me of the story of a little girl named Jenny and her dime store pearl necklace. She loved her little dress up pearl necklace that turned her neck green. It was her favorite thing. Every night when Jenny’s daddy would tuck her into bed, he would ask her for her necklace. “Jenny, will you give me your pearls?” She would offer him her best stuffed animals and favorite baby dolls, but daddy, not my pearls. And every night he would say, “no that’s okay Jenny. I love you.” Night after night the dad would ask for her pearls, and every time she would say “not my pearls daddy, I’ll give you something else.” Finally one night when the Dad lovingly asked for Jenny’s pearls again, with tears streaming down her face, she took off the pearls she loved so much and said “here Daddy, here are my pearls.” And from his pocket her Daddy pulled a blue velvet box and revealed real, genuine pearls for his precious little girl.

He had been carrying them all along. All this time he had been offering her real pearls, something much more precious than she had. But first she had to give up what she already had to receive what her Daddy was trying to give her.

Understand we have a good, good father. He only wants what’s best for you. Where have you been holding back? What have you refused to surrender? I have to wonder, what has God been trying to give you all along if you would first let him take everything?