Sunday is my earliest rising morning of the week. Joseph has to be at church between 6:30-7:00 AM, and we’ve been carpooling for a few months. That gives me about an hour and a half each Sunday to spend out in the commons area before first service starts. Some weeks, I spend that time preparing to serve two groups of precious kiddos later in the morning. Others, I spend time in the Word and prayer. Still others, I sit and stare off into space, because I don’t do well waking up at 5:39 (I usually snooze at least once, sometimes without even knowing I did it).
Today, I decided to start by spending some time in the Word. The Storyline reading plan we just started at Fellowship Greenville gives us Sunday off to catch up or meditate on that day’s teaching passage. I turned to Acts 4:32-5:11, one of the scariest passages of Scripture, in my opinion. I read through the passage, and I prayed something along the lines of, “Lord, help me with this passage. What do You want me to get out of it?” Then I read it again.
“Lord, help. I’m struggling to see.”
I read through the previous passage, where early believers prayed for boldness in the face of persecution – not deliverance, boldness. Humbling. Starting in 4:32, we’re given an interesting description (not prescription, if I’m understanding the passage correctly) of early believers living and loving sacrificially, to the point of selling their land so that no one was in need. In 4:36-37, Dr. Luke even gives us the specific example of Joseph/Barnabas selling his field and giving the proceeds to the church.
Then 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a piece of property, and they conspired to keep part of the money but pretend they were giving all of it to the church (according to 5:4, they weren’t required to sell the land or even to give all of the proceeds from the sale to the church; this was a heart issue, not a rules issue).
Ananias went in first. Peter called him out on his deception, and God struck him dead. Boom.
Sapphira went in next, unaware of what happened to her husband. Peter called her out and told her the same men who dragged out her dead husband’s body would drag out hers. God struck her dead. Boom.
“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (5:11). I can vouch for that verse. Fear comes upon me when I hear about this story.
But what am I supposed to do with this passage?
I read and prayed, prayed and read.
Believers who prayed for boldness. Believers who gave boldly. Ananias and Sapphira.
For sure, I saw the contrast. I pondered the contrast and asked God what was important about the contrast.
“They were faking it.”
Believers weren’t required to sell all of their land and give away the proceeds. The ones who did were acting out of their love for Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira knew they weren’t required to sell their land. They were free to do with it as they pleased, but they wanted the appearance of a fully surrendered faith like they saw in the believers around them. They wanted the praise of man without surrendering fully to Jesus.
My next prayer: “Lord, where have I been faking it in life?”
I thought about my life now and over the last 20 years. Had I faked having skills so I could land a job? Had I faked certain interests so a boy would like me? Had I faked my personality to make friends? I scrolled through my life like a VHS tape. I couldn’t think of anything.
I’ve been willing to surrender every area of my life to God, except food.
“Lord, You can have my money. It’s Yours anyway.”
“Lord, You can have my ‘career’. That’s tough for me, but I trust You.”
“Lord, You can even have my reproductive system. I’ll adopt one day.”
“I’m keeping food.”
Tears rolled slowly and smoothly down my cheeks. I needed to repent.
“Lord, You’re right. I’ve been faking a fully surrendered life. I haven’t given this over to You completely. I don’t think I even know how. Help.”
So, that’s where I am today. Breaking. Surrendering. Hoping. Anticipating.
Anticipating God to work in my life and teach me what it looks like to live a sincere, fully surrendered life.
So what about you? Where are you faking it? Your career? Your marriage? Your friendships? Your relationship with God? I’m asking God to show you and to walk with you as life gets real.
This week, I was reminded that I’m a weenie.
Happy January 1st! Tell me: How do you celebrate? Are you a planner and a goal setter? How many resolutions do you make? Do you make lots and lots, hoping at least one will stick? Do you forego resolving to improve your life because of failure to do so in the past?
Hi, everyone! I’m sorry I didn’t post last week. I’ve been in a bit of a funk regarding this whole weight loss thing.
The funk isn’t just about not wanting to exercise or wanting to be able to eat pizza every day (seriously, I would) or having a deep love for deep fried appetizers and mini candy bars. This funk is really about me being a bratty Christian, one who is reckless with grace.
That reality struck me yesterday as I cleaned off a pile of candy wrappers from my nightstand.
“God, thank You for Jesus. Can I eat all the candy bars I want, too?”
“God, thank You for being enough, and I know You’re enough, but could I have more pizza?”
“Jesus, I know You gave your life away for me, but I don’t want to get out of bed and exercise.”
“God, this surely can’t be what You meant by an abundant life, right? I mean, an abundant life would include a lot more fast food. In my humble opinion.”
I had a particularly bratty moment when I didn’t get what I wanted one day. “James said we would be blessed in the doing! I don’t feel very blessed in the doing right now!” (See James 1:25.)
You see, I knew in the moment that I was misappropriating God’s Word for my circumstances, but I didn’t care.
I know the sacrifice God made in giving us His Son. I know the sacrifices Jesus made for me. I know the grace upon grace He gives – and that He gives MORE grace (James 4:6).
But I stomp my feet and throw fits (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and demand what I want. Every time, I’m telling Jesus He isn’t enough. Every time, I’m telling Him my way is better. Every time, I’m telling Him He doesn’t know what He’s doing with my life.
Here’s the beautiful, glorious, gracious truth:
He loves me anyway.
He won’t stop loving me.
When He looks at me, He sees Jesus, and He loves me.
He knows I’m broken, and He offers healing.
He knows what I want, and He offers me better things.
He offers forgiveness through Christ when I sin, even when I’m really bratty about it.
The same is true for you, believers, and can be true for those of you who don’t believe if you place your trust in Christ.
This doesn’t mean God won’t discipline me or allow me to go through trials. He has, does, and will continue doing so. And I’m thankful for His discipline! I’m thankful for the trials! They’re making me more like Christ. As evidenced by my regular foot stomping (and not in the cool, Irish dancing kind of way), I still have a long, long way to go. I’m thankful the Holy Spirit is taking me down that journey, one step at a time.
I’ve been pondering some of the ways I can tell God has been working in me over the last 3 months (yes! 3 months!), and I thought I’d share them with you (though small they may be):
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We enjoyed time with part of our family, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone else over Christmas.