Thy Will Be Done

If you know me, I don’t think you would deny that I can be a bit of a “willful” person. I do not like being told what to do. And goodness do I have some fiery opinions. I will try to keep the “Christianese” to a minimum, but there are certain phrases that while foreign or uncomfortable that truly capture what I am about to write about. So as a disclaimer I won’t shy away from that language

To live an authentic “Christian-life” that is alive and contagious, you have to come to terms with surrendering your will to God. What makes a phrase like “surrendering your will to God” so lofty and confusing is because…. well honestly, how often is a statement like that unpacked. Goodness, I know I cannot unpack it in a single blog post. But you are here already so let me try the best I can.

God has a Will and desire for the world. Like all of creation. The pebbles, the oceans, the mountains, the little chipmunks, and humans (individually and collectively). Also, something weird… sometimes people capitalize the word “Will”. Like God’s Will just got done starring in the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. I tend to be one of those people. I like to look the English language in the face and blow a raspberry in its immediate direction.

Emily Dickinson understood the power of turning words like “Will” into pro-nouns. To me, God’s Will is alive. It has a personality, it has a direction, it knows love, it knows hurt and brokenness and it breathes out life into creation. What does God’s Will want? It wants all of the world to surrender its pride and its selfish desires. It wants every human to run, to sprint, to roll, to drive, to swim with tears streaming into the open arms of God. God’s Will wants humanity to be its truest and fullest self. And the matter of the fact is that God’s Will is not misguided like our own, like my own. It has a vision that can see a picture written throughout history and time that my mind could never comprehend.

So for argument’s sake lets play out this scenario: At some point in life you decided that you want your will to match God’s Will. You even went to the extent to ask God verbally or quietly to use you how ever God desires. This is not a far-fetched scenario. Most professing Christians or even former Christians have been led to prayer a prayer just like this. I have no idea how many pastors and leaders have been completely honest about what a surrendering of will to God’s Will means. So stick with me, I am about to piss some people off.

Submitting to God’s Will is the single most painful and dangerous and fear-ridden decision you will ever make.

But God, is it good.

When you surrender like that, the pain will be searing, Dear Jesus it will hurt. People will still try to abuse you, they will try to manipulate you, they will try to crush you. You will constantly be put in situations that scare you so deeply that you will feel so small, so vulnerable that you will not be sure if you can press on. Every single one of your fears will be brought to the surface. They will be laid out, they will be examined, they will be poked and they will rage. And you most likely fail and concede more times than you can count. And when you think you have no more to give, and think you just cannot do this anymore, God’s Will ask for just a little more.

That pain, though, it will change your heart. It will change how you see people it will change how you see the world. It will strengthen you to climb heights that you thought were insurmountable your entire life. It will fill you with a fierce fire and a power that no human, no circumstance, no loss and no struggle can quiet.

And every dangerous situation God’s Will brings you into will make you more alive than you ever thought you could be. Life will taste sweeter than you ever believed it would. Relationships will be truer and greater than the world is prepared for.

Every time you have recoiled in fear will be brought forth. You won’t just survive your fears. By God’s Will and strength you will thrive midst fears you never thought you could endure. Thrive. Your fears will rise up and love will smash them down.

God’s Will has dominion. And God will not stop until your fears, your iniquities, your hurts, and your pain all submit to God’s Will. God will ask more of you than you think you can handle. But God’s Will knows you more intimately than you will ever know yourself. God will ask you to bend, but will never break you.

Submitting or surrendering to God’s Will is not a one time thing. Maybe you are willful like me and your plans are found in imperfect thoughts. And you will tell God “no”, but I hate to tell you, it probably won’t go down with God saying “aight, you do you”. I cannot tell you how many declarations I have made about what I won’t do and how every single time God has blown a raspberry in my immediate direction.

So you know I have lived out what I am talking about and am still living it out here are two examples of how God has dealt with my stubbornness.

At some point in college I said verbally, well more than a few times that I will move WHEREVER God leads me, but I WILL NOT live in Texas. Lol. Before y’all get upset. I’m not just some Texas hater. I didn’t even really have bad feelings towards TX, it just was not something I would consider….

So… in 2014 God put me in a car and sent me to my first vocational ministry position. In Texas. Goodness were those years difficult. They also changed me at my core. I do not live in Texas any more but I love the people there and that state like I never thought I could. My time in Texas taught me more about who I am in God’s eyes than maybe any other season in my life.

My second example. I have had this friend named Allison for nearly 16 years now. It was one of those frustrating situations you see where everyone wanted to tell us what we should be. I promise you. Her and I both on many occasions growing up said. I will never date him/her. Side note she is just as willful as me if not more. I believe her when she says she won’t do something.

Would you believe what God’s Will did. October 21st, 2017. I married Allison on a magnificent Fall day in Southern New Jersey. And on that day a mass of people saw that God’s Will will do what it wills. I am married now to the most amazing woman, I could not imagine a life without her by my side.

I just need you to know that it is all worth it. The pain, the disappointment, the anger, the abuse, the failures. In this world these things will persist. But God’s Will is a fierce and unstoppable force that will conquer every last ounce of influence that does not make you your fullest self.

God will ask for more when you think you have no more to give. And if you do not have more to give.

God will supply it.

I wrote a poem earlier, it isn’t great, but also I have not written a poem in years it feels like, so I figured I would share it. Just remember, it all doesn’t just “get better”. Christ makes your reality unimaginably good. So good, the thought of it is making me shudder in my seat. That goodness, that all-encompassing passionate love that your heart craves so desperately. That is what waits in God’s Will.

Much Love

BGTF

Here is that poem:

I never knew about

The devilish Mischief

I would endure

when you asked and

I begged yes

Ten years ago

I never knew

My fears would

Be examined

Be extracted

My whole self

Put under a microscope,

My chest peeled back

My heart pounding

Open for surgery

With my eyes

Wide-open

Just when I believe

I can take no more

You see it fit

To dig a little

Deeper; You prod

Harder

Some how your hand gets swifter

Your incisions more precise

Through tears

The scar tissue

The bloody mess

I cannot take more

And still you press

More

I offered myself

Over to You

So long ago

When I said, yes

I didnt realize

I could no longer say no

That you wouldnt

Stop chasing

When I run

That when my word

Was bond

Your promises

Could come alive

Still my fear rages on

And your answer:

“Just a little more”

Your will be done

You will press harder still

My will is surrendered

My will be yours

I will endure

 

Can we DTR?

Oh hey, DTR means “define the relationship” in case you did not know.

I never actually know who reads these things I write. When I freelance or ghost-write, I don’t think on too much about my ongoing relationship with those readers. It is primarily a one and done experience. But, with all of you beautiful people, I want to know you. I mean come on, when I actually am on here I tend to pour myself out a bit too much. So it shouldn’t be asking too much that we become best friends, right?

Well, okay maybe we do not have to be best friends, but I want my writing to be a lot more than a stop-off once every couple of months. The truth, though, is that this responsibility rests on me. Consistency and communication are the keys to any relationship flourishing, but here we stand at the brink of a fallout because I have been holding my words within. Will you forgive me? Will you give me a another chance? Because I think God might want to do something pretty cool through our relationship, even if it is just you reading what I am sending out into the internet. I want you to know that I think you are super special and are full to the brim with amazing gifts and talents that can change the world. And if the world is too big, know that you have every bit of potential in you to change someone’s world. Just know that my distance hasn’t been because anything you have done; that is all on me. You may not believe me, but this whole being human gets the best of me some days. Well, most days.

I’ll take your continued silent reading as confirmation that you forgave me and we can dive right in.

Let’s talk about accountability today. Yikes, a word that no one seems to want to utter into the vast emptiness of shame and guilt. Take a moment to think about how prevalent the idea of “you do you, I do me” is throughout our culture. Forget our culture, think about it in your own life. Tell me right now that you never wished some one (your parents probably) would back off and let you do things your way. I highly doubt you can tell me that you have never felt that way, even if you didn’t ask the other person to back off.

I am just going to come out and say that every person, every Christian I know struggles to have a healthy relationship with the concept of accountability. And therein struggles to have healthy intimate relationships with humans and with God. I have seen it in ministry, in family, in friendships. A hesitancy to fully engage with accountability because at the core they do not want to be seen as judgemental or even deeper they do not want to be held accountable themselves.

Let’s take a step back and define accountability so that we are all on the same page. What I mean by accountability is the active commitment to hold other people to a standard of living. The tricky part is that true accountability is rooted in mutual commitment between both parties. It is rooted in community. It is messy and sticky. It requires mutual vulnerability and intimacy. True accountability is supposed to exist in every single genuine relationship between individuals, but true accountability should also exist in between communities of people. We are dancing on the edge of something called the “Beloved Community” and how I perceive true social justice, but let’s pull in our focus this time around and just talk about accountability within individual relationships and with God.

I would bet money that you are incredibly ready to be there to support a friend or loved one. But I wonder how ready you are to embrace and receive the same type of presence you are offering? The clarification that needs to be stated is that accountability is NOT just asking questions and listening. Remember, I said it is active. That means accountability exists on the basis that we are able to actively speak into others’ lives and receive the voices of others.

Can accountability be misused and abused? Of course. It has throughout history. But the other end of the spectrum of avoiding accountability all together is nothing more than selfish self-preservation.

A few things that I want to point out:

Our choice to keep others accountable, but not to embrace returned accountability is self-seeking and hollow. You are better to not offer accountability at all. Mutual submission to vulnerability and honesty is how intimacy and growth flourishes.

The point of accountability is not to squeeze people into an image you have created for them. The point is not to make someone feel bad about their actions or lack there of. The point is to love someone so deeply that you refuse to let them settle for anything less than the God-given potential residing in them.

To the same point, you receiving accountability is not about you being corrected or shamed. Shut those hang ups down. Allow yourself to be held accountable so that you can thrive and become the world-changer God has made you to be. It is about you growing into the beautiful and mature creation you are meant to be.

Accountability isn’t meant to be offered or asked for flippantly. It is time-consuming and energy-consuming. Most people only ever offer and receive it from their spouse. Which is something, but our lives are meant to be roots spreading into the world. Like dominos, affect one person next to you and watch the world shift all around.

Be all in. In your relationships. In your love for yourself. You are meant for so much more than you might have convinced yourself. I can see in you the Image of God. That is no small thing. That is everything. Allow yourself to be helped. You might think you are protecting yourself, but you are hurting yourself and those you love.

Remember, true accountability exists midst intimate and intentional community. It is necessary, there is no convincing me otherwise. If you are having trouble finding intimate and intentional community to grow within, write me. Lets talk.

And in true form of accountability. I ask that you all engage with me and keep me accountable. My job is to write and sustain our relationship. Do not hesitate to let me know that I am slacking. I love you too much to continue down that road.

Much Love

BGTF

 

 

Capitalization Makes a Difference

Paul’s journey in Acts has always intrigued me. If you do not know what the book of Acts is, that is entirely okay. It is the first book in the New Testament after the four Gospels. It is a book about the journeys of Jesus’ disciples after his resurrection. It is all about how they converted individuals, were persecuted to death, and built a new foundation for the understanding of community and how to follow God. These are the stories of the innovators of the Christian faith. These were the first followers of Christ. These individuals led no life of comfort. There was no real middle ground of being lukewarm. Early in the book a few people who claim to be followers of “The Way” (original Christians) are struck down by God because they were lukewarm and halfhearted, still more consumed with their own gain and profit than the calling of God.

A lot of modern Christians look around at the Church today and yearn for something different. They ache for change in a culture that is consumed with self-gain and prosperity. I am one of these individuals. Well these people are often found saying, “I just want to be the Acts Church” I’ve said it before. So if you ever hear someone say that, they probably have good intentions, but do not entirely comprehend what their vocal chords are producing.

I often struggle with this concept of not knowing how to embody true community and a true body of believers in a cultural like what I live in, in the grand ole U S of A. I am not sure anymore that I want to be the Acts church.

I tell myself that if I was persecuted, doubt wouldn’t be an issue. There would be no half-hearted believers. No luke warm participants giving Christ a bad name. Sounds a little morbid. I mean I am not jumping for joy at the idea of being hung upside down on a cross, but I mean that’s what I thought I was signing up for when I committed my life to Christ. A life of sacrifice and temporary pain for eternal gain. But there isnt much suffering found in an air conditioned sanctuary with unnaturally comfortable pews. There isnt much struggle wearing a different suit every week while my savior hangs in a loin clothe above my head.

But that is a church building right. That’s not THE Church. How many times have you heard (even if you arent a Christian) that a church is just a building, but the Church of God is universal and extends beyond those walls. Preachers exclaim this with a thrust of their fist into the air. Then the preacher receives a chorus of Amens and Yeah, thats good, or maybe just a bunch of head nods like the room is shaking and the congregation is trying to adjust their sight.

But then it ends there. A church building stands perilously at the end of every street corner in America like a stable for crazy people. Us Christians, we love to be fed. mmmmhmmm. Feed me some of that trough slop every Sunday morning. And then I will go out and make the world a better place. Church is like a fix. But now I am bullying something that I am very much a part of, so I need to be careful. I do not hate churches in the US, do not misunderstand my words. I dislike that Christians subscribe to an understanding of what culture says church is and then do nothing to change those preconceived notions.

So I have said a lot of things but not followed a specified direction, but now I have one. So what is a church. Well a church is a building. That is what culture says it is. It is a place Christians go on Sunday or sometimes Wednesdays to hear a word from a Pastor or Preacher or Priest. Its a building with walls and sort of like a holding pen for religiosity. Anyone can join a church. (Well except for sinners but, hell why would you want to join one of those anyway?)

Now what is that other thing? The Church. With a capital C. What is that thing? Well its a cult. Well, its a collaboration of different people from different walks of life who are all racing head first towards a prize that is Jesus Christ. The Church suffers. The Church suffers together. The Church bears each others burdens. The Church bears the burdens of sinners and saints.

Again I say the Church suffers. If you are not suffering I question whether you are part of the Church. If your heart does not break for the outsider, the undesirable, the poor of SPIRIT, the lame, the confused. If you do not share their sufferings you cannot join the Church. I may not be persecuted in the way that Paul and Peter were in Acts. But if my fellow humans are being persecuted and oppressed, than I better be calling their suffering my own.

If you are walking out of a church building any day of the week and not feeling persecuted I think you need to turn around and walk back in. Because there are millions of people outside of those walls suffering. Go and suffer with them. Show them they are not alone. Show them what love really means. Maybe you do not actually know what love really looks like? Maybe you have gone to church every week for years. Maybe you go to a Christian college and still do not know what love means. True life died for you a long time ago. True love hung on a cross and poured out its blood for every sin, burden, pain, shame, and struggle. True love is Christ.

The first step in becoming a member of the Church is to suffer. If it is something you are not willing to be part of, but are more concerned with having a two car garage there are plenty of church buildings that will encourage and instruct you on how to prayer for financial blessings. But if you have been saved by Christ and are ready to become a part of something far greater than you, get ready to suffer. And get ready to experience love far greater than you could have ever imagined.

I do not want to be the Acts church specifically, but I want to be a part of the Church that suffers.

Step outside of the cultural narrative. Step out of what everyone else says a churchgoer is. Toss aside that image. And pick up your cross and follow Christ. The path is a narrow one. It is not easy. But oh, is it worth it. Why is it worth it? Why. Well because God said YOU were worth it.

Much Love

BGTF