Hello, Father God.
I've had a line from a song in my head for a day or two now. This has happened enough times now to alert me to two things:
- You have something to say
- You're getting my attention in a way that I can understand, since I am always humming something.
So here it is. I got Phil Wickham's 'Cannons' CD for my birthday in September and I've been listening to it ever since. I like the music. Some bits are immediately accessible and other songs take a while to work their way into my head. This is from the song, 'True Love':
'Search your heart, you know you can't deny it
Lose your life, just so you can find it....'
Lose your life, just so you can find it.
I have definite tendencies towards Control Freakery. I realised this a couple of years ago, and I'd like to say that I am a recovering Control Freak, but I suspect that although I am taking baby steps I'm not that different yet.
My affliction manifests itself in many and varied ways; from my inability to refrain from screeching at my children when they stomp across the kitchen floor in muddy wellies, to locking horns with them when they always choose a different coat from the one I hold out to them. Soon we will be decorating the house for Christmas and this year I am determined to squash my need for the tree decorations to be symmetrical.
So, I like things how I like them. I know that other people have likes too, and I am sensitive to their likes. Mostly. I know, I know - God, I know that you're smirking. I am a work in progress, remember?
I like to know what's going on and I like to plan. I like lists. I like schedules and timetables and I am thrown when things are unpredictable and chaotic. So I'm constantly asking you 'What's next?' and 'what should I do?' and 'What's the Plan?'
I know that your timing is perfect and mine less so. I know that if I'd had things my way so many things would have gone totally pear-shaped over the years. If you'd said yes indiscriminately to all my prayers I'd have married the wrong man, been in the wrong job, the wrong church (or none at all) in the wrong place and missed the amazing things that you had in store for me instead of the stuff that I longed for. So I completely know that You Know Best.
How come, then, it's so difficult to slide across to the passenger side and let you drive? Even when I'm not driving, supposedly taking life as it comes and enjoying the ride, I find myself leaning over and pointing.
'I think that was our turnoff.'
'Are you sure that we shouldn't have gone down there?'
'Could you speed up a bit, please?'
'I know you say that you know the way but I'm sure there's a more direct route than this...'
I like things my way. Don't we all? But I know that you know best. I find it so, so hard to surrender control.
'Lose your life, just so you can find it.'
I know that it's only when I take my hot little hands off my life and place it in your gentle, trustworthy ones that I can be completely me. If I'm constantly struggling to make something of my own design, it will fall apart. I need to surrender it up to you, Lord.
I don't much like the word, 'surrender'. To me it sounds like defeat; a white flag. I have lost. I am crushed.
But it occurred to me the other day that my little Katy, who's five, was struggling to make a boat for Scruffy Barney (her special, very-favourite toy and constant companion) out of paper and sticky tape. She was frustrated that the tape kept sticking to her instead of the scraps of paper and the thin strip that she'd cut out for the mast wouldn't stay upwards.
I offered to help. She refused.
I offered again, and this time I reached over her shoulder and tried to assist. She knocked my hand out of the way with a growl. 'Mummy, NO. I want to do it.'
I backed away and sipped my coffee and watched. Her angry frustration turned into miserable frustration and she slumped in her chair. Woebegone, she looked at me with big eyes. Cradling the bedraggled bundle of paper and sticky tape in her hands, she held it out and said, mournfully,
'I don't think I can do it, Mummy. Will you make it work?'
I straightened out the little boat, added some sticky tape in the right places and splinted the mast with a drinking straw. Scruffy climbed in and I swear I saw him grin.
Katy was made up.
For about twenty minutes, and then she moved onto something else, and I think the boat still lies discarded under the table, but my point is: she wouldn't let me help, but I knew what to do. It was only when she surrendered the little boat that I could fix it for her.
You are my Daddy. You patiently wait and watch until I hand over my life. You are pleased with the bits that I give you, and you're hoping each day that I will surrender more until the whole thing is in your capable hands instead of my frustrated ones. You can do a little with the parts that I've handed over but the whole new creation won't be complete until you get all the components from me.
CS Lewis said this:
'The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because he made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be...It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.'
I know that when I give you a little, you give me back so much. So what would happen if I gave you everything, not holding anything back? My imagination is too small. I know in my head that it's the only way forward, the only way that I will become the person you want me to be, do the things that you want me to do, but it's so hard. The voice in my had refuses to surrender because it sounds too passive, too much like losing, and I don't want to be a loser. I am programmed by society to keep on trying, keep on keeping on, if at first I don't succeed, try, try again. I'll get there in the end; it's all down to me.
That's the way to make a paper boat that won't stand up. It isn't down to me at all.
'Lose your life, just so you can find it.'
Phil Wickham sings this line with such conviction and passion that it jumped out at me from the CD player. St Paul said it first, though.
'...instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life.'
You gave me my life because you wanted me to have it, and have it to the full. You want to change my little life for a big one. You don't want to wrestle control away from me just to make me miserable; you just want me to let you be in charge, because you love me too much to leave me the way I am. Your plans are bigger and better if I'd only let you drive. Your map reading is perfect, your speed is appropriate and the scenery on your route is more beautiful than the way I would have gone.
Help me to open my hands, Father God. Help me to stop clutching my life so tightly that my knuckles are white, thinking that I know best. That my plan is better than yours.
Help me to surrender myself, so that you can make me more like your self. Take the old life and transform it more and more into the new one you have for me.
I want to lose this life, with it's anxiety and confusion and frustration and find a new one, full of hope and peace and satisfaction.
It's just a mess of sticky tape and crumpled paper at the moment, Father. I'm not getting anywhere with this.
I don't think I can do it, Daddy. Please will you make it work?
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