give it up

There is a general unwillingness to give up.

In our culture giving up is considered failure. Giving up is for losers, those that can’t cut it.  Attached with shame, embarrassment and weakness, it is unthinkable.

So we fight against it at all cost.

At all cost.

In other words, whatever needs to suffer, be compromised or given up in the process, we do.

We fight.
We sacrifice.
We tolerate.

Inevitably, at some point the cost ends up exceeding the value of what we are fighting for and yet we dig deeper, we get stubborn and then purely unreasonable in our strife.

There is nothing and no one that can convince us otherwise.

And when we’re deep down, we hit the vein.  We feel the pain.  It is the knowing.  It is the confession that wants to erupt because we see the folly in our efforts. We know the struggle is fruitless. We know that what we are giving, we can never recover or redeem. And yet, we press on, until the question we refuse to ask slowly begins to rise up.

When is it ok to give up?

When you have begun to discount yourself.

Give it up.

When you hold the “thing” greater than your worth and well-being.

Give it up.

When it becomes more valuable than your marriage, your family, your relationships, people in general.

Give it up.

Giving something up for the redemption of a person is always the greater good.  It is always the greater choice.

Even when the person is you.

Christ gave it up for people.  On the cross He bowed His head and gave up His spirit to the Father in heaven.

His shame.
His burden.
His sorrow.
Your pain.
Your sin.
Your shame.

It was not expected. Not how we would have thought he would go about it. Dying on a cross did not appear to be the actions of a Savior. It did not seem like he had saved or redeemed them.  It looked a lot like defeat.

But it wasn’t the end.

In John 10:18 Jesus said “I have the power to lay it down.”

The power.

He obtained a victory greater than what we could even fathom. Accomplishing more for eternity than any earthly toiling, struggle or battle could have obtained.  Not because he was weak or defeated, but because he had the power to lay it down and give it up.

He gave it up, and He won.

In many cases, giving takes more strength than fighting. What seemed to be weakness was strength unbridled and everlasting.

A voluntary surrender can be the threshold to redemption.

Give it up.

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be gentle

Lent is upon us.

We withdraw.  We look inward.  We reflect.  We go deep.

Lent is a time for prayer, repentance, sacrifice and good works.  It is a time when we deny ourselves that which is taking up the spaces where we need more of God.

In my deep there is darkness.

His deep is pure light.

In me there are shadows of fear and doubt.

In Him only trust and hope.

And while I want to enter into great spiritual exercises, measure out disciplines, and enter into a deep mourning and grief over the shortcomings and failings in my life, a tender voice sighs:  Quiet.

It’s the whisper in the frigid wind, the blinding sun reflecting on a frozen landscape, the deafening silence of the earth buried in a heavy blanket of snow.

It is still winter.

And while I am inclined to strain myself in the birth of spring, with rituals of purification and cleansing, He gently persuades…give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live…for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.

It is not yet Spring, but it’s coming.  And we must prepare,  not by human force, but by God’s own gentle path.

He calls me to his tender, merciful arms.  He invites me to walk in communion with His Holy Spirit.  He encourages me to abide in the aroma of his goodness and illuminated in His refining light.

Because where there is light the darkness is pushed out.

I cannot win this struggle by my own might.  I will achieve nothing with my own spiritual calisthenics.

Only the light can overcome darkness.

I cannot do what only He can do for me. But I can heed his voice.  I can abide in Him, so that He in turn can abide in me.

Then, when I am in full communion with the love and peace of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve invited Him to tame the monsters of my deep – doubt, control, anxiety, ambition, pride – then I can exist as He intended:  to know Him, to receive and speak life, to love.

Spring is coming, and we must prepare, so that Christ can resurrect again through each one of us in our words and in our service.

“I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. ” – Max Lucado