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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thorns and thistles

The earth is in me.

Though my soil is deep, rich and fertile, the warmth of its dark grounds seemingly affectionate and cultivated, in it lie thorns and thistles.

The gardener scattered the seeds of His word in my fields.  My heart had been worked by the till of contrition and I was ready to receive the seeds of life.

As these seeds took root their young shoots pushed though the surface, reaching for the righteousness of the Son and seeking to drink in the refreshing rains of His grace.

The dormant thorns and thistles were aroused.

Thorny creeping tendrils of cares and fears, worries and anxiety began to twist, tangle and distort. And while I worked diligently to remove the noxious weeds, it seemed that with each one I removed, three more sprouted up in its place. Prickly and seemingly evolving in defense, they were painful to uproot.

The thistles of my doubt and skepticism were even more adept at pressing down words of life.  They were quick to choke every expectant bud as too lofty to take root and too risky to cultivate.

Soon my treasure of seed was fruitless.  Hope looked just vain. The promise of increase, harvest and bounty in the Word was consumed until the vital shoots and buds of my faith shriveled, withered and came to nothing.

I was overcome.  

In my despair the serpent slithered:

The earth is cursed.  “..thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you”

Scripture warns me of these thistles and thorns.  They are the bitter herbs that took root when along with Eve I rejected God’s provision and questioned his motives.

They are the weeds of discontent and distrust.

They are the root of all sin that continues to distance us further and further from the certainty of the gardener’s love and intentions for us .  They spiny stalks are the cause of pain, suffering and death that we experience in our lives.

God saw all of this.

We were overrun by thorn bushes, suffocating and seemingly defeated.

Then God, in His unfailing love and never-ending compassion, sent His son to free us all.  Christ gathered up each thorn of sin and He laid them on his head.  He bore my shame and endured my pain and sorrowed all of my failings.

He succumbed to my death.

Reaching down into the depths of all sin, he paid the price of the curse.   And in rising again, he defeated it.  Breathing life into his lungs he breathed life into all humankind.

He made all things new.

And through Him, and with Him, I can hope again.

I can believe that those seeds of promise in me will one day birth fruit to perfection.

the consent

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.” 

Luke 1:38 (NLT)

Mary’s unhesitant yes is the hero’s story.  Her unfailing, immediate consent to the call from God, without buckling in the overwhelming uncertainty or the risk she was taking, is awe worthy.

Mary apparently knew the nature of God.  Upon hearing God’s plan she did not ask if, she asked how it would take place.  Inherent in her one question is her consent.

She is rewarded by the reassurance of His Presence covering her which is then reinforced by evidence of His faithfulness. Ultimately she claims His will over her life, desiring it in eager anticipation.

“May everything you have said about me come true.”

This is not a complacent response.  It is not a submissive yes.

Remember, her yes came earlier in the form of a question.  How?

This is the fearful, excited and hopeful step across a threshold.  This is her active entrance into the emerging plan of God with a heart and will passionately engaged.

“May everything you have said about me come true.”

This is courage and trust.  This is fully embracing blessing and protection.

This is knowing that God cannot lie and does not fail, even when circumstances seem to contradict and overwhelm.  This is trusting  all will be well and steady as He unfolds His design.

And so she blesses His Word and opens the door for He who would forever change the world.

“May everything you have said about me come true.”

A blessing can be described as the light over a person or situation.  A blessing can illuminate a path through the deepest darkness.

May we all have the courage and understanding to bless His Word in our lives, cross our thresholds and be light and hope to a world that desperately needs to embrace God’s love and all His promises.

May we all come to truly know God the Father through Christ His son until we are secure in the knowledge that:

He keeps his promises.

He provides.

His plans for us are good.

He loves us.

In Him we can place our hope.

So that we too can confidently say:

May everything you have said about me come true.

Amen.