Hello, friend! I’m glad you paused for this month’s topic at FACETS because it’s a good one! Tracy’s post last week was heart-felt and full of truth. Kim will bring her beautiful heart to the screen next week. Then we look forward to a guest we think you should know the fourth week. Take a peek on Tuesdays to find out what’s happening at Facets. We think amazing conversations can begin surrounding the topics and posts.
What’s your secret? I (Jennifer) suffer from bouts with amnesia. When I sat down to write I wondered if I’d find myself in good company. Maybe I will. The truth is, sometimes I have no idea who I am. More importantly, I forget whose I am. Let me explain.
For those who believe God, you know there was a point in time when everything changed. That was true for me the summer of ’94. I had survived so many challenging relationships, experiences, and choices by then. That summer, I made the only choice that will ever matter, I think. I decided to believe God. Sure, I could have tried to do all the right things to impress Almighty God, Holy God—but that couldn’t work. I would still be the court jester performing for the King in His presence, and it wouldn’t do a thing to address the real problem. Outside of believing God, I can do nothing to improve my condition: I’m imperfect in the presence of holiness, offending holy God by trying to be good enough to earn His love. What does that mean? When my imperfection meets Holy God, He has resolved everything in Jesus.
It’s new life and new beginnings in that moment, right? Yes!
A-n-n-n-nd then I forget who I am and whose I am. The past creeps into a moment and blackens it. Memories of whatever I thought changed my life forever in a bad way slither onto the stage of my mind and begin the ugly dance I’ve seen before. I think I even know the choreography by now. The amnesia tries to strip me of my whole identity. Oh, it’s never all at once. Usually, it’s bit by bit, little things I might not even notice at first—the slip of an unkind word or thought, replacing the truth with something slightly warped or “more interesting” than reality. You get the picture. Maybe you even have the dance in your own head choreographed. It tends to look something less of the people of God and more like people who have no regard for Him.
But we are called to something else!
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT
In my best moments, this is what I want—to believe God and live in a way that honors Him. Then the amazing adventure follows: His good plan for my life. And so, I begin by believing that He has a good plan…and that He wants me to think clearly about who He is, who I am, and the good life He has planned.
But, the cause of the amnesia is often from a single root. When I forget, I’m missing who He is and my identity that is a gift from Him through Jesus. The great thing is, when I can’t remember, powerful words will serve to correct my thought patterns and create the right kind of memory! (Thank you for the Bible, God!)
King David puts it beautifully in Psalm 139, CSB:
1 Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. 5 You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. 6 [This] extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it.
Is there any moment in time when my God, my Abba, my Daddy, isn’t aware of me, my world, and even my internal life? No, my God knows everything about me, and He’s mindful of me!
7 Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon [or] settle at the western limits, 10 even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.
Can I mistakenly find myself out of His sight? Will I be misled? No, He is always with me, ready to lead me in the right direction. And the best part? He holds me close. He loves me; I’m never alone and He leads me if I’m willing (if I’ll surrender to His will).
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will become night”— 12 even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.
But those dark times—is He aware, and does He care? I must remember: yes, He knows. More than that, He is with me in them, and there are times He will bring light to the darkness, the kind that overwhelms the dark entirely. I also know there are times I may not see brilliant light for a while, and then I’ll have enough light for the step I’m taking (Psalm 119:105). Some things I can’t change, but I know the light and the darkness are under His power.
13 For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know [this] very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all [my] days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
Verses 13-16 can be the first step in the amnesia dance in my head. (Is it similar in your head?) I quickly forget the amazing thing that happens when God creates life. Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty or even to love the life I have. The struggle is real when I think about whatever seems “off” from others’ “normal.” Is it “wonderful” when _______ is part of everyday life? (Fill in the blank with thousands of options!) You and I were made with purpose and for a purpose. God had a plan from the beginning, and there is no Plan B. Plan A is redemption of all things (the good, the bad, the ugly in everything), and His plan is to use people (very often) to bring things to right in this world. (Here’s a random thought: think about how many people work for God and have no idea they do. Atheist doctors may resist that thought. *grin*)
17 God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me [to comprehend]; how vast their sum is! 18 If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You.
With all that I know about my God, there is so much I can never grasp! What I really want to begin to understand is that li’l, old me is so precious to Him that He thinks of me all the time. Imagine that! And He thinks of all of us in this way and so frequently. I don’t steal a single thought moment from you, friend, and you don’t steal from me. We are equally precious!
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.
Here’s the deep root of the surrender part! I have to ask myself questions, and the answers are telling. Do I believe God, that He is good, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, loving, and always thinking of me? Do I believe He has my best interest in mind with every single detail of my life—the things He allows and the things He doesn’t, the things He changes or stops…and the things He doesn’t? Because, if I believe God (in the true character and identity!), then I want Him to speak to me about my words, thoughts, actions, and plans for each day. And I really don’t want to offend Him.
That means I will learn the heart and mind of my God. I will study who He is, and ask Him to help me live in a way that reveals more obviously whose I am. That’s fighting the amnesia with truth and reality, and that makes me less drawn into the dance each time.
Am I perfect? Somehow more perfect than I was the summer of ’94?
I am a child of the King. I was redeemed (simultaneously bought with a price and made right in the sight of Holy God) on that day. So yes, I am so different now. I know exactly how the plan ends, but only because I believe God, honestly.
And I live a real life in this world. Ask anyone, and they will tell you I have some “skillz” (with a Z). I have beautiful friends and family who have seen me eat a lot of things: humble pie, crow, and my own feet (both of them!). My love of words can be the very thing that ruins me some days. I also have to learn to love well because that’s really hard for me for lots of reasons. And as I said, the past chases me and tries to figure out how to command center stage in my mind.
But this is about surrender and the pursuit of it. The truth is, we live in the already and not yet of all of this.
When any one of us dives deep into the truth of what God has to say—and when we believe God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do…
That’s when He brings life and liberty in the pursuit of surrender, baby! We are more alive than ever, and we live in freedom that comes with that belief and knowledge.
All that said, if you’re living in the “real world” with difficult struggles and challenges in the pursuit of surrender, I want to share the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr. I hope it speaks to you, too. We are all in the process of pursuit.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. ~Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971)
Thanks for reading, friend! Please comment below or at our Facebook Page. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic this month, Psalm 139, or the Serenity Prayer.