“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5
Here in Peru, I am learning. One of the things that has been in the forefront of this growing process is learning to recognize negative thoughts, doubts, and preoccupations. In the past I could wallow in a worry for days if not weeks. It has not taken long to realize that allowing even one negative thought to take root in my heart, no matter how harmless it may seem to be, has the potential of seriously harming or destroying our ministry. God has been teaching me the art of taking every thought captive immediately and bringing it directly to Him.
My deepest desire is to know God more every day. I want to be more like Him and look more like Him every day. I want to serve Him as He has dreamed for me to serve Him since He formed me in my mom’s tummy. He is my everything. In this deepest of deep desires, there are always other things fighting for my allegiance or attention. I am fighting against my human nature that wants the easy and pleasant road which in all actuality looks nothing like the road I have decided to follow God down. The road I am on means that I must deny what I would desire for what God desires, trusting that someday God might return to me what is within His will and plan. The road I am on is total surrender, knowing that God might possibly not give me what I want but that He will always give me what I need. I must trust Him through encouraging times and discouraging times, holding onto His promises and not necessarily the constant proof of His presence. This total surrender within the daily life means that everything is big enough to matter to God because everything is big enough to be a stumbling block toward a pure and effective service in the Kingdom.
In reading the book of Joshua lately, I have been convicted toward an even deeper level of surrender than I knew was possible before. The story of Achan and the hidden sin that cost him his life and Israel a battle against the little city of Ai has been a great reminder to me that every area of my life must be pure and holy in His sight. Favor comes from God alone, not from any ability that I might have or any advantage I may think I am bringing to the table. I must come to God in utter humility, offering my life as a living sacrifice. I pray that it is holy and pleasing to God.
In life and especially in ministry, there are some very discouraging moments; thoughts or comments that at the time may seem so small but can become enormous distractions and stumbling blocks toward Kingdom work. It causes us to take seriously our commitment to serving God with everything, because clearly it is not a cake walk. We are in the midst of battle and we are taking hits every day. As my friend told me once, “There will be casualties.” I came to the point today when I was tempted to become discouraged, wondering how our team could last these next two and a half years united in spirit and heart for the cause of Christ. I came to the point of realization that no amount of talking or resolutions would be the solution. The only way we can stay strong is to take every thought captive and to make it obedient to Christ. We cannot allow even a passing negative thought to escape into our minds without tying it up and taking it to Him. Although it sounds like an impossible thing, it is a necessary lifestyle of anyone who would be mature in their relationship with Christ.
There is a difference between true success and false success in ministry. One can pretend for a long time to be at a place in her faith that she really isn’t, but in many places the Bible says that in due time all things will come to light. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says, “Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”
I want to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. I want to be careful that I am using valuable materials that are not weakened by anything, so that when my service to the Lord is tested, it may be shown to be of great worth in God’s sight. I do not want the kind of ministry that is superficial and shallow. I want to be fully attached to the vine that gives me all the strength and nourishment needed to accomplish God’s will. I want to be rooted deeply in Christ. I desire a pure and perfect love so connected to the heart of God that no matter what flaming arrows are shot my way, they would find no surface on which to anchor. This journey is indeed impossible without God’s strength and presence every day. Without Him, I will fall. I am learning to recognize that I am not immune to being a casualty myself. I must be diligent in every area of my walk with Christ.
Over the past couple days I have been praying that God might reveal to me any potential weaknesses in my history, overall health, or faith. I have been praying that I might become more humble to accept His criticism and my utter and complete need for Him. I have been praying for the discipline to spend adequate time with Him that I might be growing and learning as He desires to teach me. I want to give God my best that I might experience His best for my life and for the ministry He has called me into. I have been praying that I might take captive every thought that is not in line with His word and truth. I must take each thought to Him and in laying it at His feet once again pick up my cross and follow Him. As His follower, I have surrendered my rights. I have laid everything down and I consider it all garbage compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him and being found in Him. No matter how much “reason” I may have to feel or act a certain way, I have no right to venture anywhere outside the perfect will of God. If this does not involve the little things, then it certainly cannot involve the big things. To God, everything is important.
I pray that God would give me sufficient courage and boldness to remain faithful in my walk with Him and my desire to please Him in every way. I want more than anything to be HIS and only HIS. May nothing ever stand in the way of this.