Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Abandoned to God

My wife and I are in a small group at our church. Lately we've been studying Larry Crabb's book, The Pressure's Off. I'm not a huge fan of the book, but there are some good and important things in it that Christians (like me) don't spend enough time considering.

Like abandoning yourself to God. That was the main topic of our discussion last night. Larry Crabb says that to abandon yourself to God is like "jumping off a cliff into a dark abyss supported only by the rope of God's love" (pg. 187).

We came up with various ideas of what it means to abandon yourself to God. It means to trust God when everything around you seems to argue against it. It means to bring your will into conformity to God's will. It means to surrender your rights, your hopes, your dreams, and to accept who you are and where you are as God's plan for your life. I suggested that it means the same thing as "abandon ship" does to a sailor: to leave your place of false safety and jump out into the better, safer, but unpredictable arms of God. Or perhaps it's like bungee jumping: forsaking the bridge and hanging on with white knuckles to the goodness and wisdom of God, not knowing where He will take you but staking everything on His trustworthiness.

It's easy to write about this, but this topic takes us to one of the hardest places we could possibly go. Self-abandonment is 100% antithetical to common sense and worldly wisdom. It's painful and hard. Some of you reading this have been there. You know what it's like to have nothing and no one but God.

Self-abandonment was the way of the psalmist who wrote:

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation." (Psalm 62:1-2)

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." (Psalm 63:1, 3)

Listen to that again: "Your love is better than life." That sentence suggests that not to abandon oneself to God is to settle for less than life, less than true joy.

Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) was appointed archbishop in the French town of Cambrai in 1695. Later he was denounced by the Pope for "having loved God too much." He had this to say about the joys and pleasures of those who abandon themselves to God:

"They sacrifice themselves, but to what they love most. They suffer, but they want to suffer, and they prefer the suffering to every false joy. Their bodies endure sharp pain, their imagination is troubled, their spirit droops in weakness and exhaustion, but their will is firm and quiet in their deepest and most intimate self. Happy are they who give themselves to God! . . . placing our will entirely in the hands of God, we want only what God wants, and thus we find his consolation in faith, and consequently hope in the midst of all sufferings. What folly to fear to be too entirely God's! It is to fear to be too happy. It is to fear to love God's will in all things. It is to fear to have too much courage in the crosses which are inevitable, too much comfort in God's love, and too much detachment from the passions which make us miserable. So let us scorn earthly things, to be wholly God's."

What a risky prayer it is, to ask God to help us be wholly His. But, as Fenelon says, what foolishness not to! Let us not fear to be too happy. God's love is better than life. Let us scorn earthly things and "abandon ship" to be wholly God's.


doodlebugmom said...

Your blog entry today reminded me of this:

Linda :o)

Mike said...

That's cool, I like it!

rob said...

I still don't fully get the bungee analogy

Mike said...

I've never gone bungee jumping but it seems an appropriate analogy when I think of abandoning myself to God, resting in Him alone as it says in Psalm 62:1. Any analogy that suggests hanging onto something for dear life would work. There's no other support but God. You're placing your full hope in Him to get you through. "All other ground is sinking sand," as the hymn says. You've left the sinking ship and He is your lifeboat. You've left the bridge and He is your bungee cord.

rob said...

ok, that makes more sence...thanks