Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ours to Offer Back to Him

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

The following excerpt from "Passion and Purity" by Elisabeth Elliot contains a beautiful illustration of how we grow spiritually and how we should respond to gifts that God gives us.

The growth of all living green things wonderfully represents the process of receiving and relinquishing, gaining and losing, living and dying. The seed falls into the ground, dies as the new shoot springs up. There must be a splitting and a breaking in order for a bud to form. The bud "lets go" when the flower forms. The calyx lets go of the flower. The petals must curl up and die in order for the fruit to form. The fruit falls, splits, relinquishes the seed. The seed falls into the ground....

There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops. If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul.

It is easy to make a mistake here. "If God gave it to me," we say, "it's mine. I can do what I want with it." No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of -- if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory.

Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God's intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is "... the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don't feel that the "loss" of the acorn is a very great loss.
The more you perceive God's purpose in your life, the less terrible will the losses seem.

What are you holding tightly to? I can hear my own sinful thoughts saying, "God, You gave me everything I have and I give it all back to You... well, except this thing or this person or this situation. I'd like to hang on to those, please." How wicked! What I should be saying is, "Lord, all that You give me, I give back to You to do with what You will. And whether You give or take away, I will praise You." (Job 1:21)

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