Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not I, But Christ

I remember the quality of light that day, as well a the Message playing across the house. The sunlight streamed into the kitchen window as I mopped the old yellow linoleum. I was listening to How Do I Overcome, and as I listened, I realized that this Christian walk was all about surrender. I remember praying, Lord, I can't. I don't know how to do that.

Four years before, I'd given my heart to Christ. I knew it was my day and time--the message that morning called me, and I knew it was my time to go God's way. After I'd walked up to the altar, surrendering my life, Daddy baptised me in muddy-blue lake waters. That afternoon, as he sat down at the piano to play, I asked him the one question that still bothered me: what do I do about the desires I know are against the Lord, but are still in my heart? He took me to Romans seven--Now it is no more I that doeth it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. I tried to understand, but I didn't. I still fought against the desires that lived within me. I didn't know how to get rid of them. Four years later, I still didn't have the answer--but I knew I needed the Holy Ghost.

That's where life found me on that June afternoon. My pastor was preaching on How Do I Overcome, and we were just about to have our first annual tent meetings. I remember getting up during the mornings and, sitting on my bed and praying, trying to surrender myself to a higher power, but ending up more emotional than anything else. Where was the power? I wondered. Where was the strength? What do I do to get there?

During those first meetings, so many were blessed. The Holy Spirit came down, and I watched my sister be reborn. But I couldn't seem to break through. I watched around me as people received their need: chains broken and peace restored. But after the meeting was over, I wasn't different. I needed more. I still needed the Holy Ghost.

Despite my need, the Lord was still working on my life. I'd just graduated from high school, and struggled with going to college. I knew my place, and I knew what the Lord had spoken to my heart two years before. Just when I had decided to "give it all up" and stay at home, the Lord laid in my lap a scholarship I didn't deserve, based on an essay I'd written at the last moment on a rehashed topic. I didn't know what to do, so I asked both the university and the scholarship committee if school could be pushed into the future six months. By God's grace I got my break.

I spent the summer helping some good friends and neighbors renovate their house. I watched as the Twin Towers fell on my mother's birthday. And then, two weeks after the Towers fell, my parents and I boarded a plane for Arizona. We were going to camp meetings. I could go because I wasn't yet in school.

I had fun for the first couple of days. I joined the camp choir. I played some volleyball, met some wonderful brothers and sisters, and was having a great time. But the desire still rang: Lord, I need the Holy Ghost.

It was still ringing that Friday night as I walked up to the platform with the choir. We began to sing, and the Holy Ghost began to fall. As I watched the audience, I felt that desire well up again. I didn't ask Him how. I didn't ask Him what I had to do. Lord, I wish you would come down to me, I prayed. I walked down from the platform back to my seat, and with my parents beside me, He answered my prayer. In the moments following, I learned full surrender. I met Jesus Christ, face to face, and He answered my need.

Not I but Christ. Since then, I've fallen flat on my face. I've been rebellious at times, but I've been forgiven, and I've been refilled. I've had to learn, over and over, that it's His work; it's not mine. And His Grace grows sweeter daily. His Work isn't finished; I'm still clay in His hands. And when my desires are contrary to His, the only answer is a surrendered heart. He taught me how.

For through the law I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.
--Galatians 2:19-20


eagleendtime said...

A song "I'm so glad He didn't toss away the clay"
How patient and loving our Father is.

newkiwis said...

It is such a blessing to hear what the Lord has done for you, may He guide you in each overcoming step of the way! I enjoyed 'meeting' you on your blog :) May God bless and keep you, dear sister.

Marie said...

God bless you too, sister! I enjoyed "meeting" you through yours also! May God richly bless you!