Earlier this week, I was treated to a massage. And wow, was it a treat!
This mama carries alllll of the tension and stress in her neck and shoulders. And you know, lately I've noticed myself holding more and more tension in other areas of my body. Maybe you can relate? There's just been so much going on!
So I was lying down, enjoying an hour to myself to relax.. and I was even praising God for this gift of rest and restoration.. when my sweet masseuse interrupted my closed-eye prayers of thanksgiving, saying expectantly, "Relax!"
I opened my eyes, thinking to myself, "What? I was relaxing!"
She was holding one of my arms up, which I now realized was not in fact relaxed. In fact, it was quite tense; almost just paralyzed midair.
I made a conscious effort to relax and it made maybe a little progress. Not enough, apparently, since this patient servant-woman chided me again:
"Relax. Deep breath in: now let it out.
Let me do all of the work."
I really did try, you guys. I tried my best to breathe deeply and pray and periodically loosen up my wound-tight muscles for the rest of our time together. And she did some serious work on my shoulders, with orders to come back in 3 weeks to continue working out the knots. But days later, I'm still thinking about this. I'm thinking that my ever tense muscles may be a symptom of a deeper need of release.
Release; to set free.
Why, in this instance, does release feel like loss?
I consider myself to be pretty laid back and flexible. If I'm being totally honest, I generally feel like surrender is an easy thing to do. Okay, it's hard, yes, but I mean, how faithful is the Lord? How trustworthy and mighty and able is He? Isn't He sovereign? To yield to the Lord God Almighty is altogether better than anything I could conceive or produce in and of myself!
And yet I seem to find myself unable to release control.
In the days after the massage revelation, my eyes were opened to instances of my desire for control:
After my blunders of becoming so overwhelmed and overcome by fear and then in turn attempting to regain control of these situations myself, God so graciously intervened and:
In all of these instances, I essentially, perhaps unknowingly(?), took in these circumstances surrounding me, decided that things were not as they should be and then declared that I could fix them.
(Okay, quick note: I just google searched for a synonym for 'to take in' and wound up with a definition for 'to take-in': an act of taking in especially by deceiving. Oof)
I don't want to be deceived into thinking that all around me is my burden alone to carry.
I don't want to be deceived into thinking that surrender of control is loss.
Could it be instead that a surrender of control.. even a surrender so deep and transforming that it initially feels like a great loss.. could actually be a great gain? That it could be a beautiful expansion of faith; of obedience; of the Holy Spirit's work in and around us- for the Kingdom?
The story of the bleeding woman has been on my heart for a couple of weeks now.
This woman, come to the end of herself. This woman, who tried it all, gave it all, year after year after year. This woman, desperate for healing.
This woman, risking the loss of the little she had left. Risking all she had left, risking defiling and contaminating the crowd she slipped into as she was considered unclean- this woman raced toward great loss in the eyes of the world. In Jesus' eyes, however, this woman He turned to find, having gone through with her decision to simply touch the hem of His cloak; well, this woman and her actions and desperation for just a touch signified great gain in His Kingdom.
This woman, once avoided- now sought out.
This woman, once outcast- called Daughter.
This woman, instead of being chastised and cast out- praised for her faith.
This woman, once suffering with no end and no relief in sight- made well.
Her loss made room for an expansion only possible with Christ Jesus.
Please hear my heart on this- I am well aware of the stark difference between this story of a massage and this story of the bleeding woman.
I just pray that we see any thing that the Lord may be calling and convicting us to lay down, no matter how difficult and no matter the cost, as worth the surrender and the sacrifice in order to have more of Him.
My soul cries out, "Have it all, King Jesus; I only want more of You!"
Oftentimes my flesh cries out in protest louder. My aching shoulders are a testament to that.
But I'm more sure now than ever that if I'm willing to lose this battle for control over:
to be comfortable, liked, accepted;
to be in control when all seems out of control
If I'm willing to die to these things, I know I will gain Jesus in ways I can only begin to dream of.
If there's anything I know about Jesus, it's that anytime we come to Him in humility and in faith, He doesn't just give us what we came for. He doesn't just give us what we asked Him for. He doesn't just let us slip under the radar, daring only for a touch of His outer garments.
He turns to us, looks us in the face even, and gives us every bit of Him we didn't even realize we needed.
More than healing, more than any unfathomably good gift He could give us.
Yes, more than anything, we get more of Jesus than we could have anticipated.
We get more of the Father.
We get more of the Holy Spirit.
That expansion of Heaven on Earth alone is worth anything we could lose.
Lord, let us in faith now lay what feels like loss to surrender, our idols, at Your feet. And Lord, let us continue to walk in that surrender, not picking these idols back up, moment by moment, day by day. And Lord, let Your presence in our lives expand exponentially in the place of these counterfeits. Amen.
WRITTEN BY: Olivia Caldwell
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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