Does real change begin with God, or with us? [Sharing an edited re-post.]
Image courtesy of: EugenePaulFumagalli
True lasting change begins with God's initiative and our response to His movement in us or toward us.
We see this in Mary's open and generous response to God's invitation to bear the Messiah.
And what was God's method of choice for this transformation?
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35 NASB
Before I went to bed, I opened up Watch For The Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas and it "happened" to open to this page:
"It was in the surrender of herself to God that Mary became the mother of Christ... And in our own daily lives, in our efforts to do what is right, what is decisive is that we accept and live by and surrender ourselves to a strength which is not our own, to the piercing white light of God's love."
"When we experience this love we turn away from the notion that we initiate and God responds; that we, by our religious efforts, can set something in motion that God must obey in response." (Philip Britts, Dec. 6 Reading)
It does not mean that we do not act. Rather we act in response to the Holy Spirit's inspiration.
If decisive and liberating Good is to be born on this earth, it must, like in Mary, find room in humble surrender.
This does not mean a passive life of inaction. Far from it. The service of God makes the most impossible demands of us, demands which we know our strength cannot carry out, or which our hearts cannot bear.
But our calling is obedience, even to the hardest demands; and we must take them up in the faith that our minds or bodies will be supported by the strength of God. (Philip Britts)
Once she accepted God's calling, Mary worked as she carried, labored to deliver, then cared for baby Jesus.
She nursed him, changed him when he soiled, and taught him basic life skills. She did the unseen labor of love that so many moms perform daily.
What does surrender mean in our daily lives?
It means surrendering to and obeying in whatever God places in front of you, or on your heart to do - as you seek His will through Scripture, listening for His voice, and through wise counsel (if needed).
It may result in doing your best at a job you hate because you are seek to please God and not your unreasonable boss.
It may mean being open to JOY although based on the past, you are afraid to open your heart JOY.
Or maybe, it means showing practical love to a neighbor, friend, stranger, or family member. Bring a meal, or share cookies.
Or maybe you need to change some unhealthy habits.
It may mean choosing forgiveness over bitterness, or gratitude over grumbling.
It will look different for each of us.
I agree with Mr. Britts' statement that "in obeying the small thing that we see, the greater is revealed to us. True surrender never separates itself from carrying out God's will."
What changes do you sense God calling you to be OPEN (my 2012 word) to?
Or is there a "small thing" that you need to obey God in?
P.S. I first wrote this post in January 2012, and now it is 12/19/12. In retrospect, I have been open to several new changes this past year. Another post about all my baby steps, maybe?
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MERRY CHRISTMAS! (Just in case I don't post again before Christmas...)
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Lovely friend, Emily
Copyright Dolly Lee/Soul Stops 2012.