Take What I Cannot Give

Journal entry, December 5, 2017

This is a follow-up post to The Farmer and His Seeds.

Two years ago, my husband and I sold most of our belongings and moved across the country to live a life more simply and more intentional. For me, it was a spiritual journey of emptying myself of things that kept me from growing closer and having a deeper relationship with my God. I purged the things that gave me comfort, and the things that I felt made me who I worked so hard to become, and things that defined me.

Feeling not quite sure of who I really was anymore and with nothing else to cling onto besides this God, whom I trusted my husband to lead, arrived to this open slate.

Well we're here. We're doing it. What happens after you've given up your possessions and started to follow Christ? What next? This was a question my husband and I kept asking ourselves the first year after arriving to our new home. We seemed to be wallowing around in shallow waters after the high thrill and adrenaline rush of embarking on our new adventure. Life was slow and we were not accustomed to living a life so unplanned and unstructured. I wrote more about this in my journal entry titled Learning to Love.

I am not so satisfied with "that's it". I am not so satisfied with wallowing around in shallow waters. I am beginning to think maybe I haven't given my all? This isn't the end.

I read the most beautiful book and was convicted of these words that I read,
He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are. And if you shrink from what is involved in such a surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as fully as He has given to you.
Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Take what I cannot give - my heart, body, thoughts, time, abilities, money, health, strength, nights, days, youth, age - and spend them in Thy service, O my crucified master, redeemer, God. Oh, let not these be mere words!

- Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Just when I thought I had surrendered every material possession I owned that made me conceited, that made me proud of my own achievements, just when I thought I had nothing else, I realized that I was not fully undone. What is it that I was shrinking away from? My layers are thick and come off stubbornly. I have not given freely the things I so selfishly hold onto that I claim are mine, the things unseen.

While reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot, I came across this prayer she shared;

Oh mighty God, we bless and praise thee that have wakened to the light of another earthly day; and now we will think of what a day should be.

Our days are thine, let them be spent for thee. Our days are a few, let them be spent with care. There are dark days behind us, forgive their sinfulness; there may be dark days before us, strengthen us for their trials. We pray thee to shine on this day - the day which we may call our own.

Lord, we go to our daily work help us to take pleasure therein. Show us clearly what our duty is; help us to be faithful in doing it. Let all we do be well done, fit for thine Eye to see. Give us strength to do, patience to bear; let our courage never fail. When we cannot love our work, let us think of it as Thy task and by our true love to thee, make unlovely things shine in the light of thy great love. Amen.-George Dawson

Learning to surrender my thoughts and my time on these earthly days, that are only given to me to be used for doing His work, is going to be a whole new daring adventure. I'm not sure what it's going to look like quite yet but I am determined to see it for myself.

So in answer to our question, no, we have not arrived. No, this is not it. We have not given it all away. We will never be fully emptied of ourselves. There's is always more work to be done. And I will think of it as my true love's task. The job of making unlovely things shine because of God's great love.

Welcome 2018.