Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

The lesson of the seed had not been fully learned. There must be relinquishment. There is no way around it. The seed does not "know" what will happen. It only knows what is happening - the falling, the darkness, the dying. "The first step into the realm of giving is not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning..." We who have been given an intelligence and a will and a whole range of wants that can be set against the divine Pattern for Good are asked to believe Him. We are given the chance to trust Him when He says to us, "...If any man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self."

When we will find it?
we ask. The answer is, Trust Me.
How will we find it? The answer again is, Trust Me.
Why must I let myself be lost? we persist. The answer is, Look at the acorn and trust Me.
~ Elisabeth Elliot, quoting Lillias Trotter in Passion & Purity

I was sitting in front of my washer and dryer thinking about this. The whole concept of losing self is one I've fought tooth and nail, in many ways and for many years. The manifestations of my struggle range from silent disobedience of spirit as a child to absenteeism at work to avoid control from my employer, to anger with my children for their constant needs and discouragement regarding the flaws in my housekeeping. Fainting two to four times a day is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Here I was, sitting on the floor to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer because bending over at the waist would drop my blood pressure enough that I would probably go over like a tree. Once again, I was confronted with my usual conundrum: sorrows and losses are all wrapped up in a whole bunch of blessings, which makes it hard to rail against my circumstances. If I go deep enough to ponder any of the losses that fill my days of late, I find them wrapped like Christmas presents in love and tenderness. The washer and dryer, for instance: without them, I'd be washing by hand, bent over a scrub board with a brush for one entire day of each week. I'd be on tiptoe hanging them to dry, repeatedly bending over to reach into the basket. Load after tedious load. Think I could do it? I sure don't! My kids would look like little piglets by now! How can I, therefore, curse God for letting me sit on the floor to transfer my clothes from my bells-and-whistles front loading washing machine into the $50 miracle dryer He provided in December??

William Wilberforce, the lawyer chiefly responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in Brittain, writes in Real Christianity:
Measure your progress by your experience of the love of God and its exercise before men...
In contrast, servile, base, and mercenary is the notion of Christian practice among the bulk of nominal Christians. They give no more than they dare not withhold. They abstain from nothing but what they dare not practice. In short, they know Christianity only as a system of restraints. It is robbed of every liberal and generous principle. It is rendered almost unfit for social relationships of life, and only suited to the gloomy walls of a cloister, where they would confine it. But true Christians consider themselves as not satisfying some rigorous creditor, but as discharging a debt of gratitude. Accordingly, theirs is not the stinted return of a constrained obedience, but the large and liberal measure of voluntary service.

I fear that I have just begun to leap from my view of serving Christ as abstinence and nominal self denial. I pray that by giving over my conscious mind, and the tasks of the day that depend on it's function, I die just a bit to self so that He may live ever more fully in me.

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
~ John Newton, Amazing Grace*, stanzas 3-6

*Take a moment to watch the video linked above. Al Green is one of my favorite performers of all time!