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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Suffering and Submission

 I have struggled all my married life with the word "submission". I think some of it comes from wrong teaching on the biblical meaning of submission, but mostly from a strongly independent spirit which is definitely not biblical. And I have struggled with suffering; it is not something I want or like to do. Yet in I Peter 2  we are told that we are called to both these things! 

1Pe 2:21 NIV  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Jesus is my example.  He always submitted to the Father and the Father's will, and the Father's will was for Jesus to suffer greatly for me and I should follow in His steps.  So what does this submission and suffering look like?  

1Pe 2:22-23 NIV "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

It means not lying, not pretending.  I have to be myself, open and honest before people no matter how they might react.  I cannot speak deceitfully, covering up my true feelings out of fear or rejection or judgement.  If I get insulted, I must not retaliate.  If I suffer, I cannot make threats of getting even.  Why?  Because I must entrust myself to God, the One who judges justly.  I need to start seeing myself as "hid in Christ".  I need to believe that I am accepted, chosen, and dearly loved by my Father and that nothing--absolutely nothing can separate from His perfect love.  This is something I am just learning.  I have hid myself all my life.  I feared being rejected by someone's words so I was careful to say what they wanted to hear.  I tried to become the person they would accept instead of being who God made me to be.  I even tried to be who I thought God would accept, not realizing that He had already accepted me as a hopeless sinner, yet in His love He saved me and gave me a new life.  I don't have to live life as that hopeless sinner, trying to please God and others, fearing rejection and disapproval.  God has literally given me a new heart to love Him and others. He has made me alive to Him.  He has given me His Spirit inside my very body so I have power to live this new life.  

Coming to Christ as a child, I always thought the Gospel was admitting I was a sinner and accepting the free gift of eternal life so I could go to heaven.  That was it; the four spiritual laws.  God loves me, I'm a sinner, Christ died for me, I need to accept Jesus as my Savior. But if I didn't really believe others loved me unconditionally, how could I believe God loves me unconditionally?  Oh, He loved me like He loves the whole world and so sent His Son to save me.  But now I need to please Him by being obedient and loving and kind and finding His perfect will for my life.  You know, find God's plan A so I don't have to settle for plan B.

So surely submitting to that kind of God would be difficult.  I never doubted my salvation and I knew He loved me, I just never realized how much.  I kept part of myself from Him.  I had to work, to perform to keep Him loving me.  And I had to perform to keep others loving me which often leads to resentment because they don't always recognize my "work" and may at times even criticize what I do.  I have to stop trusting in myself and my ways because I am deceiving myself if I think that will get me anywhere.

Job 15:31 NIV Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.

I must trust God, who does love me unconditionally with His unfailing love!

Psa 13:5 NIV But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

There are not enough words to declare all that God has done for me or all that Jesus did for me on the cross alone.  He bore my sins so I might die to sins and live for righteousness.  By His wounds I am healed.  It was costly.  He paid the price and I receive all the blessings. Before I was a sheep going astray but now I am returning to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.  I can trust the perfect Shepherd; I shall not want.  

As a wife I am called to submit to my husband.  How do I do that?  By submitting myself to my own husband.  I give him myself.  I trust him with "me", with my feelings, my dreams, my likes, my thoughts, my body.  I've already submitted my whole self to Father God and He asks me to now submit my whole self to my husband.  This isn't about "obeying" my husbands every command.  Certainly I don't go out and disobey what he desires or expects, but that is not what submission is.  The one I obey is God and He has placed my husband in authority over me.  So if there is a difference of opinion and a decision needs to be made, I can defer to my husband.  But trusting my husband with my very self means I share all my opinions and thoughts with him.  Yes, it takes sacrifice.  It takes faith in God that His ways are good and perfect.  God says that the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" is of great worth in His sight.  Do I believe that?  What is the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit?
A woman who wants her own way and makes sure she gets it.  A woman who rides roughshod over her husbands feelings and needs to make sure her own get met.  A woman who loudly proclaims her own opinions and ideas and doesn't give her husband time to talk. And a thousand other little ways she can be quick to demean, disrespect, question, criticize, judge, ridicule, and persist in her own ways.

Oh Father, forgive me for how often I have withheld myself from my husband.  Hid my face in a book, not been willing to share my feelings with him, worn myself out doing other things in a day so there's no time or energy left for him.  I may have submitted to him on the outside but inside I was withholding my very self from him.  I may have accepted his authority over me, but never gave him the gift of who I really am.  I repent of hiding, of being "unsubmissive" is this deeper way.  I renounce the lies of the enemy that I am protecting myself by keeping things back.  I renounce all the power of the enemy in my marriage by my ungodly belief of submission and break the "curse of submission" that was handed down to me. I renounce all the sin of my ancestors in not submitting to their husbands in a truly godly way.  I release this sin to the cross and die to this sin in my life and I will now choose to live for righteousness.  I will truly submit to my husband more and more every day.  I will choose to share my very self with him, not in some romantic, idealistic way, but in godly way, with the gentle and quiet spirit of my inner self.  I choose to do this because You say it is right and I will not give way to fear. The enemy will tempt me to fear, but I do not have to give way to it. 

 1Jo 4:18 NIV There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Our love can be made perfect in You, without fear.  I can know and rely on the love You have for me.  You will not punish me; for Jesus brought me peace by taking my punishment and I am healed by His wounds, healed from the very wounds of sin. I receive Your forgiveness for this sin in my life and I forgive myself for not trusting You.  I repent of holding and hiding myself from You, Father.  For not truly putting my all on the altar, for not being the living sacrifice that you ask, that you beg me to be in light of your great mercies.  I renounce the lies of the enemy that You are not safe, that You do not love me unconditionally, that I must please You somehow in order to deserve and receive Your love.  I renounce all the power of the enemy in my life because I held myself back from You. I tear down the stronghold of "protection" and of "hiding in myself".  I renounce all the sins of my ancestors in believing in these strongholds, of hiding themselves from You and thinking they were protecting themselves.  I renounce the stronghold of resisting the Holy Spirit and being "safe" and I renounce the sins of my ancestors in resisting Your Holy Spirit.  I yield myself totally to you, Jesus.  I offer myself up as a living sacrifice.  I release all these sins to the cross where the shed blood of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior cleanses me from all my sin.  I receive Your forgiveness and I receive Your total love and acceptance of me just as I am.  I forgive myself for withholding myself from You and from my husband.  I receive the life of Christ, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the unfailing love of Abba, my daddy.  I receive the freedom to be myself, the person You created me to be, the real authentic Debbie.  Alive to God!  I surrender my whole self, my body, my dreams, my desires, my plans, my life to my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  My all truly is on the altar of His love.  

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