Monday, March 13, 2006

I wish Thy I wait on Thee, O Lord.

I wish Thy way,
But when in me myself would rise,
And long for something otherwise,
Then, Holy One, take sword and spear, And slay.

Lord, grant to me a quiet mind,
That trusting Thee--for Thou art kind--
I may go on without a fear,
For Thou, my Lord, art always near.

See in this which seems to stir up
all you most wish were not stirred up--
see in it a chance to die to self in every form.
Accept it as just that--a chance to die.
--Amy Carmichael

I’ve been hearing one line from this poem over and over in my head for the past few days: “I wish thy way…I wish thy way…I wish thy way.” I do. I truly do. Yet…I hate that I even have to put a “yet” or a “but” in there because that small word tends to mean that the thing you just said wasn’t entirely true. And that is entirely the case here. I wish His way, but I am often “clogged with wishes” of my own, as Elisabeth Elliot would say. That has been the fight for the past month…for my entire life, really…but most intensely, I think for the past month.

In her book, Passion & Purity, Mrs. Elliot quotes Thomas รก Kempis:
What hindereth thee more than thine affections not fully mortified to the will of God?

What indeed?

She goes on to say: There is no getting around the etymology of the word mortify. It comes from the Latin for death. The KJV of Romans 8:13 says we must mortify our members. A modern translation makes it even more direct. “But if by the Spirit you put to death all the base pursuits of the body, then you will live.” What are base pursuits? There is a list in Colossians 3:5: fornication, indecency, lust, foul cravings, and the ruthless greed which is nothing less than idolatry. These are the products of human desire, if human desire is given free rein. The Christian has handed the reins over to his Master. His human desires are brought into line. The desires still exist, are strong, natural, and human, but they are subjugated to the higher power of the Spirit. They are purified and corrected as we live day by day in faith and obedience.

“They are purified and corrected as we live day by day in faith and obedience.” In another section of that same book, she says that learning to subject these natural desires, submit to the purification and correction, and wait quietly on the Lord can be a “slow and painful process.” To that I can only respond with a hearty “AMEN!”

This purification process has not been fun. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. There have been moments of intense grief, fear, shame and, even, a desire to rebel. Moments when my wishes very much threatened to become willings and I was tempted to find fault with the providence of God…with His timing…with His denials. Those were the death pangs…I was dying to self and self didn’t like it one bit. Each time, I wished those things I was seeing “were not stirred up”, but then I came through and could see the good…the wonderful, even…of the stirring, the sifting, the purifying, the dying.

We are called to die daily and to look on each “chance to die” as a gift which will produce in us something that is far better, far lovelier than anything we could hope for in the natural…Christ-likeness. In a chapter called “Little Deaths”, also in Passion & Purity, Elisabeth encourages her readers in the throes of mortification with this thought…”We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead….We die in order to live.” I can’t read that without thinking of something the Lord dropped in my heart last week … “It’s not the end, this is the beginning.”

Sometimes the Lord ends things that need to be ended…but I truly believe that always…ALWAYS He intends that ending to usher us into something new, better, more wonderful than we imagined the other thing to be. I have many testimonies in my own life which can attest to this truth. So why do I struggle? Why do I still resist and try to hang on to even the idea of a something which may turn out to be a nothing? Why do I doubt, fear, worry…why do I automatically go to that mode rather than the “God is faithful and kind” mode?


Because God allows it.

He does.

He knows I…He knows each of us … NEED the struggle. We need the little deaths. We need the time to test our trust in God. We need delays to reveal what is truly in our hearts. We need to see our weakness and imperfections and unfaithful hearts to then see and appreciate and respond to His perfect strength and faithfulness.

We need to first be humbled to receive what He has for us with willing hearts.

Sad? Yes. But true.

He knows my frame and knows how I am made. He knows that I am but dust…that nothing good dwells in me (save Christ). Even my sighing is not hidden from Him. And He knows that it is only through struggle and those little deaths that I can be made pliant enough to submit to His will.

I wish Thy way,

But when in me myself would rise,
And long for something otherwise,
Then, Holy One, take sword and spear,And slay.

And teach me to wait only for Thy perfect, holy and sovereign will
Teach me to wait patiently, quietly, full of hope in your goodness alone
Not my way...Not in the fulfillment of my plan...Not in the deliverance of a cherished dream...but in You, my Maker, my Savior.

1 comment:

  1. "We need the time to test our trust in God. We need delays to reveal what is truly in our hearts."

    Amen! I can't remember where I read this but I wrote it down so that I would never forget it: "Waiting exposes what is REALLY in the heart." It is so true, isn't it?