Time and again God had been speaking to Francis that He wanted him to be a preacher. But he created all sorts of excuses. He thought, “Why can’t I be a successful businessman and then donate generously to missions?”
As a boy, Francis knew what it was like to be hungry. Often he would fight with his sister for food or cry himself to sleep without dinner. His father drew a meagre pay as a supervisor in an estate. He wished Francis would one day become a lawyer or doctor and not have to suffer the same fate as him.
Once, Francis was punished by his dad when he got almost impeccable results—A’s for all 8 subjects except for a B in English. He was made to stand at the corner for one hour with a pile of books precariously balanced on his head.
We can understand why Francis finds it difficult to relinquish control of his life despite hearing God’s call. His impoverished background and the strict, disciplinarian upbringing of his father were barriers he had to overcome before he could give himself fully to God.
Rick Warren believes that “there are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion.”
Like Francis, it is easy to give up certain areas in our lives but hold back others because control is one area we wrestle with God.
According to A. W. Tozer: “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders and interfering with God’s work within us.”
Surrender is never meant to be easy. But Jesus shows us by example what it means to give up our rights.
Christmas is about Jesus who came down to earth 2000 years ago to die for man’s sins. Jesus is God but He stooped low to take the form of man. Furthermore, He willingly subjected Himself to flogging, and the humiliation and excruciating pain of being hung on the cross.
In so doing, He opened up the way for man to be forgiven and be reconciled with God. Now those who believe in His sacrificial death on the cross can enter into a personal relationship with God. Mission accomplished. To Jesus, this is what gives Him the greatest joy and fulfillment. Never mind the agony and shame (Hebrews 12:2).
This Christmas, we need to rediscover that the greatest joy comes when we yield ourselves to God. If we are believers, it means acknowledging that His will is best for our lives. Seemingly endless “mental chatter” (what if … am I making the right decision?) counsels us as to why we should retain some control over our lives. But true joy comes when we learn to let go. Trust and obey.
Putting our confidence in God will bring greater joy than ever before to our lives. It may not always be comfortable or convenient; neither does it promise to bring material blessing. The reward is maturity and character coupled with the promise of His peace, presence, protection and provision.
Eventually, Francis gave up his struggle with God and went on to become a preacher; God confirmed his decision with blessings the world will never know.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
Tinsel and jingles remind us of the season’s joy. But true joy starts from within—when we learn to let go.
As the lyrics of “Christmas isn’t Christmas” tell us:
Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts
So give your heart to Jesus,
you’ll discover when you do
That it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you.
Can joy come out of giving? Wouldn’t it be better to be on the receiving end instead? A jobless man desperately wanted to buy a present for his son. All the children in the neighborhood had presents for Christmas. He could almost imagine his boy squealing with delight upon unwrapping the present
Who wants to have a burden when we can have blessing? But how about a burden which brings joy?
Discomfort awaits the faithful. To bring out the best in us, God may lead us to places where we get stretched like a rubber band.
When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles.
HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE
ABOUT Author: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (December 2008 – October 2011). He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul
For a quick overview: http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp
For the source article, go to: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2013/12/the-joy-of-christmas.html
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