Kicked in the Teeth: Questions of Accountability & Resignation

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Faith/Christianity

The past couple of blog posts have been about why I decided it would be a good thing to slow down my pace of life, and position myself to hear from God.  Today I wanna share about what I came away with from my half-day intentional prayer/silence retreat with the Lord.  Every once-in-a-while you get those moments where you feel like you got kicked in the teeth.  You know what I’m talking about…news of a certain event, family member, friend…a conversation or confrontation you didn’t see coming…a revelation about yourself (whether self-imposed, or from an ‘outside’ source). 

Well that’s kinda how I felt after spending roughly 6 hours allowing the Lord to peel away the layers of my heart, character and spirit.  I’m not complaining though…it was a good teeth-kickin experience…the kind that awakens your soul to the things stirring within, and reminds you that there’s a little work to be done.  I had mentioned in an earlier post that I had a few ‘agenda’ items I wanted to bring to the Lord during this retreat, but in the end it was God who wanted to speak to me.  The past few months have been a dust storm, beginning with coming to terms that my tenure as high school pastor @ Northview Church was coming to a close.  Although I came to agree with certain aspects of the decision process, it was a decision I did not come to on my own.  It was a humbling journey, with lots of questions along the way…from myself and Amy…our friends & family…students, parents and leadership from the high school ministry…but in the end we trust the sovereignty of the Lord and His ability to make sense of things in His timing. 

What this journey has allowed for  is plenty of extra time with my family to re-prioritize my role as husband, father and spiritual leader of my family.  It’s also allowed me to sit under the ministry of Holy Spirit and not only ask questions, but to listen.  Here are some of the questions He asked of me…some of which kinda stung a bit…like a gentle kick on the teeth.  The good thing about being kicked in the teeth by the Lord, is that he won’t leave you to deal with the dental mess on your own…and He’s more gentle than the dentist!

2 Initial Questions  

I came away with two initial questions, similar to the ones the apostle Paul asked of the Lord on his Damascus road experienceWho are you Lord?…and secondly, What shall I do?  The first one is not one of ignorance of His existence, nor was it because I didn’t already have an on-going, personal relationship with Him.  It was more of just wanting to know Him more deeply, more personally, and more intimately.  The second question had to deal with the what next? in the journey for us as a family…but also for myself and what the Lord wants to speak over and reveal to me.  It was about exposing myself to the word of God, and coming into deeper contact with Him…and not just being satisfied with that one encounter, but letting it soak in to bring change, life and renewal.

Questions of Accountability

The next set of questions I came away with were a little more ‘probing’, and cut to the heart.  I gleaned them out of the little reflections booklet in the cabin @ Cedar Springs, but there was no author to cite, so here they are;

  • How much of my life puts God’s Kingdom as first priority? (Matt. 6:33)
  • How are my past and present life experiences informing and forming my faith?
  • What do I spend much time thinking about?
  • At what points am I concerned about achieving, doing, becoming?
  • What does my practice of praise and thanksgiving suggest about what I truly believe?
  • Am I pretending to be an expert, where I’m only an amateur?
  • Can I allow an unfavourable comment about myself to stand, without any need to straighten out the matter?
  • In recounting events, do I ever shift the story ever-so-slightly to make me appear in a more favourable light?
  • Must I always make excuses for my behaviour?
  • Am I able to accept compliments without feeling the need to shrug them off in self-conscious modesty?

Yeah…I told you these questions were deep and probing!  Like a much needed kick in the teeth, they were designed to challenge and confront the tyranny of conflict we have within ourselves, others and life/things…and I think, after good reflection, they did just that!  So I did what the great German Christian, theologian and ‘Father of PietismPhilipp Jakob Spencer suggested…I decided it was time for me to resign.  Not from a title, position or vocation, but to resign from myself, and fully surrender all that I am to God.  Spencer wrote that resignation is “Giving ourselves over to the divine will so that we desire nothing other than what will come to us, will be pleasing to the Lord. This we pray in the third petition: Thy will be done.”

In order for this to really take effect, a true resignation to God will cause us to deny our own will and flesh, and deny our fleshly need for power and honor/pleasure. Ultimately it is incumbent on our submission to God’s will and His sovereignty over all things.  By doing this, it allows us to get away from the trap of the why? questions of life…”why did this happen God?…”why are You allowing this to occur Lord?”, and we can focus on the “so what?” questions…”so what would You want to reveal to/in me Lord?…”so how can I honor You through this season, pain and storm?”  I can assure you that when you resign yourself to God, and away from yourself, the questions you’ll confront won’t be easy ones…in fact the ones we ask of ourselves are often the toughest ones.  But I can assure you that even though there won’t generally be easy answers, God will reveal real answers…of life, faith, character, humility, peace, hope, future…and that there is a sovereign God in control of everything, who has our ultimate and best interest in His mind (see Ps. 24, especially vs. 5-6 as the reward for those who resign themselves to seeking God first!). 

So why not position yourself for a little teeth-kicking…it might hurt a little at first, but the end result is worth the initial pain for a much brighter smile!      

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