Dear one, set it down.

Hello, reader.  I’m so glad you’re here!  I’m really looking forward to sharing with you what the Lord has laid on my heart to speak.  I have felt challenged to stop dragging my feet in obedience to the Lord, and this little bit of writing has been born out of His prompting to go & speak to the teen girls in my Young Life community.  I am so grateful for listening to the crazy idea, and these words have been burning down deep in my heart&mind for the past few months.

Can I challenge you as well?  Will you listen to one of those ‘crazy’ ideas that may just be a prompting from the Lord?  Even if it makes you uncomfortable?  You may be surprised how much it will be a gift for you in disguise.

 

‘Dear one, set it down.’

Young women, there is so much life in you.  Your futures ahead, so many decisions to make.  A whole world of different possibilities before you!  It can be incredibly exciting; it can be terrifying.  But if you close your eyes, if you quiet your spirit, you can sit down on the steps of your soul & ask the Lord what He thinks. Did you know you can go to Him with anything?

Have you ever tried that before?  To truly shut it all out, the whole world, for a minute or two?  To take the deep breath in, and feel that presence of the Father.  For me, it has changed how I pray to really believe that I’m sitting down with Him, that He is waiting for me, even now.  He whispers to me in the sunshine & flowers in the morning, and He calls softly to me when I feel that life is moving too fast for me to keep up.

Ladies, Can I ask you a question? Do you trust God?  Do you believe that He is good?  Do you believe you can trust Him to be faithful in all His promises?  I want you to know you can.  You can trust Him, because He is good.  The scriptures are full of this truth…

“You are good & do only good; teach me your decrees.”

Psalm 119:68

     If you will stay with me on this point: God is good & you are loved & you can trust Him.  Let us move forward with a second question: what are His decrees? Let’s start with this one:

Have you made a choice about your sexuality?

    It is an important question, because if you don’t make a conscious choice, someone else may help you make a choice.  This world if full of pressure to choose; we call it advertising. We call it marketing; we call it persuasion.  It is all an attempt to sway your choice.  Will you allow me to encourage you in this choice?

     If God is good & we can trust Him, and if you know you are loved by Him, would you ask Him what he would say about this question?  What does the Bible say?  Let me share some scripture.

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your Word.”

Psalm 119:9

“Young people, its wonderful to be you! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember you must give an account to God for everything you do.”

Ecclesiastes 11:9

“God’s will for you in to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.”

I Thessalonians 4:3

     So, when God made the first marriage, He gave Adam&Eve to one another.  This is the only way sexuality is described as good.  The two become one flesh, and it is good.  I went looking for where is said to ‘stay a virgin until marriage’ in the Bible, but I couldn’t find those words.  The Lord gives the guidelines for sexual intimacy to be in marriage, and all other sexuality is described as immorality.

    So now that we know that the Bible says, can we take a brief detour?  I want to speak to all of us about who counts as sinners.  Who in this world, who in this room is blameless?  Who has never ever done anything wrong?  Who has never had lust in their mind, even if you’ve never committed the act?  Can I suggest to all of us here today, that none of us are considered a pure, spotless bride without the redemption of Christ!?

You are not ‘used up’ or less than or defiled.  

You are not ‘used chewing gum’ or ‘and opened gift’.

You are a beautiful child of God.

and we all need Jesus.

    Precious one, we are all sinners, and not one of us is perfect.  Does that mean we don’t try to do what God calls us to do? Not at all!  But it does mean that we, as imperfect people, are all in the same boat.  We should not judge each other by their own temptations, because we are all different.  We all struggle with different things!  Let us encourage one another, as I hope I am doing with you today.  I would like to say this again: if you are an imperfect person, you are not alone.  We all are!  And God redeems us all- no matter how ‘many’ or how ‘few’ our sins!

    So now I’d like to read you a little something.  This is the end of our talk ladies…

“Father, what is sex sin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it.  It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said.  “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to cary such load.  It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children.  When you are older and stronger you can bear it.  For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied-wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions- for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

an excerpt form The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

Can I encourage you to trust your Heavenly Father to carry this load for you?  You can trust Him.  He loves you.  He is a faithful father.  No matter any of the other reasons why or ‘why not’ that we can think of, here is the bottom line: God tells us sex in for marriage.  And inside of those boundaries, it is a true gift.  It can be!

So I leave you with this: Can you put down what you’ve been carrying?  Can you trust God in this area of your life?  Can you choose differently for yourself, because of knowing Jesus?  Dear ones, set down that load.  It is too heavy for you now.  But one day, you will be ready for it, and it won’t be too heavy anymore! It will be a good gift to you!

Let us pray: Lord, hear our hearts’ cry to be close to you.  In your kindness, draw us to repentance for where we all fall short of your holiness.  Teach us how to give each other grace, and teach us how to care for one another’s hearts as we all struggle in this life.  Help us to trust you.  Help us to remind one another of how faithful you have been to us. Help us to remember that you love us, and you don’t give us ‘rules’ to keep us chained up, but to give us good gifts in your timing.  You are a good father to us; help us to see you out. Amen!

((Seem overly simplistic?  Sometimes obedience is just.that.  Taking a command at face value, not trying to figure out a way around it, or above it, or below it.  We shouldn’t be reading the Bible as  story about us; it is all about God & what He has done for us.  How we respond to what He has done is up to us!))

‘Walking on Water’ by Madeleine L’Engle

Y’all. This book has spoken to me on a deep level. I kid you not, I am dumbfounded. I stumbled upon it without ever having heard of it, and I am so grateful. I will try to express some of what the Lord has been washing over my soul as I’ve been reading!

1. Walking on Water

I didn’t think much of the title of this book to begin with, but as I got deeper in, I began to see the intensity of this concept.  The impossible, for us, can be possible with God, if we believe. If we can stop trying to do it ourselves. Do we want to walk on the water? Would I come if He called me to? Or would fear prevent my obedience.

I personally resonate so deeply with her ‘soul talk’, and it has refreshed me all the way through.

2. Feed the Lake

I have been blogging, for my own personal outpouring of my heart&soul, for 8 years now. I have never considered my being a ‘writer’ but rather that writing has been a method of the Lord’s healing work & guidance in my life. I have felt this, the ‘get out of the way’ idea L’Engle discusses- that as I enter into the work, it takes shapes & forms I had never envisioned. I am encouraged that even as a ‘trickle’, I can feed the lake of writing. I can contribute; I am not insignificant, but rather the smallness is still my contribution. I adore this concept, as it has served to spur me on. One step of obedience at a time!

In short, this is now one of my favorite books. I absolutely love it & have given it to my mother. I would have bought it for my sisters, but my mom loved it so much, she beat me to it. It’s an incredible book of encouragement for any creative person, and it emphasized to me how Christ is at the center of all art, no matter how it is classified. This eliminates the necessity to ‘manufacture’ His presence. I feel that way about all of my life; He is woven in, everywhere. If I get out of the way, I can see it.

To close, go buy this book. It’s phenomenal.

I received this book in exchange for my unbiased review for Blogging for Books!

Thank you for reading,

gabrielle

‘Love, Henri’ by Henri Nouwen

imageLooking for a slow, savory read? The you should check out Love, Henri by Henri Nouwen. It’s a collection of letters he sent over his lifetime, and I found reading a few at a time was the perfect short mental break during the day.

The most beautiful aspect of this book is Nouwen’s immediate vulnerability with his corespondent, both close friends & strangers alike. He is able to jump to the spiritual struggle beneath the surface problems, and in doing so, he invites us al to take the same approach. Can I step outside my surface problems & see how the Lord is at work in my heart? Will I submit myself to His guidance as well?

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to get to know Nouwen, for anyone who wants to see how living life can be done with constant refelection to God, or for anyone struggling in life looking for encouragement. I can nearly guarantee that this book will hold encouragement for your heart, even if it comes in a letter your didn’t expect.

Check it out! Here.

I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review. Thanks Blogging for Books!

gabrielle prose

Look.for.Christ

“Nothing that you have not given away will ever really be yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for your-self, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Look.for.Christ

wow. Nothing I try to save will be. Nothing I set to the side to be protected will be. Nothing I withhold can be. Nothing that has not died can be raised from the dead.

I see it. The evidence around me that confirms the that those who look for self only find bad things. What a terrible list, yet we see it present in our daily lives: hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin & decay. How easy to look at my neighbor and see these things present, and yet how hard to see them as they hide in my self.

Such despair on our own. Stuck in the old self. Why do we want to save it to badly? Why can’t we give it up easily when it only brings us the bad? Can’t we see clearly in the reflection of the mirror, even for a moment?

But Christ… Look for Him & you will find Him. You will find Him. No more aimless searching- He promises us He will be found. We can have confidence that He is like the father of the prodigal son, running to meet us as we start down the road home.

and with finding Him? All the rest, everything else thrown in. It becomes less valuable to us because Christ is the true treasure, but it is all thrown in nonetheless. The new self, practically a consolation prize next to Jesus, yet glorious in&of itself. He throws it in. We won’t even worry about self anymore, yet it will be everything we’ve ever dreamed & hoped for.

Are you looking for Christ?

blessings,

gabrielle prose

Thank you so much for talking this journey with me about what it means to give up self. I had been so encouraged & challenged through it, and I pray you have as well!

check out the whole #write31Days series by hopping over to the home page!

image

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

keep.nothing.back

Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep nothing back.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Keep.nothing.back

The upside down kindgom of Heaven. Give up self to find the real one. Lose life to save it. Submit to death & eternal life will be found. Who among us can truly fathom these mysteries of Heaven? Oh but we can do our best to understand. We can put our nose to the ground and follow the trail as best we can. We can’t give up without getting this- the whole of Christianity is found in here.

The call: keep nothing back. Give it all- throw it all away, blindly. Don’t think that only the bad stuff is what God wants. He wants it all. The whole tooth has to come out. The whole tree has to come down. The field has to be plowed up & re-sown. You can’t make it easier by only giving up half- it is hard to give up all. But easier than living divided between two masters.

Give up self. Submit. Submit with every fiber of your being. All of it. Keep nothing back.

Blessings,

gabrielle prose

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

Plowed.up&re-sown

“If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

plowed.up.and.re-sown

It’s too hard. It’s impossible for us to remain ourselves & at the same time be ‘good’ enough. Our self is at war with the life He calls us too- our selfish desires fight us at every turn!

I like being good. I always have- I’m a rule-follower, goody-two-shoes. I struggle with pride in my ‘goodness’. Yet, I am fooled by my own ‘goodness’. It is still grass seeds growing up instead of wheat.

I need Jesus. He has to plow the field of my heart & sow the wheat seeds. I can only cut the grass & try to keep it at bay. Amazing.

As much as I am intimidated as I try to ‘die to self’, this is another analogy that I totally get. It’s too hard to be half & half. It accomplishes nothing- it’s a battle never won until you commit to one side or the other.

It’s easier to turn your whole self over- than to fight constantly with your self for who is in control. The struggle is exhausting. Christianity is both easier & harder. It’s hard to give up your whole self, but it’s easier than trying to keep a piece of it.

He change must go deeper than the surface.  I cannot rely on being good. It has to be below the surface to be real. The field has to be plowed up & re-sown.

will you let Him plow up the field of your heart today? He will replant it, and instead of growing grass, you can produce wheat. He makes something so much more valuable out of us than what we are.

Blessings,

gabrielle prose

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

whole.tree.down

“I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

whole.tree.down

I do struggle with the idea of losing my natural self. It doesn’t seem that bad, right? But when you look at it as an ‘all or nothing’ idea, it makes more sense. It isn’t out of any dislike that we are called to give up self, but out of love.

The whole tree has to come down. It’s not in need of pruning, it’s in need of removal.

I think at many points in my life I have felt the Lord ‘pruning’ me. But is it just a step in the path of my death to self?

I appreciate the image of this analogy. It’s easy for me to understand (in the same way as the rotten tooth). We had a beautiful tree in our front yard that just split down the middle and fell over one evening. It had rotted from a hole in the center of the tree, and we couldn’t even see that it was rotting away right before our eyes. We were lucky it didn’t fall on our house.

But what did we do with the half a tree left in the yard? Had it taken down. It posed a huge theat to our house, and it had become too heavy on one side after the loss of one half. It became unstable.

Where does that leave us? In need of being brave. To step out in faith so that we can take the whole tree down. It needs to go. It’s rotten deep down in places we can’t see. We can be brave. We can trust. The whole tree needs to come down.

blessings,

gabrielle prose

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

a.living.Man

“It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianty

A.living.man

Christ is a man, and if I’m honest I don’t think of Him as one. I think if Him as God, but just looks like us in body. It is too far beyond my own brain how or what he was before becoming man, or how the duality comtinues. So when I picture Him, I think of my God, who happens to look like a man.

But if I’m still more honest, I think I see Him more in light in the trees & the beauty that surrounds me than I’ve ever felt His presence as a man sitting next to me. I’ve felt the comfort of Him, the peace of Him, the overwhelming beauty of Him which is the true beauty behind all I see as breathtaking. But I don’t often think of Him as a person, in the room, with whom I reside.

Why?

Why does Lewis say he’s at my side? Why does he describe Jesus in this way- so intimately close. Killing my old self, and giving me His self instead.

Why do my feelings of uneasiness rise? Because the Spirit of the Lord is my comfort, but I don’t know how to react to the real, living Jesus in the room with me?

I have only pictures being in the room with Jesus in Heaven, when He is lifted up as the lamb worthy. When I am in the crowd and just see Him at a distance.  I who am unworthy, who lay any crown I could possibly have at His feet.

He, here with me?!? I become so undone. Jesus the living man, here with me? Jesus, Son of God.

As much as I’m disturbed by the idea that my self has to be killed, I’m honestly more amazed that Jesus, a living man, is here with me. If Jesus is here with me?? He can have anything, everything. I cannot move past the doorstep on this one.

Blessings,

gabrielle prose

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

at.your.side

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to “inject” His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you…”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

at.your.side

We are not alone. He, the real Son of God, is here. By my side. He is with me.

He is doing the work, making my like Himself. Transforming me, redeeming me. He is present. Giving me his Zoe, the eternal life. I am passing from death to life; I am being made new.

What comfort to have Jesus at my side. Much of our days we feel so alone- the deception of the enemy. We feel the weight of our sin, crushing us beneath. The defeat of the enemy. Jesus, but Jesus is at my side. I am not alone. I am not crushed. He is with me.

On this morning when my brain still feels asleep- when my dishes sit undone & my sons’ laundry needs folded & my body needs a shower. I feel stuck in all the undone, waiting for the coffee & sunshine to awaken my spirit to become the cheerful servant. He is at my side.

The real, living true Son of God. At my side. Because He loves me.

Lord, thank you. For being with me. For your presence. How can I forget that you’re there? Help me remember. Amen.

Blessings,

gabrielle prose

31 Days: Giving.up.Self

have.it.out

“I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked- the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

have.it.out

What’s so bad about the natural self? Isn’t the work of sanctification upon my sinful self? Why must the self die?

Because it’s rotten the whole way through.

The whole thing must come out. Have it out! You cannot renovate it, it must be done. Why do we want to try limping along with our mamed self, when He will give us Himself?

Lewis says many of us live our lives with all the ‘bad’ stuff sorted out, but we still keep the rest. We live divided between satisfying self and living in Christ. We imagine we’ve given over all we need to, but we still don’t give it all.

How do we? How can we stop being part time followers?

I’m the poster child. I live some days in service to Christ & some in service to myself. I forget the daily picking up if the cross, and my self is left in charge by forfeit. I forget. My eyes lose their focus on Christ & start swimming with all that swirls around me.

So why does the self have to die? Why not just mere improvement? Because we miss the opportunity, the grace being given. The transformation is part of the mystery, the wonder of what Christ could do, is doing, will do. The familiar is known, and the future unknown. But our God is good, and we can trust Him. More than that, He becomes us, come beloved! We can rest.

Blessings,

gabrielle prose

 31 Days: Giving.up.Self