Let's take a moment to rewind to the start of 2011 where I chose to be a part of the One Word 2011 movement. As you may recall, I chose the word "YIELD" to represent my intentions for this year. I admit that this was a huge undertaking on my part, because submission is foreign to my very nature. Heck, it's foreign to human nature!
But me... I am a strong-willed, stubborn individual whose life-work revolves around empowering women. Daily I speak words of encouragement to those who've been told that their bodies are broken or unequipped. Daily I teach women how to trust in their bodies, how to tap into the power that has been gifted to them. Daily I affirm others (and myself) that we are capable and strong. Needless to say, submitting is not my forté.
But for some reason (some reason... RIGHT...you best be sure God knew what He was doing) it was placed upon my heart to YIELD this year. My pride & my arrogance tricked me into believing that it would be easy. "Just do what God says," I told myself. "Let Him guide you." HA!
WAY easier said than done folks.
This is not to say that God hasn't been guiding me from day 1 and it's not even to say that I haven't heard Him... believe me, I have. I just haven't been listening.
Hearing and Listening are two very different concepts.
Hearing is by definition the act of perceiving sound by the ear. As long as you don't have any hearing impairments, hearing cannot be avoided. It is an unconscious act. It is a passive act and can even be done while we sleep.
Listening, on the other hand, is something that requires a conscious effort. Listening requires concentration so that the brain can process the words being heard. One must be ready to listen in order for it to lead to a learning experience. Biblically, listening also includes the intent to follow or obey.
Year after year God has been speaking to me, lighting my path and year after year I have chosen to ignore Him... I have chosen NOT to listen to His urgings. In essence, I have been saying "No" to Him.
WHAAAAAT?! Saying "No" to God? Who does that?
Apparently, ME! And maybe even you.
This past week in Bible study (we're going through Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit) we went over a section on "To Live by the Spirit" The part that spoke to me the most throughout the 5 lessons was the portion on how we can affect the Spirit. Reading over 1 Thessalonians 5:19 we are told that we have the ability to quench the Spirit, but we are told NOT to.
Here's an excerpt from Beth's workbook:
"We can quench the Holy Spirit. The NIV says "put out the Spirit's fire. The Greek word for quench is sbennumi, which in this context means 'to dampen, hinder, repress, as in preventing the Holy Spirit from exerting His full influence.' Very simply, to quench the Spirit is to say 'no' to God."
All these years I have been choosing my own path or straying from His and in doing so I have literally been telling God "no!" Who am I to tell God no?
Even these past 16 days, after actively choosing to YIELD to God's will in my life, there have been several moments where I have been tempted to quench the Spirit. Thankfully, I have resisted at times, but it has been quite a challenge to do so. QUITE A CHALLENGE! The times I have not resisted, however, have led to feelings of guilt, of despondency, of worthlessness.
I know that God does not want me to feel worthless. He has gifted me with grace. He has made me in His image. That alone proves that I am worthy. However, by sinning, by saying "no", by quenching the Spirit's leading in my life I am bogged down with such negativity and sorrow.
My good friend Kelly always uses an interesting argument when explaining her beliefs to others. She explains her love for Christ, but also explains that logically, Christianity is the healthiest life you can live. You have a path laid out for you and if you abide in God and do His will, then He will abide in you. You have guidelines set out and if you follow them you will be blessed. If you do good, then good will be done to you. If you eat as the Bible instructs then your body will be the temple that God made it to be. If you listen and follow God then you will be emotionally and mentally stable.
Makes sense right?! I certainly think so.
Especially that last part. At least that's what makes the most sense to me at this point in my life. I find that when I am going against God's will that things are the hardest for me, that I feel the most guilt, that I am holding the most sorrow in my heart. You don't have to be Sigmud Freud to know that holding on to those types of emotions for an extended period of time is unhealthy.
By not submitting to God's will, by fighting against the Spirit's leading in my life, I am crucifying Christ all over again. My rebellious spirit, my stubbornness, my guilt, my sin all keep me from listening to God and because I refuse to listen, I do not YIELD.
YIELDING has been much harder than anticipated. But its difficulty has been of my own creation. In prayer over this past week I have realized that in order to listen and in turn toYIELD, I must do a number of things.
I must be still.
I must be secluded.
I must be silent.
I must have self-control.
I must have humility and SUBMIT.
I know that when I do these things my relationship with God will become much more intimate and I will daily see His movement in my life. It is still my intention to YIELD and to ultimately say "YES" to God.
My prayer is that you would as well. Concede all control and watch how He transforms your life. Being YIELDED to God means going anywhere He may choose to lead us, being anything He might choose for us to be, doing whatever He might choose for us to do... Quench not the Spirit. Don't say "no" to God. Don't seek solutions apart from His leading or treat Him with indifference. I am willing to be led. I am willing to go, to be, and to do whatever God might choose.
Are you ready to YIELD along with me?
– Oswald Chambers