Saturday, September 29, 2012

No delay admitted

I have posted before and spoken often about my struggle to get up in the morning and give God the first part of my day. This is something He has asked me to do since 2006, and I have struggled and fought unsuccessfully for years before finally breaking through recently to a measure of victory. While I was at Ellerslie, my victory was unprecedented, but unfortunately, towards the end of the semester, I started letting things slide, and when I went home, I was again failing to get up in the morning.

Then I went to Haiti. I knew that I needed to jealously protect my intimacy with the Lord, but still, every morning would come and my tiredness would overcome my resolve to get up, and I indulged in sleep for the entire first week and a half. I still did my devotions later, but I knew I was being disobedient and not pressing in with all my strength, and I knew this would weaken me spiritually.

On Thursday, I went up to the roof of the creche to pray, and stayed there alone for about two hours, finally connecting with God and breaking through to the level of prayer that I had enjoyed at Ellerslie.

My little spot on the rooftop
Something dawned on me while I was talking with the Lord.

Getting up in the morning is my 19-dollar test!

(For a detailed explanation of the concept of the 19-dollar-test, listen to the message "The Anatomy of Faith" by Eric Ludy.)

Every day, I encounter the 19-dollar test, and every day I look within myself to see if I have what it takes to pass the test, and every day I come up empty. I have no "money in my pocket," so I fail. I have been beaten up by the 19-dollar test for about 6 years now. In that moment in the morning when the alarm clock goes off, I look within myself to see if I want to get up and spend time with Jesus, or if I want to keep sleeping. And without fail, in that moment of sleepiness, I can't find anything within me that wants to get up. So I decide to go back to sleep.

The problem is, I have been looking within myself to see if I had what it took to pass the test. You would think I would learn that I never do. I never did. I never will.

Of course! That was just it! I was coming up empty on my 19-dollar test, but there was no need to continue to do so, when God has provided the "$20 bill" of grace for me.

I must look to HIM for it.


View of the front of the creche from where I was sitting

It became crystal clear to me that pride was the cause of my failure, because in looking to myself, I was essentially saying, "I think I have what it takes, and I don't want to get it from God if I can do it myself." Even after 6 years, I was still holding out hope that I would develop the inner strength and resolve that I needed.


And it's so easy to look to Jesus for it! All you have to do is take Him at His word that He has provided the grace I need to obey Him. All you have to see is His omnipotence and authority to realize that He can do it.

So this morning, I was all excited. I was going to try something new when the alarm went off in the morning. I was going to look to Jesus for what it took to pass my 19-dollar test.

"Yes!" I thought. "I finally figured this out! I finally remembered how to get back up on my feet to toddle forward a few more steps!"

View from the back of the creche roof
So at 4:30 am, when my sleepy eyes refused to open and my will refused to cooperate with the idea of getting up, I looked to Jesus for the grace and strength I needed.

He gave it to me immediately! A rush of spiritual strength just infused my being. My tired eyes were superceded by the excitement of getting alone with Jesus, and my unwilling will became willing.

"Wow, thank you, God!" I exclaimed silently from my bed. "I'll use this in just a few minutes, after I just close my eyes for a second." (Can you believe that? Ah! How could I?)

His word impressed itself upon my heart in a quiet but forceful statement.

"I will permit no delay."

I thought about that. He had instantly given me my request. How ungrateful and horrible it would be of me to then keep Him waiting until my own good time before I used His grace.

And I got up.

Ah, the joy that flooded my soul as I met with the Savior and spent an hour of sweet fellowship and communion with Him! How much better it was to begin the day in obedience to Him! A song rose in my heart and put a lilt into my steps.

Hark! the Redeemer from on high
Sweetly invites His favorites nigh.
From clouds of darkness and of doubt
He gently speaks and calls us out. 

Come, my beloved, haste away, 
Cut short the hours of thy delay. 
Fly like a youthful hart or roe
Over the hills where spices grow. 

Thus I discovered that there were actually two halves to my constant failure in this area (which, to me, represents any kind of spiritual failure). One was looking to myself rather than to Jesus for what it took to obey. The other was delay and procrastination. Those two factors are like the two legs of progress. Get both of them standing up and operating, and you can walk forward into victory!

~ ~ ~

"If our Beloved cries, “Rise up My Love, My fair One, and come away,” let us not linger for an instant! If He cries “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion,” let us arise in the power of His call and shade ourselves from the dust! At the first sound of Heaven’s bugle in the morning, let us leave the bed of carnal ease and go forth to meet our Lord and King. Herein is communion—the Lord draws us and we run after Him! He awakens us and we wake to serve Him! He restores our soul and our hearts praise Him!" 
--Charles Spurgeon, sermon #1255, "How to Converse with God."

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