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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Door Opens

 Charles H. Spurgeon, "The Prince of Preachers" as he is called, once told a story of the Master, a man, and a closed door:

"The Master came one night to the door, and knocked with the iron hand of the law; the door shook and trembled upon its hinges; but the man piled every piece of furniture which he could find against the door, for he said, 'I will not admit the man.' The Master turned away, but by-and-by He came back, and with His own soft hand, using that part where the nail had penetrated, He knocked again - oh, so softly and tenderly. This time the door did not shake, but strange to say, it opened, and there upon his knees the once unwelcome host was found rejoicing to receive his guest."

 The door opened for me in the fall of 2011. My sight aroused by the shafts of light continually streaming through the door, I stumbled through the darkness and headed toward the door. As my hand reached for the door knob, I realized that this moment signaled an end and a beginning. With the click of the door latch, my hand trembled. The Master waited outside. What would He say? The door opened. Light streamed in and scattered the darkness. It was blinding. At first, I stood in the doorway, wondering what would happen next. Then, the Master approached me and reached out with arms of love. Caught up in His embrace, I asked Him what He wanted me to do. 

"Nothing," He replied, "I have done everything for you."

It seemed crazy to me that He didn't want me to take any action, but slowly it dawned on me that He wanted me to rest - to let my eyes adjust to the Light, to allow myself to fall deeper into the grace that awaited me. Yet, while I did so, God needed to purge my life of what remained behind the door. I knew God would see all my mess and, to be honest, I felt somewhat embarrassed about it. But He assured me that He would deal with it. All I needed was to stand back and watch. I had allowed Him to come in. Now it was time to be transformed.
 There is so much made these days about self-transformation, about a person changing themselves into something different. We have dozens, if not hundreds of self-help books available at our disposal that will, supposedly, teach us ways to make ourselves better. But one key truth is missing in every single one of these resources Each one focusses on the same thing: that human beings have the power to control their own lives, to fix their own problems; that all that is needed to overcome that addition, to heal that relationship, to let go of that anger, is a little understanding and a lot of self-love. And yet, in the long run, every method that teaches this kind of thinking will fail us because it keeps our eyes centered on ourselves as the source of healing. And, after all, isn't this part of why we've been behind the door - an over-obsession with our own desires, wants, and needs?
 If we are to step out of the darkness and learn to live in the Light, we need to step aside and get comfortable with the fact that this transformation is out of our hands. Just as a patient is at the mercy of a surgeon, so we must let go of our need to be in control and not expect ourselves to be able to fix what is wrong on our own. In fact, we hardly have anything to do with this journey in the first place. Because we know how broken our lives have become with ourselves at the center, we must allow God to take over because we've failed miserably. Psalm 51:16 tells us that God is not interested in what we can bring to the table but rather, that we simply offer Him our lives...that we come to Him just as we are:

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not
take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a
broken spirit; a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, 
you will not despise."

God does not care how much we can clean ourselves up or try to put ourselves back together again. God cares about our willingness to let Him be Lord of our lives. 
As Titus 3:4-5 says, 

"...When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he 
saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but 
because of his mercy."

It is important to keep in mind that all that is really needed on our part is surrender. If we believe that God is fully capable of carrying out this work of change in our shattered souls, we have to relinquish our desire to have a part in the work and merely be submitted to cooperating with God so that He may increase and we may decrease (John 3:30). In short, it is solely God who transforms, and not us. We only surrender to Him in faith.