(I was reading some personal journal entries I’d made from about three and a half years ago and I ran across this one:)
Wife and child were not well last night so I sent the wife to bed and tried my best to be maternal in the living room with Karsten…that was up and down at best. But at some point she got so tired and hungry that she just sort of gave up, and maybe that’s the point of the story here.
We sat on the couch and watched a DVD until I knew she was getting close to passing out. I took her down to the floor, changed her diaper and clothes, and made a pallet out of a quilt and some couch pillows and we laid on the floor and watched some more courtroom drama. She wasn’t satisfied to just lay beside me in my arm this time though, there was another spot she had in mind. She worked her way up to her knees and then crawled up to my stomach, flopped her torso across mine leaving her knees on the floor. She turned her head so she was facing my face and she dropped into the sleep that I think only babies can experience. I watched her sleep and on the back edge of a night that had gone wrong, I saw the tranquility of a child who had the incredible ability to leave the past behind and simply live in the present.
Discipleship isn’t hard for kids. The concept makes sense. Find the one thing or person that is best, biggest, most talented, most impressive, etc…and follow them until they’re sick of you. Dress how they dress, do what they do, go where they go, act like they act. It’s generally as we get older that the confusion comes in. We lose sight very easily of Who is greatest. But ironically we lose sight of Him because we stop following Him. If we follow we see His wonder and we are drawn. Paul spends the first 3 chapters of Ephesians telling this church who God is, what He’s done, how powerful His works are, and how amazing His grace is. He prays for them twice in three chapters, first that the eyes of their hearts might be opened so they could see His power and what He has done for them and then second that they would dive headlong into the infinite depths of the love of Christ and in tasting that love that they would see the boundless, limitless possibilities that God possesses.
The beauty of God compels us to follow. In chapters 4-6 Paul then lays out the implications and the “reasonable response” to the revelation of God. If we can but catch a glimpse of His greatness then our lives must change and we will be compelled to live differently, basically to act like He acts, and go where He goes, and do what He does, etc…
In chapter 4 Paul bridges the ideas of the “old life” and the “new life” with a connector:
22to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The bridge between the old life and the new life is the renewal of the spirit of our minds. Just like in Romans 12 where Paul instructs to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Being renewed, refreshed, recharged, all of these ideas are found only in God Himself. He transforms and renews, because He is the the source of all gifts, of all good, of all benefit. Bonhoeffer makes the point that the promise of Christ to take our yoke upon Him and bear our burdens is implicitly conditional. Unless we allow Him to take the weight, unless we release the weight to Him, He cannot and will not carry it. Only in complete and total dedication can we find that kind of peace and rest and renewal.
In the church we refer to this idea as “surrender”. I don’t disagree with that terminology, I don’t use it a lot, but it’s okay. I think in this situation it helps bring back in the theme idea of this situation today: unless I surrender I don’t find rest, I find frustration and I find the shallow depth of self-help and do-it-yourself religion. Basically, I have to learn to turn around, lift my arms to Heavenly Dad, and realize that in my strain and stress and struggle there is no other place that I will be renewed and refreshed and rested and maybe even healed than with my Father. If I’m dirty He washes me. If I’m smelly He doesn’t refuse to hold me. If I’m loud He doesn’t turn away in disgust. If I’m disobedient and errant He corrects me but it is always done in love and never without being followed by His embrace