Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Hard Gifts

"Not my will, but yours be done."

We met when we were twelve, the Cowboy and I.

And when we gave our forever love to each other on that flaming hot day in August nearly twelve years ago, I didn't know how the word "submission" might change me over the years.

I didn't know then that the difficult things in this life so often become the very things that bring the most joy.

I didn't know that God's instruction in submission was actually going to turn out to be one of the greatest gifts that He's ever given me.

But as I ponder it all now, I wonder, how submission could be anything less than a gift, knowing that  it's something that He Himself modeled with His life?

When all was truly grim, He gave it all away submitting to the will of His Father.

"Not my will, but yours be done."

When the Cowboy and I got started over a decade ago, we were two kids really. And if we are honest with ourselves, we really knew very little of love and trust. We knew little of the ways of God and of the way that even when He asks things of us that make little sense, if we're brave enough to trust Him and walk through whatever He gives, then we just might see and know this nearly unspeakable joy like nothing else on this earth can offer.

But the trick is, we have to be willing to walk. And sometimes the journey can be long and painful.  

And so today, when we got to the reading of Ephesians 5:22-30, I couldn't help but reflect on the way that He's tenderly brought me to a place of joyful submission in my own life.

I like how our Shepherd said it today from the pulpit,
"Submission is an act of worship."

When we can hear the word submission, the way He intended us to hear it, the word can actually bring our souls this unimaginable freedom.

I know, "submission" and "freedom" in the same sentence... what?

But really, it's true. Because He didn't put authority in our lives to torture us, but rather to bless us, to free us from any unnecessary burdens.

Yes, He's asked women to submit to their husbands.

But it hardly stops there. He's also asked husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the church.

And how does Christ love the church? He loves them with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.

The way Christ gave Himself on this earth...
The way He poured into souls...
The way He forgave the unforgivable...
The way He spoke life into the broken-hearted...
The way He gave up EVERYTHING, that those who believe in Him, might have life in abundance!

This is the way that He loved,
He gave himself up for us.

But even beyond that, He asked Jesus to submit to His ultimate rescue plan. He asked Jesus to submit literally to the grave. And quite frankly, if Jesus was willing to submit to the Father, then I know that I can trust Him to lead me and strengthen me to obediently submit to the authority that He's put over my own life.

And even though there are some days that I have convinced my soul that what the Lord has asked of me could not possibly be what He really means, I have come into the humble realization that I am simply foolish to think that my ways would ever be better than His.

I will admit that the Cowboy is not a very difficult man to submit to. He loves the Lord with his whole heart and he's tender and kind to me, his bride. 

But it hasn't always been the way it is now. 

The Cowboy and I have this history together. We've walked through many things in our twelve years of marriage and it hasn't always been smooth sailing. 

Nearly seven years ago now, a trust was broken between the two of us over an issue with our finances. I was devastated over a discovery I had made, so much so that the Cowboy left work in the middle of the day and came home in desperate hopes of restoring what had been lost.

Up until this point in our marriage, finances had always been a cause for tension. The Cowboy was a spender and I was a saver and we both had a completely different mind on how we should be using our money. 

At the end of our conversation that day, he humbly asked me if he could take over all the finances. In my mind I was thinking, "Are you insane? You just broke my trust like never before and now you're asking me to trust you to take over the giant mess that we're in?"

We sat there in silence for a few minutes and the craziest thing was going on in my spirit. I kept hearing this still small voice in my mind repeating, "Let it go. Gift him with your trust. Not because he deserves it, but because I'm asking you to."

I could hardly believe what was happening, but I found myself saying, "Yes. Yes, it's all yours."

Our financial journey has been a long one. It's been seven years since we had that conversation in our little apartment by the beach. And I am more than beyond grateful that the Lord nudged my heart that day and allowed me to submit in the most unlikely of circumstances. 

I have not seen our bank account in seven years. But, all glory to God, our finances are finally in order. Our debts are gone. Our cars are paid off. We have learned to live simply. We have learned to live within our means. The Cowboy didn't get us there the way that I would have gotten us there. But he followed through with what he said he was going to do. He simply needed me to honor him by trusting him. And that giving of respect to my man has enabled him to soar. Watching your man soar is a gift beyond words.

And it's not just our finances that took a turn for the best, it's our love for one another that has turned into something way more than I ever could have imagined it could be. 

Because The Lord so graciously taught me the joy of submission back then, it has enabled me to trust in the Cowboy in so many other things through out the years. 

Submission isn't always easy. I don't want to pretend that it doesn't sometimes come without some deeply rooted pain.

There have been times that we've made decisions together that have led us to difficult circumstances. 

Today I thought back to when the Cowboy asked me to move to Colorado. I was scared, but I knew that he had sought the Lord and I knew that this is where the Lord was asking us to go. So we did it. We packed up everything and left everyone we had known for thirty years. 

When we got here, it was lonely. Work was scarce. I was an exhausted Mama of four treasures, all five years and younger. I started homeschooling for the first time and quite frankly I wasn't very good at it. (I know now that it was ridiculous of me to even think that I should have been good at it that first year. New things take time to become something beautiful. :)  Life those first few months out here WERE HARD. 

But now time has passed and the Lord has been faithful. He's brought deep, intimate friendship. He's blessed us with an unbelievable place to raise our treasures. He's plugged us into a body of believers who love His Word. 

Through a hesitant submission of my own fears to Him, and a willingness to move forward into the unknown with my Cowboy, I have received gifts beyond anything that I could have come up with on my own.

He doesn't ask us to submit to torture us. He asks us to submit to bless us beyond measure. 

And our sweet Jesus is the best example I know. I want my life to be a reflection of His. And when He submitted to the Father, as incredibly painful as it was, together they were able to pull off the absolute greatest rescue plan that man has ever seen! What intense joy they must have experienced together once all was said and done, and man, whom they loved, was no longer separated from them because of sin. 


Man, the true joy of submission! :)