Life In Death to Self / by Joellyn Hoekstra

I had a small conflict recently. It helps to practice surrender and self control when the problem isn’t catastrophic. It is humbling to see my sinful nature arise when my pride is threatened. When someone has wronged me or offended me all I want to do is puff up my chest, stand tall and fight to win. I want to see justice. I think I’ll just take it upon myself to bring that about, thank you. At least that’s what I want. My way. I’m just being honest. I want the other person to admit that I’m right. I long for them to call me up and say, “I’m so very sorry, I’m completely in the wrong. I’m a terrible person.” Yes, that will surely make me happy. 

I shared some of my conflict with a wise friend and mentor. She didn’t give me any quick-fix answers. That might have made me feel better in the moment, but in her wisdom she knew that wouldn’t last long. She just said, “let’s pray about it right now.” Everything changes when I bring my mess to Jesus. Every time. My load is immediately easier and my burden is light, or at least a lot lighter than it was. Romans 8:28 tells us that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. I desire to be a part of that work. I want God to use my conflict to bring about good. For me and for the other people involved.  

Do I want good to come of this, or do I want my way? I had to ask myself that hard question. Giving up control and handing God my conflict doesn’t seem like it will make me feel better. Even though I have personally experienced God’s healing power in this way many times before. Once I give it to Him I know I can’t keep it. I can’t own it anymore. I have to stop obsessing over it. No more analyzing it from own my biased perspective and deciding that I am right. Stop keeping score. In many ways I know that when I bring my problem to Him I will not be so hurt by it anymore. It feels like being the one to humble myself somehow means I’m saying, “they’re right.” I definitely don’t want that. Often I need to continue to be a victim and feel the pain of it for just a little bit longer. Poor me.

There is a clear, loud message ringing out in the world. We should be doing whatever makes us happy at all times. It promotes utter and complete selfishness. Do you hear it too, or is it just me? Doing whatever pleases us physically, emotionally, and visually at any time will equal happiness. I have been wrestling with this idea for quite some awhile. When I hear and see this message preached and encouraged from every facet of life something in me literally twitches. I just want to look away. I believe that is the work of the Holy Spirit alive in me. Sadly, I feel like it is less and less of an insult on my soul over time. It has become so normal. 

I listened to a Sermon podcast by Francis Chan the other day. He said something horrifying that I can’t stop thinking about. He pointed out that one of the five pillars or goals of the Satanic Church is to create an environment around oneself that is completely of that person’s own choosing or desire. It is based on divulging in whatever pleases that person at any given time. He or she should also be free of individuals or surroundings that would question or pollute whatever desire or belief they are holding on to. It’s true. I looked it up myself, which was a creepy experience to say the least.  

Where is this “peace like a river?” Why is it “well with my soul” no matter what comes my way? It isn’t because difficulty never arises. It’s not because we have collected the perfect bunch of family and friends to be surrounded by. We do not find joy by fulfilling all of our own desires and getting our way. Again, we have to look upside down in this world. Die to self. Lay down your life. Find real life in Jesus. He laid down His life to give us this gift. I needed to give my conflict to Him. I’ve found that true rest comes when I completely trust Jesus to be in full control. It isn’t on me anymore. I want Him to have it. I want Him to make something beautiful out of it. If I can get to this place of surrender I often enjoy the privilege of seeing His glorious resurrection work in action, and tasting the fruit of it myself.