Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent: Like a cheater on autopilot

I'm terrible at lent. I've rarely done it and when I have it seems that the lack of Coke makes me irritable and gives me headaches until I just drink Dr. Pepper as a substitute and then feel defeated like a cheater. This giving up of a specific comfort seems so small in a life filled with so much abundance. So small, and yet impossible for me. I'm not doing that again. I may be able to do it at some point. I need a heart change that leads to a desire to give up these things. I'm not convinced it can work the other way, at least not in my life. Even if I did succeed in giving up something I'd probably get all proud and make it all about what I accomplished. No, I need something simpler - something more powerful.

I think I've come up with a decent solution. It comes from A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God. The idea is to live a life were God's glory is paramount. Where His glory matters above all else. I think Tozer's description of such a life is among the most powerful and promising things I have ever read.

"“Be Thou Exalted” is the language of victorious spiritual experience. It is a little key to unlock the door of great treasures of grace. It is central in the life of God in the soul. Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually “Be Thou exalted,” and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once. His Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it has been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity. By the exercise of his will he has set his course, and on that course he will stay as if guided by an automatic pilot. If blown of course for a moment by some adverse wind he will surely return again as by a secret bent of the soul. The hidden motions of the Spirit are working in his favor, and “the stars in their course” fight for him. He has met his life problem at its center, and everything else must follow along."

Wow. That's the guy I want to be. I love flying on autopilot. So, for lent I'm going to try and set that course. Tozer ends the chapter containing the above quote with a call to pray a very powerful prayer. I've changed some of the language to make it easier for me to memorize, but the idea and the most moving and beautiful of the language in it comes straight from Tozer. I'm going to pray the following everyday until God, in all his grace, grants it. I'm going to pray it until life and lips line up.

Lord, be exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures will seem of value to me so long as You are glorified in my life. Lord, be exalted over my friendships. I am determined that You be above all, even if I must stand deserted and alone in the darkest valleys. Lord, be exalted over my comforts. Even if it means the loss of abundance and the carrying of heavy crosses I will keep this promise I make to you today. Lord, be exalted over my reputation. Make pleasing you my only ambition. If I must sink into obscurity and have my name forgotten in order for you to be exalted then, Lord, let it be. Rise into Your proper place of honor in my life, above my dreams and preferences, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that You may increase, let me sink that You may rise above. Use me as a vehicle for Your glory, Lord, that I may hear the world cry out to you, "Hosanna in the highest."


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