Last weekend I got together with a group of friends that I met in Dallas 11 years ago. This trip to Philly marked the first “girls time” we’d had in 6 years. Had a blast! The last six years have been marked by several changes: new ministries, new cities, new jobs, a new baby, a new man J.
As we reminisced, I realized how much we had walked thru with one another. Health issues (one received a successful liver transplant several years ago, and survived 3 bouts with cancer), “colorful” dating experiences, heartbreak, marriages, starting new ministries, birth (we were ALL in the birthing room while the first one of us to have baby was in labor. Don’t worry, we were ushered out before the big event!), even death. What I realized is that we have each seen, experienced, walked thru, and prayed thru some amazing difficulties. And in response, we’ve seen God do some amazing things.
On the last night together, we talked about where we are currently- emotionally, spiritually, physically. One phrase came to my mind – “end of self”. As each one of us shared, I realized that there is something going on in each of our lives that would require the “end of self”. We’ve all been there before. We’ve seen it in each others’ eyes in the past. We know what God can do with it, SEEN Him do it before. But still…
How does the “end of self” look, you ask?
The end of self looks like Hannah who after years of infertility and emotional torture at the hand of her “rival” “In bitterness of soul…wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1)
The end of self looks like David who while fleeing from his son Absalom writes “To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill…Arise O Lord, Deliver me, O my God!” (Psalm 3:3,7)
The end of self looks like the woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, and after spending all that she had on doctors, determined that she would push thru the crowd for she knew “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:20-22)
The end of self looks like the Canaanite woman, whose daughter was demon-possessed, crying out, “Lord, Son of David have mercy on me!” And even after Christ’s response telling her that He came for the Jews first (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs” ), she persisted with “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” (Matthew 15:21-28)
The end of self looks like Peter who after he stepped out to walk on water, saw the wind and beginning to sink, cried out “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:25-31)
The end of self is the end of our self-determination, self-reliance, self-preservation, self-confidence, self-image, even self-control.
It is coming to the realization that we can do nothing apart from God and must abide in Him. (John15).
It is not being anxious about anything but in prayer and petition with thanksgiving presenting our requests to Him. (Philippians 4)
It is seeking first the kingdom of God…and not worrying about tomorrow because tomorrow really has enough worries of its own. (Matthew 6)
It is recognizing that the God who feeds the sparrow, also knows the hairs on our heads.
It is keeping our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12)
What is the end of self? It is the overwhelming realization that I alone cannot change my circumstances. Not the head knowledge of this fact, but the “deep in my heart and soul and all that is within me” realization. It’s the “Lord I can’t take it any more” realization. It the realization that drives the lyrics of this hymn home:
I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord, No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need thee O, I need thee, every hour, I need thee, O bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.
I need thee every hour, in joy or pain; Come quickly and abide or life is vain.
I need thee O, I need thee, every hour, I need thee, O bless me now my Savior, I come to thee. (Annie Hawks, 1872)
Struggling to rest in His Sovereignty,