Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 239 - The Limiting Reagent

I thought it'd be a good idea to stay up really late tonight. Until I realized that I've been awake now for over 21 hours. I think I'll go to bed soon.

I read through a few more of my other small group lessons from college. When I think back to myself back then, I really feel like I knew nothing compared to what I know now. But as I read my writing... I realize that perhaps I did understand a little more than I thought I did. Maybe I hadn't experienced it all yet but I couldn't have been a dimwit and have written what I wrote. Again, I was encouraged by younger-me. I think it's happened before where I've stumbled upon an old essay and I reread it and I don't even recognize what I wrote. I feel like that when I reread these things. Maybe I should go dig out my old journals from the garage. I wonder what parts of me I've forgotten and are just waiting to be rediscovered. I do recognize some parts of my writing that reflect my slightly different viewpoint now. But in essence, the style is very similar and if I was studying chemistry, I could definitely see how I could draw a spiritual parallel to what I was currently learning. The same thing happens nowadays... and instead of sharing it with just my small group, I share it on this blog. I do not, however, remember writing this or thinking these thoughts. I used to think I was the only person who would understand me. Now I'm not even sure if I remember myself anymore. I... think I'm confusing myself. Maybe I'll stop writing about myself as if I'm two different entities... even though that's how I feel sometimes.

Nope, I changed my mind. I'm going to talk to myself in [brackets] throughout this little essay thing.

The Limiting Reagent
AACF Women’s Small Group – 11.14.02

The will of God is always different from what [you] expect, always bigger, and, ultimately, infinitely more glorious than [your] wildest imaginations. – Elisabeth Elliot

[28-year-old me to 20-year-old me: girl, you have absolutely no idea what glorious plans God has in store for you. You've barely met the man you would eventually marry at this time in your life. You don't even know yet that God will give you the man of your dreams and take him away by the most horrific tragedy you could ever imagine... and you will be praising God in the midst of it. I'm excited for you and the new joy you will experience.]

We need not exert ourselves and try to force ourselves to believe, or try to chase doubt out of our hearts. Both are just as useless. It begins to dawn on us that we can bring everything to Jesus, no matter how difficult it is; and we need not be frightened away by our doubts or our weak faith, but only tell Jesus how weak our faith is. We have to let Jesus into our hearts. And He will fulfill our hearts’ desires. – O. Hallesby.

[He will fulfill the desires your heart hasn't even dared dreamed could be possible for you. In your weakness, His strength is being made perfect. Submit in faith and you will see the great and glorious things He'll do.]

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

[Hm. I guess the next logical step in my thought process was the same. Got ahead of myself in that last comment. *high five* for thinking along the same wavelength]

"He must increase, but I must decrease. - John 3:30 NASB

[you got this verse from a t-shirt. I remember that one. It was dark blue with light blue arrows going down and up. probably an AACF shirt]

I was doing devotions one night and it occurred to me, the bio major, that God working in our lives can be likened to a chemical reaction. [you're such a nerd] Yes, amusing, but let me explain myself. This is not a perfect analogy so bear with me. [go for it] Here goes… A chemical reaction requires 2 or more reagents (ingredients) that react with each other to create a product. Consider this equation/reaction:

God + Me => Abundant life

[I didn't even know you were thinking such thoughts. Were you thinking about the abundant life back then? How did I forget that? I thought all you cared about were boys?]
First of all, chemical equations must be balanced, which means that the same number of molecules on the left side will be present on the right side. For example, this equation:

2H2 + O2 => 2H2O

In nature, however, there aren’t perfect amounts of any reagent present in a system and quite often, some reagents are present in excess. Since chemical equations are balanced, if one reagent is in excess, the other reagent will be the deciding/limiting factor in how many times and how fast the reaction will take place. This reagent (not the excess one) is thus called the limiting reagent. If we look at equation 1, God (love, peace, patience, power, wisdom, etc.) is present in excess. Why doesn’t the “reaction” go on infinitely? Because the “Me” is only present when we relinquish our own control of our lives and offer the control up to God. In other words, we can choose to be part of this equation or we can choose to stay out of it. Sometimes our own sin separates us from intimacy with God. Other times our own unbelief, hopelessness, faithlessness, selfishness, or unwillingness to let go of this world limits what God can do in our lives. Not to say that God won’t work in us if we don’t want Him to, but how much more abundantly would we live if only we’d let God bless us to the fullest extent…if we stopped limiting how much He could work in us? [how much indeed.]

Is God speaking to you or telling you to do or not to do something? Do you feel that God is leading you towards a particular ministry or service? What was your answer? Are you limiting how God can work in you or through you? [you know, I'm totally learning a similar lesson right now as I read about the Israelites and their conquest of the promised land. Some tribes chose to settle before crossing the Jordan River. Some tribes did not have complete obedience as they didn't drive out all of the current inhabitants of the land they were to possess. They, themselves, limited the inheritance that God gave them because of their incomplete obedience (which is the same as disobedience). When God moves you... you go. Don't make excuses. You call Him Lord... you go all out in your obedience. No halfsies. And not just for ministry or service... with your entire heart. You love Him with all your heart. One day, you'll see what I mean...]

There is this pass-it-on with a poem on it called Let Go & Let God which reads:

As children bring their broken toys, with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God, because He is my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help, with ways that were my own.
At last, I snatched them back again and cried,”How could you be so slow?”
“My child” He said, “What could I do? You never did let go.”

This person expected to reap the end product of equation 1 without providing God with the limiting reagent: him or herself. He/she still tried to keep control of his/her own life and in this way, God is not fully able to do His work in/through us. [I have a stack of pass-it-on's on my desk. I lost the collection you built in college though. I know they're in that yellow pochacco pencil tin. Unless you moved it and I forgot.]

God knows how we operate though… how sometimes things need to go slow. He takes us one step at a time… a step farther and higher each time. Where would we be if we refused to budge? We’d be stuck and stunted. Where would you be if you refused to leave the 2nd grade? You never would have made it to 3rd and so forth all the way up to where you are now. Much in the same way, our spiritual growth depends on the steps we take, in faith, towards the road God has chosen us to follow. With our limited vision, our human minds only want to see what’s directly in front of us or behind… what’s tangible and what we have already experienced. The future is unknown to us; it is like a darkness. How many of us would walk forward in confidence into a pitch-black room? Probably none of us, but what if God was holding our hand the whole time… leading us? Would we then step forward with confidence?

[one day, you will walk forward in darkness without God's hand...without even hearing His voice. You will walk forward in the darkness because you KNOW the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who created the heavens and earth, the God who promised that all things would work together for good, the God who is faithful to you... who loves you despite your repeated rejections and who loves you not because of what you do, but because of who you are... you will walk forward into the dark because your God said it will be OK and you believe it with all your heart. You will walk by faith and not by sight.]

Now it all comes down to faith. What is faith? Faith is not tangible, yet it is the deciding factor in whether or not we are followers of Christ. Do we believe in Him? Did we not trust that He rose from the dead and openly declare that He is Savior and Lord of our lives? If we say He’s Lord of our lives, isn’t that saying that He has ultimate control? We constantly fail to give God the respect and honor He deserves, but He always takes us back with open arms. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again. If we take a step of faith, we just might get to walk on water (take part in a miracle). Think about it.

[I can't wait for you to fall in love after you realize His lavish love for you. I'm glad that you'll blog about it when it happens so you can read it and experience it again and again and again.]

What aspects of your life are you keeping to yourself? [I know what you're keeping to yourself. You only think you're giving everything. There will always be more that you have not yet given... for the rest of your life. Here's a quote you might like: You will always be one step of obedience away from the next truth God wants you to learn about Him - Blackaby & Blackaby]

On a different, but related note, last year in small groups we went through Becoming a Woman of Freedom by Cynthia Heald. In it was one illustration by Hannah Whitall Smith which I’ve adapted for our generation. Imagine you’re walking along the street carrying a backpack that weighs 75 lbs due to a lifetime of filth, garbage, and burdens you’ve accumulated. This backpack is killing you and is probably going to cause you back problems, but you continue to trudge on. Along comes Jesus in a beautiful, sparkling silver Lexus (or whatever you think is a REALLY nice car) and offers you a free ride to heaven. You take this ride and enter the vehicle, but continue to wear your backpack in the car, contorting yourself to carry the load of the weight on your own back. Jesus turns to you and asks you gently to put your backpack on the seat and just enjoy the ride, but you reply saying, “No thanks. You’re already giving me this ride, I couldn’t hassle you to carry my backpack as well. I’d rather handle this on my own.” How silly does this picture look? He’s already giving you a free ride to heaven and you CHOOSE to continue to break your back with this backpack full of trash. All you need to do is lay down your backpack, sit beside Jesus, and enjoy the freedom that He’s already given you. Many Christians, though, “who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy-laden throughout the whole length of their journey.”

[let it go, my dear. let it go. there is such freedom available to you... let it go...]

I've enjoyed having this little chat with myself. OK. I've been awake for 22 hours now. It's time to sleep.

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