Thursday, August 12, 2010

Slaves of what?

My blogging has severely lapsed over the summer. I started writing in January as a source of accountability and to share what God is doing in my life. It was meant to keep my gaze upward, looking for God in the little things. And it totally worked! The Lord continued to speak to my heart, and in big or little, significant or not, I wrote about them and it helped solidify things inside of me.

Seems, though, that the busier my life gets, the less I write. It's not that God's stopped moving or speaking to me! In fact, as I sit to blog today, I can think of so many topics that I'd love to write about. It's that I'm not taking the time to honor Him by slowing down and publicly recognizing His awesome hand in my life. It has less to do with my writing or its content, and more to do with my heart and priorities. Weird what a little blog can show!

To that end, A word was planted in my mind on Sunday and won't leave. I went with my dear friend to her home church, and the topic in Bible class (I can't remember what their Sunday School is called) was "slavery". As the teacher spoke, several verses flooded my mind, and I thought about all that I've learned in this past year or so about being a slave.

The second part of 2 Peter 2:19 is the phrase that has been resonating with me since Sunday. "...for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him" (NIV). 

When I think of slave, I think of one completely subject to the will of another. That makes my heart lurch. I hate being told what to do. Silly example, but I sometimes resent having to sit through the safety demonstration in an airplane. Flying out to Nashville this past weekend, I was woken up by a flight attendant who told me to turn my iPod off so that we could safely land. WOKEN UP, because apparently my crazy iPod waves are going to interfere with their auto-pilot instruments... It's funny, but the point is, I cringe when I am told what I must and must not do. I think that most people internally buck the system when it seems we have been given an ultimatum. However, none of this comes close to the concept of slavery.

Slavery in Biblical times was a simple matter of fact. It was a part of their cultural dynamic and governing system, so when Jesus and the apostles talked about being a slave, it resonated with the people. Even though slavery in the United States was abolished in 1865, the concept should resonate with us as well.

John 8:34 "Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin'" (NIV emphasis mine).
This is where that famous and most often quoted verse comes in: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" John 8:36. (I didn't want to just leave it dead ended like that)

But Jesus was making a bold point in verse 34. Sin is a brutal master. I've heard it said that sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go and demand more of you than you ever wanted to give. Addiction is a good example, but not the only example. We are slaves to whatever we give ourselves. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus made the point, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." He goes on to say, "You cannot serve both God and Money." (NIV)

The point is this: Either I am serving God, or I am serving something else. Either I am a slave to sin or I am a slave to righteousness/holiness. Two huge indicators for me are, what am I giving my heart to? And what am I giving my time to?

What consumes my thoughts? Where does my mind go in the quiet moments?
Does it go to the to-do list, a relationship, or what's on TV? Do I spend most of my time thinking about my looks or my weight or my next meal? Or does my mind go to the things I'm grateful for, the people I'm praying about, the next assignment He has for me?

I have a mind that tends to race (understatement), so sometimes the most obvious indicator is where I spend my time. What am I spending my 24 hours a day on? How much TV am I watching, or on my computer, or Facebook, or video games? What relationships do I give time to? How much am I working or studying? And, more importantly sometimes, What am I "too busy" to do?

Hear me: I'm not talking about a life where every single thing I do has to do with church. Joyce Meyer says that sometimes the most holy thing you can do is take a nap. Jesus is talking about something bigger than Facebook and American Idol and Ben and Jerry's. It's about the posture of my heart. What am I giving myself to? Because we're all a slave to something.

I want to be a slave to the only Master that matters. Jesus set me free from sin so that I could be a slave to righteousness - a slave to the heart of God. In that light, spending all day long washing dishes, cutting the crust off of sandwiches, and wrestling my four-year-old down for a nap is giving myself to the work that God has called me to! (if I do it with the right attitude) Pouring time into quality relationships is living for the Lord. It's not a matter of works. No one can earn God's grace. Also, we cannot do any good without God's power working in and through us.

God is asking me to look at the things I am allowing to control me in life. It's startling and humbling and leads me back to the center, which should be and always will be Christ. Life's chaotic, but Jesus is the master of my chaos, and He brings peace and order and calm. I just need a reminder sometimes.

When I get overwhelmed and confused by clutter and demands, one of my favorite verses always puts things back into perspective for me. It's one of the few verses I actually have memorized.

1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (NIV)


cortneymarie said...

Wow. This is very, very well spoken my friend. Hmm...I think I'm just going to let my heart ponder on this throughout the rest of my day. ...Thank you for sharing. God speaks through you in very profound ways, it's really something special.

I love you. and I miss you a lot.

Mandie Renee said...

I love you Emily Wagoner! Thanks for sharing. You are so special!

Kendell & Josh said...

This was awesome! Thanks for sharing :) God brought me to read this post at the most perfect time (of course). :)

emily said...

Hey you all :) I wanted to reply to each comment individually, but it won't let me. So I just wanted to say thanks for commenting. I love you all very much :) God's awesome, because even when I'm not "feeling it", He does His work. I just gotta get out of the way sometimes. LOL <3 Posting a follow up blog about being a slave to fear. Is there any particular area you feel God talking to you about that you wanna share?