New Years Eve was my Jesus birthday. 17 years ago I wept on the floor of a hotel room looking out over Downtown Atlanta and asked God to change me in a way only he could. I was so tired of trying to change myself. I was living my life on a stationary bike, getting no where but pretending like I was on the Tour de France. I was caught in a cycle of sin. I would fall into the sins I viewed revolting, and then with all the self-righteousness I could muster, I would pull my self back out of it and then fall back into it again. I had no idea that it was my pride - more than fooling around and getting drunk - really keeping me from Jesus. I had to give up. I had to give up trying to do it on my own, fall into His arms and say, "I surrender."
January 1, 1999, I did exactly that. I looked with tears pouring down my face at the landscape of the city and said, "I don't want it. I don't want any of it. I want you!" I lifted my hands in the air and gave him all of idols in my heart that I could think of- the biggest of them my pride. And just as he promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17, He made me a new creation. I began to change in ways only God could do. He was changing me from the inside out. He was changing my outward behaviors by first changing my desires. He was becoming my desire, and He still is.
My husband and I were able to sneak away at the beginning of the year to have a family New Years meeting and I had the opportunity to reflect on my upcoming year. I have no big projects or major life shifting goals planned for this year. I have felt the Spirit whispering a word to me for weeks now: STEWARD. Stewardship according to Webster's is the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. I feel strongly I am not to create and add new things to my life this year other than our new son. I am simply to better steward all the opportunities he has already given me.
I have a personality which is always looking for the next big idea, the new business, the new ministry. I believe God loves for me to dream and plan, but sometimes my dreaming can blind me of what is right in front of me. I feel challenged to take my gifts and apply them more fully to where God has already called me, instead of trying to create new avenues to use my gifts. My family, home, ministry and community would be blessed by my better stewardship.
He has entrusted me with so much yet instead of putting my hand to the plow and working hard to manage and care for the fields he has given me, I have spent too much time looking at fields that are not my own. I have looked to other's book deals, speaking opportunities, podcasts, creative businesses, blogs, Instagram accounts, jobs and ministries with envy in my heart and plans in my mind for how I could get that, too. All the while missing the amazing things God has already placed in my safekeeping.
I am going to fight this year to not try and create opportunities for me to do more but instead give more of me to what God has already entrusted. I am going to surrender, lay down my idols and especially my pride at his feet, like I did the first night I walked with Him. I prayed 17 years ago for God to do a work so big in and through me that I could not give credit to anyone but God for the results. If I am honest, I think I have always imagined that the "big work" I prayed for would somehow involve me in the spotlight. Me, the great missionary, the great speaker, the great writer that would change the world. And as I did this world-changing, I, of course, would give all the glory to God. I am realizing now this belief doesn't look any different than the idol of pride I gave to the Lord 17 years ago at my conversion.
I need God as much as ever to replace my desire for more of my own glory with a desire for more of Him and His glory. What if the "big work" he wants to do in and through me is actually the small things, the little faithful moments, the sometimes mundane things that no one takes notice of? What if those are the pebbles creating the ripples, creating the big work for which only God could take credit?
So, here I am again, Jesus, with my hands in the air. I give up. I give up trying to do it on my own. I want to fall into your arms and surrender. Today, I look with tears in my eyes at the landscape of my neighbors fields and say: I don't want it. I don't want any of it. I want you!
RACHEL BAXTER is a creative, messy, laid back, passionate extrovert who is always up for an adventure. She loves to gather people toward Jesus and the things He loves. On her blog/instablog she writes about the messy mama she is and the good God who is making beauty out of her mess. Rachel calls Matthews, NC home and lives with her incredibly good looking pastor and five beautiful, wild and gracious children. This summer their family will grow by one when they bring home a precious little boy from China who is blessed with an extra 21st Chromosome. Connect with her on her blog and Instagram.