Friday, March 06, 2009

Living Life Out of the CENTER

Yesterday I was very unsettled.  I read my Bible a bit and felt the Lord calling me to read some more but I didn't want to, so I got busy and did everything I could think of doing.  Then, again I felt the Lord telling me to sit down and read a bit.  Finally, I gave up and sat down in my reading chair and glanced at my books.  Which one do I need to read today??  Lindsey has always laughed at me as most often I have 5 books going at one time.  But as is always the case, God leads me to read just what He is wanting me to hear.  I picked up The Lion and the Lamb by Brennan Manning.  The chapter was on living out of the Center (Jesus Christ) and I couldn't put it down.  It actually dove tailed quite well from yesterday's post, having a relationship simply between God and my soul where others are but shadows.  That is living out of the Center. What was so incredible is that Manning gave so many hands on applications which, I often need. Manning indicated that Living out of the Center (lootc) is actually a life of waiting, anticipating and seeking Christ's presence; literally centering upon Him.  The opposite of lootc is "living on the surface".  "Life is an experience without an agenda when you are lootc".  Well, I quickly saw that I wasn't living life much out of the center as my life daily is caught up in my own plans and projects; I most always have an agenda and many things to get accomplished.
Lootc "enables me to blend for a moment into a greater background, to be still and know that God is God."  A background centered (focused) on Christ and not my own fears!  Once again moving the clutter of my life into the shadows.
Living out of the center is a determination to make Christ the Center of my life.  To be able to lose myself in "it's good to be here, even if I don't know where here is".  To be able to rest in Christ (STOP) and trust Christ especially in the chaotic times of life AND to stop trying to figure things out and analyze things, once again moving all of that clutter into the shadows. Umm that one knocked the breath out of me cause I have such difficulty laying it at the cross and not taking it back and thinking about it, no I analyze it.  Manning indicated that when we are lootc, "inner stillness is enough for the moment, it's enough just to be centered in Jesus Christ". Living out of the center is to "know that I am poor and sinful but living with a spirit of self-acceptance without self-concern.  And living on the surface is "being discontented, feeling guilty, fearful, and shameful". I found Manning describing such peace and focus on Christ alone and me pushing (maybe shoveling by the dump truck loads) everything else into the shadows.  
But of course Manning didn't stop there, he had to talk about the trust/people issue!!  I was pegged again.  Manning pointed out that lootc is "living to please God as Jesus Christ did.  And this living to please God should free us from peer pressure.  Manning said, "Jesus Christ was not intimidated by 'what others will think'. He kept his distance from the expectation of others. He was not fazed by the murmurs of others. He did not live His life looking around anxiously fearing what others might say. He was not afraid of rejection or of stepping on other people's toes!" And then Manning asked a question - "Are you allowing the expectation of others to put subtle control on your behavior?" And he even pointed out that most of the time it's from people that we don't even respect!!!  Well, I was greatly convicted that I was not experiencing the freedom of living out of the center and that lack of focus and trust is what is causing my fear.  Have you ever read something and it just clicked?  Manning stated that "fear cripples me, makes me defensive, makes me closed to progress, makes me rush forward and not wait upon God (I'll take care of this, thank you very much God).  Oh my, I saw myself so much as living on the surface and caught such a glimpse of how my living on the surface, fear and all is adversely affecting my life.
And He closed the chapter saying that "a life hidden with Christ in God is all I need".  "One day with Christ at the center of my life (even if I don't feel His presence) is better than 1,000 good feeling days living on the surface!!! Psalm 84
Well, I'm still pondering, I'm still longing for a life lived out of the Center and I realized I sure do make this living thing much more difficult than God ever intended it to be!!


Laini said...

wow! talk about hitting the nail on the head! can i go ahead and raise my hand too on that one! :D what a peaceful place to be once we are in that CENTER!

Laurie M. said...

Wow, how did I miss this the other day?!...and come to it today when I was comparing myself with others and overwhelmed with feeling like I don't measure up? I read it just when I needed to read it!

Ken said...

Thank you -