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This Christmas…

This Christmas, I posted a picture on my yoga account. It was nothing bad, and I had even pre-planned this photo, wanting to recreate it when someone sent it to me on Christmas Eve. Shortly after posting it, a little nudge wedged its way into my heart that made me uneasy. The nudge made me search my intention behind the post: was my intention to bring attention to the Savior and His birthday, or was it to bring attention to myself? The uneasy feeling I felt answered that question for me; it was an answer I tried to convince myself wasn’t true. No matter how long I ignored that nudge, I still could not shake this reality: if my Instagram was the only post people looked at on Christmas, they would see me doing a handstand; they would not have seen something that draws them to their Savior. I hated that, so I listened to the nudge and deleted the post, despite my attempts to justify it. My vanity and pride wanted to keep it up, but Jesus’s birth as the Beginning and the End, an innocent baby that was and still is the King of Kings called me to reexamine my heart. A few years ago, the nudge I felt would never have existed; I would have posted the picture and not thought twice about it. This is where I get to share the beauty of Christ’s desire to work in our hearts…

I grew up in the Bible Belt, a Jesus-filled home, and a Christian private school. Jesus was the norm, and faith was practiced, instilled, and sought after by the majority of people around me. I cannot thank God enough for giving me an environment that not only believed in Jesus but also showed me His love through relationships. At the same time, however, I developed a disillusioned, and far too common, perception of Christianity in this environment: I feared that I would lose more than I would gain by fully placing my trust in Jesus. Above all, I feared losing one thing specifically: control. I wanted control over my thoughts, actions, words, everything. I could not imagine a life given over to someone else, much less to a God that I thought would require me to miss out on all the “fun” that the rest of the world praised. Therefore, growing up, my relationship with Jesus was one I believed I invited Him into, not Him inviting me. He could be a part of my life; in fact, I longed for Him to be a part of my life, as long as He played into my plans and my control. If you have already walked in relationship with Jesus, you might laugh at little tween Cambri thinking she could keep the reigns of her life while toting Jesus around like a purse she felt like wearing for that day. You know something that I did not for most of my life: Jesus is in control, whether we recognize it or not. I could have gone my whole life with a faith that was watered-down, not because of the Creator’s ineptitude but because of my denial that His control could be better for my life than my own. 

My denial of this reality catapulted into a brick wall for the first time during my junior year of high school. In the first major way in my life, I had to recognize that my control would always fall short, that I could not singlehandedly uphold a world of perfection with my plans. While that season was a time of much confusion and hurt, I am now more grateful for that season than any other because I learned a truth that I will now carry for the rest of my days: the life Jesus offers is one of abundance, abundantly more than trying to white-knuckle control my way through life. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that [we] may have life, and have it to the full;” other translations say “a rich and satisfying” and “abundant” life. Another translation puts it this way: “I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” With this season came the revelation that while my human heart longs for control, it now longs for something more, something only Jesus offers: the fullest life possible. At that point in my life almost two years ago, I began to pray a prayer of surrender, leaving behind my long-held fear of relinquishing control. The process that ensued? One so good that I know only Jesus could be behind.

Over time, the desires of my heart began to change. In Ezekiel 36:26, God declares to the people of Israel the very promise that Christ’s death on the Cross secured for all people of all time: “I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.” Only Jesus and His Spirit at work within me could have changed my heart; my heart before surrendering to His work in it was broken and prey to the temptations of the world. While the desires of my heart have changed to wanting Jesus in my life more than the things of the world, I still look for attention from others through ways like Instagram posts, still talk to the people I love most in ways I hate, and still am not always the person I know God has called me to be. However, I am not walking through life in my own power anymore. I have tried and found true that God truly works all things together for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28 and Colossians 1:27). I thought surrendering to His control would mean a loss of freedom; instead, I have found freedom from the chains of a broken world and its temptations in ways more abundant than I could have ever imagined. 

Before you close this blog and go about your day, I long for you to read and believe this one truth: Jesus wants to offer you life in fuller ways than your dreams could even imagine. He wants your heart, and He promises to make it new. I did not know what was going to happen when I surrendered control to Him fully; I only knew that His offer of life was better than the life I could create for myself. And from there? I just took it day-by-day, clinging to His truth, desiring His will over my own, and praying for the strength to live in obedience to it. Like me, some days, you might have to say you surrender to Him out loud to make your mind believe it as much as your heart longs to. Surrender is not synonymous with passivity on our parts. A full life is an active one, undoubtedly. The only difference is that the power of your life will no longer be confined to the borders of your control. Instead, your life will then be defined by the all-encompassing, all-powerful will of Jesus, and His will for you is good. You just have to trust Him to find that out for yourself. The process of finding His splendor is more than a beautiful one… it is a life- and light-giving one amidst a dark world. Cheering for you! 

With love, C

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