The Magnificent Obsession – Chapter Seven

The Magnificent Obsession – Chapter Seven

“Lay Everything Down

“What is your most precious possession? Whatever it may be, to embrace the magnificent obsession, to know God as Abraham did, to be God’s friend, to receive all that He has for you, to experience the God-filled life, you must lay it down…”

The Magnificent Obsession, p. 188

Hey there girlfriends! I hope you are having a wonderful summer. And if you call Dallas, or anywhere in the southwest, your “home” then I hope you are somewhere cooler!! Could it get any hotter here? If so, I honestly don’t want to know! But thank you, Jesus, for the miracle of air-conditioning!!!! I openly praise You for that!!

The past few weeks of summer vacation have been cooler, restful and relaxing for my man and me as we spent a little time in the mountains of Colorado. It’s a beautiful place, a simple place with wide-open spaces that make this woman humbly aware of the greatness of her God. It’s also the place where I have some of the sweetest communion with the Lord; where I can hear His gentle but firm voice quickly and clearly, and can sit with Him for hours. These weeks in the mountains we’ve been talking a lot about laying some things down. Things I’ve had my heart and mind set on. Those “precious possessions” that perhaps I’ve been a little too focused on. You know, the things that make you say, “But I thought You were going to _____… But I thought You said _____…”

So… what is your most precious possession? What’s your particular “Isaac”? It may not be a tangible “possession” so much as a hope or a dream you may have, a desire, an agenda, or a plan you’ve made that has preoccupied your mind and heart.

Years ago I experienced another “lay everything down” season. Some of you know this story. I was 40 years old, single and heart-aching over my unmarried life. I had asked the Lord several years earlier to give me a sign, a word… anything to let me know “if” I would get married one day. I didn’t need to know when, just if. And while I do not recommend this as some kind of formula to follow, the Lord did confirm to me that one day I would be married. However, as the years went on the “when” became my focus and “who” became my preoccupation. May I also add that at this point I was leading women’s Bible study, teaching the Word of God and following Jesus closer than ever. I guess He knew I’d need to use this as an illustration one day. (grin)

One night in the midst of my praying and reminding the Lord of His Word to me He spoke to my heart. In that same gentle but firm voice He said, “Punky, where would your relationship with Me be if I told you that you’d never be married?”

That was a sobering moment. It seems our relationship had consisted of a very one-sided conversation where I’d been yammering on to the Lord about the same thing for years. Instead of seeking to know Him better I was seeking to get something I wanted from Him. Embarrassing to admit it, but true just the same. I knew at that moment He was asking me to lay everything down and trust Him with my dream to be a bride, to be married and to live happily ever after. Hands that are tightly clenched cannot take hold of all that God has to give.

The rest is history and I did end up getting married 3 years later. But in those moments in the quiet of my bedroom, I laid my “Isaac” down on His alter and cried, “Yes Lord, more than what I want, I want what You want for me”. Girlfriends, I mean this so sincerely- those were some freeing words to pray. Some very freeing words indeed. Not only did they free, they also taught me the great joy in knowing my Shepherd’s voice as I choose to trust Him… no matter what.

I want to be like Abraham; a man who had radical trust in the Lord God and the kind of relationship that God referred to as a “friendship”. I don’t even begin to compare the circumstances that have tested my faith to the sacrifice that Abraham was tested through. But however and whenever the Lord chooses to test us He is always seeking to strengthen our faith and develop in us radical trust… radical belief. Abraham believed God. He believed that no matter what happened, God was going to keep His promise. Somehow, someway, He was going to do what He said He would do. So, he laid Isaac down.

Can I tell you what one of the sweetest things is for me about this story? It’s not just that Abraham believed and obeyed or even that Isaac lived- all of that is stunning to say the least. But the sweetest, neatest part for me is that the Lord tested Abraham’s faith in a “personal and painful” way, and in doing so presented to him the Gospel in advance (see Galatians 3:8). The Lord personally walked Abraham through the “Good News of Jesus Christ” that would not take place for another 2000 plus years. Then Abraham was able to experience in some small fragment of a way the enormity of the very personal and painful sacrifice God Himself would make on behalf of fallen mankind.

In order to receive from God, we’ve got to lay everything down. How is God testing you?
xo – P

Scripture Reading: Genesis 22:1-18
Read Chapter 7 – Magnificent Obsession

Questions for Small Group Discussion and Blog:

1. Have you found yourself to be in a season of “testing” either now or in the recent past? How has this testing played out for you?
[Note: Tempting and testing are not the same. God “tests” us but does not, cannot “tempt” us (see James 1:13). However, God may certainly “allow” temptation to come our way in the form of a test. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.]

2. What is your “Isaac”? Your most precious possession- either a heart-&-mind possession or an actual “something”? Is there a prodigal child you need to lay down? A relationship you need to lay down? An aspiration you need to lay down? What is it for you?

3. I made the comment above that “Hands that are tightly clenched cannot take hold of all that God has to give.” This is truth I’ve reminded myself with whenever I sense I’m surrendered and there’s some “clinginess” working in me. What about you? What is keeping you from laying it down and surrendering it to God?

4. Obedience brings blessing! Blessings can come in the form of peace and joy, a feeling of being unburdened, or even in tangible ways- God may exchange what we lay down for what I call “a better yes”. How have you experienced God’s blessing as a result of laying everything down? What blessing might you be missing if you don’t?

For Personal Prayer & Reflection:

Lay Everything Down~

Last week we thought about what our “Ishmael” might be. This week would you consider, prayerfully and honestly, what your “Isaac” is- your most precious possession(s), hope or dream. Write it down in your journal or notebook under “Lay Everything Down” and spend some time talking it through with the Lord. This is tough stuff, girls, I know! We can’t imagine giving over the control of our life and the life of those we think we control. But the fact is that WE ARE NOT EVEN IN CONTROL AT ALL! And there is no better one to surrender and lay everything down to than the One who really is in control of everything. He knows what it’s like to lay down His most Precious Possession… and He did it because YOU were so very precious to Him.

Take some time and go through your journal from your study of the Magnificent Obsession so far. Are you simply reading and studying? Or has there been some transformation? What do you see? How have you responded? Remember that we really don’t learn anything at all until we start to use it and live it in our day-to-day. Remember that the more we Lay Everything Down, Cast Everything Out, Lift Everything Up, Entrust Everything Completely, Let Everything Go and Leave Everything Behind… we embrace more and more and more of Him!