By Jill Briscoe
Not long ago I was invited to address a conference on the subject of “Life Lessons.” It wasn’t the first time I was asked to talk about things I would do differently if I had another chance, or the regrets of a “long” life, or other such subjects. There seems to be a pattern emerging!
I made myself a cup of tea (which is what English people do in times of crisis) and, sitting in my rocking chair, reflected it could well be something to do with the fact that I am looking through the windows of my seventy-first year. I dismissed the thought as irrelevant to the question at hand, and got to work on a top five list. Let me share them with you.
However old you are, you are worth as much to God as you were worth when you were young! One of my life lessons is the older you get, the more you live in denial concerning your age. You never think you are old, though apparently everyone else does! I thought about the time in the not too distant past when I slipped on ice, knocked myself out, and came to hearing a young man on a cell phone calling the ambulance and saying, “An elderly woman has just fallen in the parking lot!” I thought, “Isn’t that amazing! Another woman has just fallen at exactly the same time I did!”
I suppose I am learning that this is okay. It means I am still dreaming! There are still mountains I want to climb and rivers in flood I want to cross just for Him. Like Caleb at the young age of 80, I find myself saying, “Give me this mountain.”
See what I mean? Gifts don’t age, and a heart for the Lord can be ever young. And my grand and consuming dream – to get a little bit of my lost world to love Him whom I love to distraction – allows me to live in happy denial of my physical weaknesses and spurs me on to higher planes.
God thinks I am worth employing in His kingdom to the end of the race.
The best thing I can do for my world is know God in such a way others will look at my life and want to know Him, too. Personal metamorphosis happens in personal worship. I try to ask myself daily, “Have I been in the throne room? Have I heard the seraph sing? Have I said, ‘Woe is me’?” That practiced “gaze of the soul” will stop me saying, “Wow is me!” God can’t use a person who “thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think” – that is a life lesson!
Sometimes I am ashamed to say I have to think back to the last time I didn’t want to get up off my knees. Does your soul wear a wristwatch when you pray? I have learned to be intentional in my desire for God. “Where am I growing?” I ask myself. “In what way am I pushing the sides of my soul?” I have learned to go after spiritual intimacy as if my life depended on it – which it does!
There is no such thing as my time. I can’t have hours like the post office if I am in ministry. Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying, “You are not your own. God breaks up the private lives of saints and makes them a thoroughfare for the world on the one hand and Himself on the other!”
It has been a trip! God has sent the world tramping through our home and family with challenges, but most of all, blessings. Many times Jesus has said to us, “Come apart and rest awhile (or you will come apart),” and we have endeavored to do it, only to be met with 5,000 people who demand to be fed and taught, healed, and helped. We have heard the Lord say clearly, “Don’t send them away – YOU give them something to eat,” and have struggled to obey with our little loaves and fishes, finding ourselves ashamed of our grudging spirits and meager generosity.
Living a plan-less life and letting Him keep our calendar has lent itself to adventures incredible, but always a “Thank You” in our soul, for which there is no greater prize.
My surrender to God must be unconditional. The words to Jeremiah ring in my ears, “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you” (Jer.1:7). If I am asked, and if I can do it, I say yes. I must not say, “If they pay my way,” or “If I can sell my books and CDs,” or, “If I stay in a hotel instead of a home,” or, “If I only speak and don’t have to make myself available to people afterwards.” No “ifs” or “buts.”
My un-self-conscious impact on others will be commensurate with the measure that I am given over to serve them, and, “As much as I do it for one of these I am doing it for Him.”
The fragrance of the aroma of Christ is least sensed by those who scatter the perfume of His presence abroad. I have learned to be content that He knows this is what I am about, whether others know it or not! I don’t have to know if I am fragrant, or if I am Godly, or if my talk was effective, or if I sold a lot of CDs, or if I made people laugh or cry. Did I say what He told me to say in the power of the Spirit, or did I get in the way? How I am perceived or received spiritually by others is none of my business. How I am perceived by Him is all that matters. I am to live only unto Him!
You may run out of wealth, health, love, friends, church, or hope, but you never run out of God. Having published a book on the subject (A Little Pot of Oil), I am freshly reminded that you pour out and God pours in, and you never run out of God! He Himself in the person of His Spirit is the sum total of the supply of all He demands.
The secret of burning on and not burning out is to burn with the right fire. Not the fire of self-effort, or ambition, but with the Spirit’s heat. I have tried to ask myself on a daily basis whether I am quenching the Spirit, resisting the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, or letting the Spirit do His own renewing, reviving, refreshing work in my heart. In the measure I am full of the Spirit – and under His control – I burn on!
These are some of my life lessons. Let me ask you: What would your list of life lessons be? Spend some time with the Lord on that one.