It’s unusual to hear a Bible study teacher admit she is her biggest hindrance to growing closer to Jesus. Author and podcaster, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson owns it. Shellie has found the joy of living dying to her stubborn bent for self-rule and her habit of knuckling down to measure up, while simultaneously confessing that Jesus alone saves her from defaulting! She is passionate about helping others discover how the indwelling Christ can empower us to live dying to the tyrant of us and more alive than we could ever imagine to the deep and wide life in Him. It’s a grace to welcome Shellie to the farm’s front porch today…
There’s a white, furry, heart-shaped rug in our master bedroom, on my side of the bed.
No one sees it from the door, so for the most part, only God and I know it’s there. (Oh, and now y’all do, but you’ll sleep and forget, right?)
The rug was a gift from my bestie. She saw it and knew it would be a perfect gift.
Red’s traveled many a ministry mile with me, and bless her own dear soul, she’s heard me speak more than anyone on the planet should have to other than Jesus. The girl needs a crown for that alone.
Red knows my strengths, my weaknesses, and my routines, and she’s well acquainted with my crazy. It’s a close match to her own. (You can experience our matching crazy all over social media, but don’t say you weren’t warned.)
She also knows about my fondness for hearts.
I’ve been collecting them in every size and shape imaginable for years, ever since I started asking Jesus to take the broken want-to of this heart that didn’t know how to love Him and turn it into His happy place.
Red knows about my habit of sliding out of bed to my knees and why I formed it. She knows I’ll be there for a few seconds, at the most.
She knows it isn’t my prayer time, just a bare moment of intentional yielding. It’s me saying, “Boss me, today, Jesus. I surrender me, again.”
Of course, Red can’t always travel with me. She has plenty of obligations that keep her at home.
But once, I was coming off a long ministry weekend where I had been traveling many miles with just me, myself, and Jesus, when Red surprised me with her gift.
My spirit was full, but the flesh was weary and needing a nap when Red went with the “close your eyes I’ve got something for you” thing.
I complied, and when I opened my eyes, there stood my longtime buddy grinning like a crazy person and holding that furry, white, heart-shaped rug.
That rug now marks the spot of my daily dying, and I love it.
I don’t write about my rug to convince you to take up the habit of going to your knees before you take to your feet.
I realize some of you have physical limitations that hinder you from slipping to the floor in the morning.
But I do write to double-dog dare you to adopt the heart habit of ignoring yourself, surrendering everything you are to everything He is, yield to Him all day, and then yield again tomorrow and the day after that.
Oh, and start early, like as soon as your eyes open.
Why? Because Jesus will be our everything or our nothing today, but He refuses to be our side hustle.
Because whatever our day holds, nothing in it can compare to a millisecond of His Presence, and we must die to ourselves to live in Him.
Having enough Jesus to think you’re making it to Heaven will never be enough Jesus for us once we begin to realize our constant need of a Savior and learn to nourish ourselves in His Presence, walking nearer still.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24 NASB, emphasis mine)
Daily. Underline that word. Star it. Jot it on a sticky note.
The biggest hindrance we have to finding the deep and wide life with Jesus we’re looking for stares back at us in the bathroom mirror every morning. It’s us.
Daily fellowship requires daily surrender, and we need to have that settled before the world starts crowding in with countless opportunities to choose our will or yield to God’s.
In yielding our will, we must learn to include both the present moment and our right to the one down the road.
Our temptation is to leave ourselves secret “wiggle” room in our thinking to act, say, and do what we please over X, Y, or Z, if we decide we’ve gotten a belly full.
It may not be a conscious decision, but reserving some measure of us for ourselves is a pending will, not a yielded will.
Absolute surrender refuses to reserve an out by trusting Jesus to empower our obedience in the future, just as He saved us in the past, and just as HE is strengthening us in the present.
It’s a deeper consecration, it brings a fuller joy, and it’s our second heart habit. Living as the bossed with Jesus as the boss.
Side story: I got an email once from a well-meaning lady who had heard me speak and wanted me to know she didn’t approve of my using language about Jesus bossing me.
She thought it was sacrilegious. I meant no disrespect then, and I mean none now.
When I ask Jesus to boss me, I’m basically confessing what God and I both know.
My flesh is going to want to rule the day, but my desire is to live dying to self and yielding to Jesus.
I’m saying I aim to ignore my me monster, and I’m acknowledging I’ll need His indwelling help!
Yes, I have a me monster. Brace yourself. You do, too.
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an award-winning author and humorist, a popular blogger and speaker, and host of the All Things Southern podcast. Her titles include Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On and Heart Wide Open.
Finding Deep & Wide helps us step away from the exhaustion we feel when living under a spiritual to-do list. By sharing honest, heartfelt, and often hilarious stories of family life in Louisiana, and retelling familiar Bible stories, Shellie helps us see the life Jesus offers us so freely. A life away from the formulaic, duty-bound Christianity and a life spent joyfully surrendered.
[ Our humble thanks to Salem Books for their partnership in today’s devotion ]