The Yielded Life – Am I a Bulldozer or a Yielder?
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Galatians 5: 15-17
Do you ever feel like life doesn’t play out like you planned it? There are small things – errands that are never quite finished, crumbs that are never perfectly swept, projects that are never quite complete. Then there are big things – like a trip to the Urgent Care or a phone call with life-changing news that stops us in our tracks. Life is simply full of unexpected needs and difficulties that force us to stop and regroup. Some of these difficulties we will handle well, others will truly push us to our limit.
Have you considered God’s hand in your life circumstances? Have you considered that the difficulties and the unexpected moments are the very thing that He is using to mold and soften you into the person He wants you to be? We read in Philippians that God is actively shaping each one of us, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
God is clearly the orchestrator of the plans and purposes in life (Proverbs 16:9). But why does he allow hard things to come our way? I think it is because God cares deeply about our hearts – and the way we handle the unexpected reveals what is in our hearts. He knows that challenging and difficult circumstances will bring us to the end of ourselves. Which way will we turn with our deepest needs of our hearts? Will we turn to God in dependence or continue trying to live in our own strength?
I wonder what God sees in my heart. When difficulties or even simple interruptions come my way, does He see kindness and receptivity? Often times, yes. But sadly, these circumstances can sometimes reveal the ugliness that is in my heart and spirit. Why do I sometimes react with kindness and grace, while at other times with frustration, impatience or fear?
God addresses this struggle in the Bible. It’s called “living in the flesh” vs. “living in the Spirit,” and they are in complete contrast to each other, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” ( Galatians 5: 15-17)
“Living by the flesh” could simply be described as living life my way – where independent human beings live in their own strength and serve “Self” as King. On the other hand, “living by the Spirit” could be described as living life God’s way – where dependent human beings live in God’s strength and serve Christ as King.
Now I know that all of us would probably desire to live by the Spirit – to live God’s way –and rightly so! But, I must tell you, this life lived by the Spirit will cost you something, because His way is all about yielding – yielding your time, yielding your priorities, yielding to someone else’s plans – in essence, yielding your very life to Him.
Interruptions and difficulties are always a good barometer for me – am I yielding to or resisting the needs placed before me? It has been said that American drivers are not very good “yielders.” When we see a yield sign, we frequently just plow on through. Unfortunately, left to our own devices, most of us handle life in a similar way. But here is the good news; God knows our weakness. He knows we are terrible “yielders” without Him – and He wants to help. All He asks is that we bring to Him faith – putting our trust in Him and not ourselves, and a surrendered heart of humility – admitting that we need and desire the help of the Holy Spirit to live life His way.
As we do, He, Himself will help us to walk by the Spirit, and a life marked by the very presence of God will open up to us!
We read about what this kind of life looks like in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23) Who doesn’t want their life overflowing with these qualities?! On the contrary, living in the flesh will not produce these fruits, but rather the unhelpful fruits of self-reliance like impatience and frustration.
So we see that although living life God’s way will cost you something, it is worth it! And quite frankly, what a relief! Instead of “must accomplish my ‘to do’ list with excellence,” walking by the Spirit simply means that I am a willing and useful vessel. (2 Timothy 2:20-22). Instead of “Super Woman,” walking by the Spirit means that I have a quiet and trusting heart. (Isaiah 30:15). Instead of “independently strong woman,” walking by the Spirit means that I abide in His strength. (John 15:5). I don’t know about you but I am ready to trade the demanding, self-centered way of “walking by the flesh” for the surrendered way of “walking by the Spirit!”
May God help us to live yielded lives, depending on Him and his Holy Spirit for everything. May He give us eyes to see that difficulties and interruptions just might be precious opportunities in disguise – a chance to honor God in a way that clearly demonstrates to others a different kind of life…an uncommon life that is marked by generous love and grace – a life of “walking by the Spirit!”
– Julie McGrath
Father, help me to live a life that is completely yielded to you. How I need you at ALL times – in my normal routine and in those crunch moments. May your power be made perfect in my weakness. Help me to have faith! Help me to yield to the power of your Holy Spirit, so that I am filled with all of the beautiful qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How I want to live a life of full surrender to Your higher and better ways. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
1. Where do you turn when life gets hard? Do you turn inward? Do you look to others? Or do you look to God for your strength?
2. What time of day pushes you to your limit? Mine is at noon and between 4 and 6 pm. It’s helpful to be aware of your weaker times so you can intentionally pace yourself and seek the God’s help. He will help you in your time of need!