Garden Principles Part II
“The Permissive Garden”
A Garden must be Permissive. (or submissive)
“ He that endeavoreth to withdraw himself from OBEDIENCE,
withdraweth himself from GRACE.” -Thomas a’Kempis
Submission’s simplest definition is: ‘being willing to obey someone else’. Submission is an attitude and obedience is an action. I am not going to take the time to quote all the verses on being in subjection, and submissive daughters because we all have read them. Our struggle here isn’t a lack of understanding that we are supposed to submit, but a struggle to willingly agree to this God given design in our lives. Submission stinks. Let’s get real… even that definition isn’t enjoyable to read… “giving up what I want for what someone else decides they want” doesn’t sound like a thing I’ll willingly, gladly or easily accept into my life. We are all natural, born rebels. It goes against our very nature and the fiber of our beings to be told what to do by someone else. The Lord knows this. He never once said that submission was easy, convenient or even enjoyable.
I went through ‘submission’ school for the past 2 months in preparation for this lesson. Do I have it all figured out now? Absolutely not. I am as much in need of ‘practice’ and ‘exercise’ in this area as anyone else. I hope that the Lord can use what I’ve been learning in order to encourage someone else along this uphill climb on ‘Mount Obedience’.
I want to begin by talking about how we are not naturally submissive… in fact we are naturally completely the opposite.
A Harlot’s heart: or the disobedient heart.
A while ago the Lord gave me a lot of thoughts out of reading Proverbs. I don’t know why but the subject of the ‘strange’ woman and the harlots that are mentioned always sort of disturbed or disgusted me, and I felt that these women’s examples were ‘irrelevant’ to my life! God used them to teach me what the HEART of these women looked like and how ours looks the same! Shocked! Well, let’s look at it….
The ‘strange women’ mentioned in Proverbs has several characteristics that appear several times. She is described for us as…
- Manipulative (Proverb 5:1-5) “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”
This heart will cunningly use words to get what it wants. When have we used our words, or a compliment, or waited for the ‘right’ mood to hit our authority before we ask for something we want?
- Disobedient (Prov. 2:16-19) “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.”
This heart has left and forgotten the covenant she once made to her Lord and has forsaken the guide of her youth. Who is put in charge of GUIDING our youth? She decided to rebel against her father first and what naturally follows is rebellion against God. She first chose to ignore the instruction of her parents and thus ignored God’s working in her life. How often have you chosen (in your heart) to ignore the ‘wishes’ of a parent, knowing full well what they want of you? When was the last time you decided that your way was ‘best’ and ‘right’ (and all of theses lovely words we use to label our disobedience with) and that your authority was ‘wrong’, ‘selfish’ or ‘didn’t understand’ you?
Jeremiah 3:3-7 “Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not.”
Don’t sit here and think that because you are not a literal harlot that the same evilness of heart doesn’t reside in your human flesh. Her #1 step, her beginning down a path of harlotry, was simply “forsaking the guide of her youth.” This doesn’t seem that bad. She decided she wanted to follow a different path than her parents or God had chosen for her. She DECIDED she was going to do what she felt was ‘right’! Her parents just didn’t understand her ‘call’. I truly believe that if God WANTS you to be DOING something than He will work through your authority… and if not, you have to submit to being told NO (by God) through your earthly ‘guide’. Harlotry doesn’t begin with the ‘act’ of sexual sin or adultery, it starts much earlier…. In our thoughts and intents of our heart and surprisingly enough in rebellion against authority!
- Rebellious. It is also said of this girl in Proverbs 7 that “her feet abide not in her house.” I personally don’t believe that you have to always be home, never allowed to venture forth, however, if you never want to be home, avoid contact with you parents, are always ‘out’, it shows a heart problem. Abide means to dwell, or live. It seems to me that this girl is described more as having ‘moved out on her own’ and becoming independent of her father’s authority.
Read Proverbs 7: 10-12 “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”
Proverbs continues to describe this woman’s heart very well. She is called…
- Says to the young man “I’ve found thee” ( this implies that she is actively SEEKING for a young man to make her happy.)
- “Let us solace ourselves.” This girl is very unhappy and seeking in all the wrong places for SOLACE or comfort.
- It also says her words FORCED him. She was most definitely the iniciator of this relationship.
- She ‘slays and wounds’ these strong men. She selfishly injures them for her own satisfaction. When was the last time you enjoyed a man’s honest admiration and consumed it upon your own lust?
- “her path” She chose her way, her desire, her fulfillment. Sound familiar?
- Knoweth nothing
- To call passengers ‘who go right on their way.’ When we get far enough down, we’ll actually enjoy bringing other’s down to our level to make ourselves feel better about what we are.
- Plucketh down with her own hands all that she strove to achieve and acquire. Self-destruction.
- A Deep ditch
- A narrow pit
- The earth is said to be disquieted by this odious woman when she is married! Rebellious behavior and attitudes aren’t the best preparation for practicing submission in marriage!
- She wouldn’t blush over her sin, but instead claimed she did nothing wrong.
This is a pretty grim picture, but I wanted to somehow show you that this woman that we read about in disgust and righteous annoyance, is truly the woman that lies deeply buried in every woman’s heart. Our heart is deceitful, wicked and truly harlotous.
In Jeremiah 5: 25 God tells us that He cannot give us the good things that He so wants to bestow because of our own sin. (read it). Our own personal choice to rebel against Him blocks the otherwise good things He intended to do though and in our life.
Rebellion isn’t a small sin. Rebellion is the root of all other sins and was the cause of Satan’s fall and 1/3rd of the angels of Heaven. It isn’t something to be tampered with, held onto, or even to be looked at as something desirable. Our country as a whole has done an amazing job making rebellion seem glamorous. It’s harolded as the ‘foundation’ of our freedoms, the sounding peel of the bells of liberty to choose, and is celebrated by all who do not understand the authority and blessings of God. Our media is full of portraying rebellion as a good thing, such as kids who through off their parent’s selfish dreams and fulfill their own instead, novels where the heroines are the ‘strong’ ones who revolt from their protection and face the world alone, female heroes who have no head and no protection, the list is endless.
So, you’re a rebellious harlot. Isn’t that encouraging? Well, I can’t say it encouraged me either, but it is helpful when you realize that you are fighting against your nature in attempting to submit and obey the Lord in following Him and your authorities. You’re starting out ‘behind’ girls. That’s not your fault. What we choose to do with it is! Realize that submission doesn’t just naturally flow through you veins. It is a learned response, and as with all learning, God lovingly gives us areas to ‘practice’.
God Gave you…
Have you ever stopped to ponder why you were born to your parents? And not someone else’s parents? Why God chose your dad as your authority and head? The Lord personally designed your head to fit you. Sometimes we excuse ourselves by saying that our ‘personalities’ just clash, or I just ‘struggle’ because of said head’s own issues. Remember, you are ‘matched’ to perfection! God NEVER has made a mistake yet… He didn’t make one in choosing you father either.
I can just hear you all saying in your minds, ‘but you don’t know his issues!’. ‘It’s hard to follow him’, etc. Let me just tell you that in the eyes of the Lord your authorities imperfections, faults and problems were tailor made to help you LEARN submission. The fact that an authority isn’t ‘perfect’ does not disqualify them from being your head.
If you don’t TRUST your authority than you don’t TRUST God! Most often we like to ‘separate’ in our minds our parent’s authority and our obedience to God… the twain cannot be split! If you have trouble surrendering to your dad’s rule over you, do not ‘deceive’ yourself… you have trouble surrendering to God’s authority over you!
Have you ever complained about a decision your parents made, regretted that your parents decided to do ‘this’ or ‘that’, told someone how much you were struggling to ‘accept’ this decision of your parents…………all of these are signs of an inner, deeper struggle of setting aside what you want for the sake of following and obeying Christ. If you have a problem with your parent’s authority, you have a problem with God’s authority.
If you dishonor you authority you are dishonoring God. The Lord’s authority is ‘displayed’ in us. When we choose to follow our own way and ignore God’s plan we are not bringing Glory to Him as we’re designed to do, but the opposite… we are shaming the One we claim to love so much.
If you do not willingly and gladly obey your parents then you are disobeying the Lord! This point is where the ‘rubber-meets-the-road’. If you cannot GRACIOUSLY, GLADLY AND THANKFULLY submit to your dad or mom than you are disobeying them in your heart! Even if you ‘act’ the right way and outwardly obey and ‘grumble’ or even complain to the LORD (or God-forbid ANOTHER PERSON) about your authority’s decision for you: then YOU ARE NOT OBEYING GOD!!! NO MATTER HOW YOU SUGAR-COAT IT rebellion usually sounds something like this…. “Oh, I’m just struggling to accept this decision, or I’m just finding it hard to believe it is for my good, Or I don’t know how this could be ‘right’ “… all of these excuses are PROOF of an inner REBELLION to your authority’s decisions and God’s leading in your life through that decision by that authority.
Girls, submission require a deep-rooted faith and TRUST in a God that is bigger than the authorities HE HAS CHOSEN AND DESIGNED TO RULE OVER YOU!
Also… Don’t for a moment think that your dad’s authority over you is paramount and your mother’s authority is any less important. I find that obeying my mother with grace and honor can be an even HARDER TASK than my dad. Somehow the father’s demand more respect than your mother might. I know that all of us feel that our Dad’s are ‘stronger’ authorities and that our mom’s aren’t as strong… but She is also a large section of your protective wall! Don’t dishonor her in this! She deserves just as much respect and submission as your father does. “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Prov. 30:17
Let’s face it, if we struggle obeying our parents, and obeying God, we WILL STRUGGLE in being REBELLIOUS to our future husband. If you find it hard obeying a Godly 50+ year old man, how much harder will it be to trust and follow a not-so-godly 20-something ‘boy’ who hasn’t learned how to lead! The odds aren’t in our favor as to making things easier for ourselves.
The Lord is using these lessons we are learning right now, in our own homes, with our own parents to teach us how to submit. He is using the tool of submission to weed out of us the plant of rebellion.
God Gave you…
2. Your Personalities
If any of you are human you’ve all felt the difficulties that arise from being created individual human beings. There are times that your parents will do something that will completely drive you insane, embarrass you (like no one else can! ) or just rub you up and down the wrong way. It happens. It’s not a clash of wills so much as personalities. I am not excusing any of us from obeying, or submitting, but there is the reality that some people seem to struggle less than others. This doesn’t always mean that you are more rebellious than another sibling, but struggle more to relate to your parent than they do. I just happen to be a lot like my dad and it has made it easier for me to understand ( SOMETIMES!) where he’s coming from or why he’s thinking what he is about an issue. Lynea, on the other hand, is like oil and water with dad’s personality. We don’t CHOOSE our personalities anymore than we choose our parents. I just want to encourage you that you aren’t ‘extra’ rebellious, but very different. The Lord is trying to teach you something very valuable through this experience of being opposites that will be a very valuable lesson your whole life. Learning to relate to others, even when you don’t fully understand them, is a very good thing to know. You’ll need it your whole life, everywhere you go. Because we are all so different, often ‘conflicts’ arise and the ‘problems’ in our lives can often we traced to this. God gave you these problems. We all value peace to some degree, and often it cannot be maintained with out the high price of someone giving of themselves for someone else. That is EXACTLY what submission is…. death to your wants. This is what God requires of you.
“He that doth no cheerfully and freely submit himself to his superior, showeth that his flesh is not as yet perfectly brought into subjection, but often-times struggleth and murmureth against him.” Thomas a’Kempis
God gave you…
3. Your Personal Responsibility.
I can just hear those questions now, that I’ve asked myself dozens of times over, “But, what if my authority is wrong?” or “ What do I do when my authority is wrong, obviously wrong…. Possibly even being selfish and going against what I believe God wants me to be doing?
This can be a hard pill to swallow, but in the eyes of the Lord, He isn’t wrong. I can just hear the tumult in your heads,….. “but HE IS WRONG!” Once your authority has made a decision for you even if it is clearly wrong and even selfish, God has allowed this to happen to you. Some of the hardest things in life to accept is God allowing someone else’s sin to affect you. But it does. Let me just mention here that you are RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU ALONE! It is so easy to feel like we are excused from our ‘reactions’ to something if the one we are reacting to is wrong as well! This is a lie! You are RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU… and NO ONE ELSE! If your authority is wrong, God knows, God sees and He will judge that case. You are responsible to OBEY that authority regardless of how he or she personally is behaving. God blesses Obedience…. Over and over and over in the Bible… God blesses obedience. The buck stops at authority. If your authority has chosen incorrectly for you, God holds that authority responsible for that decision…. NOT YOU. This can be freeing. The Lord never intended you to obey something that is clearly sinful and against God’s authority. We are to obey God rather than men. However, usually the case is that your father has said NO to something you deemed God’s call or God’s will for your life. If this is true, he will give account for himself and that decision and YOU will give account for your response to his authority… not that decision. So, What do I do when my authority is WRONG… First let me ask this… “How do you know?”…. how do you KNOW that your authority is ‘wrong.’ It may seem wrong, feel wrong, smell wrong and actually be God’s direct plan for your life! I have ALWAYS been ‘wrong’ whenever I truly believed I was ‘right’… and that belief went against my authority’s decisions!! No matter how ‘unselfish’ even you feel you motives, they are WRONG when they are not in agreement with you Authority’s leadership! (Ill. Story about Tiff)
More often then not, we are struggling against God’s direct ‘hindering’ in our life. When something is what He truly wants you to be doing, He WILL work out the details and LEAD through your authority. I believe Christ honors obedience to even lost authorities. Thankfully, we don’t have to debate whether or not our father’s are trying to follow Christ or not. God can USE your authority’s mistakes, failures and even sins for your good. Do you really believe this? We have to trust God, not our authority’s leadership abilities or good choices. You have to believe that God is GREATER than your authority… and can change your authority’s heart on a subject when needed. Ultimately God is in control.
To be continued...