Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Partnering in Prayer - A Lenten Devotion - Day 29 - Kill Your Darlings

Day 29 – Wednesday
Kill Your Darlings

God said, “Take your son Isaac, your only one whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you (Genesis 22:2).” What a drama was in the poor heart of that man! God had asked the supreme sacrifice. If Abraham had had to turn the knife on himself it would have been easier! An act of pure faith is the death of what we love most so it may be offered to the loved one because only love is stronger than death. —From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

Just as you God asked Abraham for the life of Isaac, so He asks me to give Him that which is most precious to me. The writers’ phrase “to kill your darlings” means to be willing to cut out of your story those characters, scenes, descriptions, or dialogue which you love the most, but which are either unnecessary or actually detract from the story. A writer must be willing to “kill his darlings” in order to create a greater work. God asks believers to “kill their darlings” when he asks them to sacrifice those things most precious to themselves, so that God can make something better of them.

Sometimes the thing we value most is a complete mystery to us. In his best selling book The Five Love Languages, Gary Smalley says that every way a person can possibly express love to someone can be summed up in one of five “love languages.” These languages are time, touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts. Most people tend to major on one or two, and minor on the rest. The ones at the bottom of your list are likely only barely important to you. My two primary love languages are touch and acts of service. Spending time with someone comes dead last in the list of what’s a good way for me to show affection. That’s pretty bad for someone who’s married to a person whose number one is “time spent!” It’s also pretty bad for a pastor, who needs to spend time with people every day. I’ve had to learn to operate outside of my gifting in that area, so I can fulfill my calling as a husband, father, and pastor.

It seems to me that the love language that you’re least likely to want to give is actually the one you guard the most. A person who’s a bad gift-giver likely is afraid they’ll go broke if they spend too much on gifts. A person who doesn’t give words of encouragement is afraid of saying the wrong thing. A person who doesn’t like to touch may feel a physical vulnerability due to an experience of wrong touch in earlier years. For me, time is something I don’t have much of. I feel like I never do nothing. (Yes, that was proper grammar. I mean I’m always doing something.!) Never having the luxury of doing nothing makes time something that I guard pretty closely. It also means that if I give you time, it’s a pretty significant gift.

The other day, Beth was upset because she wanted to talk to me, and while she was talking, I was clipping my fingernails. Just a small thing, but something that needed doing, I thought. To me, it was a simple, mindless task that I could take care of while we were talking. To her, it was a distraction that kept me from giving her all of my attention. She wanted all of my attention, just for a moment. I didn’t understand then. Maybe I do now.

God wants me to “kill my darlings.” He wants me to give Him that which is most difficult—that which doesn’t come naturally. He wants me to give Him my time—to sit and do nothing with Him. Thank God that we’re not called to sacrifice our children to Him (He actually didn’t require that Isaac be sacrificed, in the end). But we are called to “kill our darlings” for Him. What is the hardest thing for you to give to God? That’s probably what He wants the most!

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