To me, a refrain can mean a single, key idea that marks your life. It can be just a sentence that represents a defining moment or experience. It could be the essence of a truth in which is found your very identity. Your refrain could be everything that you focus on. For me, a simple, unadorned phrase has become my refrain, through an event that occurred on Monday, May 16, 2011.
The actual details of the event are fairly unimportant, though not trivial: I saw the Jesus Culture “band” at a “concert” in Seattle. I use quotes because they more closely resemble a worship team than they do a musical group, and their presence on stage was not a performance, but rather a call to praise the Lord and seek His face. One individual did not actually play any instruments or sing, and instead shared an encouraging message for the audience, which mostly comprised young people from middle and high school.
That message is a subject for another blog post. The most important revelation for me that night was really based on a principle I have known from spiritual infancy. I am God’s child. And what is more, I am royalty, because He who is the King of the universe claims me as His child. That is the principle. But what really impacted me, and the reason for my new refrain, was that I realized a crucial corollary of that principle. I belong to God.
I repeat: as a child of God, I belong to Him.
Okay, now let me explain why this has such a gargantuan effect on my life. For a long time, or at least as long as I can remember in my Christian timeline, I’ve been plagued by the concept of surrendering, or giving up, something to God. It has been a serious bane of my spiritual growth. You could say it has been a thorn in my side, like Paul’s (although probably milder), and it has always been rooted in this: whenever I wanted to surrender an area of my life, I would pray for God to help me give it up fully, and I wouldn’t act unless I thought He had followed my request. I was telling God, essentially, that I could not yield 100% of my heart to Him unless He did it for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that without God’s grace, I would be completely unable to turn anything toward Him. But my problem was that I was trying to give God the burden of something I have been responsible for all along. What I needed to realize is that God has already given me the strength I need, through the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to ask Him and wait passively for Him to act, when He has already acted. Another way to look at it is thusly: if I belong to God, then that means everything of me belongs to Him, so there isn’t anything that I could really keep to myself, even if I wanted to! All I have to do in order to surrender my life to Christ is just to do it, not to ask Him to do it for me.
So, when I repeat my refrain to the Lord, “I am Your child”, I remind myself that everything in me has been surrendered to my Father. I remind myself that my very character will be identified with my Savior. And I promise to my Creator that I will let my self be swept away by His great love, and resist no more.
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Author's note: if you haven't had the profound encouragement of listening to Jesus Culture worship music, please do yourself a favor and look them up. I highly recommend them.