Giving Up Our Alter Ego For Our Altar Ego…

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Control! It’s a big word that should be a four letter word. Ever wonder how to to stop pretending and start living a genuine life? There are two versions of ourself, the big question is which on will win out.
First let’s look at ALTER EGO. Alter ego is a second self or different version of oneself.  Now  Let’s talk about altar.  If you notice, this one is spelled A-L-T-A-R.  If you know anything about church history, you know all the way back in the Old Testament, an altar was a place where people would lay something down before God. It’s a place where they would sacrifice to God. We will be looking at and discussing how to lay down who we think we are or should be (that’s the alter version of our self) for the person God says we are and will be (that’s the altar version of our self).  I hope I didn’t just super confuse myself or you.
 To start off I would like to share an analogy or a word picture with you I believe God put on my heart and mind a couple of years ago now. He gave me this thought while on vacation with my niece and sister at White Lake. My niece Kaitlyn and I were riding this ride where you go way up in the air and it spins you like crazy. 83ACB0D7-1D80-42BB-95D2-F2BD5961BF6E
Here we are on the ride waiting to go. Isn’t she beautiful. While riding, I like most people, was holding onto the handle bar white knuckles and all. I was holding on so tightly I began to not enjoy the ride so much, because it took so much of me to be on it. It was still fun but it was exhausting. Later that night God gave me the thought, Christa you held on so tight as if you could keep that safety bar from opening. Or even yet, somehow have the strength on your own to hold on if it did come open. Why not trust the bar to do its job and you do yours. Let go and enjoy the ride. To this day I take that to heart as I do this ride called life. God is my safety and I need to learn how to let go and let Him do His job while I stick to mine, following Him. I hope that helps put it into perspective for you as it did me. Life is going to get crazy at times, it’s going to hurt and change. We need to take our hands off and trust our safety bar. Trust in God.
 Now let’s look at two people from the Bible, Abraham and Sarah. Their original names were Abram and Sarai.
In the book of Genesis we find Abraham and Sarah who travel from Canaan to Egypt due to a severe famine. Here Abraham shows fear and decides to control the situation instead of trusting God to protect Him and his wife.  He tells his wife that he knows how beautiful she is and because of that he fears for his safety. We see this in Genesis ‪12:11-13‬ “As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” Sarah agrees to do so and when summoned by Pharaoh tells him that she is Abrahams sister instead of his wife. Because of this Pharaoh bestows many gifts to Abraham and takes Sarah to his palace. For this God afflicted Pharaoh’s family with plagues and he realized that she was Abrahams wife. Because of this they were told to leave Egypt.
I want to stop here for a moment to point out two things. First, yes sometimes going over God, doing things our own way out of fear, doubt, ego, can get us things. For a while it can look as if we have everything under control. However then the second thing happens, tragedy. Whether to us or someone else (aka pharaohs plagues) and life goes wrong. The life we thought we had control over falls apart and we are left standing there wondering why. Quickly our perceived control gets lost. It’s then most of us turn back to God, begging Him to help us. Begging Him to get us out of the mess our lack of faith has gotten us in. I can raise my hand high on this one. Both hands actually. Probably my feet too. I have been there, where my sense of control ran out so fast my life was left in shambles.
You know it’s funny, if you had asked me before the bottom of my life fell out, I would have told you I was not a control freak. Now that just makes me laugh. It wasn’t until I finally took some steps back that I could see I was a total control freak. It’s hard sometimes to see our own flaws. Why? Because we are too close to them.
Here’s an example of that thought. I sometimes do an art project with my pre-k students. They are given a mirror and asked to draw themselves as they see themselves. First thing they do is put the mirror so close to their face they can’t see anything but a blur. It’s not until I show them to pull the mirror back that they can finally see themselves. It’s the same with me. With all of us really. Sometimes God has to fully pull ourselves away in order to bring us back. So there I was in life knowing I’m an easy going person, not trying to control anything, walking with God woman. Sure I had my issues, don’t get me wrong. But needing to be in control, not me. I mean at work I had to do everything myself. But that was work, that’s different. I mean the fact that I didn’t trust anyone to know better than me, that didn’t count. I mean after all they say if you want something right do it yourself. Okay and maybe at church I needed to know why every decision was made, who made it, and when. That’s my right as a member after all. Right? So that wasn’t being a control freak. Sure I had to be there for everyone doing for people so they would love me. Never leave me. Doing and doing and doing to make others stay. But that’s not trying to control how they feel for me. I’m meant to do for others. Right? So that doesn’t make me a control freak. Sure I had to make things seem perfect in order to feel worthy of others, of a good life, of Gods love and blessings. After all God helps those who help themselves, right? So that’s not me being a control freak. There’s more, trust me, but we don’t have all day. So again there I was going through life so care free, until bam! Something I could not control happened. And my fake I don’t need to be in control self met my real control freak self. And it created a mess. I’m not going to go into my full story today. Some of you know it already. At least part of it. I will say this though, when the chaos was all said and done I was left a sickly 105 pound woman afraid of her own shadow, didn’t work for almost a year, and single again as my engagement fell apart during this time. Friends I indeed had a life left in shambles. Broken physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Why? Because like Abraham and Sarah I had lied, only I had lied to myself and I was thrown out of the life I had built on those lies.
Maybe you’re sitting here today thinking you don’t have to be in control. It’s not a need you have. You’re just a ducks in a row person. A planner or a doer. If your ducks don’t line up as you want, when you want, well then you simply do something about that. Just like Abraham and Sarah. Another part of Abraham and Sarah’s story is that of being promised a child.
 Let’s pick up here in Genesis.  It has now been 10 years since Abraham and Sarah returned back to Canaan. They are still childless. Remember that before originally moving out of Canaan God told Abraham that he would have a great nation made from him. Still years and years after the promise they still are childless. So getting impatient as most of us can relate to, Sara decides to take matters into her own hands. She tries to outsmart God. Any of you been there before? I know I have. Go read in Genesis 16:1-4.
 This seems more like an episode of All My Children to me. Let’s stop here for a minute. I know we can all relate. Not the letting our husbands sleep with another woman part probably, but the being afraid God won’t come through part. We may not have been told by God his exact plans for us like they had. And because of that some of us are sitting here today thinking, well if I only knew what God had planned, then I could wait. If I knew that husband or wife was indeed coming, if God would tell me I will have a child, if God would tell me that perfect job is coming, then I could wait. We think it’s the not knowing that gets us. We see here in Genesis that it is a lack of faith that gets us. Abraham and Sarah knew, God told them what was coming; they still lost faith in the wait. I keep Jeremiah 29:11 around me most of the time. I have it on my bathroom wall, in my living room, on a bracelet. Jeremiah 29:11 assures me and you that God does have plans for us. Good plans, hope filled plans. God supplies the plans; it is up to us to supply the faith. It is a freewill choice we all get to make.
 SO, Abraham becomes a father through Hagar. After this Sarah begins to despise Hagar. So now not only is she not a mother, but she also has hate in her heart for another to deal with. Something new is added to her spiritual plate so to speak. This I can say to you right now with absolute certainty, when we go our own way, out on our own power, try to outsmart or rush God, hurt, guilt, regret,  and more get added to our own spiritual plate. Some of us have years of extra stuff we a carrying around. Why? Control.  We have for years now taken matters into our own hands.
Now we have Ishmael born to Abraham and Hagar. At 99 he becomes a father. Again, Abraham is assured Sarah will become a mother when they are visited by 3 men. They told Abraham that she would have a son. Sarah overhears this and laughs to herself. Surely she was now too old to have a child. God waited too long.
Let’s stop here for a minute. Again we see God telling Abraham and Sarah His plans. Does she believe it? No! Again we see her doubting that God could or would. This reinforces that it is not about knowing the plan, It’s about having faith in the One who does.
Sarah does indeed go on to birth a son, he is named Issac. Issac goes onto become an intracil part of Gods plans. He fathers Jacob the eventual patriarch of the Israelites. God still came through with His word even through their fear, doubt, and their mistakes through their need to control the situation. So what can we take away for our own lives from this today?
 Our being in control is not needed to receive the life we are promised by God. Maybe not the life we want, when we want, but the life God planned for us. If there is one thing I have learned it is this, what is truly meant to be will be. What is not will not: Without our help. Without our constant worry or forcing them. Without us chasing them. What God intends for you to posses, to do, he will make happen.
 I have a huge desire to be a wife and mother. At 43 years of age I have never been married nor have children. I have tried for years to make this happen. Forcing it in ways at times. I came close once 3 years ago until my life came crashing down around me. Ultimately I was driven out of control by always trying to be in control. Now 3 years later after having to rebuild a body, a mind, a spirit, a heart, and a life, I am finally learning the art of surrendering. I have not let go of the desire, I don’t think that is possible for me, not unless God himself takes it from me. He hasn’t yet, so I surrender the outcome instead. The one thing I have come to terms with lately that I wish to share with you today, you do not have to stop desiring things. It is not bad to want something you do not have. It becomes bad when we allow it to become a barrier between us and God. When it causes us to lose faith or go ahead of God. Keep the desire, surrender the control.
 For those of us that are control freaks we have a theme verse.  It’s Proverbs 3, verses 5 and 6. Only our translation is the C.F.V. translation, and it’s this. It says, “Trust in the Lord with some of your heart and Lean on your own understanding, In some of your ways, acknowledge God.” And you will make your paths straight.”The C.F.V, the “Control Freak Version.” Though you may laugh most of us, if not all of us, are living our life this way in one or more areas of our life. Even if we can’t see it.
 Today is the day to choose surrender. The day to take a good look at ourselves. To decide to really lean in with God and see where we have a death grip on our life. Where we are white knuckling it so bad we can no longer enjoy life as it is right now. Like I said earlier I thought I was an easy going person. God has in love shown me just how untrue that was, and how to change. He has helped me be able to better (not perfectly) but better live out the true version of Proverbs3:verses 5 and 6. To trust in Him with all my heart, to lean not on my own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all things.
There’s a song “God blessed the broken road” by rascal flats. It’s a love song about the winding road that led one soul to another. One day I felt God telling me to listen to the song, but instead of it relating to another person, relate it to myself. So wanting to obey God I listened and it brought me to tears. The road to finding who we are is long for some of us. It’s filled with twists and turns. But if we allow Him to God will bless it all and use it to bring us into the person we were created to be. Meeting myself these past few years had been tough, tear filled, yelling years. They have also been amazing. This is what I want for you today, take your broken past, your addictions, your hurts, surrender all to God at the altar and be set free. Free to be the real you.

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