I’ve been asked before why the name of this blog is Graceful Abandon. Years and years ago, God put it on my heart to live with abandon for Him instead of myself, by His grace and unfettered by my past. I was inspired by this quote of Elisabeth Elliot: “I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” What does a life of reckless abandon look like? It is a life unfettered by the past and by misconceptions about Truth.
5 Keys to a Life of Reckless Abandon for the Lord
1. A life of Reckless Abandon is based only on Scripture
One of the hardest things in the world for me is to focus on what God requires of me instead of what is socially or culturally interpreted. It’s really challenging to set aside all of the voices in the Christian world that tell me what I ought to be. I could go on and on and on telling you all of the extra-Biblical standards I have bought into and failed at, only to have the Holy Spirit nudge me back to the Word to seek out the Truth. The TRUTH is that I need to love God and love people (1 John 4:7,8). The TRUTH is that God Himself gave us Scripture to teach us, train us, disciple and discipline us and to be our guide (2 Tim 3:15-17). The TRUTH is that I need to obey Scripture (James 1:22). The Truth is that God wants me to live with reckless abandon for Him, rather than abandoning my heart to a pale comparison found in this world.
It can be a real challenge not to read books, listen to teachings, pour over blogs, and engage in debates about what a godly wife looks like or a godly mother and to pick apart what Scripture says and then add my own interpretation to it. I’m all about looking nice for my husband, keeping my home as neat as I’m able, feeding my family healthy food, being a frugal steward over the resources my husband provides, and so on. However, those are things that are influenced by Scripture without being defined clearly by it. I need to keep clear what God says about my role and what I am adding to that. It is critical that I keep those standards in their proper significance in my life if I want to live with reckless abandon for God and not myself. I can’t allow them to eclipse the Truths that God has spoken over me: I am to honor my husband, to support him, to love our children, and to put my hand to the work God sets before me. Everything else may or may not have a place in my life, and its place will always be below anything God has spoken clearly about in His Word.
2. A life of Reckless Abandon is one that looks at God, not at self
I don’t know about you, but I find myself looking inward and examining my heart a lot. I look at my life and critique my own actions. Sometimes I even look at others and critique theirs. But you know what? God tells me to look at Him. He doesn’t want me to focus on me, but rather on Him and His purpose. My life will bear the fruit of what overtakes my vision; I want to bear God’s fruit, not my own.
Oswald Chambers, author of my favorite devotional book of all time (aff link), says this: “Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God…[this] is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3).”
To live with reckless abandon for God, I’ve had to abandon my own plans and dreams. I could plan many good things for my life, but they may not be what God has for me. Ephesians 2:10 says that God created me in His image and for good works that He has prepared beforehand. It is oftentimes much too easy to forget that and to chart my life’s course with goals that culture has told me are good: a stable home, a retirement savings, children who have a ‘good’ education, space to pursue my hobbies, nice hair and clothes, delicious meals on a well dressed table, a successful career, and so on. I have to tell you, it’s easy to value those things and I fall into the trap of reaching for them every single day.
But just today God shook me and showed me that these trappings that are glorious in a worldly successful life are traps in a recklessly abandoned life. They can tie me down like shackles from the good work God has for me to do if I pursue them instead of Him. Luke 9:23 plainly tells us that to come after Christ we have to deny ourselves and embrace the cross. We abandon what we value that is only temporal to embrace what He promises is eternal.
4. A life of Reckless Abandon is passionate about Love
1 John 4:7-8 tells us to love God and love people. 1 Corinthians 13 extols the virtues of love and then reminds us at the end that “the greatest of these is love.” Song of Solomon 3:4 says this: “I have found the One whom my soul loves; I held Him and would not let Him go…” I know that this is a love story, but my prayer has been for my heart to love God this way. To love Him from the depth of my soul and to cling so tightly to Him that we can never be separated. I don’t want to leave room for anything -especially my own self- to come between us. I want to not only yearn for God, but to yearn for people to love Him, too. I want to love others without regard for their station in life, what we have in common, or anything else that I might have previously used to judge the merit of another. I want to love them because they are made in the image of the One whom my soul loves.
5. A life of Reckless Abandon is contentment with God, not with circumstance
It’s super easy to look at life and say, “If only ____ were different, I could be so happy.” But Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 that contentment isn’t based on circumstances. Therefore we know that it can’t be based on a change in circumstances either. What contentment does come from is a change in me. When I am discontent, it is most often because I am looking at what is happening in my life and feeling entitled to have it be something else. Instead, God is showing me that He alone is the One who satisfies and therefore He alone is the source of my contentment. This isn’t easy, and I’ve not mastered it, but what I’ve learned so far is that if I spend more time being busy than being still, I become discontent. It’s okay to have a full life, but even in the midst of my activity my heart needs time to be still before Him. I need to prioritize reading the Bible, spending time with others who love Him, and listening to teaching on the Word (and not just about what a Christian life should look like). That keeps my focus on God instead of my circumstances.