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“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” ~Elisabeth Elliot
The first time I heard that expression, “a life reckless abandon,” I was hooked. It completely captivated me. Something in my soul knew that was how I wanted to live.
Have you ever felt that way about something? Like you knew it spoke to your very soul? This was that moment for me. But it also left me confused.
Oswald Chambers defines it as “totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything.”
What does a life of reckless abandon look like? It is a life unfettered by the past and by misconceptions about Truth. It’s a life of graceful abandon.
How to Live With Reckless Abandon
I love God with all my heart. I love my husband and our children. But I got worn out trying to be a good Christ-follower, godly wife, and proverbial mother.
It was downright exhausting trying to live up to pop-culture’s standards, and I fizzled out along the way. Girl, you know what I mean.
My own twisty, winding journey to this place is still in progress. Every time I think I’m secure in God and unshaken by my life, something happens that shakes me to my core. And isn’t that Biblical? Everything that can be shaken will be.
However, God has never changed. His Truth is unwavering, and His faithfulness remains secure.
I am learning, day to day, to rest in the peace of knowing that the One my soul loves also calls me Beloved. And in that Truth, I find a freedom to live with reckless abandon.
1. 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…”
Do you pray for the ability to love God with the desperation found in the Song of Solomon? To love Him with the depth of your soul and to cling so tightly to Him that you can never be separated?
Scripture also promises that by the way: Nothing will be able separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus!
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. Do you have this passion? It’s life changing!
Side note: these are the things I want. I’m not always like it…at all. Too often I get hung up on someone saying something stupid or doing something ridiculous, and I completely forget to see them as made in the image of the One I love.
Heck, sometimes I forget to see that in my husband and kids. Or myself. But that’s where grace steps in. I repent, I pray, and I reset.
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.
I’m so foolish. That’s not at all what Beloved is calling me to do. God tells me to look at Him.
He doesn’t want me to focus on myself, 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, 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, you have to abandon your own plans and dreams. You can plan many good things for your life, but they may not be what God has for you.
Ephesians 2:10 says that God created you in His image and for good works that He has prepared beforehand.
It is oftentimes much too easy to forget that and to chart your life’s course with goals that culture has told you are good: a stable home, a retirement savings, children who have a ‘good’ education, space to pursue 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 imagine what would happen if you allowed God to shake everything up and show you that these trappings that are glorious in a worldly successful life are traps in a recklessly abandoned life.
They can tie you down like shackles from the good work God has for you to do if you pursue them instead of Him. Sister, they are the things we trip over so easily.
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 based only on Scripture
One of the hardest things on this journey is to focus on what God requires 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 you what you 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. Have you been there, too?
The TRUTH, however, is simple: we 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 us, and discipline us and to be our guide (2 Tim 3:15-17). The TRUTH is that we need to obey Scripture (James 1:22).
The Truth is that God wants us to live with reckless abandon for Him, rather than abandoning our hearts 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 should do and to pick apart what Scripture says and then add your own interpretation to it.
However, those are things that are influenced by Scripture without being defined clearly by it. It’s absolutely essential that you keep clear what God says about your role and discern what humans are adding to that.
It is critical that you keep those standards in their proper significance in your life if you want to live with reckless abandon for God and not yourself.
Simply put, you can’t allow them to eclipse the Truths that God has spoken over you: You are precious, you are loved, you have a purpose. You are called to honor your husband, to love your children, and to put your hand to the work God sets before you.
Everything else may or may not have a place in your life, and its place will always be below anything God has spoken clearly about in His Word.
5. A life of Reckless Abandon is content with God, not with circumstance
It’s super easy to look at life and say, “If only ____ were different, I could be so happy.” Honestly, I fall into this trap way too often.
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. Therefore He alone is the source of my contentment. This isn’t easy, I’m learning that if I spend more time being busy than being still, I become discontent.
Please don’t get me wrong, sweet sister: It’s okay to have a full life, but even in the midst of all that activity, your heart needs time to be still before Him.
We 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 our focus on God instead of circumstances.
I am so preaching to myself right here. Guess we all need these reminders, don’t we? These are the things that keep our focus on God instead of your circumstances.
Walking it Out
The easiest part is thinking about it all. The hardest part is living it. This world is downright alluring.
It can tempt us well because the enemy of our souls has known his strategy since the creation of time itself. But if you are rooted in the word, and you have committed to a life of reckless abandon, you’ll be much more equipped to stand strong.
Be passionate about love: the love Christ has for you, as well as the love He wants to share through you.
Look to God, not to yourself. His ways aren’t our ways, but they are always better.
Don’t be afraid to abandon everything else in life; God alone is eternal! Be rooted firmly in Scripture; take the time to meditate on the Truth and center your heart on it. And lastly, find your contentment in Who He is.
I leave you with this thought from Oswald Chambers:
You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him.
So dear sister and fellow sojourner on this journey to a deeper faith, let us encourage each other!