Wax On, Wax Off

"To discover your own completeness in Christ frees you to turn your attention away from yourself to others" 

A little over a month ago I was in prayer when God said to me, "Wax on, Wax off." I knew the reference, though I had never seen the movie, I felt like Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones when God asked Him a question and His response was, "Oh Lord God, thou knowest." In other words, God only you have the answer, teach me.

This blog is a little longer than normal, but I encourage you to read to the end.

So, God began to explain to me, "wax on, wax off". I had already been studying Matthew 6, Mark 9-10, Philippians 2, and other chapters that were really convicting my flesh. Each chapter urges to think nothing of yourself, put others first, don't do ANYTHING for your own recognition, don't seek the praise of man but the praise of God, esteem EVERYONE as more highly than yourself, BE LAST so that you can be first in heaven, don't store up the rewards and treasures of man but rather do things to receive reward in heaven.

Wax on, wax off was God teaching me about a "western culture mindset" that I didn't even know I had.

You see we learn from a young age to work hard so that we can have the "best" for you and yours. Go ahead take that pat on the back, you've earned it. We want to be the one who gets the best looking steak off the plate, the best seat at dinner, the best parking spot at wal-mart, work, church, or any where we go so we immediately go park at the front. We see a grocery cart out in the parking lot and we don't put it in the bin because 1) it wasn't mine and 2) they pay someone to do that. I'll pick up trash off the floor of my church because I care about my church, but I'm not going to pick up trash off the sidewalk outside the place of business I'm at, who cares about the sidewalk and plus they probably pay someone to do that. If my brother or sister was in desperate need of some money I would dip into my savings and maneuver and sacrifice and do whatever I could to make sure their need was met, but that other lady I just met, I rub her back and tell her "I'll be praying for you" or maybe I'll be so bold as to pray right then. It's not my fault she's in the bind she's in and she's not my family, so not really my responsibility. We crave the order of a man made caste system that says we're above doing certain jobs, wearing certain clothes, acting a certain way or being friends with certain people. We don't talk about that way of thinking though, we just go along with the culture, seeking the praise and honor of man, and ignoring the part where Jesus said if you want to be first, then you must be a SERVANT OF ALL. Why couldn't He have said a servant of one? Can't I just serve you Jesus? and let everyone else fend for themselves? Who exactly is ALL? Obviously that includes those above me, my parents, my boss, my pastor, my mentor, perhaps my siblings and friends. Does it include the drug addicts? How about my kids? My REBELLIOUS KIDS TOO? The homeless? The unsaved? The sinner? Where does this end? ... Surely He didn't mean.... ALL....

I know this all seems "harsh", but I'm speaking to myself first.

The truth is, my flesh rebelled.

Oh, how I started off so strong. I was running through my neighborhood and see a beer bottle in the road and Holy Spirit would say, "wax on, wax off". WITH EXCITEMENT I went and grabbed that bottle and put it in the nearest trash can. "CHECK FOR JESSIKA. Ya know, this being last, esteeming yourself low, it's not that hard after all." (yea, right)

Someone said something that I wanted to argue with. Wax on, wax off, view others as more highly than yourself....  Okay, no biggie, I can keep my mouth shut.

Pulling into Wal-mart just to run in and grab one thing, real quick. "wax on, wax off" "I don't understand" "park in the back, so others can park closer" "Lord I need one thing, I"ll be in and out before anyone else even comes" "wax on, wax off" "Okay you know what, weather is great, I'm in shape, maybe you want some 60 year old lady to get to park up close, no big deal, I'll park in the BACK OF THE BACK" (YES, ANOTHER CHECK FOR JESSIKA) Time for church, there's MY parking spot. I always park there, it's a straight shot to the door. "Wax on, wax off" "What? wax on, wax off what, it's my parking spot?" "Park in the back, so others can park close, prefer others above yourself" "WHAT? It's a Sunday night, no one else even parks on this side on Sunday night.. ARE YOU KIDDING... OK OK OK whatever you say Lord" That wasn't so bad, until it was raining and I had 3 kids in my car with me and I heard it again, "wax on, wax off" "I know i know Lord, it's raining, i'll park even further back so others don't have to walk that far in the rain" "drop the kids off" "WHAT? Lord I'm their mom, shouldn't they be, I don't know, holding the umbrella for me, offering to carry my stuff in because it's raining? Why do they get to be dropped off, their kids? They can handle the rain..."

Yea that was just the beginning. My flesh rebelled in more ways than one begging to have it's place as number one back. Your flesh wants the best treatment you can give it. Treat it like a queen. Remember that it's important. Remember that it's earned certain rights. And when God starts dealing with those "rights", expect a fight.

Wax on, wax off, means listening when Holy Spirit is trying to teach us in the small things how to win the big battle. Like I said I haven't seen the movie, but what I understand is the boy was taught by the master, wax on, wax off.. He was daily learning a discipline that eventually helped him win the big battle. Wax on, wax off means for me finding aspects of "western culture mindset" that I didn't even know I had. It means seeing flesh that I thought had been crucified. It means recognizing and acknowledging when your flesh craves special treatment, or maybe just "fair" treatment, craves affirmation, attention, acknowledgement, for man instead of from the Creator. It means seeing when it says "I deserve this" and realizing that it's a lie and that's just pride.

Even in the midst of knowing that He was trying to teach me and that He was right, there were times I was frustrated or agitated that I had to "get low". There were times my flesh screamed WHY DOESN'T ANYONE ELSE HAVE TO DO THIS!?! (come on haven't any of you felt that way before?) My flesh was rebelling. It had been so comfortable with this mindset and way of doing things. Plus I wasn't the only one who thought this way and worked this way. I came up with plenty of excuses for why it wasn't fair, but I knew that I knew that I knew He was right, I wanted to change, I wanted to be like Jesus, I wanted to be a servant of ALL.

God is wise. He knows how to teach, grow, and mature His kids. He started with showing me overwhelmingly in scripture that it's not about what I can get, but what I can give. It's not about "earning" something from man, but rather esteeming others above me. It's about getting low, so that He can be exalted. It's not about how far I can go in life, but how far I can help others go. Can I be humble enough to let my children soar pass me with their gifts? Will I step aside, lay myself down, and allow my kids to propel off of me into greater depths of intimacy with God, bearing more fruit, and doing more than I could do? I may have had the desire for this, but I obviously didn't have the character for it. How can I let them soar past me, if I still wanted them to have to walk in the rain with me?

Then He started showing me the many areas in my life where I wanted to be "first", I wanted preferential treatment, I viewed someone "lower" than me.

Wax on, wax off is still teaching me that it's not about me. It's really not about my dreams or my goals or the things I'll achieve in this life. It's about obedience. It's about looking like Jesus, it's about being a servant of all.

"To discover your own completeness in Christ frees you to take your attention away from yourself to others"

When I find my completeness in Him and Him alone then being a servant of all is possible. I found that my flesh had desires. It had desires for affirmation, for success, for attention, for "fairness", for it's earned "rights".

I was trying to be "complete" in my circumstances instead of in Christ.

When I become complete in Him, in obedience to Him, in relationship with Him, in intimacy with Him, in affirmation from Him, in approval from Him, then I'm not focused on how to get the "best" or please my flesh or this western culture mindset, instead I get to be complete in my Beloved and be a servant to all. ALL from the president to the homeless man, the pastor to the nursery worker, the parent to the child, the friend to the stranger. Servant of "all".

If this post has helped you, you can also check out my blog, "I Am Last" which I wrote when all this began. Also, take some time to read and meditate on the scriptures below. There's tons more to say, but that's enough for today! Be Blessed, J. Tate

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35 "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them" 1 Cor. 9:19 "whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all." Mark 10:44 "so that your deeds of charity may be seen in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" Matthew 6:4 "love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:31 (He knew how much we'd love ourselves) "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" Philippians 2:3 "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person" 1 John 3:17 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me" Matthew 25:40 "When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" John 13:12-14 "Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" Matthew 20:28 "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed" Proverbs 19:17 "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" 1 John 3:18 "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" James 2:14-17 "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them" Luke 6:27