Appropriation: What it means, how it works, why it matters:

Can't stop thinking? You need...appropriation

Have you ever woken in the middle of the night with your head swirling around ideas, obligations, unresolved questions, to-do lists, the previous day’s failures, possible opportunities, possible meltdowns, etc. etc?  Me too.  It happened last night around 1am, four hours into my sleep (yes–I go to bed early, with the elderly).  Suddenly I’m wide awake, and the soothing rains of the early evening are now howling storms–a metaphor for the way the winds of worry can also roar through my mind ad rattle around, seemingly endlessly.

The whole scene, though, lasted less than 15 minutes, and the secret resided not in some sort of drug, but in the not much used word: appropriation.  Here’s what you need to know:

Meaning and Origin:  1325–75; Middle English  (< Middle French ) < Late Latin  appropriātiōn- means: the act of setting apart or taking for one’s own use (stem of appropriātiō ).

It simply means that when I appropriate I’m using something as my own, taking it for my own purposes.

Application to your life:  We who are in Christ have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing” and given “all things pertaining to life and godliness.”  This means all the resources I need in order to live life well are available to me in Christ.  We are, in other words, sitting on a gold mine resources, elsewhere described as the very presence of the resurrected Jesus, dwelling in union with us.  Christ’s strength, love, mercy, wisdom, patience, hope, joy, peace–they’re all available to us because Christ resides in us.  However, we need to learn how to release these qualities so that they actually control our lives.

This is where appropriation comes in: My sleeplessness was rooted in the sense that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that I need to do.  What’s more, I’m not even sure what activities to do, and which ones to reject.  Both opportunities and obligations have been multiplying this spring, and I’ve not dealt with it well at all.  I’ve been complaining, weary, and anxious–too often.  It all came to the forefront of my brain last night, shaking me awake.

I lie awake and after a few minutes, realize that I’m awake because I’m feeling that I don’t have the strength to fulfill my obligations, nor the wisdom to sort them out.  “Ah-ha!” I say to myself, “you don’t have the wisdom or strength, but Christ does.”  Then I begin to pray a little prayer of thanksgiving, a trick I learned from Amy Carmichael, the famous missionary to India who also felt weak and foolish sometimes.  She said that we need to develop habits of appropriating Christ’s character right at our point of need.  Thus is she felt overwhelmed with sorry, she’d simply pray:  “Your joy O Lord – thank you” believe that to call upon Christ in such way would have the effect of releasing Christ’s power.  She said that the circumstances of her life were such that she was almost always appropriating some aspect of Christ’s character, and that this kept her close to Christ.

So here I go:

“Your strength O Lord,” I pray on the inhale, and “Thank you” on the exhale.  I do this several times, mindful that God has promised that he’ll give me all the resources I need to fulfill his will.  After a minute or two, I continue:

“Your wisdom O Lord,” I pray on the inhale, and “Thank you” on the exhale.  I do this several times too, realizing that indeed, we can ask for wisdom with the confidence that God will grant it.  I slowly, as I repeat this little prayer, believe that God will enable me to sort how to balance the roles of teacher/ leader/ parent/ spouse/ writer/ as each role continues to press me with more and more and more.  This lasts no more than a minute.  Then I continue:

Your strength O Lord… Thank you

Your wisdom O Lord… Thank you

Your strength

Your wisdom

The next thing I know it’s 5:30 and I’m up–rejoicing and confident that God has heard my cry, and that the rest of the week, having been given to Him, will be better, because in my need, I appropriated:  all that Christ is, for all I need to be.

Jedi mind tricks?  Not at all.  Simply genuine life in Christ.

Share you prayer, so that you can encourage someone–just respond with a comment by filling in the blank:

Your _____  O Lord… Thank You

And this is good news…so if you like it please pass it on by clicking Facebook, or tweet.  Thanks!

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Ryan

    Your strength, O Lord… Thank You.

  • Ryan

    Your strength, O Lord… Thank You.

  • Jenn B.

    Your HOPE O Lord…Thank You.

    Thanks for your encouragement, Richard!

  • Jenn B.

    Your HOPE O Lord…Thank You.

    Thanks for your encouragement, Richard!

  • Sherry

    Your mercy O Lord… Thank You

    Your patience O Lord… Thank You

  • Sherry

    Your mercy O Lord… Thank You

    Your patience O Lord… Thank You

  • Kristi

    Your wisdom, O Lord.
    Your strength, O Lord.
    Your joy, O Lord.
    Your comfort, O Lord.

    Thanks, Richard. This has been happening to me A LOT lately and I usually do the Jesus prayer, but the last few times, all of my worries/concerns/anxiety have been able to push aside the words I’m praying. I’m hopeful that switching it up will help!

  • Kristi

    Your wisdom, O Lord.
    Your strength, O Lord.
    Your joy, O Lord.
    Your comfort, O Lord.

    Thanks, Richard. This has been happening to me A LOT lately and I usually do the Jesus prayer, but the last few times, all of my worries/concerns/anxiety have been able to push aside the words I’m praying. I’m hopeful that switching it up will help!

  • Jessica

    Your perseverance, oh Lord… thank you.

  • Jessica

    Your perseverance, oh Lord… thank you.

  • Graham

    This makes me think of a song that goes:
    “The same power that conquered the grave lives in me
    Lives in me
    Your Love which rescued the Earth lives in me
    Lives in me”

    Somehow both liberating and overwelming at the same time.
    Your love for others Lord..thank you.

  • Graham

    This makes me think of a song that goes:
    “The same power that conquered the grave lives in me
    Lives in me
    Your Love which rescued the Earth lives in me
    Lives in me”

    Somehow both liberating and overwelming at the same time.
    Your love for others Lord..thank you.

  • Alison Buren

    Your wisdom, O Lord…Thank you!

    I pray for wisdom a LOT with my time choices. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed and confused with decisions to make and one seems as good as another, I seriously do rock paper scissors with my husband or flip a coin with myself. It helps me break my patterns because CLEARLY I am not good at choosing what to do with my time. Not very sophisticated, but it helps me see things from a different angle and hear God more clearly the next time around!

    Thank you for your hard work at Bethany. I pray for you often knowing how overwhelming it must be.

    Alison Buren

  • Alison Buren

    Your wisdom, O Lord…Thank you!

    I pray for wisdom a LOT with my time choices. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed and confused with decisions to make and one seems as good as another, I seriously do rock paper scissors with my husband or flip a coin with myself. It helps me break my patterns because CLEARLY I am not good at choosing what to do with my time. Not very sophisticated, but it helps me see things from a different angle and hear God more clearly the next time around!

    Thank you for your hard work at Bethany. I pray for you often knowing how overwhelming it must be.

    Alison Buren

  • Carly

    Your compassion O Lord… Thank you.

    I’m the mother of 2 year old and 4 year old daughters, and I pray for compassion many times everyday. It can be so easy to react harshly and to convey disappointment and anger to my girls when their enthusiasm for life overwhelms my need for order. So I pray for compassion and ask the Lord to help me be kind, tender, and humane when I set the necessary limits on their explorations (instead of reacting by humiliating, blaming, and yelling).

  • Carly

    Your compassion O Lord… Thank you.

    I’m the mother of 2 year old and 4 year old daughters, and I pray for compassion many times everyday. It can be so easy to react harshly and to convey disappointment and anger to my girls when their enthusiasm for life overwhelms my need for order. So I pray for compassion and ask the Lord to help me be kind, tender, and humane when I set the necessary limits on their explorations (instead of reacting by humiliating, blaming, and yelling).

  • Wayne Bays

    Your nature O Lord…thank you

  • Wayne Bays

    Your nature O Lord…thank you

  • Alison

    Your peace O Lord…Thank you

  • Melinda

    Your will O Lord…thank you.

    This technique helped me so much this week! When I, too, was awakened in the night with worry and anxiety or found myself overwhelmed in the week. But, I will not lose heart! What a good reminder to proclaim who He is, what He has already done, and all the things He will do. Inhale…exhale. Your life, your forgiveness, Your consuming love O Lord. Thank you.

  • Melinda

    Your will O Lord…thank you.

    This technique helped me so much this week! When I, too, was awakened in the night with worry and anxiety or found myself overwhelmed in the week. But, I will not lose heart! What a good reminder to proclaim who He is, what He has already done, and all the things He will do. Inhale…exhale. Your life, your forgiveness, Your consuming love O Lord. Thank you.

  • Amanda

    Thank you for the reminder that He is always there, even in the middle of the night… and in an online post that is so pertinent to many of us right now.

    Your strength, wisdom, and peace O Lord… Thank you!

  • Tina

    Your peace, O Lord…Thank You.
    Your peace, O Lord, Thank You.
    Your Peace.

  • Tina

    Your peace, O Lord…Thank You.
    Your peace, O Lord, Thank You.
    Your Peace.

  • Chad

    Your Wisdom O Lord.. Thank you!
    Your Guidance O Lord.. Thank You!

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com Krista

    Joy.
    Peace.

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com Krista

    Joy.
    Peace.

  • Ryan Winkelmann

    Your peace, Lord.

    God’s peace has provided me comfort during the intense pressure of my first year of teaching. Knowing that He has a bigger plan in place helps me survive each day.

    Your glory, Lord, not mine.
    Your strength, Lord.

    I tend to take credit when I have a great day of teaching, although the glory does not belong to me, it belongs to Him who provided me strength for that day.

    Keep posting, Richard. These blogs help guide us back to God’s Word in times of need and refocus our attention on Christ. Thank you.

  • Cameron D

    Your strength, O Lord. Thank you.

    Your joy, O Lord. Thank you.

  • Cameron D

    Your strength, O Lord. Thank you.

    Your joy, O Lord. Thank you.

  • Nate N

    Your beauty O Lord… Thank You.

    Remind me continually that all I need or can experience is fulfilled in You.


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