Responsibility

One of the biggest rebuttals I’ve heard when I tell people that I believe that everyone is safe with God in Jesus Christ after their physical bodies give out in this world is: then that means I am telling people they can do whatever they want and it doesn’t matter. Well, let’s talk about that.

First, yes, I am saying that I think being completely safe in Christ means that people CAN do whatever they want. BUT it does NOT mean I am telling people they SHOULD do whatever they want with total disregard for anything other than their own desires.

Second, and VERY importantly, I am absolutely NOT saying that you can do anything you want and it does not matter. Actually, since I have changed my mind about things a little over a year ago, I have experienced the greatest unveiling of how much my choices actually matter very much.

Freedom comes with almost unbearable responsibility – at least it feels that way sometimes for someone who has inadvertently been blaming a lot of their life on destiny or God. As the depth of the implications of the weight of true freedom sinks into my being, I am so burdened by the new realizations of how decades of less than ideal decisions have impacted my own life and the people I could have loved a lot better. The hope of God’s never-ending love and patience for all of us is the only way I can bear even thinking about the things I wish I had done differently. Much less, the overwhelming amount of things I need to change and repair in my life going forward.

And that my friends, is hell. Hell is very real. Real enough. And yes, we get to choose life or death. In this life for sure. Is that not enough hell for you? Maybe you’re young or fortunate enough to not yet be reaping a harvest of poor seeds you have sown. Some take awhile to mature.

Judgement begins in the house of the Lord. You can take that as far as you want. But in practical terms, I think you’ll have enough to keep you busy for quite awhile if you start with His home being in our hearts. Those new temples, if you will. I finally am starting to see the planks in my own eyes – and they are not pretty.

It is really impossible to face all of that without absolute security in regards to my position in God’s heart. Only the true love of Jesus can do this.

I spent how many decades focused solely on myself because I couldn’t put to rest the future of my soul? Or the souls of those I love? Perfect love drives out fear. And helps you relax enough that you can receive love and then love God, yourself, and others. Probably in that order. And organically and sincerely versus posturing – however well-intentioned.

The effects of all this change leaves me sometimes dealing with a lot of anxiety. More than in many times past. If I rely on my own strength and forget that God finishes the works He starts and leaves none alone on their own.

This feels like getting new feet under you. It’s real relationship of unlimited depths. It’s ICU for your entire life. Whether you feel ready for it or not.

Even then the choice is up to you. Life or death? Will you participate? Will you not hope in what you can see, but in the unfailing character of your Creator?

No condemnation. But I wager the unfathomable love of Christ will not cease compelling you forward for ever-increasing healing. For your benefit; not God’s ego.

This is real life. I’d guess most of us could stop right now and do much much more with what we already know. To whom much is given…

Real life. Your heart and eyes may start to be opened to those around you. It can be quite a shock with ever-increasing awareness and insight. But I have a feeling that things will be better than ever before after walking through this part of the journey. In Christ, with Christ alone.

Let God’s real love lift us up.

One Degree at a Time

I went outside this morning and I was hot so I took off my jacket. Wearing just a t-shirt on top, I checked the temperature thinking, “Wow, we must be in the 60s.” Nope! It was 44 degrees!!! What has happened to me?!?! Lol. I used to be the girl who wore sweatshirts as soon as it hit below 80 degrees. Makes me wonder what else we can get used to in life without even realizing it. For better or for worse.

Try

Try being perfect. Try only leaving room in your life for perfect people. Tell me how that works out for you.

Not saying we shouldn’t have standards, values, and boundaries. Just asking you what hill you want to choose to die on? As the phrase goes. Or maybe more directly: what issue are you going to murder this relationship over?

Don’t misunderstand; I have been a seasoned judge. To what effect? Eventually nobody is good enough. And you don’t even like your own company.

What will give? I don’t have a formula to give you. But do the benefits outweigh the offenses? Can we take our egos out of the equation?

If my life is happy, if I’m satisfied and enjoying my own life then I find I have much more grace for others. I can let them be. Let them work out their own junk with God without needing to take them to court or the guilotine over every thing.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Some behaviors we shouldn’t enable. But what about the rest?

I need you. We need each other. Letting you in doesn’t mean I give you the key to everything. But can I have a conversation with you?

These things get easier as I find my security in Whose I am. Living loved. Imperfectly.

Famine

A thought this morning: that it is ok to be sad, to be in sadness. No need to rush and paste on a happy face with Bible verses at the ready. Jesus felt sadness. Deep sadness and grief. He, of all people, had assurance. He of all people had perfect heart and mind. And yet He cried deeply as time approached for The Cross.

What a comfort for us. Father God was well pleased with The Son and yet Jesus was not spared The Cross. In the same way, even if we don’t understand, that is proof that our circumstances have zero correlation with how much God loves us. Be it pride, anger, shame, confusion, grief, humiliation, etc crouching at the door to convince us otherwise.

I always remember how Jesus was affirmed by The Father and then immediately led into the desert for forty days of lack. Forty days of temptation. (As an aside, I wonder if there is any correlation with the Israelites’ forty years in the desert.)

On a different note, but kind of related, I was thinking just now: had it not been for the famine, Ruth never would have met Boaz. Had there been plenty of food, Naomi never would have left where she had established a presence and taken on the long journey that led Ruth to Boaz. They did not make that journey in the spirit of a joyous homecoming. They were both broken women.

Ruth didn’t know she needed a Boaz. Neither do we, spiritually speaking. We just get stuck most times in the doing of what we’ve always done. Sometimes we need something beyond our control to happen in order to be repositioned. We can get lost in the arguments related to God’s sovereignty and character in that regard. Or we can choose to trust.

Jesus sent His main guys, those in the thick with Him – He sent them out on the waters knowing that a storm was brewing. Yet He met them there also. He NEVER left them alone. He NEVER abandoned them. And He doesn’t leave us to ourselves or abandon us either. Whether we see it in the moment or not.

Lately Jesus’ words to the disciples keep coming to mind. Not so much a rebuke as an exhortation. “Why are you afraid?” He stills the seas and He stills the turmoils in my heart. He rests in absolute assurance of belonging in Trinity. And we can do the same.

Does that take away the pain of famine, the pain of losing a husband or children, the pain of shame, the pain of whatever Cross you are facing today? I dare say, absolutely not. BUT it is a frame for renewed hope. Just as our emotions cry, “Why have You forsaken me?” God hears and lifts us. If not in the physical present, at least internally. Manna for another day. Grace for another moment.

My words fail. You need God right now. God’s Presence. An encounter with Holy Spirit. Ask. With all your anger and all your tears. With all your unbelief. Ask.

Perfect love casts out fear.

Just Because

Finding silence is ok. I wait for you, Lord. All I need to know is I am with You and You are near. Like a very small child. Hold me and everything will be better. He does. All the time. I learn to listen. Circumstances put me in a place where I learn to listen. Where I can hear. Where life slows down to a crawl and quiets down to where it seems like I am aware of every breath. And He is good. It is my understanding that is incomplete. One day. As we are known. Until then… cleave. Unhindered by all that tells you it is unbecoming. And be embraced.

Timing

You have to start somewhere…

I had an interesting situation happen yesterday. I needed to be somewhere in the evening. I hadn’t looked at the address to see where I needed to be. Instead I had been running all around town doing business.

All of a sudden my business dried up. I spent a long while getting caught up on some emails and updating my calendar. Then frustrated by not having anymore business, I decided to call it a day and head over to where I needed to be in the evening.

Well, I looked up the address and it was only six minutes away! My business, or I’d like to think God, had situated me right where I needed to be without me even knowing.

It brings up two points that I’ve been wondering about this week. #1 about the extent of God’s intervention in our lives. #2 about how the miraculous happens as we go about our daily work. Let me explain a little more.

To start, I find it really difficult to believe in “random” coincidences with really high odds. Rather than defining what is and what isn’t a “random” coincidence, I’ll just say that if you think about it honestly, you have to admit there are some things that happen where the odds are so mathematically unlikely that there seems to be Someone making things happen.

Yesterday wasn’t the best example of that, but it wasn’t something to be ignored either. The odds of me going all around a big city with miles and miles of land and I “randomly” end up right where I need to be? At that, I had been getting business all day and then suddenly it dried up for an extended abnormal amount of time.

Thinking about the odds of how unlikely things like that are, makes me rest a little bit more when I have times in my life where it doesn’t seem like anything is working out. Maybe it isn’t just me failing to produce. Maybe it isn’t just me not working hard enough. Maybe I am rather being positioned by God to a place where I need to be.

This is where a struggle between our understanding and those spiritual whispers occur. Do we just stick with pure “logic” or follow our “heart”? As much as we may aim for the safety of purely “scientific” explanations, even then we are only taking our best guesses. History has proved that we as a group have been so wrong for long periods of time about certain things until new discoveries expand our perceptual capacities. Why would we not experience the same in our personal relationship with God?

The God of all Creation says His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are higher than His thoughts. We want the perceived safety of a formula rather than the safety of being in the heart of the Him who is always for us.

If He blocks a door, if He has us waiting on the tarmac for what seems like an interminably long time, if we are in the delivery room and the labor seems like it will never end… on and on; you have your own. We can think back to times before. Monuments in our lives. Where we knew He saw us and showed off. Moments where we later were thankful that He didn’t give us the thing that we thought would crush our hearts to be without. I’d wager even maybe more often than not, we will only know after the fact.

Will we trust Him in the middle? Will we release ourselves from the opinions of others who are not in our shoes or on our path? Will we surrender our well-meaning plans and let a Father, who thoroughly enjoys us, blow our minds?

Which leads me to my second main point. Earlier in the week so many were so sure they were going to be the winner of the billion-dollar Mega Millions lottery. What is that? How can people have what feels like a real emotional experience that turns out to be so false? How can we ever trust our own thoughts? How do we know what is really true?

(These days it seems like the only thing I know for sure is God loves me. Loves us. Loves you.)

Spiritually I am angry at the institutionalized church for leaning so much on similar emotionalism. For stressing thinking along the lines of “what do you FEEL”? That thinking seems to have led me to so many humiliating places.

Yet at the same time, God created the capacity for us to feel and think in those ways. I don’t know how it all goes together, but I know He finds us wherever we are and we are always safe in Him.

All to say I think our culture, with at least a lot of the American church included, has this tendency to pitch stories where the central character has some “holy grail” experience. In that they receive a super-special directive and then follow “signs” that lead them to win the prize in question. And probably completely unconsciously, that thinking has permeated into our decision-making process at times. Some more than others.

In contrast, this week I have been considering how maybe God works more often by coming alongside of whatever we are doing in our normal daily lives. Versus best revelation only being experienced on metaphorical mountain tops.

I think about my own life first. How the most important events of my life occurred on “normal” days where I had zero inkling of any hint as to what would transpire. I was just going about my regular business and then BAM – a life-changing event.

Then I think about people in the Bible. Many examples, but one of the first to come to mind was Ruth. Women around the world are on the lookout for their own Boaz. But Ruth didn’t set out that day to find a man. She set out to work, to gather food to eat. Handling her business. It was too much of a “random” coincidence that she ended up in the field where she didn’t even know she needed to be. That’s where I see God.

But the directive for me is just to live. To stop trying to figure God out. To just handle my business as best I know how, release most of my expectations for what and how things should happen, and ask God to help me see.

To see what He is doing when it looks like nothing is working out. To see where He is in whatever situation I find myself. And to see myself and others in Him when the panic of not knowing and the waves threaten the boat.

God, You are only good all the time. It is my understanding that is flawed. Here I am begging You for crumbs when You have baked me my own huge cake. Thank You for helping me learn to receive Your limitless love.

I don’t want to cross the line into name it and claim it thinking. But I don’t want to limit God. I don’t want to repeat the stories where Jesus said there were limits due to their unbelief. I don’t want to be so well-meaning and hard-headed like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time that I don’t leave room for mystery and instead try to force God into the box I’ve made for Him. Even as much as I believe He will get inside whatever box I build for Him and blow it up from the inside out. Just like Jesus did on The Cross we murdered Him on. He works all things for good, but I don’t want another forty years in a desert. Amen?

Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff…