Friday, July 1, 2016

Throw Open the Doors

January 3, 2012 Romans

"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

"There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

"Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him."
-Romans 5:1-8, The Message

"But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God.  If the Anointed One lives within you, even though the body is as good as dead because of the effects of sin, the Spirit is infusing you with life now that you are right with God.  If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you."

Romans 8:9-11, The Voice

January 3, 2012

I went for a walk and I had an insight into my conflict over my blog.

I remembered, or realized, that Jesus is teaching me to align what is temporary with what is eternal. That is how my spirit is sharpened and grows the best.

My spirit and heart are new in Christ. But my earthly self -that part that is passing away- must be gently and lovingly and consistently drawn into alignment with what is eternal.

The passing-away-self wants what is earthly. The true me, the eternal me, wants what is eternal. I feel these conflicting desires.

This conflict has the potential to bring about incredible growth in me, I believe, when I surrender myself to Jesus. It's surrendering the old way of being for the truth and life that I have in Christ that causes myself to grow and deepen.

Little by little, with Jesus renewing my mind and strengthening my spirit, the old me aligns with the eternal.

If this were easy, there would be no growth. Instead, this lasts all one's life- there is always a choice to surrender more deeply to Jesus- to what is eternal, to what it real and lasting.

The other part is that it's just not easy to be so vulnerable about my walk with Jesus. I wouldn't do this if I didn't feel with such certainty that He wishes me to do so. This was not my plan for my blog, that’s for sure.

How would my faith grow, if I knew for certain what His long term plan was, or what He was doing with what I offered Him?

Whenever I go through one of these "I wish my life/blog were normal" phases, that desire always ends up being swallowed up by my deeper and more overwhelming desire for God. I can't resist Him for very long.

I read this, this afternoon, and it deeply fed my soul:

"So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent? There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

"This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?"

-Romans 8:12-15, The Message

January 4, 2012

I woke up this morning filled with a peaceful expectancy.

An e-mail from a friend of the heart filled me with peace and joy. What she had to say was just perfect. (She said to write the blog as a gift of love to Jesus, focusing on Him.)

Now I feel a further sense of freedom and comfort. If you are still reading my blog, I'm going to guess that it's because I talk about Jesus.

So talk about Him I will.

January 5, 2012 Unpublished

Last night, I was reading about how we are the salt of the earth.

I never understood this before- it was like my mind was just blank. I understood it literally -I know what salt is- but it wasn't clicking with His message.

It always sounded kind of ominous- after all, salt is a strong, sharp flavor. It's downright unpleasant, eaten straight up. And, frankly, it's unhealthy.

Then, recently, it clicked for me.

A little bit salt makes everything else taste better.

We aren't meant to be an isolated, inedible pile of salt, huddled up in our glass walled salt shakers, frightened by the steaming piles of food that surround us on every side, worried that we will lose our saltiness by coming into direct contact with.. gasp… food.

We're not meant to hide from life, we're meant to rejoice in life, to be joyfully shaken out into it, making clear how delicious life with God is, how everything in this life just tastes so good with God and how bland and uninteresting it is without Him.

We love like Jesus and we live deliciously.

January 5, 2012

It's funny how posting an experience alters my own perception of it.

Reading my story over again, it was as though I saw my response to Jesus in a new light. I thought, "Whoa. What kind of crazy person just instinctively answers like that?"

(I was referring to the story over Christmas, which I had only recently posted, and in which I had asked Jesus about my infertility, and had told Jesus, "Let my life be what it must and let me have You, so be it.")

I think it's because I fell in love with the Person of God. I could never have answered as I did if Jesus had not, for a long time before, been filling my heart and my life with His love. So my answer is really no credit to me whatsoever, and all credit to His work and His altogether lovely and irresistible nature.

I felt peaceful and centered yesterday that I decided I wouldn't go for a walk, but when I finished my blog, Jesus said, Come out with Me; we'll listen to the second half of Handel's Messiah.

Joy and delight filled me; I knew exactly what He meant.

When I walk, I like to listen to Handel's Messiah. When I leave the door, I begin with "Comfort Ye My People."

By the time I reach a stretch of solemn, towering pines, their branches filtering the sunlight, the ground gold and green from the needles, I'm hearing "Goodwill towards men," which has more than once caused me to cry from the simple joy of it.

However, by the time I get home, I have reached the songs which describe the Passion of Christ. It's painful to listen to those songs, and on more than one occasion, I have skipped over them.

Yesterday, I did not. So many times I wanted to put my hands over my ears. The worst is when they mock Him as He hangs on the cross. I just can't understand it. Isn't it enough that they should kill Him? Must they then actually mock Him as He's dying?

And the things they say to Him, the Son of God! And what is Jesus doing, while this is happening? He is forgiving the ones that crucified Him, He taking care of His grief stricken mother and He is reassuring the thief that hangs next to Him.

As I listened to this, sorrow and grief filled me. When I reached the song, "Thy Rebuke Has Broken His Heart," I had to keep taking deep breaths because of the heaviness that weighed down on me. Tears filled my eyes.

This entire time, of course, Jesus was right beside me; we walked along together. I like to think that, by opening my heart to those songs and moving through the grief, in a small way, I feel like I can keep vigil with Him.

The best part about doing this is, of course, reaching the end. As soon as I heard the chords for "But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul In Hell," my heart lifted. Indescribable joy filled me; my tears changed to tears of joy.

Even the landscape was transformed. It glittered and shone with light; light poured down through the bare branches of the winter trees. The light was dazzling on the road.

"Is it over already?" I asked Jesus, with disbelieving joy. And then I felt guilty, for thinking His passion was short lived, and He reminded me of this:

"A woman, when she gives birth to a child, has grief (anguish, agony) because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she no longer remembers her pain (trouble, anguish) because she is so glad that a man (a child, a human being) has been born into the world.

"So for the present you are also in sorrow (in distress and depressed); but I will see you again and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one can take from you your joy (gladness, delight)." (John 16:21-22)

Worship and love poured out of me as I walked along the road. And then I was listening to "Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates." It paints such a gorgeous pictures of Jesus' triumphant return to His Father, having conquered death once and for all. I felt shy beside Him, because Jesus is the King of Glory, and the Lord of Hosts.

I carried you with Me through those gates, Jesus said.

I thought that was an extraordinary thing for Him to say, and I didn't see how it could possibly be true.

So, He reminded me of this:

"If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

"For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God."
-Colossians 3:1-3, Amplified Bible

I'm still pondering this thought. I never thought about it quite like that before; that, just as He died carrying our sins, He rose again carrying our redeemed and new lives safely with Him, and through the everlasting gates.

"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus."
-Ephesians 2:4-7

January 7, 2012

Last night I finished Matthew and began reading Mark.

That Gospel is kind of cute, because everything happens immediately! Right away! Whatever happens to be happening, Jesus is right there, on it.

I was curled up on the bed, reading. It felt as though I were reading in Jesus' arms, leaning back against Him, His head close to mine as we read together.

"To what shall we liken the Kingdom of God?" Jesus asked, in a musing voice, His eyes alight with the quiet pleasure of the story teller. "Or with what parable shall we picture it?"

"To what?" I asked Him, feeling cozy and happy. "To what shall we compare it, Jesus?"

To a mustard seed, it turns out, when I turned the page.

"...which," Jesus said to me, His voice quietly captivating, "when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds of the earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade."

I pondered this lovely image for a bit, and then we read on.

We reached the part about the man of the tombs, who begs to follow Jesus, and Jesus did not permit him.

I was lost in thought at this, thinking that, if that were me, I would have left for home just brokenly sobbing, dejected.

I saw myself stumbling around through the tombs, heading home, unable to see for my tears and wondering about why I could not come with Him.

I did not say that to you, Jesus reminded me, interrupting my thoughts with His loving humor.

Love flowed through me, releasing me from my thoughts. I took a deep breath of relief and yielded back into Jesus' loving presence.

"No," I said happily remembering. "You did not say that to me. You will always be close to me."

I was always close to him, Jesus told me, and delight and wonder filled me again.

"Of course You were!" I agreed, realizing it. "He would have left and found You living in and loving him, right in his heart, all his life."