|Posted by Rebecca on June 23, 2014 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Galations 3 says: “But now you have arrived to your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe – Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original purpose.”
The point I would like to focus on here is the little phrase, “you are in direct relationship with God”. In other places the Bible says things like “we no longer need an in between man” or “the very fabric that separated us from the glory of God is now torn in two.” Those are paraphrased, but the words are there. So, it begs the question: what does it mean to be directly interacting with GOD?
I thought last night about the prism I have in my window. My children bought it for me a few years ago. They had broken an older one and replaced with a HUGE one. I have always loved prisms. They take ordinary light and they break it down into tangible parts. What was once mysterious in now revealed in my own living room. The light is poured through the crystal and what comes from the other side is mesmerizing and inspiring. Most of the day the light is not at quite the right angle and the light can shine on the prism but all it really does is shine a tiny bit…a glimpse of color or a reflection of light, but nothing really compared to the wonder of a prism that stands directly in the beam of sun. I’m sure you know by now where I’m going with this…This is a beautiful picture for me of what it means to be in “direct relationship with God.” Too often I have settled for a bit of sparkle or a twinkle here and there. Too often I have been glad to stay on display and look like something important. But crystal really isn’t worth very much. It isn’t a diamond or ruby. It is just crystal…common but slightly amazing in the right situation. That’s me. That’s you.
I’ve seen small children try to catch the rainbows that come from a prism. They delight in seeing the beautiful colors dashing across the room and the race each other to grasp the ever evasive show. The slightest tap to a prism can send the whole room into dancing and gasps of wonder as tiny bits of light are broken up into their parts so we can see a little better what our world is made of. God is often called Light. Jesus called himself The Light of the World. That is some title. That is some name.
What is my job as a believer? To be in direct relationship with the Living God! It is simple. We make it so very hard, but it isn’t meant to be at all. The only thing required of us is to stand in the Light so that God can shine a bit of his glory into the darkness. We’re not responsible for good outcomes. We’re not responsible for ugly responses to The Light. We have only to stand in the richness and glory of Him. Who is attracted to the Light? Who is repulsed by it? That’s really not my concern. It has nothing to do with me. There is such freedom in letting go of that lie that I have power to call those that hate the light. I do not. It is not my place to try. But I sure can shine some loving light into their darkness.
My deepest regrets in the past have been shrouded in the notion that I have failed to perform or to achieve…that I have proven to be disappointing to people I love or to God himself. I’ve devised many useless ways to punish myself for these perceived failures. I’ve been my own torturer, convinced I was doing God a favor by keeping myself OUT of the Light. I even told myself that He would not look on me in my filthy condition and I needed to be cleaned first. BUT hold everything! How can I refute God’s on word? Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished”. Do I believe that or not? If my redemption if completed on the cross all I can do is choose to embrace it or turn away…I can’t clean myself up to come to the Light, that’s actually absurd. It is insulting. Jesus is my ONLY ticket to a clean life…because he is the Light and in Him is the Light of Life. I can bask in the presence of God any time and in any place. Being a follower of Jesus is being a Light Seeker…to gladly follow Jesus where-ever he is going so that I can bask in his presence…reflect His glory and enjoy Him. The more I bathe in his love, grace, joy, peace, patience and so on…the more of those tiny rainbows get thrown out into dark corners of the world. This is my calling. This is my only hope. This is joy without limits.
|Posted by Rebecca on May 20, 2014 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
The Shepherd’s Tools
I just finished an amazing in depth study of the 23rd psalm. This amazing little poem is so often read in church that it had, for me, lost its power, color and life. I’ve had it memorized since I was about 8 years old. Our church used to quote it in unison on a regular basis. So I ge textra points because I also have it memorized in the original text: Kingeth Jameth. But seriously, what is the fuss all about? God is our shepherd? We don’t really have a cultural context in most of America for what that might really be. I’ve seen sheep in the distance, I had a friend who had them one year, but until I began a relationship with my own goats, I had no idea what this was really talking about. But now that I have had the experience of owning goats I can see a much clearer picture of what the relationship with a shepherd might be.
I would like to start with the main point that I was taught as a child, young adult, and on and on…that little verse in the middle that says: Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. From the Evangelical Free church I attend for years, to the Graceless Baptist church and all between, I had been told that this is the meaning of these words: That the good shepherd would break the leg of a wayward lamb, carry it for weeks and then it would understand that he was boss and it needed to follow and obey him. Essentially, this was saying that God will intentionally cripple me so that I can learn to trust him and rely on him for all my needs. I was always confused, perplexed at this. How could my loving father choose to break my leg and this turn out to be comfort? Well, the reality is that this idea is a Christian myth. It is a story passed down and has no basis in reality. The rod and staff are shepherd’s tools but not for the kind of leg breaking love that I was presented with.
The rod: a short club like weapon. It was used to throw at predators. The shepherd would use it to fight off attackwolves, coyotes, lions, etc. And on some occasions he might use it to throw at his sheep. BUT let me stop you here. Remember the lessons I learned in having goats? This is part of it, right here. You do not need to hurt a sheep or goat to get cooperation. They startle extremely easily and they will run if they see a sudden movement or hear the crashing of something unrecognized. You don’t have to hit a sheep to get it to go where you want it to. All you need to do is startle it away from the wrong path. A tool like the club would be perfect for this. You could throw that in front of a running sheep and direct traffic away from danger. This idea that God is a good shepherd that often hurts us to help us is not entirely accurate. For more detailed information about this please look at: www.thesheepwisperer777.blogspot.com
The staff: A long woodenstick with a hooked end. This was used to rescue and direct, even pick up sheep. This too was not a weapon against the sheep, but a tool used constantly to guide and direct away from danger and toward the right path.
The shepherd was a skilled warrior in a sense. He was left to protect the flock, guide it, find food and shelter for it, keep it out of dangerous waters and much more. He loved his sheep and would often sleep among them. …keeping his own body in front of the gate of their pin. He would often carry the young lambs that could not keep up. He would hold them often so they would associate his smell and voice with safety and provision. This kind of animal needs this, they are so flighty, so easily scared, they have to have a sense of safety or they won’t take care of their young, they won’t drink, they won't even eat if they are scared. A sheep can easily have a heart attack or pass out from shock if they are scared too badly. They have to be kept free of bugs and harmful bacteria. They are endless work and in David’s location and day, they had to cover very dangerous ground to get to the safe places. Our shepherd provides us with an oasis in the desert. He provides us with water that will not suck us in. He knows all the right paths to get us where we need to know. He is equipped with the tools to protect us. He loves us like a doting grandparent. He may startle us to get our attention, but his rod and staff are for our protection, not our crippling. He finds good places for me to rest and he provides restoration.
This is the God who loves us. This is the God we get to spend all our days with. Goodness and mercy chase after us everywhere we go…even when we’ve fallen off the path.
My prayer is for you to know this in your heart in a whole new way today and for the rest of your life.
|Posted by Rebecca on August 2, 2013 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
The question has been posed so many times in my life. You might have heard it too. There are many variations, but it all boils down to the same basic idea. Are you living in such a way that you would be convicted if accused of being a Christian? What Would Jesus Do?
I mean no disrespect to those who earnestly seek to answer these questions. As with all questions,there is a place for them. But my concern is this, does this kind of insecurity really help believers? I am not so sure. Imagine the agony of a young woman who has been asked so many times to evaluate her salvation that she has begun to question it. In questioning it she begins to doubt her faith. In her doubt she decides to double up and try harder, pray that salvation prayer again…and really mean it this time! Beaten up over time by the relentless mantra of well meaning Christians, that's all it may get you.
The crusade to be holy as He is holy…where does it go?
I was reminded of this conflict recently. Someone I love just died. And as we memorialized her we were admonished by a friend to consider our walk with Christ. This person even went so far as to say that he knew God had given us grace, but we have a duty to get it right anyway. Slavery. Candy coated and powdered with confectioner’s sugar. Why would I say such a harsh thing? I do believe that my walk with Christ is very important, vital even. I don’t doubt that everyone should spend time seriously considering the questions posed here, but I would like to take away from the modern frenzy of spirituality. I would like to remove the blinders from each and every person that has dutifully marched to this drum. If you are not careful it will lead to a kind of cliff, a desert wilderness of self righteousness or harsh self contempt. In fact, I was taught that harsh self contempt is the way to go. You have to loathe yourself and be willing to do whatever it takes to put self to death.
How can I say this without confusing you? ALL that is true in a very really way. I guess it is like cancer. If I knew I had cancer and I told all myfriends I had it and I confessed my cancer openly, telling openly how I had not been careful enough in my diet and lifestyle, I would still have cancer. If I hid my cancer and told everyone how good I was doing and how healthy I was becoming, I would still have cancer.
But wait. Do I have cancer? Not anymore. Jesus came and took my chemo and radiation for me, he died in my place and has given me health. I had cancer. In fact, I was cancer. I was dead. Lifeless. Cold. And doing all I could to look alive and clean and healthy. When Jesus claimed me(I don’t say found because He never lost me), I still had to recover. I had to learn to live. Breathe. Eat. Smile. Hope. Love. Etc. It all had to be learned. But Jesus did not set me down in the healed ward and leave me to act as if I had never been sick…and he has never asked me to make sure I am actually healed. THAT is the subtle difference.
Do I have an obligation to be healed now that I’m healed? SURE. Do I need to act like I’m healed? YES. Should I take “acting like you’re healed” lessons? Probably not. What I need more than anything is a nice long walk with the LORD…not a list of questions to help me feel I am walking with him. As I learn to spend my life in His presence, I will also come into more and more life. He came to give us life…and abundant life. We’re promised healing from our death walk. But recovery may take a while. Having had a near death experience physically, I can tell you that it takes a very long time to recover. Technically, I was repaired when the dead part was removed and I was stitched up. However, I was not able to act very healed right away. The primary thing I noticed was that I was not violently vomiting every few minutes when I woke up and the searing pain in my stomach was only a dull ache. My gall bladder had died, it was starting todecay when the problem was discovered and my doctor told me that I likely would not have lived a full 24 hours more.
It has been over a year now. I have had to learn a whole new life-style of eating, resting and living. No one has to ask me to check and make sure my gall bladder is not dying, it is dead.
And this is the little fallacy that throws off so many believers. When you become saved the decaying you dies…and a new born soul begins to breathe, kick and squirm. LIFE ABUNDANT.
How is my walk? FANTASTIC. I am redeemed. And for the first time in my life, I canwalk. I can’t walk away from Him, He is who I am. I can sit and refuse to go any further, but He is a patient and loving Care Provider, He waits when I need to rest. When I must run and cannot, He always carries me. This is the GOD who sees me! The God who removes cancer from our souls by breathing in His life.
Evaluate your choices, sure. Think about your life style and walk with God – not against Him. But have the sense to let that healing processto take place. Rest. He said, Be still and KNOW that I AMGod. When was the last time we did that? We get so fussy and fidgety as Christians, but sin has no more sting. That cancerous person is dead. That enemy within has been conquered. Rest, recover and allow Him to prepare you for the battles ahead.
|Posted by Rebecca on July 10, 2013 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
This week I wrenched my back very badly. It has hurt a lot and there have been tears of frustration and anger about it. I was working with a trainer to get off some of the most stubborn weight the world has ever seen, and just as I began to see progress…this happens. A totally random movement and I am spending most of each day laying down or sitting on the couch with an ice pack and all kinds of natural pain remedies…I smell like an essential oil factory…or maybe one of those hippy stores with all the herbs and natural soaps and candles. Anyway, I am getting better,but my back is not really the point. A sprained back is painful, but what lies beneath that?
As a child I was terrorized by a father that often meant well but did not have his anger under control. He was what I like to call a dry drunk…complete with drunken rages that were totally unprovoked. When Iwas 8 years old we moved to California and lived for a few months with my grandparents while my dad worked 3 jobs until he finally got on with law enforcement. He was gone for many months, nearly out of our lives. In that time a person came along that changed a small part of my world…my grandfather. I discovered that his garage was a safe-haven of sorts. It was almost a magical place where neither of us had problems too much, we could sit and talk and listen to the radio. It was there that I first experienced the safety of a good lap to sit on and the joy of having a buddy to tell your woes to. My grandfather was the first safe man in my life. I understood at a young age that while I might like my father, I could not really trust him…he was literally a loose cannon. But not my grandfather, he was safe.
Time went by and I recall sitting with him and talking –suddenly horrified by the thought that I was going to lose him some day. That one day he would die and I would be left alone. He noticed the sudden change in my mood and asked what was wrong, rather than crying, I ran off and got us ice cream…our treat we enjoyed secretly together.
I talked to him about everything and I asked him detailed questions about his life and about the Bible and God and people he knew. He put up with my interrogations and answered all my questions. He taught me how to drive. He bought me nearly any thing Iasked for. He was my only real friend.
Then one day he told me that I had a big fat belly (I only recently found out this was not true)…and he kept on telling me. Pinching the backs of my fingers he would say, “See this…this means you’re going to be very fat with a big fat belly when you’re grown.” I had never thought about my body or appearances at all, I was a child. Years went on and the teasing only got worse. He would tell me, “I saw your big fat belly today when you were playing with your friends, I could tell who you were by your belly.”
The final blow to our friendship took place when I went as an older child to stay the week with him, my grandmother was gone and we had moved out long before. On our way to church he said to me that he would show me how grown men and women kiss…and I got my first French kiss. I pushed himaway and refused to talk to him ever again. Later the story got out and family was all outraged. He tried to beg my forgiveness many times, I would not talk to him.
Guess what. Today I have a remarkably large belly. I’m not making it up. I would be slightly on the large side of women you know…but my belly is enormous. I have health reasons for my shape, but that has always seemed like an excuse. Last year I nearly died with my gall-bladder and decided it was time to quit messing around, it was time to do something drastic about the weight. I found a trainer recently and have been working hard on it. But I keep sabotaging the process…as I have my whole life. I keep trying to lose weight one day and trying to gain it the next. Part of me has believed that my weight is a kind of brand or sign…a punishment for being a lesser kind of person…unworthy of a good body.
My back injury has been devastating in so many ways…I can hardly tell you. And last night Mark (my amazing and loving husband) came home from work and I could hardly control the tears. All these lies started bubbling out about how I was being punished and I had no right to look good or to be healthy. So my husband decides to prayfor me (something he rarely does)…and he asked the LORD that my heart wound be healed. I began to sob as I realized that this has never been about weight. This has always been about the huge betrayal of the only person a frightened a beat down little girl felt safe with. This has always been about believing the liesof a man that was too broken to love me the way I needed and a second father figure that couldn’t be trusted.
After I had time to calm down I prayed too. Here is the best picture of that prayer that I can give you…I’m sharing it because it may help you too. Once you know how to pray about these things…you will know how to recognize a prison when you see it and how to escape too.
“Heavenly Father, I forgive __________ for betraying me. For teaching me the lie that I am unworthy and defective in some way. That my body is a punishment for being a lesser person. I forgive him for teaching me that I had no hope and it wasn’t worth my effort to be healthy or look good…because I could never obtain it. I send away the parts of him that he gave to me and I take back the parts of me that I gave to him. I ask you Jesus to sever all soul ties with him. And I am asking you to be my Father, I never really had one and I still need one. Be my father, replace those memories of abuse and neglect with your truth. Fill the hole in my life with your love, hope and peace. I break agreement with these lies.”
I cried through each word.
Mark saw in this time a battle field where he was calling to God’s medics to come for me… “Here!! She’s here…come quickly.” He was holding me with my wounded heart and God’s medics were on the way.
An injured back is so much more than that some times. For me, it has been the key to unlock an ancient wound…one that has held me back and kept me locked up for a longtime. My back will heal. I will lose this weight. I will be safer now than ever before. I have finally found a safe lap to sit on and a shoulder to cry on…and a place where I can tell my woes without fear or abuse. An orphan no longer.
|Posted by Rebecca on May 21, 2013 at 2:45 PM||comments (0)|
You may have had this strange behavior all your life. It might have started a year ago. Either way, you find yourself doing things entirely out of character for you. It frustrates and confuses you. And you worry that maybe your mind has become ill. But you can see for yourself, the guilt and shame and anger and hurt that carried you to the place you are now. How do you stop the train? How do you get off the bus? Who can I turn to when I know something is so wrong with me? They will think I’m crazy. They will think I need to be on meds. Right? So you do what all the greats before you have done. You learn to cover your broken place. You learn to conceal and to carefully guard the truth of who you really are. What you have become.
You may work up the courage to ask your friend for help. Sadly, she will likely not know what to do for you. She may give you a book about trusting God in the hard times or tell you to pray more. She may invite you to a bible study. Or she may even say to you that you just need to stop having this particular sin problem. You need to decide you are going to love God more than you love your selfish, sinful ways. If you’re like me,she may start to question if you were ever truly saved. Do real believers have such bouts withdepression, anger and emotional anguish?
But for me all these solutions and accusations were not balm to my breaking soul. They were lemons on open cuts. Pray more? I can’t find enough passion for God to sit through a half hour sermon. Read the bible? I can’t find the faith to care about what Moses went through. I am broken. Is there no one who can fix me?
Like dozens of lifesaver rings thrown at a person who had already drown, it was all too little too late. I sank. I really did. And dark as that place was, there is more hope for a sunken, drowning victim than you might think. In that deep place of despair and grief I found out that I was not just hypothetically “broken” and defective…sinful…but that it is an actual truth. It is a matter of who is best at covering their broken places. Some of us learn at a young age how to say and behave the “right” way so that no one ever really sees just how badly we’ve got this disease. OTHERS. Others learn that people get ugly when they see you’re weak. Others may be too broken to cover up. Others get ministered to – a lot. But inside, on the deepest levels, we all have the same battle going on. All those sweet smiles at church may be pure camouflage. Because the worst thing we can think of happening is to have the Adam and Eve moment where GOD finds you and asks what you’ve been doing. Best to hide, best to find cover, best to learn to behave as if there isn’t a problem. Compounded by a hundred if you grew up in a proper Christian home.
God is not surprised by our broken state. Our fractured souls don’t scare him. He saw us, he planned for a rescue…long before you knew you had a problem. THIS is the wonder of the cross. Payment in advance for those who already have the disease. AND God in his great goodness to us provides the perfect covering – one that actually works! The skin and blood of his son, tortured to death so that I can be whole. I am a wolf in lambs clothing.
But like me, you may spend most of your time not wearing the covering. You may choose to walk about without God’s grace…sure, the covering still belongs to me, I am still in God’s family, but without it I am naked and unprotected.
Faith. Grace. Love. Joy. Peace…and more… they all work, they are all active. They are more like cars we can choose to get into or we can choose to avoid. But the choosing doesn’t come in the way you would think. When I traveled to ColoradoSprings recently, I took a cab to my hotel. I chose the car to get into and I got in. I did not choose to act as if I had already got a good cab and trot myself along with all my luggage to the hotel. Faith is not something I can conjure up on my own. Love is not merely a choice to do good things for other people. These are the product of getting in God’s car and going where HE IS GOING.
You may be ready to strangle me soon if I don’t get to the how part. Churches don’t often get into the how part because it is often too simple and too vague. We want a prescribed list of things to do. But I can act like God’s kid all daylong without ever meeting God. It isdeeply terrifying to think of all the people through all of time that have done this. So instead of instructions, I have several questions you might want to start asking yourself.
Have you repented (turned away) from all attempts to fix yourself? Forgiven the part of yourself that is convinced you must fix you?
Have you thanked God for providing the full covering you need?
Have you gotten in the car? I’m not talking about salvation here. I’m assuming you have already made that deal with God, likely you’ve made it many, many, many times. I’m talking about the simple act of grabbing hold of Him and walking along the road with him. Not dragging Him where you want to go and not pretending, acting and faking.
Back to me, drowned and sinking…the moment I came to the reality of the fact that I was never going to be able to be fixed by any human means, that was the beginning of freedom for me. I will never be able to stop praising Him for that. That was the moment that I put down all my costumes, my masks and my props and ran to the arms of my Poppa.
Run. Don’t walk.
|Posted by Rebecca on February 18, 2013 at 10:35 PM||comments (0)|
With the children gathered around the dinner table, I got out my favorite wine glasses…given to me by my sister after my favorite wine glasses (given to us on our wedding) were broken and couldn’t really be replaced. We’d had a huge problem with broken things…as a house with 4 boys will do!
I held up the beautiful glasses and asked the kids how much they were worth. One said $1,000.00…and another shrugged…they had no idea. I said to them … “these glasses belong to your dad and I. Can you decide for me how much they are worth? Could you say to me that you can pay me $5.00 and that should be enough – simply because that’s how much you feel like paying for them?”
“Well, no.” Our oldest son says. “You know how much they are worth…but I guess I can’t decide that.”
“So, if they are extremely valuable to me can you tell me I’m wrong to get upset that they are broken or stolen?”
I could tell they were getting that far away look…thinking I was about to guilt them over breaking so many things…but honestly that was not the point…here’s the point that I hope they took home!
“My sister gave these to me. I don’t know how much they cost her. But they were a gift to us. They belong to us and only we can determine their value really. We might take them to a sales person and they might tell us they aren’t worth that much money…but that will not change the value for me. And in the same way…youdon’t get to decide how much you are worth or how much your brother is worth. In this world we put all kinds of labels on each other, we assign values to some skills, talents, looks, coolness…but we are all just like these glasses here…we belong to the King and ONLY he can decide what our value is.
“How much are you worth? Worth enough for him to be tortured to death for you?...”
“It doesn’t really matter how much other people tell me myglasses are worth…the glasses themselves cannot decide that I value them too much…because they are mine and that is my choice.”
How much am I worth…
According to the churches I grew up in…nothing…valueless without the proper level of Christian OCD. Constantly reminded that my very best was never good enough for God and that he puts up with me right now, but he probably has a limit. AND if I keep on having major problems in my Christian life…it may just be that I was never saved. OH the thousands of times I tearfully begged God to rescue me from my sin habits/bondage…only to be crushed by the reality that I did it again and therefore was likely not covered in the blood at all! Praying all kinds of salvation prayer…getting baptized twice…and on and on…
I have had many good friends in my life…some that I can imagine might die for me if they had to! What a sweet thing that is! BUT the God of my salvation? He did it purely out of duty and obligation…because it was the right thing to do. He did it and now I owe him big time. THIS was the on-going message…a literal mantra. Every verse was translated under this shadow of fear and performance. Did I behave well enough to please a perfect God today? Did I read my Bible long enough today? What does it mean if I skipped my devotional time? If I fall I need to repent and beg forgiveness AGAIN…and hope that God will turn his face to me again over time, if I’m able to keep myself clean for a time. As I’ve said before, my image of God was one of a clean slate. Every time I sinned God had to send Jesus to die all over again to give me a clean slate…and one day he was going to get tired of it and just stop. MY job was to keep my slate clean…by maintaining as sinless a life as I could. Slavery ensued. Violent, harsh judgment and brutal punishment. I had to be punished for messing things up…and if I felt bad enough for long enough then Jesus would look on me with pity and rescue me from the hell-pit I had fallen into.
I did not actually know much about God’s grace. It was something I was taught to be true…but not in the practical sense. It was hypothetical and much like an abusive husband who would beat his wife saying all the time, “why do you make me do this to you?” That god’s grace came from an unhealthy place in me…one fostered by the churches and spiritual leaders that I grew up with. The weight nearly sank me.
I will never stop dancing inside due to the freedom that Jesus gave the day he came to my place of torment and rescued me…carried me far from my dungeon, my prison…and set my feet far above that place!
Please invite Jesus into your places of torment. Those moments you’re ashamed of, those thoughts you’re scared of…not just asking for forgiveness…but accepting it…believing it…forgiving yourself in the process…and forgiving those who told you that you belong in a place of torment.
Fight for your freedom…not just from sin…but from captivity…spiritual prison…places of torment…that feeling that you belong at the bottom…it is all a lie.
So – if you belong to God he gets to decide your value…you don’t get a say in that. He calls you his child, his beloved, his prize possession, his adopted heir, hisbrother/sister, his friend, his holy one…and his banner over you is LOVE. Ask him to show you this truth in your spirit and then just watch and listen as he begins to peel back painful, searing lies from your life – replacing them with his awesome and powerful true. You ARE the pearl of great price…imagine that!
Thanks to Corrine Jeter and Laurie Noah for showing me this truth.
|Posted by Rebecca on February 16, 2013 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
My first "vision" - if you will allow that term - came as I was headed to California to see my sister just after she got engaged. I had asked a good friend to pray with me before my trip and she did...and a powerful thing happened...she saw "fear" hanging around and told it to leave. But fear had been an old companion for many years, I wasn't sure it would leave just cause she said to. It did though. The next morning I was sitting in a plane and had my book to read, but kept seeing in my mind a place I've been to in Ca. A place with huge rocks just sticking up all over...VERY tall and large, like a maze of stone.
I saw that at first that there was a heavy fog...one that would notlift....so dense that only the dirt trail could really be seen clearly...notthe rocks...not the cliffs that surround that area. It was still andcold, isolated and dark.
My flight landed and the picture in my mind stayed. I visited my sister, had a lot of fun and a lot of serious talks too, lots of prayer and time to reflect as well. I was there over a week - and the whole time I saw this image in my mind - of the fog and the rocks with cliffs that cannot be seen. But each time I checked in to look at it and think about it...the fog seemed slightly thinner, like it was lifting. After a few days I saw that there was a very little girl - maybe as old as 3...wearing a dress I had when I was small. It didn't take long to recognize that I was seeing myself.
I found this disturbing. I thought I was seeing myself as God sees me...a lost little child in a dangerous place with no one to watch over her or protect her. I got angry and very sad. I cried for that little person lost in the fog and I didn't think to ask God to change it forme...but HE was already at work.
As I got on the flight to leave and sat down, preparing for a longflight home...the sun was setting and over LAX there was a thick, heavy cloud cover...but as we lifted I got to see the vibrant day that was still going on above all that.
AND in my heart the last bit of the fog was lifted. I saw for the first time that the little bitty girl was not alone at all, but out on a walk with her Father. Jesus was holding her hand and she was not scared at all, she was dashing here and there to pick a flower and point out a bug...but He was there, watching and protecting her.
And my life has never been the same. God showed me what I really have to fear...the literal demons that had hounded me my whole life suddenly had not place to go, no entrance into my life. The terror, the fear, the worry and the anger that God had not protected me all melted away at the realization that I had been safe all along...and that I will be safe. That little,near baby is safe and not afraid. What a blessing it is to know that in your heart, to feel it in your soul.
|Posted by Rebecca on September 14, 2012 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
I was on the way to my first small group meeting at our new church last week when I realized this: "Lord, I'm scared of your people." I did not want to go. In fact, I had a minor panic attack. My hands were actually sweating slightly, my heart was racing and I put off getting in the car just long enough to be a bit late. I did not want to go. We just found this church this summer and we've loved it so far. The Sunday afternoon meetings are wonderful and life-giving. The people seem to havea genuine care for each other and everyone is really encouraged to be strongly connected with the small groups and ministries there. I find it so refreshing.
For years Mark and I wandered a weary land of spiritual deserts. We were excluded from a lot and we were resented when we tried to get involved. We tried to find our place and it was clearly not in church. There were many weeks when we would get up and ask, "What church do you want to go to this morning?" Usually this was followed by a long discussion about should we even be going to church when it seems superficial and empty? When we matter so little and our prayers are unwanted, our comments shushed. Many of the churches we tried had a vibrant social life going on - people truly coming along side each other and loving,encouraging, uplifting each other. It looked lovely from the outside, but breaking in was not possible. I know, we tried! We really tried,over and over.
All those closed doors should have awakened us to the fact that our God had larger plans for us than we had. So often we, his"followers" are just not good at listening to the Holy Spirit in our lives. How frustrated He must become with our constantly closed ears, our distracted minds, our smallness...or many he just understands that we are exactly like babes who cannot take in colors yet...we're underdeveloped in many ways.
So, there I was, sitting in the car outside the house full of strangers...hoping I had not made a mistake to try again...to trust God'speople with any portion of His work. I got out and took brave steps to the door...went in and began the journey.
Like a refreshing rain after months of wait. Like a sweet, cool, breeze when the air has been stagnant for days. Like love in action. We were swept into a joyful, energized and meaningful time of sincere sharing and caring. It was overwhelming to find a river of life when I'm so totally used to having to provide for all my own spiritual needs.
So, my faith in God's people had failed me. But then, I've been known to fail God's people. What a mess we all are...and what a blessing we can be! I'm so thankful for our new found church, in a way I never could have been without those years of desert living. The smell of a fresh rain still follows me and it has been a couple of days. What could happen next? I'm actually looking forward to finding out.
|Posted by Rebecca on August 3, 2012 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
Spiritually speaking, I go through these waves and dives of life. There are times when I am nearly in a spiritual coma it would seem. I attend church, pray a little (or a lot), but in my emotions, in my heart I just don’t feel that connected. I was brought up to understand that this is a dessert time created by my own lack of spiritual maturity – indicating a spiritual battle that has been lost. I was told by more than just parents and pastor to feel very badly about these times and to do my best to avoid them, minimize them and to overcome them quickly. After all, “if God feels far off…guess who moved? ME.”
But recently I’ve come to see another side to this stagnation coin. One that I like, one that I love in fact. You see, I’m a childbirth coach/doula – I work with couples as they give birth to their children. It is a magical time of mystery and wonder and tears, joy, pain..etc. You can imagine. But there is a period of labor that has come to be called by many natural birth supporters as the “rest and be glad” stage. It often happens right after the very hardest and most intense part of labor – instead of being ready to push baby out the mom is ready for a nap – sometimes a very long one. Some moms will sleep an hour. In this time it would seem that pushing now would make sense, but if everyone waits the results are often a little better. If everyone just relaxes and waits for the mother’s body to do what it needs to do she is more likely to have the physical and emotional energy to do what she must. This little bit of time is a refueling time, a rejuvenation. When the mother wakes up from her rest she is ready for the grand finale…and moments later she will be weeping tears of joy over her new baby.
So my thought is this – I’m sure you’ve guessed. We all have “rest and be glad” moments in life…and when we’ve chewed all the goodness we can from our last wave of insight and growth spiritually, we enjoy a lull in our development. We suddenly just settle down into a nice comfortable place and we rest in the Lord…we are commanded to be still and know that He is God…sounds a lot like “rest and be glad” doesn’t it? It is not something to panic over, not something to feel bad about – there is no guilt in it. It just is.
Distancing yourself from God is probably a serious thing – but feeling a calm after your storm, resting in His arms for a spiritual moment…that is glory!!! Don’t fear it, shun it or belittle it. From those still waters come the mighty waves that move our mountains and change the way our lives are lived. Revel in the quiet moments, they are the still before a storm – a time of soaking deeply into God.
|Posted by Rebecca on May 26, 2012 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
So, one day Jesus gets the idea to call his friends together, climb in a boat and sail to the other side of the lake. There is a big storm and his followers are scared to death. When they wake Jesus and ask his help he calms the storm with a word. And he asks them, “where is your faith?” Because they just don’t get it. They cannot see really who it is they have been hanging out with…not just a cool buddy, but God Almighty, in human form. But that is hardly the main event. They are about to see something directly from a Steven King novel, or even worse.
They land, maybe start to set up camp? I don’t know what the plan was. But a man possessed by demons comes to them as they are just getting onto land. Naked and insane…he demands an answer as to what Jesus wants on his land! “WHAT do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” Can you even imagine what that was like? It later describes his condition, his habit of breaking free from chains and roaming among the tombs and caves- escaping to the dessert, etc. The man was crazy. He needed to be on meds. He needed psychiatric care, a good padded room and specialists. Jesus calmly asks, “What is your name?” And the demons in him answer, not him. “Legion.” THEY said, for they were many.
These evil spirits then try to bargain with Jesus, “do not send us to the abyss”. They knew what was coming. They knew they had been messing with a man who was owned by GOD and they didn’t stand a chance. So Jesus, for who knows what reason, sends them into a heard of pigs which then dash off the cliff and drown. The end.
But wait. There is a little bit more. The people of the village are scared to death that Jesus had power of their evil spirits…and they ask him to leave. No one rejoices over the life and mind that were saved. No one is in awe at the wonder of what the hand of God has done. There is no celebration for the life of a man who had been insane. Can you even imagine? I can. I’ve seen it. People are skeptics when it comes to acts of God…and often people do not like it when God messes with their system of doing things. Instead of kindness and rejoicing they ask the Master to leave! And the man comes to Jesus - I love this part, it says, “Dressed and in his right mind”. He wants to leave those who do not want him, his miracle, his freedom in Christ, his hope, his sanity, his peace, his un-demonized self. He begs to go with his new master, his new friend, his new hope and peace.
Shockingly of all, Jesus answers him with this one, profoundly painful response. “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.”
He must have been crushed. I would have been devastated. Imagine the painful and humiliating memories those caves and cliffs held for that man? Everywhere he went he was going to be stared at, mocked, talked about and treated like a time-bomb. But Jesus knew all this, and he knew the joy of being healed would far outlast the pain of humiliation and isolation.
So, I have to remind myself that I may find my walk with God has taken me into dark and lonely places, it has taken me through valleys of death and into caves of grief and loss, it has taken me very close to the place of madness and it has brought me safely to the other side. NOW is my time to go home and tell what God has done. My calling is simple and I complicate it so badly some times. What has God done in my life…too much to tell here. But my I cannot be silent, I have to tell it to anyone who will listen. They can think I’m crazy and they can laugh because I can’t be that remarkably saved when I was such a mess for so long. But it is my calling, my life and my dearest happiness to tell my story. The story of the day God came to my island of despair and sent my enemy scattering like terrorized fools…and set me free.
I have a wonderful story. And so do you. So, no matter how silly you may think it is – tell it. There is no higher calling and someone needs to hear. I don’t even mean sharing the gospel (per say). I mean, telling the story of the great things God has done for you. Go home. Go tell it. Don’t worry about how people respond. No more pity-party because people don’t take me seriously. No more worries about getting laughed at. No more serving Satan by refusing to really obey God. And in doing so, I put myself in the company of other “missionaries” who went boldly home to share their awesome transformation from demoniac to “dressed and in their right mind”.
“God bless the broken road…”