Growth Process

For the past two decades I have been journaling during my quiet time.  Recently I started to feel like I should go back and review those journals and type out the lessons.

  • There are many things that I have learned over the years that are engrained in my life, they have become part of who I am.
  • There are some lessons, that like the parable of the seed, fell on bad ground.  At the time in my life I was not in a place that those seeds could take root.  I need to be reminded of those so that I can continue to grow.
  • There are some lesson that I am still learning.  Things I know that God continues to show me time and time again, like the children of Israel because I need them to move forward in my journey.   I need to review them so I can move forward.Growthprocess

These journals are not in order.  I will do my best to date them as they happened, even if they are not typed in that order.  I am hopeful that my journey may help others.  Help others to see:

  • It is okay to start somewhere.
  • That God meets us right where we are
  • He speaks to us in a way that we can understand.
  • Sometimes it comes in waves and other times in a single sentence.

For me, I grew up in church but never learned about a personal relationship with a heavenly Father that loves me.  I could quote the scriptures and tell the stories, but they were just that words and stories.  I had to start with learning lessons in general.  Grand ideas found in the scripture that were applicable to lives in general.  Then I started to learn how to apply them to my own life.  Now I am able to help others apply the lessons to their life.  If nothing else, I hope that it helps you to grow in faith because for the most part, the person who wrote these journals, is a life transformed.  The Growth link at the top will house this journey through my journals.

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Butterflies of Change

The other day while I was on an evening walk with my husband on one of  our local community trails, we came across a bridge flowing over a creek. Down on the bank of the creek was a mother and her toddler daughter, there was  another woman at the top of the bank by the bridge. The little girl was crying hysterically trying to climb up the bank to the bridge to the other lady.  The mother was trying to let the child know butterflies don’t bite. The little one wanted nothing to do with the butterfly.  I smiled at the scene and we kept walking.

As we walked that same spot again tonight, my mind went back to the little girl’s drastic fear. Butterflies to me they are a symbol of change.   I thought there are times in my life, that just like the little girl I have an adverse reaction to what I fear might happen if I change.

There are times that change does not bother me in the least, I have a motto “The only thing constant is change.” However, that mostly applies to my work life.  When I worked for the state, one thing I could always count on was change.  Change to the work flow, the policies, and leadership.  Every job after, I kept the same mantra.  I don’t get worked up over change that impacts me but that I have little control over.  I realized a long time ago it does not help at all.  I generally will just go with the flow, although I may grumble a little if it doesn’t make sense.  I can move on rather quickly.

butterflyofchangeThere are also times when I do have some control over change, even in my personal life.  There are times that I can press in to the change.  I can prepare myself for it and move successfully through it without problem.  I think of my children growing up and moving out and away.  Or my mother passing away, job changes, and moves these were changes that I navigated.  Although there were hiccups along the way, I have never found myself fighting those changes.  They are changes that are part of the circle of life, they still happen to me.  With the exception of moves and job changes, I have little control over the change they would inevitably happen

Yet with the butterfly, there are changes that happen to and around it – the cocoon that it spins, the time inside, the struggle to get out, but the changes are also personal.  They transform from a simple caterpillar into a magnificent butterfly. They go from crawling to flying.  The personal process can not be short changed.

To often I am terrified of the change that lies before me personally.  When I feel called to step out of my comfort zone in a particular area, I would say especially spiritually, that irrational fear creeps up.  Every ounce of my being can fight that change.  Unfortunately, God will not go against my will.  So while He like the mother is trying to convince me that the butterfly of change is good, I am scurrying away from the change trying to get to the bank of comfort zone.  I am working against His efforts.  I don’t want that cocoon around me.

Even though eventually I will step out in that change, I often make it much harder on myself than He ever designed it to be.   It is not that changes that God asks me to make are completely pain free, there are times that there is a struggle and it is God ordained.  However, His change and process is always for growth and always for good.  He is looking for me to trust Him, to not scream hysterically or run irrationally away, but to press in and let Him bring me to the place of safety even as I walk though the change.  He will walk with me as I learn to adjust to the new circumstances He is calling me to.  I have to be willing to let Him help me be where He is calling me and stop resisting the change or even the notion of change.

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Transference

There is a process in therapy called transference. Basically the person needing counseling transfers feelings they have for someone in thier life towards the therapist. In a positive role, the therapist will have clear boundaries and will be able to help the counselee learn a different coping mechanism for handling the person they really have the feelings towards so the counselee can move forward. In a negative role, the counselee will self destruct and try to get the therapist to fulfill the role in the same manner that the person they have the feelings toward does. In a more determental role, there is a countertransferance where the therapist tries to work out thier own personal issues in the therapy session putting thier feelings on the client.

I am not sure what brought this to my mind, as I am not currently providing counseling, nor am I in counseling. However, I was thinking this is what we do with God, I realize my thoughts oversimplify the matter, but the revelation was good for me. In transference with God, Daddy issues become God issues. Spouse issues become God issues. Trust issues become God issues. Anything that works itself out in relationships becomes a God issue.

I have seen this play out in my own relationships. There have been times where I have felt rejected by God. Yet the root of that rejection is feelings of rejection from childhood. I have felt unloved by God because I allowed how I was feeling towards my spouse to influence how I felt God was responding to me. When I have felt left behind by friends, I have at times put that on God also feeling as if He was leaving me behind. A deeper look is that how I relate to others is often a reflection of how I am relating to God. I transfer my feelings towards others to God.

I am grateful that my great Counselor has perfect boundaries. He knows how to work on my heart and mind to help me work through my issues in other relationships. I remember when God showed me how I was relating to my husband in an unhealthy manner. He taught me to talk to Him before I started complaining to or about my husband. Once I was able to work through my own emotions I was able to go back to my husband and have a good conversation about the underlying issue instead of reacting to the immediate circumstances which were just symptoms to which we were responding.

And when that feeling of rejection comes up, I traced it all the way back to childhood. I had a limited understanding of things from childhood. My childhood self took on rejection, and then my adult self just ran with it. Until I went back and processed some of the things that lead me to feel rejected with a God-sized lens. It changed my thinking, but there is a lot of junk that God is still having to strip away from all those years of distorted thinking.

The really cool thing I was thinking about with transference, is that when I transfer my feelings on to God, He knows what to do with them. If I let Him, He will help me work them out. He is not gonna get frustrated and fire me. He will really set those boundaries, and even when I push them He doesn’t give up on me. He knows that I am a work in progress and He won’t quit on me. He is the best Counselor.

The other thing is, with God countertransference is a good thing! When I can let Him work things out through me, that is what the Kingdom of God is about. When I let Him love through me, others get real love. When I let His fruit grow in my life, it impacts the world around me in ways that I can not even begin to explain. When I really let His light shine in me, others are able to encounter Him.

I know that teansference happens. I realize that my view is over simplified. I can let God help me work out negative emotions, and let Him guide my healing process. He can teach me to let His healing power work through me and flow into the lives of those around me. He is an amazing God and counselor.

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Can I maybe call you Daddy?

“Can I maybe call you dad?” Those simple words on the screen from a little girl to her daddy brought tears to my eyes. There is a difference between a father and a dad. All daddies are fathers in my book, but not all fathers are daddies.  I see a father as a figure, there but not available.  I see a father as talking but not listening or engaged.  Authoritarian in style, controlling not nurturing.   He is a man to be obeyed and feared.

In contrast, a daddy is someone that you can always talk to and know he is listening. He is a place of safety, a lap you can climb up in and rest close enough to sink your heartbeats. He makes you know and feel his love, even when you know you have screwed up royally. He is able to bring peace in the storm, to right a wrong even when the situation can’t be changed.  He is available and uses nurturing correction.  He is a man with whom you have a true relationship.

I didn’t realize how much my heart missed having a daddy in my life. It has been over twenty-two years since my dad passed away. He was far from perfect, but I knew he always had my back.  There is just something special about the relationship between a girl and her daddy. No matter what the problems are in a family, there is a bond that runs deep.  And his passing left a void in my life, that still exists to this day.

However, my response to that question stirred a deeper ache because it wasn’t my dad that came to mind as I heard myself pondering that question.  I realized the deeper cry in my heart was for my Heavenly Father, “Can I maybe call you Daddy?”

abbaI have a relationship with God, but I long to trust Him as a Daddy, or Abba.  For some that may seem too personal for the God of the universe, or too casual name “dad”. 

I want to fully believe that regardless of my problems I have, my Father in Heaven longs for that deep bond with me just the same.  I have a knowledge in my head of God the Father.  My head knows He is an Abba, but there is a wall I have built around me that keeps me from really allowing myself to call Him “Daddy.”

I realize I need God as my daddy, I need His presence to feel that void.  I want to feel my Heavenly Daddy’s arms around me, to sink my heart to His and rest in His presence.  I need to feel Him listen to the cries of my heart, and believe that He cares enough to help me in my mess.  I need His correction, but I long for His nurturing.  I long to really make the connection that there is nothing I can do or have done that can keep His love from me, because He is love.

I love this quote from Larry Crabb, author “I assume the Spirit is always whispering, “Abba”, to God’s children, assuring them that they are safe in His care. And He is continually calling them to become what God saved them to be, solid people, indestructibly alive, hurting perhaps, but consumed with pleasing the Father.”

Tonight my heart cries out in response to the Spirit’s whisper, “God, can I maybe call you Daddy?”

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Searching

I love when I get revelation in an unconventional message, especially when I am searching for it somewhere else. I was laying in my hammock after work, listening to the birds sing God’s praises that never ceased. I was enjoying the light glistening in the leaves contemplating how those little flickers of light represent the light of God’s people in the world; we are in the world but not of it. Praying, seeking, and yet not hearing; that is when I heard my husband pull up.

He was on his motorcycle and generally I will open the garage so he can just ride it straight in to park. This day I hadn’t opened the garage. As I heard the bike idling, I was sure he had paused waiting for me to open the door. I didn’t move from my hammock.  Eventually his motorcycle turned off.  I waited for him to come out to greet me.  He didn’t.

As I lay in the hammock waiting, I pictured my husband walking into the house.  He might call out my name, walk to our bedroom and bathroom where he will usually find me if I don’t greet him from the kitchen or living room.  I figured that when he did not find me there, he would come outside.  He didn’t.  I admit I was a little disappointed.  Eventually I got up from the hammock and went searching for him.  I found him standing in the kitchen.

In that fifteen minutes of waiting and picturing what I wanted, I saw how God is also wanting us to search for Him.  There are things that are straight up available to us from Him. Yet, there are deeper treasures that He wants us to seek after Him for, a searching on our part. It is not that He is hiding, just that He wants us to make the effort to move closer to Him.

searchA wave of conviction hit me, that sometimes I am content at just waiting for Him to come to me.  As I felt my own disappointment towards my husband not really searching for me, I imagined how I have disappointed God.  I have too often been content to walk through the door, read a scripture, and just stop there.  As if reading the words is all that is necessary.  I stop and don’t let His Word penetrate my heart and change my action or my perceptions.

Other times, I may look a little deeper, I might walk into another room searching, but I stop before I find the fullness of the treasure He has for me.   I might journal and skim the surface of how a Word applies to my life.  I might even dig a little deeper, but I stop short of allowing the Word to transform my life.  I stop searching and just move on to other things.  I know the seed is planted, but what if it could have been something that God would have done “suddenly” in my life if I just pressed in.

Just as I wanted my husband to keep searching, God wants me to keep searching until I have all that He has for me.  Lately there have been some scriptures that when I really searched my heart, gave me a revelation, that I could ponder and meditate on for days.  My heart would leap as I really thought about the passage.  Most were passages I have skimmed over before, but for whatever reason now they are screaming “Jackie, Here I Am, this one if for you.”

Like Luke 6:19

and the whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power kept going out from Him, healing everyone.

Those simple words I have meditated on for three days.  Maybe in part because of where I am right now.  No, I don’t need a physical healing, but I want to see His power in a real and tangible way.  I am not just searching for something for myself, I want it for everyone.

We had a special speaker, and I had so much anticipation leading up to the man’s messages.  Although it was inspiring, it did not end up looking like I thought it would. I think I had expected this person to come, and there to just be an undeniable move of God that would radiate out through the community.  When I started talking to God about why it had not been more, I got only one word back.  “Preparation.”    What I saw, was that I wanted that manifestation without the preparation.  I want a microwaved move of God, when He is more of a slow-simmer cooking method.  I heard through the messages of the searching for God, individually and corporately.  If I want what the man spoke of, I have to be willing to do what was done before, search God with my whole heart.

This scripture spoke to me because Jesus was not walking around touching a select few.  The people were searching out Him to touch Him.  He wasn’t trying to heal them, the power was flowing out of Him because He was prepared.  He had already been with God in prayer, He was full to overflowing and from that place the power flowed.  Everyone was healed.  It wasn’t a select few, but everyone who reached out to Him.

The Bible says:

John 14:12-14“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Those scriptures together is what I was expecting when the man came to speak.  It is still what I am anticipating.  That we will do what Jesus did.  That Christ’s power in us will flow out.  That people will be healed and lives will be transformed.  That is what I am searching for.  I pray that I will keep searching until it is found.

We all have a decision to make, will we be content with just what God places in our hands outright, or will we search for Him with our whole hearts.  Will be keep searching for the deeper truths or will be satisfied with secondhand passages.  Will we stop our search before it becomes transformative action in our lives or continue searching until His power flows through us to reach the world around us?

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Love without compromise

As an impressionable young teenager, I remember filling notebooks with I ❤ and some random boy’s name. I remember one sheet that is still probably somewhere in my memoriabilia that was filled with different boys names all the way across and down. There was at least fifteen names on the paper, and that might be an underestimate. I admit, I had no clue what love really was but my infatuation with any of those boys at the time could have easily led me to compromise my character under the right circumstances.

I am not sure why my mind was drawn to the memory of that sheet as I listened to a song about the vastness of God’s love. A song of how God’s love should turn our hearts towards a love for others. Maybe it is the fact that I am often irritated when the love that is required by Christ costs me something I am not in the mood to give. When people move into the draining phase of care and I am in a mood to just skim the surface.

It had been that kind of day. One where more than one person was needing something that I didn’t feel like I wanted to give. My cup was nearing empty and I was not relying on God to fill it to overflowing so I could minister to those around me. I admit, I have found myself here a little to often for my liking lately.

Regardless of why it came to mind, my mind was drawn to the idea that I might have compromised myself at that young age had the circumstances been right. God doesn’t ask me to compromise, He just asks for obedience with only my best in mind. Yet too often, I am still unwilling to give what little I have in my hand to Him. The only thing that is compromised in my relationship with Him is my flesh. He asks me to give up things that distract me from Him. In the moment it may be painful pruning, but I have never had a regret when I have obeyed His request. My only regrets tend to be when I don’t listen to His still small voice.

I am not the same young girl, that thought I loved every cute boy that crossed my path. At that time in my life, I allowed God to keep me from compromising who I was. In my relationship with God, why do I allow my flesh to compromise who God says I am? I want to get to the point with Him that I will love without compromise. I want to get to a place where My relationship with Him means that whatever He asks, I am willing to give generously and without question.

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Led or Dragged

My grandchildren are one, four, six and twelve.  They are little sponges, soaking in everything from the world around them.  I learn so much about the world and often my own self, when I see things through their eyes.  My favorite thing though, is when God speaks to me through them.  Sunday, He definitely caught my attention through them.

My two middle grandchildren attend church with me when they are in town.  This is something they have done since the older of the two was about a month old, and so it is just part of our time together.  On Sunday mornings we go in early to pray before the praise and worship team practice and before people really start arriving.  Usually we walk around the chairs and pray over those who will soon fill them, in addition to the service in general.  Then the children will typically sit on either side of me until those people there early come together for a corporate prayer.  It might be about 30 to 40 minutes, and generally they do pretty good.

Sunday they were a little wired, because it had been cold and they had been inside most of the weekend.  Mimi was a little tired from staying up late, so it was not a good combination.  Little things they were doing which typically I would not have taken notice of were getting on my nerves, which was distracting me from what I was there to do – pray.  Yet even in the midst, God was speaking to my heart.

My grandson gently took my hand, wanting me to walk with him.  I took his hand, initially not knowing where we were going, and willingly followed.  He led me to the chairs, he wanted to walk through them again.  While I know they do not fully comprehend why I walk around and touch every chair while I pray, he wanted to do it a second time.    I heard that still, small voice, whisper, “You can follow me the same way.  Take my hand and trust I will not lead you anywhere that is not good for you.”

childledOn the surface, I know God won’t take me anywhere I shouldn’t be.  Yet so often I resist.  I want to be in control.  I want to know the plan; preferably the whole plan, not just one step ahead of me planning.  God is looking for someone who will obediently follow.  He is looking for that child-like faith that just says “okay.”  He is looking for a trust that will go even when it doesn’t understand.  He is looking for that from me.

As corporate prayer ended, my granddaughter took my hands and started pulling me out of the sanctuary.  Following prayer, they go have a donut.  She wants the one with the sprinkles and most of the donuts are just the glazed yeast donuts, so she was a girl on a mission.  I was not in any hurry.  She was literally dragging me out.

That is unfortunately how God often has to lead me, I felt that  thought quicken in my spirit.  I am not resisting completely, but I am not cooperating.  I am not throwing a tantrum, but He has to drag me around to where He wants me to be willing to go.  He is a God on a mission, and I am hem-hawing around taking my sweet time.   I don’t often think about the fact that time is short, and people are perishing.  I fail to consider how my delay can impact someone else’s journey.

At the end of the day, we all have a piece to play in God’s Kingdom.  A role that was designed for us to carry out.  The question is, will we all God to lead us?  Or will He have to drag us?

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Donor’s gift

April was organ donation awareness month. There were education flyers around my workplace to build awareness and to dispel myths. Flyers encouraging people to give the gift of life. There were a lot of misconceptions that I had about organ donation, I did not realize that I had. As I journaled this past week about the characteristics of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t help but think of the coorelation with organ donation; some of the characteristics included gift, giver of life, life sustainer, etc.

DonationAs I laid down to sleep, I thought about the gift that God offers. He doesn’t put us on a list where we have to dot all our “i’s” and cross all our “t’s” to qualify. It is not a list where we wait for months or years hoping for our name to come up. He is there with the gift, ready as soon as we call on His name asking for Life. Yet so often, we treat God’s gift as if we are on a donor list. We think we have to get our life in order on our own before we can even come to Him. Yes, there may be things that need to change in our life, but change will come through Him once we accept His gift.

The other thing I thought about, which applies greatly to my own walk with God is how we use the gift He has given us. When a donor receives an organ, the have no choice about using it. Thier body may reject it, just as our flesh tries to reject what God has given us. However, if the gift is received it will serve the purpose it was intended by the giver.  They may have a part to play with certain medications or diet and exercise, but if a heart is transplanted it will beat and pump blood through the body without any effort from the recipient.

God offers each of us the gift of salvation. Jesus was the donor of that gift. We choose to receive His donation or not. It has already been donated, and the only expiration is our physical death. But each person has also been given gifts, through our talents and abilities. Just as an eye can not perform the function of a lung, or a liver perform the function of a heart, we each have a function to perform that is God given. Each person has a different expression of their gift of talents and abilities. This gift is ultimately given to benefit others and serve a kingdom purpose.

Just as organ donation is needed when one part fails or another overworks, when one Christian fails or another over performs, it impacts every other part of the body of Christ. Every time I fail to use my gifts for His plans and purposes, I reject Christ’s donation. When I reason with what I feel He has asked me to do, I reject His donation. When I excuse away my under or over performance, I reject His donation. My actions say “His gift is not enough to empower me to do what He asks of me.” Or worse my actions say, “His gift is not enough and I have to fill in the gap because otherwise everything will fail.”

The gift of life is a precious thing. Our Heavenly Father was the first donor for life; He donated His Son to give us an eternal life with Him.  God has blessed this world with the knowledge of ability to continue life through organ donation. Christ donated His entire life so that we could have life in Him. It is important that we not only accept His donor gift, but that we also use every gift He has given us to its fullest potential. We shouldn’t reject any part of the donor’s gift through our words and actions, but should use it to bring glory to the One who gave it all.

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The last miracle before death

Friday was Good Friday. My husband and I watched Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ. I wanted to pause to see a small reflection of what my Savior did to reconcile us back to relationship with God. The story of a love that cost Him everything, and yet was given so freely. I see the personal cost in that movie, and realize it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was paid.

I was lost in my own thoughts, when my husbamd spoke up. He noted the last miracle Christ did before He died was for an enemy. I responded back,  “in reality every miracle was for an enemy.”  Every miracle Jesus had preformed was for a person who had not been reconciled back to Him at that point.

And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. Matthew 26:51

When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him. Luke 22:49‭-‬51

It is a scene I have recounted; yet, a perspective in the last days of Christ I missed. I have thought about the thieves on the cross and the mocking soldiers. I have contemplated Peter’s denial and Judas’s betrayal. I have imagined the pain of the mother’s heart in seeing her Son die for her sins. I have most certainly thought of Jesus’s sacrifice and God’s heart for His children.

Jesus performed many miracles during His time on earth. Giving sight to the blind. Hearing to the deaf and mobility to the lame. He healed diseases and brought the dead back to life. Jesus cast out demons. Yet, most people who recieved miracles sought Him out for the healing. Or sometimes someone else sought out Jesus for the healing.

The last miracle that Jesus performed was not for someone seeking Him as Savior but someone seeking to destroy Him. He did not even ask Jesus for the healing. When the religious leaders and His enemies had demanded signs and wonders, Jesus did not comply. So why, when it came to the last few hours of His life, was it an enemy He reached out and healed?

miracleI have just been pondering that question.

Could it be so that we could trust Him in the pain we cause ourselves? This man would not have been injured had he not been with the party seeking to arrest Christ. He didn’t have to be taking part in this late night lynching.  He would not have had his ear cut off if he stayed home.

Too often I find my own actions cause a deeper pain than that others can inflict on me. Christ might have wanted me to have that reminder in the final hours of His life. Regardless of what I have done, I am never out of His healing reach.

Could it be so that when we follow others down the wrong path, we could trust Him in our hurts? Maybe the soldier would say, “I was just following orders. I didn’t know.”

Christ knew that people would often follow others farther down the wrong path than ever intended. Christ might have wanted to remind us that no matter how far we have went down the wrong path, He is there to bring complete healing. Regardless of who we have followed or where we have traveled, we are never out of the reach of His healing touch.

Or could it be, that Christ needed to bring healing to the hurt caused by His followers? The injury Jesus healed was caused by one of His closest disciples, Peter. Peter was not acting out of the love of Christ, but out of the reaction of his flesh.

Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant’s name.
John 18:10

Christ knew that there would be times His followers would react in a character other than that of a Christ imitator. Christ knew at times those closest to Him would cause pain to others. Maybe Christ wanted to show in His final hours, that His healing touch is available even when the hurt comes from the bad reactions of one of His followers.

Or maybe it was not for the soldier at all, but could it be that Christ healed the soldier as a reminder to His followers?  Christ had taught the disciples to love their enemies, to pray for those who persecuted them.  Maybe He wanted the last miracle before His death to be a reminder to them of the life He had called them to live.

I often need a reminder that I am called to walk in love, to those closest to me and to those who are my enemies.  Maybe the last miracle before death was to be a legacy that would play our minds when we wanted to react in our flesh instead of in the love of Christ.

I will never fully understand this side of Heaven why Christ would make His last miracle before death be to someone who was not seeking a miracle but was seeking to destroy Him.  What I discovered in my pondering is that there is nothing I can do, no circumstance where I might find myself, no hurt caused by a Christian to deep, or action done out of anger that Christ can not heal.

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Revelation of Him

And from thence He arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered into a house, and would have no man know it; and He could not be hid. But straightway a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of Him, came and fell down at His feet.

Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. And she besought Him that He would cast forth the demon out of her daughter.

And He said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.

But she answered and saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

And He said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the demon is gone out of thy daughter.

And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the demon gone out. Mark 7:24‭-‬30 ASV

This passage came up twice today, once in my morning devotion and again in our women’s bible study at church. I usually take notice of repeats, especially when they happen so close together.

revelationofHimThis scene always blows my mind when I read it.  I guess because I always try to read in the context of today’s culture.  I can not imagine this scene playing out today.  There would be cries of discrimination.  There would be social media posts about how Jesus called her a dog.  It is hard for me to read this outside that thought pattern.

Yet, this woman knew who she was.  That is clear from the text and her response.  She knew her place. She was an outsider, a foreigner, a woman, and yet she approached Jesus anyway. She trusted that He would heal her daughter. She was not bashful or offended, she was bold and audacious. This woman had a revelation of Him.  She knew the power of Christ and wanted what He could provide for her daughter.

In contrast, I am a daughter of Christ, I belong to Him.  I am a citizen of Heaven living on earth.  Yet, I so often fail to approach God with my needs.  I will go to Him, but I will not ask for what I want.  Even when I do, I do not often have the bold audacious faith that this woman did.  I sometimes have that faith and boldness for others, for larger needs, just not myself.   For myself, old messages of who I know I am speak louder that my revelation of Him.

Yet the truth is, I can approach the Lord knowing that He will hear.  His Word promises  He will hear; she had no promise, yet she approached anyway.  I need a revelation that I can come to Him. I need a revelation that even when I feel like I don’t even deserve the scraps,  He wants me to come anyway.  He wants me to ask.   I need the revelation of Him, that will give me far more than the scraps, He says “far more than I can ask think or pray.”

I need a revelation of Him and a revelation of who I am in Him and to Him.

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Legalistic Love

Legalistic.  When I think of religion, that is the first word that comes to mind.  As much as I know that Christianity is not a religion, but is a relationship, I still tend to be legalistic in certain things.  I see things as a policy in God’s Word rather than an expression of His love for us and our love for Him.

LegalisticloveOne aspect of legalism I struggle with is  trying to earn His love.  Although I would not have labeled it that way, I realize that I spent much of my life trying to earn God’s love and approval.  I thought if I just went to church enough, read the Bible enough, prayed more, served more that I could somehow undo years of complete disobedience.  At the time, I was blinded to the motive of my heart.  Yet when I didn’t “do something” I would condemn myself for failure.  The more I worked to earn God’s approval, the more frustrated I would become.  The reality is I knew I couldn’t measure up.  There were not enough hours in the day or in my life for me to make up for my sin.

I would run non-stop from early morning devotion time, to work, to volunteer or church, to family obligations, to collapsing in bed for a restless night of sleep, only to wake up and do it again, and again, and again.  Weekends I would spend catching up on all the things I let go through the week, trying to catch up with my extended family and a lot of self-loathing for all the failures of not living up to the standards that not only the world but also that “the church” places on people.  Day in day out, weeks turning into years and years turning into months, I was exhausted.

I don’t know when it began to click that I don’t have to earn God’s love.   I already have His love, it is unconditional.  He is love. I admit it is still a journey that I am learning to walk.  Battling the standards that are placed on me by society and still walking in obedience to what God wants me to do.  It is so easy to move into approval mode and act out of the checklist and obligation instead of obedience and love. I now find myself intentionally missing like a day of journaling just to remind myself it is not a check box for approval, but an act of devotion.  Or I will not make it to a late week service because I know that spending time with my husband can be just as much an act of love for God as sitting in a prayer meeting.  God knows my heart, and I already have His.

I realize that child-like faith combats the legalistic view of religion. I had paused on this comment, as I rocked my niece to sleep last night.  I had been working on the blog since last Wednesday.  I  had intended to finish Saturday night, but the kids had other plans.  I had to laugh, because my pastor preached on this today.  Guess it is a timely topic, or one which I needed reinforcing. I almost decided to delete the post, but figured I would just finish it out.  

There is a book that I read as a child, and I am pretty sure read to my children called “Where the Wild Things Are.”  The story, although I don’t remember all of it is about a little boy Max who gets sent to his room without supper for something.  He is angry, and escapes to a world of imagination where the wild things are.  There is some story where I am sure he starts out scared, then lets his anger help him scare the wild ones. Max ends up becoming king of the wild things, but eventually decides to go back home.  When returning to reality, he finds dinner waiting on him. Max never went anywhere.  He never did anything.  He didn’t have to.  Even though his parents were upset by His behavior, they never stopped loving Him.  Max’s provision was there.

I think that is a picture of God’s love.  We see correction, discipline, pruning as being sent to the room without supper.  We retreat to a world of self-pity and anger.  We allow the enemy to ride our emotions to the land of the Wild things where he makes us think that we are the king of the land.  We start to believe those lies as our thoughts focus on the wrongs that have been done to us, or even just to stay so distracted by the circumstances that are around us.  We get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we lose sight of the Truth.    We are working to make everything better in this land of fantasy.  In reality, if we would just open our eyes to the Truth before us, God has the supper waiting on us.  He already loves.  He already has provided the provision.

There is nothing that we have to do, except believe with child-like faith in God’s love for us.  God is just waiting for us to get beyond where we are and what we are going through to see who He is to receive it.

 

 

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