You be you. I’ll be Me

I woke this morning to His voice.

Living water!! Manna!!

He said, among other things, I’ve been trying to fabricate His spirit. Trying to generate it, recreate it out of my own. Struggling, struggling, struggling to create the atmosphere that only He can create. Getting frustrated and discouraged when I can’t do what I CAN’T DO. He capped it all off with this statement:

You be you. I will be Me.

Oh how I long for the sweetness of seven years ago, where I would wake up eager to see what He had to show me. I didn’t overthink everything. I loved my spiritual childhood!! When did this pressure to perform creep in?

One of my favorite teachers spoke this month about a misapplied trend to pursue the Lord by choosing the “right” things to do. [Do yourself a favor and watch this about four times: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkDifferentlyCounseling/ Using your will 4/11/17]  When I heard him say that, something in me rose up. I want to be a girl who goes hard after her Father’s heart. I want to seek and find more of Him. But today, I understand the point. There shouldn’t be a struggle of deciding what I should do “for” Him. Instead, there should be a desire and a willingness to receive what He’s handing each moment…so I can live “from” Him. Bob Hamp’s teaching (and Jesus’ for that matter!) is all about Receive, Contain, and Broadcast. Some of us are trying really hard to do that last one without getting the first two down.

Just ask.

Living without His spirit is not living. I have been in a dry and powerless place for a while now. And why? Because I’m working hard to bring it back instead of just asking.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
~Jesus, Matthew 7:7

That’s what we’ve been asked to do – receive what He has for us. Let it come in and change us. And we can’t help but share it with others because it’s a miracle.

I am breathing deeper today because of His voice. I am thankful He sees my heart and knows I am sincere in my efforts, even when they are misapplied and so so wrong. But…He speaks!! He speaks to redirect and guide me back to truth and peace. That is unbelievably beautiful.

That’s Clearly the End…Right??

mountain path 1Last year I had a dream that I was a passenger in a bus driving on a mountain road. The brakes went out and, straight ahead, there was a wall of a mountain and nowhere to turn. The chaos and swirling panic focused into a sharp moment of clarity – I knew in my head this was the end.

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

I actually love dreams like this these days. There’s been a shift. Instead of surrendering to feelings of fear and despair, I find myself burrowing into my center. Into inexplicable peace and strength. I started praying for miraculous rescue. When we reached the side of the mountain, the road didn’t lead us to an unavoidable and disastrous end. Instead, it opened up and continued up the slope.

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
Isaiah 45:2

Maybe that was a miracle. Or maybe the road was always there and I just couldn’t see it from where I was sitting.

This dream was brought back to my mind yesterday as, yet again, something looked completely hopeless from my point of view. I do this way too much. I get focused on how things look without realizing I am only seeing a sliver of reality, filtered through my own past experiences and my own understanding. Lord help me break free of myself!!

He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Proverbs 2:8

I am thankful that He still speaks to us. That He uses words and methods we understand. That He reminds us of past lessons. That we are not alone here, and there are perspectives other than our own. That His truth is bigger than any one of our perspectives. I’m seeing more and more beauty in relationship.

The Price of His Heart

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
Song of Solomon 6:3

The last few weeks, I have struggled with some stuff. Good stuff from the Lord’s perspective, but pretty overwhelming when I’m looking through mine. Life has been so busy that, though we’re living it together, we’re not connecting intimately. This week I was getting ready to go to yet another big thing, and I just sat down and broke. I was feeling so unprepared, so distracted. So lonely.

In an instant I felt him swoop me up to download a couple giant reminders into my heart. Three little words that imparted novels of grace, love, and empowerment.

Beloved.

Mother.

Woman!

He was just waiting for me to sit still for a second.

There is such a tenderness in the way he loves me. Not just as his beloved bride, but as a bewildered mama who loves him more than life itself and has a tendency to panic when she can’t see where her next step will land. I love the way Jesus treated his mother. He respected her, he provided for and protected her, but he didn’t shield her from reality. She was there at the ugly end. She was strong.

The level of intimacy I share with him is a treasure – but it comes at a price, just like every rare and precious thing. I walk alone most of my days. I’m still walking this out, but there is an increasing denial of and dying to my self for another heart. But what a small price to pay for his heart! For the merging, which is greater. Bigger. No longer mine or his. OURS. That’s what marriage is supposed to be. It has been the most amazing experience of my life.

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Proverbs 31:10-11

The way he loves me is no different from the way he loves you. He longs for that intimate relationship with every person who has ever lived. He’s a gentleman, just waiting for us to sit down and turn an ear his way. He wants to love us, heal us, restore us, transform us, make us whole. What a beautiful partner he is!

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find a man on this earth that I’d be willing to step into that with. It’s hard to imagine – that heart is so uncommon. But maybe. Someday. Until then, I am thankful for continued protection over my heart and others, for strength and focus. I am thankful I am learning to be a good friend. I am thankful the greatest desire of my heart is to melt deeper into His. Miracles.

Sweet as Honey

honey1

These days are heavy with excitement and expectation – the Lord is really talking, and more of us are listening.

There is an absolute hunger for more.

After putting it off for months, I have just ventured into one of the strangest books in the Bible. I’ve only made it three chapters in to Ezekiel and already love him. I love that he writes with exclamation points! I love how clearly he was given instructions, without room for misinterpretation. I love his obedient heart.

It’s rich with treasures, but one that shines brightest to me is how he describes his commissioning as a prophet.

He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.”  Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
Ezekiel 3:3

The words he was given to digest were not pleasant, and they weren’t written on a fruit roll-up. Just three verses before, he described the (animal-skin) scroll as being front and back full of “lamentations, mourning and woe” (2:10). Those were the words he was to be full of and deliver to his neighbors.

Here’s what I love about it. Ezekiel was so open to receive instruction from the Lord that ANY word and ANY assignment was made sweet enough to bear. In Revelation 10, John experiences the same thing – a scroll of prophetic judgment that was hard to digest, but tasted sweet as honey in his mouth.

We will walk through difficult times. Sometimes the words we hear are not what we were looking for, like “WAIT!” Or how about “Get up!,” “No,” or even “Yes”…just a few of my favorites which have come at times I was really hoping to hear something different.

Even those words of redirection are precious to me. He is talking…to me! He cares about us at the minute level. He has a best plan for each of us, and really wants us to experience it. That’s what I want too – for me, my family, you. One thing I know is that a hungry heart will be fed, and wow, his words are sweet.

How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

The Forgetting

I just did a little study on the life of Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob. When I finished, a question came that I couldn’t shake. Why didn’t Joseph, who had been sold into slavery and separated from his family for 13 years, look for his family once he was free? Why didn’t he find out if his father was still alive? Why didn’t he proactively bring them to Egypt for protection? He didn’t even try.

You have to keep in mind that Joseph was a sensitive man, and hopelessly optimistic. He had prophetic dreams that delighted him as a teenager. He seemed oblivious to the animosity felt toward him by his brothers. He was compassionate and courteous to prisoners under his charge. He wept for joy, he wept with grief, he wept at reconciliation, he wept…a lot!

He was a slave or in prison for 13 years before he was elevated to second under Pharaoh – plenty of time to long for home. Once he got out, he knew he had seven good years to prepare for famine, and so he got busy. He also got married and had two sons. He named his first son Manasseh, which means “one who causes to forget” because, he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41:51).

To say that, he obviously hadn’t forgotten them. He chose to. It’s like he asked God for forgetfulness, for help moving on from them, his past, and even the dreams attached to them.

A willful forgetting. I can’t remember if I’ve written this or not (snort) but there are chunks of my past that have been erased from my mind. I’m fairly certain it’s not a symptom of brain damage, and I’m positive it’s not out of fear to face it. Things have simply been lifted, purged – I like to think of it as a tender mercy from the Father.

But there are other things I have had to cry out for him to take, just like Joseph did. I see it more of a refocus to his purpose. A redirection to get his mind back on target. He worked diligently where he was placed. Then, in God’s perfect timing, his dream came to him.

Think about it, the dreams he had as a teenager wouldn’t have happened if he had interfered. When the brothers showed up and bowed before him, it says “Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them” (Genesis 42:9). He got it then. Joseph had the most amazing ability to see life from a Kingdom perspective.

I find that such an encouragement this week! To stay focused where I’ve been placed. To diligently and joyfully carry on with the tasks I’ve been given. To cry out for a forgetting of things meant for another time.

What a reminder that the Word is living, active, and still speaking to hungry hearts. When you feel stuck on a passage or a question…ask for the answer. He is probably trying to tell you something!

Lamplight

I hate the dark…especially when I’m going somewhere. I’m always afraid I’ll walk into a spider web, or a hole. Into danger.

This has become irritatingly clear to me lately, as the winter days get shorter. And I see it is very much a reality in my spiritual walk as well. I really hate walking in darkness.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

His words are truly lifesavers for me, but they aren’t always as bright and clear as I’d like them to be. There are times I feel like I’m stepping into the darkest night. With only the tiniest clue that I’m moving in the right direction, I get frustrated with the lack of illumination.

I like to know where I’m going, what I’m walking into.

I have been known to take his words and shake them, try to squeeze meaning out of them before their time. Manipulate them to fit the plans I have in mind.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
2 Peter 1:19-21

The room can seem pitch black but, in time, our eyes adjust to the available light. This is where I am now, learning to walk without panic in the light I’ve been given. Learning to trust that his words are enough without my interference. Resting in the truth that he is walking ahead, and behind, and right beside.

For You are my lamp, O Lord;
The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
2 Samuel 22:29-31

Un(Chore)Charted

This summer has been an absolute blur. I work from home so, in between meetings, I get to enjoy the sounds of my children. All day long. (I really do love them!!)

We were a little more prepared this year and had each come up with a few summer goals to incorporate into the chore chart. I started off with all kinds of incentives to get them motivated, hoping to instill a sense of ownership in them – opportunities for an increased allowance, summer parties, whatever I could think of. I have found myself increasingly frustrated and disappointed at their level of effort. At their performance.

The other day I was driving in my car fuming about how many times I have to remind them of the goals they wanted to accomplish, of the duties they are neglecting, of the prizes they are losing. Then I started in on myself. I started thinking about the clumsy way I’ve been juggling the readings, the workbooks, the studies, the writings, the meetings, the cleanings, the garden weedings, the feedings, the constant upkeep and outfitting of us all, the home improvements, the connections with family and friends, the workouts, the financial plannings, that career of mine.

As the list grew, so did my tension! How easy it was to turn this new, God-given desire to tend my life well into a performance-based nightmare for us all! I am so thankful that my Father is not in heaven standing by my chore chart shaking his head, sending me on a guilt trip, and making me feel like a loser for not back-handspringing out of bed to knock them all out first thing each morning. I am thankful for the reminder that those things on my heart are no longer “chores”; they are things I want to do because, let’s face it, they make my life better. Many of them are pleasures. All of them are expressions of my gratitude. None of them cause my Father to love me any more or less.

Oh to be so patient. I want desperately for my kids to get that this life is theirs. To no longer see themselves as a slave to works/chores, but to remember we came up with those chores to help them achieve their goal. Those chores are meant to be working for them. What a life-changing perspective!

I want them to get it sooner than I did (shoot, I’m still trying to get it!), but I certainly can’t force or manipulate them there, and I want to be careful I’m not adding guilt and shame on them. They were, after all, their goals. This has to be a unique revelation for each of us. A shift from performing well to truly living in excellence. From operating as a slave to walking as the master of our zone. From a stress-filled attempt to earn approval through good behavior to a desire for relationship. When I find myself struggling to make time to spend with the Lord, I feel bad. Not because I am letting him down, but because I MISS HIM. In truth, I am letting myself down! I love how Jeremiah says:

When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
Jeremiah 15:16

I know that feeling! There is nothing more satisfying than identifying and being fed on his words. I love that he rewards us with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) for walking with him, just as I tried to reward my children for pressing on toward their earthly goals. I love that he has freed us from the mindlessly obedient chore chart mentality, and shown us he is after our hearts. That makes me hungry to know him more and to live more excellently. Hopefully I am contagious!

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