Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Closer than the air

Up until just now I used to believe that I was surrounded by a crowd of the enemy, spiritually speaking. And in the midst of all the pain and fear and confusion, I would reach out for God and hope that I could reach Him, or that He would take my hand. I knew He was good and was nearby somehow, but maybe I had to say the right words to get Him to intervene.

But tonight as I was sitting on the couch unable to sleep, I waited on Him to say something to me about the frustration and anger I've been feeling today, and how it has brought me down. And that image came to me, of the crowd of demons or whatever around me and me reaching out to God, and He said to me, "I am closer to you than the enemy, closer than the air you breathe." All the suffering of my life has been allowed, maybe mostly because I am a free being and have invited a lot of it on myself. But He has used it to purify me and bring me to Himself, to get rid of the faulty ideas and cleanse me of them, to bring me to a place of wholeness in Him.

I am His child. He guards me as a hen keeps her chicks under her wing. Even what the enemy is allowed to do to me is allowed for good, the good of conforming me to Christ, wherein lies my greatest happiness and perfect peace.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Joyful Father

Today I find myself wondering how much of my own despair has crept into my idea of Who God is. I am characterized by sorrow and frustration and fear, and that is the only life I can imagine. I get glimpses of joy and beauty and treasure them. They are few and far between. But isn't that because my heart resists seeing things as God does, resists even accepting His love? I have determined myself to be ugly, unworthy. I think that has barred me from seeing and experiencing abundant life in so many ways. Some little voice keeps telling me that I deserve to suffer and be rejected, and those experiences are the ones I embrace.

But what if reality is totally different? 180 degrees different? What if God really is a joyful being who delights in me, and in His creation. I'm reading a really amazing book by Dallas Willard The Divine Conspiracy, and in the third chapter he speaks about our modern misconception of who God is, and how it hinders us in our life with Him. Willard goes on to describe God as a being in in Whom "tidal waves of joy" continually wash over him. He says that Jesus was known to be a happy person. But I stopped there. Wasn't He a man of sorrows, afflicted and oppressed? But then Willard points out that the difficulties and sorrows were nothing compared to the joy of His being. And Scripture seems to validate that idea--"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:2. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.

I think the key is the boundless love that characterizes God. Love that gives generously, freely. When I am not focused on myself, even in suffering I experience joy. Like my son: he cries when he stubs his toe, but when the pain subsides he is back to prattling on happily. He doesn't dwell on the fact he got hurt. There is so much exciting stuff to see in the world. he isn't self aware the way I am. So maybe if I stop dwelling on the pain I have encountered in my life in my mind all the time, and fix my mind on good and perfect and excellent and wonderful things, like Jesus Himself, I will start to understand God better. And I pray that I do, because I really really want to know the God that Willard seems to.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whose idea is this anyway?

Sometimes, like tonight, I wonder if I'm making up stuff for me to do or if I'm really doing things God has put on my heart. It's hard to tell when I am so tired and hungry and stressed and whatever-else whether what I "feel" I am supposed to be doing is just coming from me or is really the leading of the Holy Spirit. Like take the park for example. Am I really supposed to be leaving those verses taped to chips down there? Not that I think it is bad to be doing, but is it God's assignment for me, or am I just sowing in a field that isn't where He wanted me to plant? I don't believe in the idea of just dreaming things up to do for God and then expecting Him to bless my efforts cause, hey, its for Him. I want Him guiding me, speaking to those hearts the timely words they need.

I can't see any fruit of the work in the park. I don't need to feel validated by that, but it would help me know that God is there at work at least. Today was particularly tough because of the passages of Scripture I am pretty sure the Spirit was pointing me to. Not the happy stuff. Judgment stuff. And in a time like that, I wonder really whether this is God, cause I would really rather be saying the happy encouraging stuff to people. I guess I just want to be in the center of His plan. I know my plans lead to nothing eternal.

I think in my heart, not that deep, I am assured that this is what I am to be doing. Whether I see the fruit of it or not.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I stumbled across an entry in my journal that I thought might be interesting to whomever comes across this blog. Here it is, somewhat abridged (and amended), for your consideration:

Yesterday God revealed to me that it is relationship He is seeking in all the history of men. The devil and his working here is merely a subplot; establishing supremacy over him is not God's main purpose. And why should it be? The devil is a creature, one of God's creation, not an anti-god or an equal power to God. God permits him to sift the hearts of men, and reign here for a time, but he is not to be our focus. he has been for me, but God is calling me to just be with Him, the Lord of glory. He wants me just to love me, and in that relationship I become a useful tool to Him, but making me useful for the task of overcoming the devil is not the primary goal, as I thought before. What, then, would be left in eternity, once the devil is bound? "At the end of the meal, it is just you and Me."

[back to today's thoughts here] I am not saying, of course, that God does not wish us to be useful, or that He is indifferent to the devil's working. God loves His creation deeply, and has been working from the beginning to make it, make us, free again. 1 John tells us that Jesus came "to undo the works of the evil one." But why He wants to overcome the evil one is what I learned. Not for bragging rights, but for the purpose of restoring a loving relationship with His creatures.