Monday, September 24, 2012

The Freeing Spirit


 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

 
It is hard for me to understand how people live without God.  Thankfully over half of my life has been lived with a real relationship with the Trinity.  Beyond that I was raised in church and as much as that means nothing on its own, I believe God was always preparing my heart to welcome him.  I cannot think of a time in my life that for better or worse was not influenced by my idea and/or knowledge of God.

Just a few days ago I listened as my very dear friend, Kim, recounted events in her mother’s life. To say the situation is unstable is a vast understatement as it leans precariously close to deadly.  My heart broke for my friend, first of all because I love her and I know she loves her mother.  I also felt a deep connection as just ten days prior I had experienced a similar event with someone exceedingly close to me. I knew firsthand the fear and disappointment that my friend was feeling.  I also knew the desperation. We who love Jesus, who depend on the love of our Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are terrified when we see a loved one on such a well defined path of destruction with no thought to salvation.

As we prayed, Kim, another dear sister in Christ and I, the above verse rolled around in my head.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  Or as it is written in the NIV, “freedom.”  When it was my turn to pray that is exactly what I prayed for Kim’s mother and for Kim and I realized why that verse was poking at my mind. That is what Kim’s mom needs. It’s what my loved one needs as well, liberty and freedom but the kind that come from the Spirit of the Lord.

Their stories are dissimilar in detail. Their bondages are dissimilar but they have in common one very important detail, neither of them acknowledges the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. They both give lip service to appease the believers around them but there is no heart behind it.  I’ll say again, I do not know how people live that way. Without Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what’s the point?

When I think of Kim’s mom, my dear one and others like them the word tortured comes to mind. I see them running in circles, chasing after a peace and a love that only comes from God.  To the outside observer, people unaware of the intimate details, both Kim’s mom and my dear one look like people who enjoy life, who are relaxed and happy, taking life as it comes.  While inside there is a sickness, a torment that comes straight out of hell. We know, Kim and I, where they can find liberty, freedom and peace and we hope and pray that they will reach for it.

What we also know is that God has a solution for every problem, a word for every hurting soul. Faced with Kim’s broken heart I knew I wanted to pray and offer comfort to her and hope for her mom. I had no idea what I would pray until God put it in my heart and mind.  That goes beyond liberty and freedom to providence and mercy.  Who wants to live without that?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

High/Low



As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous.  Joshua 1:5-6a

 
Does your family do the high/low game?  It’s the game where at dinner or bedtime, each person in the family tells their high and low point of the day.  The idea is to make us more aware of our blessings and show us that in light of those blessings the lows maybe aren’t so low or are at least bearable.

Yesterday, in an effort to distract myself from some things that had occurred during my day,  I played the game with three of my grandchildren.  They are all under the age of nine so their answers were quite precious.  Two art projects and a “cool way to play football with a soccer ball” made the high list. The lows were benign in the extreme. It warmed my heart as my high and low were the exact same thing and I was still in the throes of trying to process it. To be perfectly frank, I’m still trying to process it.

God is incredibly good.  In his goodness he has answered one of the most earnest prayers of my heart.  Yesterday I found out that someone who used to be very near and dear to me received a miraculous answer to prayer. It was absolutely a PRAISE GOD moment. Upon hearing the news that is exactly what I did. Due to God’s mercy I was able to stay completely in that praise mindset for several hours. That was an enormous high.

The low? Note the words, “used to be very near and dear.”  There is an estrangement now that takes me a bit away from the miracle.  While I should be knee deep in celebration I am barely able to dip my toe in the oceans of joy that are a part of this news.  In recent months I’ve gone from near and dear to persona non grata. It’s quite a conundrum. So when the reality set in and the realization came that I am an outsider in this miracle, an observer with no invitation to come closer I felt my heart break.

Wait a minute! While my feelings are absolutely valid there is no room for heartbreak here. This is cause for celebration. This is  praise God moment after praise God moment. What was said to be impossible is not. It’s happened! This is certainly a thing that only God can do.

Does my heart still bleed? Oh yes, all over the floor! And yet, I know that my redeemer lives. I know that he will carry me through my personal pain. This is a bit of a storm for me and in this moment I can pretty much hear Jesus snoring in the back of the boat, my boat. In the other boat he’s dancing an Irish jig and for that I am extremely grateful.

For my part, I know he never lets go of me. Calm, storm, joyous, heartbroken or as in this case some odd mixture of all of the above, my Abba holds me in his hand and he won’t let me go. So to the enemy who is attempting to minimize this miracle and cause me sadness because of it I say, “get behind me!” My God reigns and this is a huge high, a huge victory. Praise God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Who Are You?


Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

          John replied, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the path of the Lord.’ ”
 John 1:22-23

 
“Who are you?” How would you answer that question? I suppose it could depend on your mood, right?  It would also depend on who is asking, which already half answers the question.  I identify myself very often by my relationships.  Otto’s wife, Paul/Joseph/Jeffrey/Laura’s mom  “Grammy” to their children,  Charlene’s friend but Mrs. Davis’ assistant (Charlene is Mrs. Davis) etc.  My identity is very much tied to the people around me.

Here John the Baptist is saying that he is the one making the road ready for Jesus.  John is the precursor. That’s a mid-size word that simply means the one who comes before.  So here John is identifying himself by one important relationship. Oddly in verse 31 he says, “I myself did not know him.”

Let that one sink in for a minute and skip over the fact that John and Jesus are cousins. ( I have thirty-six first cousins and I know every one of them.  So that strikes me as odd.)  John is preparing the way for Jesus. He loves Jesus sight unseen.  The motivation of his life is to prepare people, to call them to readiness for the arrival of Jesus.

How many people do you know that identify themselves as children of God, as believers? When asked they will say they are Christian but do they know Christ?

I identified myself as a wife, mother, grandmother, friend and co-worker and all of those things are true.  First and foremost, however, I am a child of God. It is his mercy that allows me to live. It is his compassion that helps me through hard times, his joy that makes my joy sweeter, his wisdom that guides me and his strength that enables me. On the days that I can readily and easily answer, “Who are you?” by saying,  “I am Tricia, a child of God” I can count on great strength,  infinite mercy and absolute guidance.  On the days that I want to say I am his but hesitate for whatever reason I give the enemy a toehold.

John the Baptist is known for being just a little left of center.  He looked odd. He ate weird things and he said things that seemed even weirder but take a look at his answer. John was a man who knew exactly who he was and exactly why he was here. I don’t know about you, but that makes me a little jealous.