So, my last post ended with me figuring out that after fifteen years of living my life in Jesus, I only really loved Him like I’d loved my family and friends… a whole heck of a lot, and yet, wholly too little. Because I’d really only loved His gifts of provision and grace, plus too many other things from my old life to realize that loving HIM, The Giver of all those good gifts, was the actual point of this whole living life In Jesus thing.
And since I’d been holding too tightly to those other things, it seemed – once again – I’d been attempting to bring new life, now mine IN Jesus, into an old, broken, yet trying to repair its own self, kind of love.
Finally, I shared how all this happened because I’d neglected to take God at His Word.
So let’s break this down, starting with some hard to swallow truth…
Taking God at His Word
The hard truth is, I never loved God. Not wholly. Not truly. Not completely. And I didn’t love God because I never really knew Him, since I never, ever really thought to actually take Him at His very own Words.
Words found in His Very Own Book. Words that state when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you actually die and are completely born again. Words that go on to say how, once born again, we no longer live in that old, dead life of sin. Words that say the new life we now get to live, we live not only in, but actually through HIM. Words that also say, in Christ we’re a new creation, created to do things He’s prepared in advance for us. Words that say we’re now robed in His righteousness, not our old, filthy rags, and have been filled with a new spirit and given a heart of flesh instead of stone.
And that very Word continues to say we also have a purpose and future that’s now from Him. That we’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind. That everything we need for life and godliness, we have. That those who look to the Lord are radiant, without any shame. That His perfect love casts out all fear. That we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow and we’re the apple of God’s eye. That we’re clothed with strength and dignity and have no fear of bad news because we can trust in God. That He is with us; dancing, singing, and rejoicing over us. That Jesus desires for us to be one with Him and His Father in eternity. That He wants to speak to us, meet with us, and seeks us to abide in Him to accomplish His good will and pleasure. That He will complete the good work He began in us because He is faithful to finish what He starts. That in all of our weaknesses, we can boast because that only makes Him all the more strong and even more glorious. That the Holy Spirit counsels us, fills us, guides us, empowers us, lives INSIDE us, willing us to act and work out our salvation in connection to Jesus and The Father. That at night He’s with us, and in the morning it’s just the same. That He goes before, is all around, guiding our path, and hemming us in. That before we speak a word of our own, He knows it, and even numbers the hairs on our heads, while recording our tears! That when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, all things of Him we receive. That He’s our good shepherd, so we’ll never truly be in want. That He knows the beginning and the end and that knowing Him is the chief end of life. That He hung on that tree to finish His perfect work on earth, including any “work” we might believe we’re called to. And that honestly says so very much more, because these words are just a start and God’s Word fills the whole earth. (*See footnote for references.)
Can you hear the cry of relationship so evident in all those words? Clearly we are to know Him intimately. How is it even possible not to after living fifteen whole years In His own son, Jesus Christ? And while I heard those words plenty, even read them myself over and over, I still never accepted the relationship offered. Truth be told, I never really found much joy reading God’s primary way of speaking to us, either… instead finding my relationships inside of and with things surrounding His church way more appealing. Again, why?
God, the Accessory
Okay, so we all know the phrase, “Plus-One.” As in, the guest you bring to a wedding. Well, that’s what I now call all those gifts of provision God graciously offers, but also the numerous other things from my old life I’d held so tightly to all those years.
And these Plus-Ones of mine, well let’s just say they stayed way past their welcome. Long after the vows, cake, honeymoon and first arguments, becoming more like the trash you’re waiting for your spouse to take out, or critters infesting your attic, or that pair of
unwanted house guests that never seem to leave.
And since I was so focused on all those gifts, guests, mementoes, and moments of days gone by, I never could see the greatest and Only Gift that matters standing right in front of me.
Never mind that my life before Jesus hadn’t worked to begin with! I still thought I needed those same beliefs, ideas, and voices; all my old coping mechanisms and life strategies; plus many of the answers to life’s problems that I’d used before Christ, so I simply carried them into my new relationship In Him, and kept them there like an accessory, or my Plus-One(s).
It was as if I needed Jesus, plus
something everything else in order to feel okay in this new life In Christ. A little Jesus, plus the next must-have or experience. A little Jesus, plus meeting a perceived need in any given moment or season. A little Jesus, plus my personal idea of what makes up a fulfilling life. A little Jesus, plus someone else’s opinion or approval (especially other Christians, now!). A little Jesus, plus self-protection and perfectionism and promotion. A little Jesus, plus my personal dreams, my family’s well-being, and my brand of politics. A little Jesus, plus perfect health, a good reputation, and loads of comfort.
Oddly enough, I also needed a little Jesus, plus the bad things from my old life – like a whole lot of fear, manipulation, control, anger, bad habits, and worry.
And I did this because I mistakenly believed those Plus-Ones could fill up in me what Only One Person was ever meant to, leaving no room for a reality where Jesus – alone – could ever be enough. Because, to be incredibly blunt here, Jesus didn’t hang on that cross to have me hang my hopes on anything else except Him, so living like He did, could never provide the full freedom and peace He died to secure for us all here on earth.
See, God’s Word also tells us that Jesus alone is enough! That His work on earth was to do the will of The Father and because He accomplished it, that is enough! That His punishment and death on that cross in our place, IS enough!
So, once we’re saved and living life In Him, we forever have not only enough, but we have all we’ll ever need since everything He receives, we receive the moment we say “yes” to that life. All power. All hope. All strength. All courage. All faith. All grace. All His inheritance. All His comfort. All His love. All His life. All His Peace. All His righteousness. All of The Holy Spirit. ALL OF HIM. And all of this new life now gets to be lived through Jesus. It’s all there for us, if we simply choose to believe it, read but then also take Him at His Own Words, as we seek to know Him more!
Yet, I only chose half, so only received half of what is being offered. Half of The Gospel. Half of His gift of new life. And by receiving only half, I missed the whole point of this faith thing: The Relationship. By choosing only half, I also stopped at His loving me to death and never moved on to me actually dying to myself in full surrender and simply loving Him back in the relationship He died to have. A relationship where I don’t only love Him for His gifts and provision and sacrifice for salvation, but also for Who He actually IS; The Never-Changing, All-Sufficient, All-Powerful, Holy, Faithful, Gracious, Merciful, Just, and Loving Creator of the Universe.
In Bondage, Instead
Now, while I knew I should be living a newly reborn life “In Christ” for all those fifteen years, I often felt like the same old me much of the time – full of angst and way more stuck than free, void of any of those gifts of the Spirit God’s Word promises, like joy and patience and self control and peace and love.
Truth be told, I got through much of the harder days in those years with little discernible grace or faithfulness, pretty basic and desperate, “Help me, God!” prayers, while clinging tightly to all those Plus-Ones of mine. At one point, I even started smoking again to get through a fairly seismic marriage crisis.
And since I knew I was still a huge mess, I just tried that much harder to believe in God’s grace and faithfulness to complete what He’d began in my life. I kept real busy learning new things, or even relearning old things, to gain some victory for myself. Checking every box on the “Good Christian” checklist (smoking not included). Morning quiet times, Bible studies, sermons, theological literature, music, serving, giving, and church attendance filled large chunks of time in those years. Yet nothing I did seemed to bring about any of the abundant life or peace I desired, nor any other lasting answers to the personal challenges I sought to overcome.
And while I spent plenty of time attempting to pray through many of those years, times in God’s presence usually felt more like a duty or desperate need than a desire to spend time with Him.
Even worse, it seemed that all too often on the days I did manage a sweet time of prayer and Bible reading, I’d quickly fall flat on my face, because once activities got buzzing, I’d go right back to feeling overwhelmed (or, angry!) about some issue or another, fired up in full hornet mode, stinging with words or looks.
And that was just with the everyday kinda stress. When any of the real, tough life circumstances came around during those fifteen years… things that truly test one’s faith, or family, or marriage, or entire world, and try to knock one off God’s Path, well,
sometimes I gave in and just smoked it was really all I could do to simply remain upright. Again, just like the me before.
Now, I’m not saying God wasn’t always gracious and faithful through each and every valley all those years. The problem was never Him. The problem was always me. The problem was how I still battled daily many of the same fears, shame, anger, and overwhelming thoughts I’d always battled, never really seeing God as *with me* in a relationship through any of it. So, while I knew I’d been forgiven of my past and held hope for a future, living in light of His Presence everyday felt impossible.
And Y’all, I remember distinctly the moment this all dawned on me. I was a few months into a season of overwhelming and complete bondage to fear, which I delve into deeper below.
On this particular day, however, I was in real need of some encouragement, so headed to a website of an author I love. It was a Saturday and her site offers readers something titled “Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend” so I clicked. Then, immediately regretted that decision, because a video of a worship song instantly began and in the span of a few seconds, words poured forth from the singer and this awful thought spilled all over me: Jesus, ALONE, wasn’t enough for me and He never really had been.
You see, the song’s title was enough to throw me for a loop that day, and to this very day can still stop me cold and slice right through me. But the song cuts even deeper when it goes on to say, “Though you slay me, yet I will praise you. Though you take from me, I will bless your name. Though you ruin me, still I will worship, sing a song to The One Who’s all I need… You’re enough for me.”**
Ummmm… Slay? Ruin?? Take from me?! Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard NO, thank you very much, anyway! You actually are not enough for me, Jesus, and besides, aren’t You all about love?? Because I’ll tell you, none of this is “good stuff,” not to mention, at all loving!
But, guess what? The words of this song are taken straight from the book of Job in God’s very own Word. And so, no joke, I slammed my lop-top closed and cried in anger after hearing them sung that first time. The words alone did all the slaying necessary, because I realized if God took everything from me, I wouldn’t dare praise Him! Job’s own wife told him to curse God and die because he’d lost so much. That’d be me and I was sure of it.
An End of Theology and a Reckoning
And I painfully had to admit that. Had to admit, right then, that Jesus wasn’t enough for me after all this time. Admit that all of my hopes in Jesus, were also tied up in all my Plus-Ones. So much so, that a reckoning did come.
But before I take you to that day, can you see how not taking God at His Word led me to believe I still had to place all my own puzzle pieces in order to create my new life? This time, piecing together the life I lived before I ever met Jesus with the life He was now offering me In Him in order to create my new life through Him.
When what I should’ve done instead, was bring all my old ways of living into a new relationship with Jesus, in repentance, continually placing everything at His feet, while trusting and allowing Him to be the one to repair, remove, and restore all that was wrong or broken or breaking. Because that’s a real relationship. That’s trust and love and sharing life.
But, I’m jumping ahead again, so back to the sad fact that those years without any real relationship with Jesus ultimately began to reveal a *version* of faith that was characterized more by what I was afraid of or angry about or set against or running from, instead of Who I was supposed to be living for.
I eventually became so bound up by all that fear and anger, in fact, that I’d go on to adopt this sort of zero tolerance policy on all negative situations. Meaning, if there was even the slightest chance that a circumstance in my life could go sour, I was all over trying to contain it with the same lame attempts at control, fits of anger and overwhelming fear that had always left me exhausted Before God.
Forever in search of my idea of the perfect “Christian” life, my mantra sounded a lot like this: “When ______ finally happens, or stops happening, then I’ll be all good!” I was determined to find some utopia, completely absent of any negative realities, and finally be at rest. Yet, based on my propensity to see potential danger everywhere, plus the general insanity of life, this reality could obviously never emerge.
Even still – and so as not to be outdone by reality – I simply determined to worry about everything and nothing all at the same time! Living life in a perpetual fight or flight mode, dealing with challenges by becoming either angry and lashing out, or paralyzed and hiding, simply because, one of those two had always been my natural reactions.
And Friends, it didn’t matter size or scope of the situation, either. If there was anything happening, I was reacting. Or, overreacting. Everything was a huge deal. Everything mattered. Everything felt like life or death to me. And, I would talk about everything until I was blue in the face or until someone would shut me up (thankfully!)
But it was because I believed that everything depended on me. And since it did, I kept reacting to everything by working even harder to be better or gain more control. I prayed more, memorized more scripture, read more books, listen to more sermons, sought more counseling, employed more behavior modification…
Still, absolutely none of that changed anything long term! On the contrary, it seemed like the more I focused on me and my behavior, the worse I got. Like the me before, I still felt incapable of creating any lasting change and making choices that were good.
I felt unloved, unhappy, unfulfilled, unmotivated, and completely undone. My marriage was suffering. My children were suffering. My mind was suffering. And it felt like I was living alone, at a dead end road, bound up and enslaved to all that fear and overwhelm.
Until finally, a sweltering, September day in 2013, brought a reckoning I never saw coming. And it was after a lunch meeting with my pastor and his wife, no less. See, they’d agreed to meet me because I’d been paralyzed with a major fear the entire month prior over a potentially real, though, in the end only self-perceived threat to my health. But remember, my perception of an issue was really all it ever took for me to get spun up. I didn’t need a true crisis, only the potential of one.
In my head, though, I had this fear I was sick. So my fear won. I couldn’t eat. Couldn’t enjoy life nor my family. Couldn’t turn off my mind. I’d hid out much of the past month, basically following my typical pattern of either lashing out or hiding when afraid.
And I know this may sound really odd to you, but again, this is my story. I’d perceive some threat to my world and would immediately begin to fear and then react out of that fear until the threat was gone. Okay, I admit it’s very odd! But, I have to believe someone knows what I am talking about here. Maybe even a little??
So, as I sat in my hot car going over the conversation we’d just had, I began to see the true impact of this revolving pattern in my life. And I’m unsure why, but for some reason it was this very day that had me simply over every bit of who I’d become. I knew I couldn’t have the words just shared over that meal be only more of the same… thoughts spoken to fill the air while waiting for this latest problem to finally resolve itself so I could go on with my life unburdened. Until the next time. Because by then, I also knew there’d definitely be a next time.
Yet this time, something else was also very different. This time, none of my Plus-Ones were actually helping me. And, worse (or, for the best, looking back now) my *theology* was completely depleted, so it felt like I had no more places to turn. It suddenly seemed crystal clear that a life lived In Jesus had to be so much more than what I’d reduced it to. And I felt for the first time ever, that if this was all there was, then I wanted no more of the life He offered. So, with everything I had left – in all that fear and pain and desperation and emptiness, right there in that crowded parking lot – I cried out all those horrible thoughts to God.
Surrender, Relationship, and Resurrection Life
Now, maybe you’ve heard a similar story. Maybe even lived it yourself. Person at the end of their rope calls out to God and so begins a journey toward faith. It’s a common theme, honestly, because there’s nothing new under the sun. God will often allow us to come to the place where we fall so far down, we’ve got no place to look but up. [Btw, I actually first heard this from one of my dear Bible Study sisters in those early days. And I hope she’s reading, because she showed up and mentored me, while becoming a life-line through a very dark time, offering words like those that would see me through even harder times to come. So many of those sisters did then and it’s why I still love them, but also why I always have a Bible Study in my life. In addition to learning about God, community and sisterhood abound there!]
She is right, too. We only really do look up after we’re brought low in humility. It’s simply our prideful, fallen, human nature and it looks an awful lot like this: We want what we want. We can do it ourselves. We want to rule our own kingdom, even if it is only a kingdom of one. Mostly though, we want to know what God knows so we’re capable and not in need, thank you very much!
Yet, we shouldn’t want to know what God knows more than we want to know God! And, fortunately (yes, fortunately!), we were never designed to live like this anyway. Autonomy and independence was never the design for humans. Perfect and complete union with Jesus, was. Complete dependence on our Creator, through the Holy Spirit, was. Finding our purpose… our identity… our very life, Through Him and His own life, was – and has always been – the design.
But, wow… how confused I was about all this! Somehow. However, it’s also important to point out that this reckoning of mine was not my salvation experience. And it’s a fact I surprisingly never once doubted. Not for a second! I knew, that I knew, that I knew, that I was saved all those years before.
And please hear me, because I believe this an area we often overlook in the church. See, Jesus didn’t just die the death we deserve to save us for Heaven one day in the future. He also rose from that very death, so that we can live, Through Him, the very life we do not deserve here on earth! It’s the greatest exchange ever offered and it’s a beautiful dance of grace and mercy and love, but also, dying and living again, so we should never even try and accept the first part without accepting the second.
Well, like me, you may try, but also, like me, you’ll likely be left incomplete. In one way or another. Because, as you’ve read, living like you’re only saved from death is itself an incomplete understanding of the whole Gospel message. Remember, at the moment of salvation we actually die and are reborn into His resurrected life, meaning we now no longer live our old life.
Read that again, please, because this is also part of taking Him at His Word and living in real relationship. See, like Jesus, we also die, only it’s to our old life before Him at the very moment we say “Yes” to a life in Him. So, from then on, it must be Jesus Christ, by The Holy Spirit, that lives through us, in relationship, otherwise we make Him out to be a liar and His Words worthless.
Bottom line: making Jesus an accessory and not our entire world won’t work, because salvation wasn’t designed to work like that from the beginning.
But, me? Well, I’d been working and worshipping and walking, or more like wandering desert style, alongside Him all that time as a saved soul… sharing truth and talking about and crying out and seeking direction, all for myself and some for others, while even proudly stating that a relationship with, not some religion about, Jesus, was of the truest import…
Doing every bit of it while dressed in the tired masks of my dead life, wearing all my raggedy grave clothes I’d been comfortable and raised up in. Still employing all my Plus-Ones, while entirely blind to the new, pure white resurrection wardrobe that The Only One Who Ever Mattered had already purchased just for me.
A wardrobe sewn with His very own bloody and torn apart body, emblazoned with words overflowing in His desire for intimate relationship: Bride. Forgiven. Loved. Sung over. Adopted. Fathered. Made whole. Rescued and redeemed and renamed and freed from all shame and guilt and need to cover-up my own messes, past, current, or future.
But I didn’t take Him at those Words, so continued wandering along without thinking to ever question what truly matters… was I even in a relationship of love with Jesus myself? Had I ever fully surrendered and gotten to know Him for myself?! Not what others say or think or feel or believe they know about Him (well intentioned as they are!), but what I know and feel and think and believe to be true of Him in my own life.
Never really wondered – for myself – things like, Who is this God that saved me? What’s His character like? Why am I supposed to serve and love and surrender to Him? And Who is Jesus, really? Why can I trust Him? How can I know and love Him well? And, what about The Holy Spirit? How do I reach Him? How does He inform, counsel, and guide me?
Seek and Know Him
Only in hindsight, can I see that what took place in the parking spot on that warm, fall day was an absolute collision between my own heart and God’s Story. Between The Now of my life and The Not Yet of Eternity. Between me and my very own Creator.
It was like I’d merely been wandering in His general vicinity all those years, when He finally crashed right into me, knocking me over, but also setting me back up, right upon His very own feet, so I could finally walk in the direction I should’ve been going all along… Towards Him, in Faith and in Freedom, clothed in my beautifully, resurrected wardrobe.
Because, it was that very moment which began a chain of events leading to a freedom from bondage I still often pinch myself I get to enjoy today. And although it was nothing I recognized as happening at the time, what I believe followed me home from that restaurant’s parking spot, was finally the beginning of a life lived through Jesus.
True to God’s style, however, it was also the beginning of the most painful and frightening journey I’d experienced up to that point. One that spanned well over three years and included much loss, deep betrayal, and real illness, plus levels of fear and anxiety like never before. Often immobilizing, daily fear.
Quite honestly, this season was full of the very things that had always spun me up so regularly, but it all seemed to come at warp speed, as if God replied to my fit in that car with, “Finally! I’ve been waiting a long time for you not to want that life. And, now I’ll teach you how to be free from a life of fear, by going through much of the fear this crazy life can carry. Only this time, we’ll walk it out together!”
Instead of Him simply removing all the causes of my fear, plus the overwhelming feelings that came with them, He piled them on with so much intensity, I had no other option but to fall and cling to His feet, so as not to get lost, or worse, sink beneath the weight.
And there I stayed like never before. At His Feet, I clung to His Word. I clung to His Presence. His Peace. His Promises. I clung to All of HIM. To all that He’d been promising and providing all along, but I’d sadly ignored. I clung, because by that time, I’d have rather been drug along a painful path by Him, than left behind to follow mine!
And guess what He did all that time? He met me each moment, exactly where I was! In the mess of all my feelings and fears and faithlessness! Then, He faithfully (though often painfully), began to remove even the desire for those useless Plus-Ones, so I could finally begin to hold – and, be held by – Him, alone.
And, truth be told, it was only then, that I could behold He was all I’d ever truly needed to begin with. This Heavenly Father of ours, by The Holy Spirit, through His Son, Jesus Christ, revealed His Character so clearly to me, that I still can’t help but gaze at Him in awe and wonder, and finally – in a true relationship of love.
And, finally, I began to understand how God’s Word is not only meant to be accepted as truth, but actually taken in! Owned. Tasted. Gazed upon. Acted on. Recalled back to Him as promises made to us personally. Because they so often are!
Key to All Relationships: Time Alone Together
Now, in many ways this whole experience was similar to salvation, when you lose interest in certain parts of the old life and find excitement in the new. But, listen, God went further still. Beyond my wildest dreams, birthing real freedom from so much of that bondage to fear, while also providing a new vision for my life and a lasting hope in Him only.
Yet, the best miracle by far was how I finally desired to be close to Him. To be all alone with Him. To pray and read His Word. And I spent the bulk of those years doing just this. I intentionally quieted the voices of others, so I could hear His more clearly. Because I really needed all that time and space alone for Him to speak in a way that I could hear, especially in the more desperate days, hours, and moments that eventually made up all those three, plus years.
And, I want you to know that this is the only thing that finally changed every single thing for me. Because I finally saw what I’d been missing all along – that you can’t live a life through Jesus Christ, until you know WHO HE TRULY IS in a personal relationship.
Only by seeing Who He Is, could I finally see that even though I was saved, my new life was was still never gonna be about me! Never about my behavior. Never about placing my own puzzle pieces or trying to repair my own self. Never about my perfection or how together I can get or act. Or not. Never about doing enough in areas of serving or study or thankfulness or even in my own faithfulness. Or lack thereof. And especially never about having an accessory or a heavenly insurance policy or any other Plus-One.
While I’d been seeking all the wrong things… focused on the wrong parts of this whole thing… all I’d ever needed to do in the whole of this faith thing, was take Him at His Very Own Word, then seek to know and love Him, as best I could, more deeply, with each passing day.
Seek to know His character – His shekinah glory – for myself. Seek to know that He, alone, is a most trustworthy and faithful and loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, just, merciful and gracious Savior of all Mankind, but also the loving Savior of mine! Seek to know – personally – that it’s His Love that covers me, only and because it’s simply and beautifully Who He Is, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with me.
I had to seek and see for myself that a life lived through Jesus is a life characterized by surrender, not self-improvement or sinlessness. It’s a life lived through His own life, daily choosing to surrender to His will and take part in His process of sanctification and His Kingdom plan. A life seeking to abide with Him regularly by connecting to His vine of love and care and guidance, not so I can be better, but so I could know Him better! A life seeking to become more like a Mary, and less like a Martha because that’s all He ever wanted to begin with. Ultimately, though, I needed to seek and see only one thing: That I become completely dependent on Him for everything, because…
Dying to Know You
And guess what? The same goes for you! We all are “the joy set before Him.” This most awesome and incredibly beautiful Hound of Heaven is wild about YOU, too, and Jesus died on that cross, so that we could all know that knowing Him is the entire point of living.
And if you get nothing more out of my entire story, then I pray you get this one thing only… If you don’t actually know first hand and for yourself that The One you are attaching all your hope to IS faithful, then how can you expect to have any lasting personal faith in that One, alone, to carry you, in, through, and beyond all things, for always, and in all your days? [Hey, if you’ve yet to even meet Him to begin with, message me and I’ll walk you through it.]
See, for me, all those years of placing puzzle pieces and attempting to bring new life into an old, tired, and repairing itself kind of love, was basically like trying to prune off all my own bad fruit, while forgetting it had a root. As it turns out though, it’s only through a daily, surrendered relationship with God, that the roots of all the dead and useless get removed. Remember?
But, Y’all, I believe this process only began after I admitted the truth: I never truly knew nor loved Him. These confessions were key in order for Him to really change me. Yet, before I could even trust Him enough to allow the change, I had to invest the time to get to know Him for Who He truly Is. Because, only then, could I trust His heart enough to allow Him to (always lovingly!!) show me the mess I’d become, plus where He was trying to take me.
I’ll sum it up this way: I had to confess the truth of where my hope really was, then take Him at His Word and spend the time to know Him, so I could hear His voice, trust, then truly follow, fully love, be loved by, and finally, live my life, through Him.
And Dear Friend, if you find yourself struggling in any way similar… struggling to carry on in a life of both old and new, or struggling to live in a real relationship of love – through Jesus – with Your Heavenly Father, then you are not alone. My deepest desire is that you wouldn’t wait for a reckoning like me. I pray you’d, instead, let Him prove His love to you TODAY.
Go ahead and surrender. Completely. Take the leap. Confess your reality. Spend the time. Don’t wait. Accept His grace and take Him at His Word, then be at rest at His Feet, in His perfect and perfecting love. I can promise, it’s one thing you will never regret!
And finally (Ahhhhhhh… I know, right! Take it in, would ya.), if you’ve stayed with me to the end of this, I thank you immensely. I know it was long and winding and seemingly unending, but it’s honestly only still a beginning. Precisely because this earthly life of faith is a daily surrender making up an entire life’s journey through valleys, over mountains, in deep waters and through dry deserts, which only really ever ends at the very end of breath. The great news is, we’re never alone through any of it! We have not only each other, but we also have a One and Only Who wants to be our Only One that matters, everyday and in every way! So may we each, together, no longer depend on any created thing to complete and fill up in us what only Our Creator can, then get alone with God, daily, and get to the heart of the only One Who’s ever mattered in the end… Jesus ❤
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.Ephesians 2:6-10, 18
‘… My loved one… Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness… Otherwise I will strip her… I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first for then I was better off than now. She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold…’
‘Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen… I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers. I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,’ declares the Lord.
‘… behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Master’. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant…
I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… A people without understanding will come to ruin.
‘Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds… Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.’Hosea 2; 4:6, 14; 6:1,3
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?Song of Songs 2:4; 8:5
* Usually I love linking verses for easy access to God’s Word (and also so it doesn’t look like I’m making up things). This time though, there are so many to link, I had this thought that maybe leaving them unlinked would encourage any reader questioning them to get into God’s Word and see for yourself. Hey, if nothing else, it’s a great way to get to know God better! Blessings in your pursuit.
** Though You Slay Me, Shane and Shane