Friday, September 30, 2011

Four Things About God That Make Life So Much Easier

There are four things about God I wish I’d learned a lot earlier in life. Life became so much more fun when I finally discovered these truths.

Maybe it took so long because I had to grow in my willingness to be totally sold out to Him. These four truths are only useful to us if we’ve come to that place of total surrender and trust. I think I’ve gotten there, now, after all these years. At least I’ve gotten far enough down this road to discover how delightful it is to walk with God the way He always meant for me to.

Those four things are:

1.) God is prepared to take total responsibility for the life that is totally yielded to him.

If we choose to indenture ourselves to Him, we can relax about our ministry and let Him lead us here and there, moment by moment, year by year.

Jesus lived that way. He just walked, step by step with God, and trusted His Father to put Him where He was supposed to be.

At times He obviously had specific guidance—a “Word from the Lord,” you might say. He knew they needed to go through Samaria. He knew that they needed to get to Jerusalem. In those instances, He probably got that specific information during one of his midnight visits with His Father. Other than that, He didn’t worry about what He should be doing. He just trusted God was leading Him to the right place at the right time.

It’s so much easier when we don't have to take the ultimate responsibility for our lives. We take responsibility for being available to Him, and we choose, moment by moment, to be instantly obedient. That’s all.

2) God is never in a hurry.

When He acts, He might act quickly, but getting to that moment of instant action usually takes more time than we expect it should. Often it takes a lot more time. But that means if we are totally available and obedient to Him, we don’t need to worry about what time it is.

When we read about how Jesus walked on earth, we never see him rushing to get anywhere or do anything. Once, his slowing down cost a child her life. On his way to heal the deathly ill child, He stopped to minister to the woman with the issue of blood. By the time he got to the child’s home, she was dead. But it didn’t matter that He was “late.” He healed her anyway. God’s will was done.

It’s so much easier when we don’t have to look at the clock all the time.

3) God only has one place for me to be at a time, and He allows travel time.

If I give my day to Him, and obey Him instantly—If I get up when the alarm goes off instead of punching the snooze button! If I don’t load a bunch of stuff into my daily schedule that He doesn’t want there—I will always be right on time for whatever He wants me to do.

So if I get stuck in traffic on the way to a meeting, I assume I'm where He means me to be and He will take care of the meeting until I get there, ready to take over ;-)

It’s so much easier than trying to manipulate my schedule and make sure I get where I’m going, come hell or high water.

4) God gives us R&R when we need it.

He remembers we are dust, and He knows when we need a break. When we are sold out to Him, 24/7, He schedules in vacation time for us, and it turns out to be exactly when and where we need it.

He may have us very busy for a period of time, then an opportunity will come up for us to refresh and renew, and we know it’s from God. It’s not a vacation FROM Him, of course. It’s a vacation WITH Him. It might be doing a different kind of ministry; or it might be a time of spiritual retreat; or it might just simply be having fun doing something we like to do with Him. Sometimes it’s a time of doing nothing.

In any case, when we walk with the Lord, we come to recognize when God is giving us these times, and because He’s doing it, we can be totally free to enjoy the rest, with no feeling we should be “doing” something else.

Jesus did this too. He had fun at weddings. He spent time alone with His Father. He slept in the bottom of the boat so deeply and restfully He didn’t even notice a storm come up. He sat with children on His knee, ignoring the more demanding “ministry” his disciples thought He should be doing. He had important work to do, but He recognized times of rest His Father gave Him along the way, and He took them.

It’s so much more fun going on R&R with God when He arranges it for us.

Jesus was first and foremost just being what God wanted him to be. The doing, and the talking--the ministry--came out of his relationship with his Father very easily and naturally. He lived moment-by-moment in dependence on the Holy Spirit. In that respect, He was being a model for us.

Someone has said that “Power comes from just receiving God’s love. Not doing. Friendship with God has to come first.” When I remember to let the Holy Spirit guide my activities, set my pace, put me where He wants me to be, and give me rest when I need it, walking with God becomes a joy and a delight. Being totally His is so easy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Only Thing That Matters

Power comes from just receiving God's love.

What an amazing statement. Can it be true? I've been pondering this for a while, and something about it really resonates with me at a deep level.

It makes sense. Because He is an out-pouring God. Everything comes from Him. We can't give Him anything that hasn't come from Him. Everything comes out of His love.

Wayne Jacobsen says, in the wonderful book, He Loves Me, that "[God] is not interested in your service or sacrifice. He only wants you to know how much you are loved."

That doesn't mean we don't give service to Him, or ever sacrifice anything. Service and sacrifice come out of us as a natural response to knowing--really knowing, deep down--that we are loved, deeply and unconditionally, by Him.

I have decided that my relationship with God is not the most important thing in my life. It's the ONLY important thing. Everything else that matters flows naturally out of my walk with the Lord.

What an easy yoke it is!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Mystery of Free Forgiveness

After this morning's post, I continued doing the final proofread of my book manuscript, and I came across this scene. It seemed to fit with what I'd posted about, so I'll do another posting. Two in one day! Hmm. Maybe it will help with the not-posting-guilt thing.

Anyway, here's a conversation from my novel, Zinovy's Journey, between the main character and his spiritual counselor, on the topic of redemption.

“Zinovy, forgive my intrusion. I know your desire for privacy. If you tell me to leave, I will go. But I want, first, to let you know there is an escape from the darkness that enshrouds you.”

Elan waited. Zinovy felt his patient presence, soft as a quiet spring, gently expectant, like a dew-drenched meadow anticipating the coming of the morning sun. Gradually, only slightly against his will, Zinovy relaxed. He knew Elan would take his silence as consent, but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to close this door.

“You can’t go back, Zinovy,” Elan said. “You can’t revise, or recreate the past, but it can be redeemed.”

Still Zinovy sat in silence—helpless, now, before the light that intruded into his soul. As he sat, his mind went back, once again, into his past. He saw his childhood—not just the pain, but his reactions to the pain. His anger. His hatred. His determined scrabbling for peace and pleasure at the expense of everything else—of everyone else in his life. His years in the military and beyond—his FSB activities—the heartless cruelty of his profession and the satisfaction it gave him to vent his spleen on human beings he didn’t know and didn’t care about. He saw the selfishness of his independence—his not caring—his lofty isolation from the rest of the world.

The light continued to probe—pressing into the dark places of his spirit, opening every sealed chamber, revealing, dispelling, then flooding each empty cavity with its warm brightness.

“How can this be?” Zinovy finally asked, his voice a whisper. “This redemption?”

“The gift of redemption was made possible at great cost, Zinovy. It is freely offered to us, but it cost God his life.”

“And it is free? It costs us nothing? That’s not right.”

Elan smiled. “It is free,” he repeated. “But to receive the gift you will have to give up everything.”

Zinovy gaped at Elan. “Then it’s not free.”

Elan threw his head back and laughed—a deep, rich, rolling laugh that hit Zinovy like a slap in the face. He stared at the bright one, open-mouthed.

Then Elan turned to him and his expression softened. “It’s a mystery, Zinovy—a mystery that you won’t understand until you decide to accept it.”

Zinovy gazed back into those eyes, still shimmering with the afterglow of his laughter, and wilted. It was impossible to understand this man’s philosophy.

Quietly, Elan went on. “Remember when I told your crew, in the beginning, that you needed to leave the place where you had landed? You asked me why, then, and I said I could not tell you. You had to make the choice to leave without knowing the whole. When you had made that choice, then you were ready to learn more.”

Elan waited until Zinovy nodded, half reluctantly, before he continued. “So it is with this mystery,” he said. “You have to choose to receive the gift before you can understand it. When you decide to do that, the mystery will become clear—not to your head, but to your heart.”

And once more he was gone.

A No-Guilt Relationship

Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything’s free!
Isaiah 55:1 from The Message.

I’ve recently discovered a surprising truth. The truth is, God wants us to take His love for granted.

“Ah,” you say, “we can’t do that. Taking His love for granted is a sin. It’s ingratitude. We need to be thankful for His love.”

Well, you’re right. We should be thankful for His love. But the truth (again) is that He loves us regardless of whether or not we are thankful, and He always will, completely, joyfully, with no restrictions. He gives His love, and the blessings that come with it, extravagantly, without expecting anything in return, even our gratitude.

We cannot “pay” for our blessings with thanksgiving. Gratitude is not a penance. Everything good we receive from God’s hand—and it’s all good—is given freely, without a thought on God’s part of charging a thanksgiving fee.

God knows us so well. He knows we’re never going to be grateful to the extent we have been blessed by Him. We can’t be. He does things for us every day that we're totally oblivious of, and always will be. He doesn’t say, “They don’t even notice when I kill those cancer cells in their lungs before they have a chance to develop, so I’m going to quit doing it.” He just goes on loving and blessing, day after day, and will do so for eternity, without regret or second thoughts, or raised eyebrows over our oblivion to His love. Just because He loves us.

Now, that doesn’t mean He won’t withhold blessings sometimes for our good. If we aren’t thankful, we suffer, and His biggest blessing—the happiest one—is actually our awareness of His blessing. So, because He loves us, He may chasten us to bring us to a place where we can appreciate His love more fully. But NEVER does He do that because we aren’t paying our dues. He ALWAYS does it because He wants us to know the unique delight of living consciously in His love.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2:8-10 from The Message

When we come to the place in our relationship with God where we realize our salvation is totally his business

—when we never worry about losing His favor

—when we throw ourselves GLEEFULLY on His mercy every day,

Then we are freed up to care about other things.

—important things

—things of the Kingdom.

We are able to focus on doing the good works we were created to do in Christ Jesus.

Now if I could just figure out how to quit feeling guilty for not posting more often. That’s my next project.