Thursday, March 7, 2013

Marching On to Freedom Land

In a nutshell, let me just answer the questions I left off with in my previous post.  Is God big enough?  Is He capable of truly making me into a new creation at my core?  Does He intend for me to have victory in this struggle?  Yes, yes, and yes!  A thousand times over....YES!!!

Again, these are ramblings.  I am sharing with you what was revealed to me only moments before so I apologize in advance if these thoughts aren't completely coherent.

Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and without cure.  Who can understand it?"

I've been grieved by my sin as God has opened my eyes to the extensiveness of this sin pattern in my everyday choices.  I doubt there is an area of my life that this philosophy of lack has not influenced me and led me into sin.  Even behaviors that appear "good" to myself or others, if they are motivated by fear or insecurity, are not pleasing to God.  He judges the heart, not just the actions.  I'll give you one example:  I have an insatiable hunger for the word of God!  I cannot get enough!  I am so thankful to God that He has gifted me with this zeal for the Scriptures!  But....there was an obsessive quality to it, and the enemy used this to accuse and torment me.  I brought my "Jesus addiction" to God and asked Him to show me if there was anything displeasing to Him in my compulsion to study the Bible.  I know we're supposed to meditate on His word day and night.  I could point out verse after verse that would justify my actions.  But it also seemed that the enemy was being allowed to sift me, and I know God only allows him to sift us if there is something in us that needs sifting.  God so faithfully, kindly, gently, and lovingly shone His healing light into my depths.  Scenes came to my mind, parts of sermons I sat through as a young girl in a church that tried to motivate its congregation to right living through fear.  Pastors would preach from the pulpit, "we have to be in the Word because a day is coming when 'they' will confiscate our Bibles.  We'll be imprisoned for our belief in Jesus, and the only truth we will have is the truth we have memorized.  Be in the Word.  Be in the Word.  Be in the Word."  God wants me to be in His Word because of a pure and unadulterated love for Him, not because I'm driven by a fear of future lack.

Oh, do you see how deceptive our sins can be!  I am so sobered to realize that I can be blindly walking in sin, all the while "congratulating" myself on my "piousness" in that very area!  I shudder at the mere thought of such self-delusion!  But I have to acknowledge that this is the reality of my heart, soul and mind apart from Him.

My latest "aha" moments have come as God has revealed some fear, insecurity, and trust (or, better stated, DIStrust) issues.  I see now that there are two world views:  one is that we live in a world of limited resources, and everyone must fight for their slice of the "pie."  This world view is fear based, and the foundation of this life is insecurity.  Fear and insecurity are the signposts on this road as you journey with an overriding sense that "lack" is stalking you, ever behind you like a shadow, gaining on you, nipping at your heels, sure to overtake you at any moment, about to consume and devour and destroy you.  It is a miserable way to live.  I know this because it's been my worldview.  It's motivated so many of my choices, decisions and behaviors.

I know the other worldview only by the furtive glances over high fences, stolen glimpses of a land I desire but never thought would be accessible to someone like me.  Consequently, I don't know how to articulate it all that well.  I know it only because it must be the opposite of my reality to date.  It's marked by a deep, underlying sense of security.  It operates from a perspective of abundance, of limitless resources, of plenty, of lavish banquet tables and overflowing cups of anointing with jars of oil that never run dry!  It's a life of trusting, believing, knowing, experiencing, and living in the fullness of His Goodness to me!!!  Is He really that good?  Could it really be true?  Oh, yes, child, He is not only that good, He is so much better, better than you could ever comprehend!!!!  (And I just have to add here that His goodness cannot be measured by our circumstances!  Did you hear me, believer? Your circumstances are not the indicator of God's goodness to you!!!  This is not a "prosperity gospel" I am preaching; it's a God-gospel through and through.  From A to Z, start to finish, alpha to omega, it's all about HIM, HIM, HIM!)

Until recently, I didn't even see this sin in my own heart!  I was deluded, thinking that because I knew truth in my mind, I was living in it.  Because I knew the right theology and could choose the correct worldview on a multiple choice test, I thought my intellectual assent was right living in this area.  Oh, child of God, do not be mistaken:  knowing truth and living it are two very different things!  Believing truth is great (it is, in fact, essential), but there are degrees of believing, and we must believe it so completely and thoroughly that it affects the way we live.

I don't have perspective on my own life.  I am so thankful that God sees clearly, and that He offers me revelation when I ask.  He sees the deep healing that still needs to occur.  I have been trying to be sanctified from the bad fruit in my life while God is after the bad roots.  I am incapable of pulling these bad roots out without Him, but luckily, He doesn't ask me to.  He does all the "heavy lifting;" I just need to cooperate with HIS demolition and rebuilding process.

I am incredibly excited because I know that God does not reveal sin to us unless He intends to set us free from our bondage and liberate us to live out more of His Kingdom on the soil of this earth!  When He first exposed my heart to me in this way, I questioned whether this new vision of freedom and liberation were even possible.  Isn't it just our lot in this world as human beings, to fear lack on some level?  Just turn on the news:  scarcity does seem to be the reality of this world!  Am I expecting too much to even consider the possibility that I could live differently as a daughter of the King of Kings?  Is removal of this burden even possible, or must I wait for Heaven to feel truly safe in His arms?  Can He really change me that radically, that wholly, that completely, that totally?  We will always struggle against our flesh in this world, and this was one battle where I had resigned myself to a life of constant struggle and no victory.

Oh, ye of little faith!  Lift your eyes to Heaven!  Behold your redeemer!  He commands angel armies!  Is anything too difficult for Him?!?!  He has made me aware of this sin pattern because He intends to SET ME FREE from these chains!  The enemy has had his way with me for far too long.  I have heard my God shout, "Enough!"  And I am filled with new strength and new energy because I know that God finishes the work that He begins.  He will not abandon me halfway through.  His plan for my life is to make me a new creation, and nothing and no one can thwart the plans of GOD ALMIGHTY!  Who is like the Lord our God?!?!?!  Great is His Name, and greatly to be praised!!!!!

Notes from the Trenches

What I'm sharing today is not a polished essay.  It's very much the ramblings and musings of someone who is learning and growing and very much in the messiness of process.  I have not arrived.  I am currently and actively struggling towards freedom, but I pray that some of these insights and revelations will be useful and encouraging to you in your journey.

Yesterday I was at BSF.  With the story of Jacob and Esau at the forefront of my thoughts, I entered the sanctuary for lecture.  I don't know why, but God frequently speaks to me there.  Often, my hand won't stop writing for the entire sixty minutes, but the words I write are the record of a dialogue that is happening between God and me.  Sometimes I hear very little of what Beth says because the voice of God is simply speaking louder and more insistently, stirring my soul in ways I can't ignore.  Somehow, I think Beth Johnson wouldn't mind one bit!  ;)

Here are my scribbled thoughts (what should have been my lecture notes):
"Live for today."
I saw that slogan on a shirt yesterday.  Actually, it was worn by the little five year old girl that I care for three days a week.  With the life lesson of Esau fresh in my mind, my reaction to that T-shirt was strong and adverse!  Do you see where living for today ends?  It ends in selling your birthright for a bowl of stew.

Oh, that I would NOT live for today alone, but with a divine awareness of the impact of each and every choice!  My choices reverberate throughout all the days of my life and even into succeeding generations.  See Exodus 20:  the sins of the fathers are visited on the children for three or four generations, but God extends His loving kindness to a thousand generations of those who fear Him and remember to keep His covenant and obey His precepts!  The destiny of a thousand generations may be hinging on how I handle the test that God has put in front of me.  Passages of Scripture come to mind: Deuteronomy 30, the offer of life or death, and Joshua 24:15, the call to decision.

But that decision is not a once-for-all thing.  It is a daily thing, a moment by moment thing.  Ultimately, our CHOICE (singular) is composed of a million trillion billion tiny CHOICES (plural) that come our way throughout the fabric of our everyday buried in the minutiae....the small details of our daily lives.  That cashier gives me $15 change when I'm only owed $5.  The next cashier rings up one puzzle instead of two.  If I fail that test, what does it reveal about my heart?  What is the fundamental sin that is lurking there?

This is the test that comes my way over and over and over again.  Why?  I think I'm passing the tests, but God still presents the same test over and over so there must be something He wants me to learn that I haven't yet.  Here's the thing:  even though I end up doing the right thing, I still struggle internally first.  Does God want me to get to the point where it (my obedience) is instant and automatic and requires no thought or internal struggle?

I grew up in a home that was ruled by anxiety, and financial anxiety was a HUGE part of our family dynamics:  always feeling like you're living on the edge of disaster, one blow away from all the dominoes falling, one after another.  Obviously, I was marked by those eighteen years I spent in that home.  That feeling of insecurity manifested itself in grabbing and grasping and hoarding, living tight-fisted instead of open-handed.  Generosity is hard for me because at my core, my fear is that there WILL NOT BE ENOUGH.  That LACK will overtake me, consume me, and devour my life.  Theft has been like a recessive "sin gene" woven into my DNA.

And now I'm God's child, and I desire Him and His Holiness.  I desire to be used by Him.  I long to be a vessel that has been cleaned not only on the outside, but on the inside too!  I want to be refined for my Master's use.  So I do not intentionally walk in this sin.  I do not make plans to acquire things dishonestly. BUT, God sees not just my actions, but my heart.  Is there any area in my mind where I am still trading the TRUTH of God for a LIE?  At some fundamental, core, foundational level, am I believing an UNtruth?  And how would I even know this if it wasn't revealed in my actions and brought to light by my God?  Thank You, God, for revealing truth to me!

Lord, I know You are not into behavior modification.  You are into heart transformation!  Remake me into a new creature in the very basic building blocks of who I am!  I want YOUR way to be my default setting, not the place I have to fight to get to, but truly my new, redeemed nature.  Can you take me there, God?  Is that an unrealistic goal?  Can you really remake me so thoroughly, so completely, so totally, so absolutely?

With that, lecture ended, and I packed up my things, my heart and mind so full of questions.  In my next post, I will reveal how God has begun to answer some of those lingering questions.