Our efforts to control life or others with anger or manipulation, micro-managing, or in passive-aggressive ways imprisons our spirit. It holds captive the spirit of our relationships and it enshackels the Spirit of God in us.
This kind of control implies a faith that does not trust God enough to let Him carry us in His river, to let Him move and work in others, to trust His judgment in it all and therefore, to yield to His ways.
The yielded life releases its hold on outcome. It surrenders its notions of how things should be in deference to how God may desire it to be. The yielded life is the opposite of the controlling life. Such a person carries life with an open hand, and kisses the joy as it flies.
We all have shades of control. But the degree to which we seek to be in control is the degree to which our world shrivels and our lives and relationships shrink down to the size of our palm. Christ asks us to come out of these shadows and breathe the fresh air of freedom that blows in on the Holy wind of God.
To do this...We must trust. We must trust that God cares about the inner workings as well as the daily workings of our lives. We must trust that He is an involved Sovereign. We must trust that He knows what we have need of more than we do and that He wants what is best for us.
If we can trust in these...we can yield. We can walk surrendered in the heart of our soul. We can begin to loosen the grip of our demands upon the heartbeat of our world and witness our treasures grow wings and fly to the currents of a greater wind. _______________
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." II Corinthians 3:17
Freedom is the perfume of the Spirit that leaves its fragrance on the lives of those it touches.
May God bless you as you deepen your trust in Him and release to Him that which has lain hidden in the grip of your fears and in the palm of your own notions of how life should be.
- II -
Let this be a week in which you see...really see...the jewells that lie scattered about you, cast broadside by a generous Hand. The sun, cascading down through the changing leaves, setting them aglow, transforming a nearly drab color into something wondrous. Take time to watch the ducks parting the azure folds above you with their fluid, silent v-formation. As autumn cools the pages of your days with brushstrokes of umber and wine, of gold and rust and deep blue skies, take in the colors our faithful Artist has splashed on the canvas of our world. Take time to feast on a sunrise or sunset and the changing colors that transform the clouds from faint pink to orange sherbert to golden blaze. Study the clouds that lace the horizon's rim and learn what they tell you of tomorrow's mood. Let His world awaken you to life, and let it remind you of other things we dare not miss in our journey here: the color of a loved one's eyes or a stranger's heart...always searching for the wisps of clouds gathered at the horizon of their soul that tell you what lies hidden there.
Take time to drink in great glups of life and savor the treasures hidden there in plain sight. If you have eyes to see, you will witness a Divine Artist's masterpiece unfolding before you every moment of your day.
"When I was 6 or 7 years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I've never been seized by it since. For some reason I always 'hid' the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY. I was greatly excited, during all this arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny.
It is still the first week in January, and I've got great plans. I've been thinking a lot about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But--and this is the point -- who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go you rueful way? It is dire pverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with you poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get."
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom"
What is the freedom Paul was speaking of when He wrote these words? It was the freedom that comes when a soul is possessed by the Spirit of God. Unlike with us, when the Holy Spirit possesses, He liberates. When we possess, we draw the object of our possession closer to us, afterall, we own it. We tend to make demands of it and certainly, we attach expectations to it. With God, possession is for the benefit of the possessed, not the possessor. When the Holy Spirit owns a soul, he sets it free. He empowers it to become fully who it was destined to be...and how it was destined to be. The legalities of the law go by the wayside. Performance and perfection and "doing it right" are not nearly so important as setting a heart free to love. The loving heart exudes the sweetest perfume in the heavenly realm. It is what the Lord seeks after...it is what the Lord loves. As long as our heart longs for God, our flaws and blemishes are covered. As long as it seeks Him, our failures are secondary. God is drawn to the "sweet smelling aroma" of a loving heart and opens the windows of heaven so that its fragrance might come in.
"We can only be said to be alive in the moments when our hearts are conscious of treasure"
These words from an unknown source challenge us to awaken to life and the treasures it holds. Most of us live on the edge of life, half aware...rushing to the future...the appointment at 5:00, dinner at 7:00, the paper due tomorrow or the next. Conscious living gets lost in the blur; Spirit living gets lost in the details.
The I AM Christ never lost sight of the treasure of the moment: never lost sight of those hiding in trees or at the noon-day well; never lost touch with those lost in the crowd seeking to graze the edge of his garment with faith. Always, He was conscious of treasure; always fully present, living and breathing each moment...in touch with His father...in touch with the world.
This week take time to feed your spirit by pausing to feel and see and hear what is really in your day. Taste the precious gift of the moment in which God intersects your life in human cloth and dances with you in the wind. Let the song of His Spirit become the song of your heart springing to life, suddenly conscious of treasure.
It was not the love of God that compelled the cross...it was His holiness. Were God not a just and holy God, His love could have forgiven without the cross. Because man is by nature unholy, God had to provide a way for us to re-enter relationship with Him. As two unlike natures cannot mix in nature (i.e. oil and water), neither can they be mixed in the spiritual; either the Divine nature must change...or we must. Since God cannot change who He is, or act contrary to it, a way must be established for us to change. Such is the way of the cross. Such is the way of faith.
The cross is the wrath of a holy God against sin. The cross is the sacrifice of a loving God for sin...man's sin. God Himself took the brunt of that wrath and made faith love's answer to the requirements of a breached law....to the demands of holiness. If, by faith, we accept what Christ did for us at Calvary; if, by faith, we embrace His resurrection from the dead, then at that point of faith, His holy spirit enters into our eternal spirit and knits His holiness into us eternally. The spirit is the only part of man that remains compatible with the Divine. It is that eternal part of every man, and once it has been made holy, our nature has been re-fashioned in holiness and made fit for personal relationship with a holy God. It is of faith, alone, and not of us. No room for boasting here, no place for pride. It is all gift that comes to us through faith.
Why faith alone? Because faith is something all are capable of. Everyone believes in something. We believe in politicians. We believe that something bad is going to happen....or something good. We believe that nothing is going to happen. Either way, we believe. It just depends on what we believe. Where we choose to place our faith. All Believe.
Our Loving God makes holiness possible, then, for everyone...not just for those gifted performers or disciplined, type-A personalities. Faith blankets the world and threatens the excuses of all. Our response to such a gift must be one of the heart. It is the heart of man that must yield its world to Calvary. It is the heart that must respond to the empty tomb. And what is a reasonable heart response of a soul saved by another's blood? A desire to live an outward life that reflects the character of the one who sacrificed for me...that reflects the holiness that dwells within because of Him.
Calvary calls us to holiness....He "who has saved us [has] called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his grace..." II Tim. 1:9.
We are a holy people...made so at great cost...not to us, but to Christ. May our Easter offering to Him be a vow to look different than the world in which we live; may it be a pledge to live and walk in holiness.
On another page of this website - The Bible and History - you will find the fascinating story of Ron Wyatt's discoveries of Egyptian chariot wheels in the Red Sea. As I researched that page, I became aware of something he missed which holds a lesson for us all.
When he discovered what appears to be the true Mt. Sinai, not in the Sinai Peninsula, but in Saudi Arabia, Wyatt was offered the opportunity by the government of Saudi Arabia, through the national Director of Antiquities, to develop it as a national archeological site. They wanted him to begin immediately. He regretfully declined the immediate start-up, citing an important meeting he was scheduled to attend in Turkey. According to Wyatt's people, his response so angered the Saudi powers that they rescinded their invitation, closed the doors to any development of the site and now have it cordoned off against trespassers. It was a moment missed; a moment that affected the rest of his life and, in many ways, the rest of the world as well. Other people, now, are getting the credit for discovering this mountain, yet the world is shut off to it.
In the lives of us all there are many moments that pass unnoticed from us; many moments we miss because of schedule and busy-ness, self-absorption or scattered focus; moments that will not pass our way again. And always, there is a message the moment holds. It may be the message of beauty: the beauty of a child's smile, or of his spirit; it may be the beauty of a person's character or of her wisdom; it may be the beauty of sunlight on dew or moonlight on the water; it may be the beauty of laughter or birds chirping in the tree or wind in the pines or of waves on the shore. It may be the message of specialness: a child placing their hand in yours as you cross the parking lot; a friend calling just to talk and share an embarrassing moment. It may be an evening of just being with a loved one, fire crackling in the fire place or the smell of coffee brewing or popcorn popping.
If we would live life well, we must look for the message the moment holds and seize it and cherish it. Once it is gone, it will not come around again, and our lives will be the less because it has passed from us unnoticed.
He is the "high tower" into which we run when waters rush toward us. He is our hiding place when we are pursued by enemy forces...our refuge in times of terror. It is not in the good and prosperous times that we come to know who this God really is, but in perilous days and uncertain times. Only here when earth's securities fail do we find the rock that will not shift. We all need such a place to stand. It is only the God of Christ who holds out for us this hope.
The celebration of this uncertain year is that we may know Him as He really is. He came, not for those who know where they are, but for those of us who are confused or lost. He came not for the healthy and robust but for those of us who walk with a limp or shiver with fear. He came not for the needless who have all they want, but for those who know their need of Him...for those who know their limitations...their aloneness.
For those of us who fear what this year may hold, we can either find refuge in fear or in faith. It is in faith, alone, that we are led to a God who is faithful to us and worthy of our hope...who is a lion in a field of enemies. When your marriage seems hopeless, run to the one whose hand is not so short that it cannot restore. When your financial portfolio is disintergrating, rush to the one whose treasury does not hinge on earthly things. When your relationship with a loved one is out of sync and adrift, turn to the one who brings focus and life, who resusitates and renews.
So how do we run to Him? Our heart first must kneel before its Sovereign; must yield to His ways. Only as we see our need for Him will we do this; till then, we will resist because we somehow think we know best. There is celebation to be found in hard or uncertain times; the celebration of discovering our own littleness and His greatness...the celebration of discovering humility. Only in humble submission to Him will we ever know peace...will we ever experience His absolute worthiness to be our Sovereign and our Lord.
2009 could be a very bad year, or a year of discovery.