Friday, April 29, 2016

To Live in the Reality of a Miracle

 
~Trent Shelton

In bible study or Sunday service (I can't remember which one lol) I heard my pastor express, "Truth is not always easy, but it's always simple."  Even though the road less traveled is the simplest route, it is most often not the easiest route especially when there are so many other avenues (wants) competing for our allegiance.  Over a course of years, in prayer and meditation, some simple phrases were placed in my spirit...

let go
remember the lesson
walk forward in peace

Those phrases have spiraled in and out of my consciousness over the course of time.  Yet a few months ago, in prayer and meditation, a question was posed to me...

What do you need to do to heal?

And the answer was simple..."take up your mat and walk."  The answer was simple yet the unfolding of that truth in the reality of my life took a bit of struggle...many tears...many sleepless nights...a few panic attacks...the loss of hair...frequent migraines...stress induced "fasting"...and many days of wrestling with myself.  Yet that simple question raised my gaze a bit more...changed my life for good.

How so?

Simply put...it shifted my perspective.  I went from waiting on another person to cease behavior that I experienced as emotionally-spiritually hurtful and harmful to standing resolute in the reality that the responsibility of my healing and well-being is mine.  As a woman, I stopped waiting on the man in my life to change, to cease behavior that left me broken-hearted.   And I, in the power and agency that Christ afforded me...I decided to cease choosing behavior that left me broken-hearted.

I stopped blame-shifting.  Make no mistake about it, it was not easy.  But it was definitely simple.  The ego is indeed a lofty tower, a "wall of Jericho" lol that only falls under the sovereign might of the Most High.  And well, like with the wall of Jericho, the Most High's purposes are manifested through people.  I am eternally grateful for the many beautiful spirits who spoke life into my brokenness (my error-ridden perspective rooted in childhood wounds).  Because there came a day, in the reality of my life, when a miracle happened...

My ego crumbled and folded.   

You see...choosing to remain in a relationship with someone whose willful behavior/choices creates harm in my heart and my spirit is a choice...it is a choice to break my own heart over and over again.  But a miracle happened!  I learned to allow the power of Christ within me to urge me to free myself from my own pattern.

You see...I was an emotional-spiritual paralytic and I did not know it.  Go figure lol!  I had been rendered lame by my pattern of complaining, expressing my hurt...believing the illusion of change to be the reality of change...then staying.  Repeat...complaining, expressing my hurt...believing the illusion of change to be the reality of change...then staying.  And repeat.  

You see...the man in my life was not breaking my heart.  I was.  I chose to believe the illusion (his words) when the reality of his actions consistently revealed the truth.  My ego had paralyzed me.  Ah, but with the fall of my ego came the fall of the illusion.  Hmm, and how sweet it is to live in the reality of a miracle!

11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
~Mark 2:11-12 

You see...I chose to let go of a relationship that I experienced as hurtful and harmful.  I stopped waiting on Christ to come to save me from my circumstance (an unhealthy relationship) when He had already done so thousands of years ago.  But how did one question save me?  It allowed the synapses in my mind to spark, to light-up and bend toward the Holy Spirit's leading just enough for me to see...to really see that, in reality, Christ was waiting on me...waiting on me to recognize that I was already healed.  "Take up your mat and walk!"
   
I changed. 

All the simple phrases that the Most High spoke into my spirit over the years have reached a level of fullness.  Yet I am always, we are always, in the perfecting process.  From glory to Glory...

        

 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Experiencing the Right Hand of Fellowship

"...let the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer."


One of the most freeing choices I've made is letting go of the need to be right, the need to have my perspective (thoughts and feelings) be preeminent.  I've learned and I am learning what matters most in The Process.  Ah, from glory to Glory I suppose.  Like Apostle Paul, I've learned and I am learning to be content in the joy and pain of The Journey.  And currently I am trusting...trusting that what I am waiting for has already gone before me to my next destination...has already arrived.  It's ironic though...sometimes the right thing to do in Life is to allow death to take its natural course.  But for me, I often hold tightly to ghost.  Yet when I allow it, the struggle is over.

I gave up a 10 year ghost this past Friday.  Hmm, let's call it a personal Good Friday.  I gave up the very circumstance that has kept me nailed and suffering...a circumstance that has kept a dear brother of The Way nailed and suffering too.  Someone had to let go.  So I chose to say, "Yes, I will."  I've learned and I am learning that even though endings are painful, the death of the life we once knew must come into completion.  The Great Paradox - the pain of death begets the joy of Life.  If the poverty of death is the great divorce then is not the wealth of life anew not the great reconciliation?  I thought the struggle was right so much so that for years I justified unrest.  I justified the quenching of the peace of Christ in my life.  And then one day I made the choice...I decided that is was okay to be wrong.

Grand Transcendence.  I read once that there are 33 vertebrae in the human spine.  I read once too that the term "homo erectus" means "upright man".  Interesting, huh.  At one point the human race was not aware and then one day, we were.  In our travels we went from being bent-backed with our sights to the ground to being straight-backed with our sights to the Sun.  In our travels, we come into the awareness that we are sentient beings.  Know Thyself - reconciling oneself, coming into agreement with the God in me.  The Sacred Marriage.  When the acceptance of myself and the surrender of myself are naked as one, my life is in continual consummation with Love.  If  to reach an orgasm is to reach a "high point", then what orgasmic experience makes life so very sweet?  To know thyself, to allow another to experience my nakedness.  To have inner peace, to have outer peace.  To love, to be loved.  To walk with Christ, to walk in Christ with another.  To have life, to have life to the full.       

Vertebrae by vertebrae, step by ordered step my sight was set higher.  The beginning of walking in truth comes when I accept that I have walked in a lie and that my walk in the lie must come to a necessary end.  Condemnation comes when I choose to remain in error - the experience of shame and unrest.  Admitting wrong...there is no condemnation in it.  There is no shame in saying, "I was wrong."  So I let go.  Ah, what sweet surrender it is.  Peace. 


A question of pride and prejudice...
If my need to be "right" does not further love, then what does it profit me to hold on to this need?

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" 

What does it profit me to gain my "right" and lose Love?

In life, I believe much of our struggles in every area of relationship (with ourselves, with our family, with our community and so on) can be stilled unto peace when we allow ourselves to be comfortable with one question...

What if I am wrong? 

The truth is...it takes a willingness to slay myself.

"...I die daily."

It requires a day-to-day willingness to sacrifice my ego at the behest of Greater Good.

One of my favorite short but sweet sermons was rendered by a "reluctant preacher."  It was entitled, "A Good Day to Die."  The truth is...everyday is a good day to die.  Everyday holds within it the High opportunity for us to choose what we really value.  In practical reality, it comes down to discernment.  Usually when we speak of discernment we are usually referring to discerning the motives and intentions, the thoughts and feelings of those around us.  But do we take the time to discern...to examine...to consider...to search through our own motives and intentions, thoughts and feelings?

When I took the time to ask myself, "What am I coveting at the price of forfeiting peace?"  In life, what do we all normally choose over Love?  Pride - the need to be right above another.  But was this not Satan's most audacious flaw?

Did not "the enemy" decide that his/her perspective (thoughts and feelings) were preeminent? I believe pride is the most favored son/daughter of fear.  Pride - the fear of letting go of control cleverly disguised as seeing me, seeing myself as "right"...believing I am right?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

But right in whose eyes (perspective)?  Me, myself, and I?  In relationship, what does it mean in practical reality to "lean not on your own understanding"?  What am I coveting?

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Self righteousness - believing the self to be right.  If I treasure being right, then what is the true state of my heart?

When I allowed The Most High to right my perspective...to right my "right," the question "what if I am wrong" ceased being a source of resistance.  In practical reality, I chose to do what it took to end my own unhealthy patterns (any repetitive destructive thinking)...the choices that I make that serve to frustrate life, grieve the Holy Spirit.  In practical reality, I made up my mind...made the steadfast and resolute decision(s) to do whatever it takes to end unhealthy cycles (any looping destructive behavior).

When I chose to agree with God's Right rather than my "right", I experienced a depth of fellowship that I had not previously known.


May I invite you to get comfortable with the question...

What if I am wrong?

What if there is more to Life, more to God than my perspective (thoughts and feelings)?    

Is God not the God of host (many)?

In all of its many forms, is Love not THE ONLY RIGHT?

Are our words and actions (thinking and behavior) destructive?  Are we tearing down our relationships with our left hand?

Or are our words and actions (thinking and behavior) constructive?  Are we building up our relationships with God's Right?

pride or Love?

prejudice or Peace?

Who is the Most High?

What is our Highest Good?

What if in holding tightly to my experiences and my view (treasured thoughts and feelings), I've been wrong all of my life?  What if we all have been wrong all of our lives?  Yet what if I chose...what if we decided to change our mind about it all today?

"Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

When the time comes for us all to meet our Maker, will my "right"...will our perspective stand under the scrutiny of "the fulfillment of the law"?

Will mine?  

Will yours?

In practical reality, what is the day-to-day...what is the pattern and cycle of a heart in pride's fallen state? 

Does the means (my experiences) by which I acquired my "right" (my view) justify the ends...broken individuals...broken marriages...broken families...broken churches...broken communities - the compounding of broken fellowship?

What does the reality of my life...what does the reality of yours reveal about the state of our hearts?

Has your need to be right...your fear of letting go of control done "harm to a neighbor"

Has mine?
  
"Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death."

To experience the right hand of fellowship, what is required of thee? 

This past February...ironically in our societies month of love, I heard one of my favorite bible teachers express, "Truth is simple."  Well, the simple truth is...I have the power to change.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory..." 

I have the power to repent, to change my mind about it all and in so doing, quite literally change the course of my life...to have my goings established toward Greater Good.  The simple truth is...I can decide, we can decide to set our affections Higher.

Shall I, shall we continue in sin...continue in the patterns and cycles that break what really matters in Life, in Christ?

In the words of my favorite short but sweet sermon...

Is it a good day to die?

If truth is indeed simple, then is not deciding to do what it takes to further Love's understanding and Love's peace not simple too?

Shall we set our treasures, our affections Higher? 

Is it as simple as changing my mind about what really matters?

May I invite you to take a listen...
 


Love's Power Over Pride
Dr. David Jeremiah
    

Friday, February 5, 2016

Seasoned




 

"There is no harder lesson to learn in the spiritual life than the fact that results belong to God.  A man's responsibility is to seek before God how to purge his life of those things that make for error and wrong choices, and to act in the light of his best wisdom and most profound integrity.  Beyond this, the results are in God's hands."

~Howard Thurman, Disciplines of The Spirit

 


Here is another homework assignment from one of the bible courses I took...

New Testament: The Gospels and Acts
November 23, 2015

Question #1
How does Acts 1:6 reveal the Apostles' lack of understanding?

"Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

The saying "patience is a virtue" comes to mind when presented with Acts 1:6.  I believe we all have had difficulty waiting.  In our current time, it seems many of us have taken on microwave sensibilities.  We want what we want and we want it now.  We are in an age of instant gratification.  Our grooming in the art of patience is quickly fading.  Each time we click a computer mouse or swipe our finger across a touch screen phone delayed gratification is made naught. 
  
I believe we all share in the Apostles' lack of understanding.  In our zeal to experience good, we attempt to make it happen now.  For illustration, in order for meat to be bold and full of flavor it is wise to marinate the meat overnight.  Seasoning the meat and instantly cooking it only renders flavor in part.  But if I am patient, if I am willing to wait and allow the meat to sit overnight in the refrigerator I will allow myself the opportunity to experience a more rounded, whole flavor.

The same principle is true of learning life lessons.  If we rush the process, we will likely only experience partial understanding and in turn incomplete results.  Just as life processes must be fulfilled, so must prophecy be fulfilled - it must come into completion.  If I (we) are able to "endure until the end," until the prophecy or process is complete, I (we) will reap the abundant and full benefit.

The Apostles' desire to know when good will be made manifest, when their highest good would come is flawed yet beautifully human nonetheless.  I imagine that we have all posed the same question(s) of The Most High, "When will this difficult time end?  When will good come to me?"  But in our rush to experience "glory" we may miss the experiences (the prerequisites) that allow the value of expected good to appreciate - to rightly know and rightly apply knowledge (wisdom). 

It is not our call to know "the end from the beginning."  That is The Most High's concern only.  We do not possess, in our current form, the omniscience or character traits that would allow us to righteously (undivided in heart and mind) to effect such knowing.  We are human.  Our self focused desires often get the best of us.  We are beautifully flawed.  We are "imperfectly-perfect" - in the perfecting process.  The Most High in the person of Christ patiently loves us, waits on us overnight to become rounded and whole.