Butterfly Sparks Designs

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How He Loves.

Not long ago, during my quiet time, I tried something a little different than usual. I was in a bit of a dry season. You know what I mean, right? Maybe it’s just me, but there are times when I don’t feel connected to God in my prayers, or when I simply don’t connect with God’s Word. I wanted to go deeper and overcome this separation that I felt from God. So, I put to practice a prayer method that I had learned about some time ago, but had never tried myself. Lectio Divina is an ancient, intentional approach to reading Scripture and experiencing God's Presence and His Word through reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. First, the Scriptures are read slowly, with an open ear to the voice of the Spirit identifying the new truth He desires to reveal. Then, time is taken to meditate upon what was heard,  which leads to prayer (dialogue with God), and finally, a time of simply resting in His presence. It’s a beautiful, intentional, longer-than-my-normal-quiet-time process. And one that I intend to repeat often.  Very, very powerful.

After I had finished with that part of my quiet time, it was blatantly clear that God was revealing to me through His word that I do not accept His love, forgiveness, or grace very well. I so often quantify His love and grace by my performance. Can you relate? Is it hard for you to truly accept His love because you’re not “good enough”? It’s just so difficult to understand His love for us with our narrow, human, finite minds!

I wanted to continue my time with Him, so I felt led to put on some worship music and just continue to rest, and to praise. I heard…

“Oh…How He loves us so. Oh, How He loves us…”

You know the song, right? In my view, one of the most incredible worship songs ever written.

He had my attention, and I was in the zone. But then something happened. I tried to personalize the song, to truly claim His love for me.

“Oh…How He loves me so….Oh, How He loves me…”

I couldn’t do it. I literally could not form the words and melted into my fear, shame, and guilt. I was overcome with embarrassment over His love for me. How could he possibly love me? After all of the things that I have done, how could he possibly love me? Realizing that even if I was the only one on earth, He still would have sent His son to die for me sent me into a pit of shame.  despair.  unworthiness.  pain.  guilt.

A pit of lies told to me by the enemy of my soul.

The reality of the depth of the condemnation that I held against myself for what I had done, even though I “knew” He had forgiven me, hit me hard.  Even though I knew He had forgiven me, the old and already-canceled sin still held power over me.

A-Ha.  I found my wall.  I found my breaker.

In the time that has passed since this experience, there has been breakthrough.  Some walls have come down and I’m learning to more freely receive God’s love and grace. We can’t give what we don’t have, so we need to receive His love and grace so that we can pour it out to others.

You’re going to see more posts from me about the strongholds that are being knocked over like Lincoln Logs by an angry 2 year old. They’re going down, one after the other, and it’s amazing to experience a new level of intimacy with God that I didn’t even know was possible. Yet even still, sometimes it remains challenging for me to accept His love and grace freely given.

I have come to realize that I do indeed receive His forgiveness. But here’s the part I was missing. Not only does he forgive our sin, but He actually breaks the power of canceled sin over me. How awesome is that. Many of us have sung the very words many times, from the hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”. Check out the last verse.

“He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free”…

Do you get how awesome that is? God KNEW that even when we receive His forgiveness, that we in our nature would allow ourselves to continue to feel condemned at times. But the Truth is that upon repentance, God sees us as blameless. Not only does he cancel our sin, but he breaks the power of that canceled sin over us.

Hear it again: He forgives your sin. And then He breaks the power of that canceled sin over you.

Receive it. Freely.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
 Oh, how He loves you so.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rerun: Ready, Set, Jump!

Well, hello again!  I did not intend to take a week-long blogging break, but my long Emmaus weekend plus a seriously nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection has had me grounded until today. 

I have so much to share, so I hope you'll keep checking in...but for now, I think the best depiction of my thoughts lately is from a post that I wrote back in July of 2008...and especially today after a compelling phone interview regarding a HUGE academic opportunity (fabulous, God-ordained, but a little scary).  After my call today, my thoughts immediately evoked memories of a prior season in life...and the assurance that God covered me then, and He will certainly cover me now.  I think I'm finally starting to get that.  Finally.

So...an encore presentation of the post from July 11, 2008.  Enjoy the rerun.

Ready, Set, Jump.

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was not a big fan of Phys Ed class. I hated it. I was a prissy little girl, concerned with my clothes and my hair. I hated to sweat. And for those of you who know me, you know that those things have not changed very much. (OK, so my brief stint in mountain biking several years ago was fun, but it didn’t last. I was, however, the only biker on the trail with riding gear that ALWAYS coordinated with the color of my bike, and lips perfectly lined with kiss-me-red lipstick. I fell. A lot. But if I was going to fall, at least I looked darn good doing it.)

Anyway, despite my disdain for Phys Ed class, and my utter lack of athletic prowess, there was one activity that I loved. The Standing Broad Jump. The fact that I can say that I enjoyed anything related to track and field events makes me laugh out loud. But as a kid, I loved this. For those of you who may not remember, this was a game where you would stand at a line, just behind a sand pit. Our teacher would shout the cue…”Ready, set, jump!” And from a standing position, you would jump into the pit, and the length of the jump was measured. The farthest jump was marked by a yellow flag in the sand. The person who jumped the farthest, with both feet landing together and not falling backwards, was the winner.

I am not sure why I loved this little event so much. Perhaps it was because it wasn’t a contact sport. Or maybe it was because I didn’t have to run and get all sweaty. I loved that it wasn’t “Dodgeball” day, when I literally feared for my life. I’m not sure what the lure of a pit of sand and a yellow flag held for me. But there was just something about standing still and summoning all of the strength I could muster from standing firmly planted on solid ground to propel myself as far as I could into the “sandbox”, not knowing where or how far forward I might land. I jumped with all of my strength, as high as I could. I remember Mrs. Stafford, my P.E. teacher, suggesting to us that we look at the yellow flag from the longest jumper and focus on a mark past it. I would fix my eyes on the asphalt waiting on the other side of the sand and would mentally charge myself to jump as close to it as possible.

Tonight, as I write this, I feel like a child again, standing at that chalk jump line. Just as I stood on the asphalt at the line as a child, I now stand firm on the solid ground that comes from knowing that the course of my life is in the God’s Hand and in His control.  But He is now asking me to jump, yet again. All I can see from my perspective is a desert of sand ahead of me. But what a gift it is to jump from that standing position. He is the solid ground from which I will propel. But I must admit, it’s still a little scary. There is a weird mix of adrenaline, excitement, anticipation, and curiosity about what is next...and when. I know that at the perfect moment, He will call me to bend my knees, push off, and fly across the desert, that Great Divide, to the very spot that He has already marked for me with the flags of His promises and faithfulness. I can rest in knowing that He will ensure that both of my feet hit the ground and that I don’t fall backwards.

I have to remind myself that I must place my security in who God is, and not in the circumstances swirling around in my life. Sometimes it is hard, because the circumstances seem to be the reality of life. But the true reality is not in the circumstances…the true, unwavering reality is in our great God who sees the entire picture and is always working on our behalf.

One of my favorite verses is Hosea 2:14.  Paraphrased, it says:  So now I am going to draw her back to me. I will allure her into the desert. There I will speak tenderly to her. . . when she rests in me, I will give her back her vineyards.

This verse reminds me that He calls us to see the invisible, to commit to the impossible, and to do the outrageous. He never calls us to do what we can — only to do what He can through us. He calls us to rest and to live in His faithfulness, and only then can He return us to the vineyards of His fruitfulness in us. God will lure us into the desert sometimes —circumstances beyond us—and He asks us to endure the desert with no other thought than that His great heart will sustain us. And may we remember that the desert is all about discovering the faithfulness of God.

Ready... Set... Jump!