What exactly does it mean? This word came up in a conversation today and it seems important to explore the concept. It is the 4th basic doctrine in Calvinism.. but that does not exactly shed light on its true meaning.. does it? Calvin used that term to communicate the way that the Holy Spirit works on the hearts of those who hear the gospel. It refers to the inner working of the spirit.. in places we cannot see.. that draws us into a relationship with God. What that means for us is that we cannot take credit for having responded to the Lord since He was always pursuing us..even when we did not pay any attention to Him or His people. It is very reassuring to know that God takes the initiative with us and desires to be in relationship with us when we think we are fine without Him. He works through circumstances, books, movies.. music.. relationships..nature.. He uses everything to seek us out.. to draw us closer to Him so He can pour out His love into our broken hearts.
I love the fact that nothing is too hard for Him.. that He seeks us out.. that His love is so large that we only get glimpses of it… God is at work in our world.. He never tires of revealing things to us.. pursuing us and healing us. One of the worst things we can do as believers is make Him too small.. if we make it all about us and our abilities we have missed the point.. He is able to do more than our human minds can comprehend. Ephesians 3:20 says:
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Read that again slowly and allow it to sink in. How is He able to do more than we can ask or think? ( some translations say imagine) Through His mighty power! Are you making Him smaller and less powerful than He is? If you are you are not alone.. in our insecurities we often think we make our roles more important than they are. God is the one who finds us.. His grace is irresistible.. that means He finds the keys to our hearts and unlocks them so we run out to meet Him. I remember when I realized the sovereignty of God at a much deeper level in theology class and I was amazed.. God was so much more involved in everything and I could trust Him in a much greater way than ever before because of this new revelation of His goodness. It was life changing!
My prayer for you is that you will be set free from any bondage that is keeping you away from the Lord.. any condemnation that causes you to believe that someone’s eternal destiny rests on your shoulders. Your God is huge and He will never stop pursuing you and those you love.. He is at work in mysterious ways fulfilling every plan that He has put into place!
We have these places in our lives. They are like closets full of things that we don’t want to look at too closely. The truth is they are not hidden from the Lord. He sees and knows all the things we are keeping from Him and from ourselves. This closet may hold secret sins and idols.. but it also holds pain. Pain that we put in the back under everything. Why? So we don’t have to grieve and face the losses that happen in life. So when God goes into that closet and begins to pull out things.. He has only one purpose in mind and that is healing. How do I know that.. because I have experienced healing from His hand over and over again.
He wants to bring us into freedom. To touch our wounds and heal them. To bring out the poison.. the toxins that have developed because the wound is old and is covered with band aids that are filthy.. underneath there is an infection.. His desire is to clean the wound and heal it so that it is finally unable to keep us in bondage. Why do we resist this process? because it is painful. It order to receive this healing you need to open up and feel the pain that is stuffed down inside. It is not as though you have to relive it is.. but there is pain in remembering and releasing grief that is unresolved. The beautiful thing is realizing that God can take this process and change you.. He can ” create a clean heart” in you.
I am writing about this because I am concerned about Believers who run from this process. They hide their pain deeper and deeper because they are either embarrassed, ashamed or fearful. We are here on earth for a reason..not just waiting for the day when all this over. Eternity is here now.. we have entered the kingdom of God and He is at work restoring us. We need to let Him in fully if we want to begin experiencing the abundant life He promises in John 10:10.
Our God is pursuing us daily. He desires to go deep with you.. to take you to your hidden places and help you bring them out into the light so you can be set free to walk with Him without always looking back and without fear of the future. I want to encourage you to allow Him to come into those places.. if you are unable to do it alone, find someone to help you.. there is nothing wrong with needing help. The Holy Spirit is the counselor and He leads the way when it comes to unraveling your past and unveiling those wounds.. but He often works through counselors..especially those that walk with Him. Pray that the Lord will lead you to the right person and take a risk.. you won’t be sorry. He has only good things for you!
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18)
It is really springtime again.. I never feel quite sure until May appears..than I feel safe saying winter is over! We came back from a long weekend away this afternoon and as we looked up we saw beautiful fluffy white clouds in a bright blue sky.. the fields along the highway were a vivid green dotted with patches of yellow wild mustard. I could see the Lord’s handiwork all around me.. it was very comforting. God’s love for us revealed in creation.
It was a weekend of reminders for me. We went to a very special wedding.. one that was full of amazing surprises.. I could see God’s fingerprints all over this union. He brought these two people together and it was clear that His love drew them to one another. He was transforming their lives and it flowed over each of us watching the ceremony…we stood in awe of His redeeming work. I had a similar experience at another family gathering last December.. as I looked around the room I could see how the hand of the Lord had been at work healing broken lives and relationships. His hand of redemption on our family.
God is at work even when we can’t see a single thing He is doing. Suddenly He allows us a glimpse into the lives He is restoring.. a glimpse of His healing touch. Spring is like that for me.. all winter long I wonder how I will make it through my least favorite season.. too many hours inside waiting for the weather to warm up… too many grey skies.. short days and long nights.. Suddenly the season changes and I realize He has been working in the dark.. behind the scenes.. getting things ready for the new things that He is going to reveal.. Spring is here.. winter is over.. Hope is renewed!
Since I was writing about my journey through Lent this year.. I wanted to follow-up now that it is over and we are moving on to the post Easter season. What happened to me during that time when I was off Facebook and focusing more on the Lord.. reading the Bible more consistently and art journaling every day? Actually a lot happened and I am not sure I totally understand it all. One thing I can say is that God balanced me out and showed me the need for more self-control. He revealed areas in my life that were not working well and prompted me to decide that I wanted to change…to pray for Him to lead me to new places emotionally and spiritually.
So.. I can see growth and I felt the growing pains while it was happening. The challenge now will be to keep my focus and to stay true to the insights He has given me. Growth is a continual process. The first step is the desire to change and then we must take time to focus on ourselves..some people may object to that. They will think.. isn’t that being selfish? In reality it is very unselfish. When you take the time to reflect on your own behavior and to seek healing.. instead of being content with being stuck in familiar patterns.. you are actually choosing the better path. We can’t be a true friend, spouse, parent etc unless we are healthy and healed.
If we give because it is the “christian” thing to do and never stop to examine our behavior, we become depleted and often this is motivated by our need to be needed. So..as I stepped out of time for 40 days God had the opportunity to work deeply to show me the ways that I was being too concerned about others and He reminded me that I need to let go… He showed me my own selfishness which was disguised in my consuming passion to help people.. the down side to those of us with compassionate hearts. This was not a new revelation, but it went deeper this time and I am hopeful that I won’t return to the old patterns.
I am sharing this with you because I suspect that you may have the same issue. You can check in with yourself to see if this is relevant. Do you feel guilty for wanting time to yourself? Are you constantly feeling pressured to give more ( either in church, from friends or coming from your own internal voice)? Have you lost touch with yourself.. your likes and dislikes.. your desires and your dreams. If so.. then you need a season free from too many responsibilities with free time to sit with the Lord .. allowing Him to restore you and teach you how to care for yourself. It is essential to life in our very crazy culture.. take time to be still.. to pray and to seek healing. Don’t listen to any accusing voices.. and don’t feel guilty. God wants this for you..
Remember who said this...“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“
This post is a follow up to the one last one I wrote.. it seems like the topic of life’s disappointments continues to surface daily for me. One of the most difficult things to face is the fact that people’s choices often impact our lives in huge ways yet there is literally nothing we can do to make them behave differently..We can pray for them..and with them..we can talk with them. We can point out the things that would help them.. yet the choice is still theirs.
If you are the care-giving type like I am.. nothing feels like it is enough.. so there is a certain level of frustration that is difficult to handle. As I wrestle through these things.. I hear a quiet voice saying ” Rest in me, look to me, remember me.. I am in this.” It is God..speaking His truth to my heart. He is sovereign over everything and everyone..His plan is unfolding and He is going to redeem everything in the end. We are only passing through this place..our lives are so far from perfect, our relationships are so complicated..we know so little about God’s purposes.
He is asking us to trust Him when nothing makes sense..when others frustrate us, when our hearts are broken in many places. He is calling us to come to Him in a greater way..to lean on Him and to allow Him to comfort and heal us. Do you need this? I do.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” ( Isaiah 43:1-3)
I was reluctant to write on this topic..yet it is one that has been following me for about 10 years. I heard someone talk about it when I was in grad school and it stuck with me.. I could literally see the sadness and disappointment in the eyes of a fellow student. I wondered what had happened to him.. I don’t think it is such a mystery to me now.
The last 9 years have been filled with many disappointments and each time I sit down to think through what has happened.. I am filled with a sadness that I never expected to feel. Could I have been better prepared? No. Should I have anticipated these disappointing things? No. There is literally nothing I could have done differently. We live in a world filled with disappointments..yet there is not much talk about such things. We have our ways of covering them up and pretending they are not bothering us. They are losses and we have to grieve our losses.. no matter how often they occur or how hard it is to face them.
Once we face them.. the tears start and we are filled with the pain of the loss.. knowing that things will never be the same.. that dreams have died.. that life is not fair and that we are in a fallen world. There is healing in facing these things.. if we hide our feelings and put on a happy face.. we are only prolonging what inevitably needs to happen. My heart is broken in many places, but I am not defeated.. I am grieving the losses and trusting God for His healing touch.
Are you disappointed with your life.. have your dreams failed to come true? Are you discouraged? Don’t hide or cover up your shame and sadness.. take your grief to the Lord and let Him apply the balm of Gilead on your wounds.. He is able to restore you … to revive you. His hand is there to cling to as He takes you through the pain and renews your hope.
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” ( Joel 2:25-26)
Today is the 4th anniversary of my blog. I began writing here in March of 2010. It’s also the first day of Spring..a good day to begin things. When I went back to one of my first posts, I noticed that I was writing about waiting and that theme has resurfaced through the years.. over and over again.
Life is full of waiting. We are waiting for one thing or another as long as we are here.. I’ve spent time trying to understand waiting and learning to wait in a way that doesn’t deplete me emotionally. I can’t say I’ve figured it all out, but I do know one very important thing.. GOD IS IN THE WAITING. While we are wondering.. He is working and great things are being accomplished in us and for us.
So much of our lives are filled with longings and He is in those as well. He puts his desires inside us and then takes whatever time is necessary to fulfill those desires. He changes us as we wrestle with Him and as we trust Him. He heals us and restores us in these seasons. These are rich times when He can go deep into our hearts and find wounds that have been patched over. He removes the band aids and cleanses us.
I am not a patient person and I really dislike waiting, but the fruit of all the waiting I’ve done has been great and I am thankful. Without it, I would not know His grace the way I do now nor would I feel as restored as I do now. No.. I would not choose it, but I am grateful to the Lord who knows what is best for me.
I pray that as you read this and as you wait.. you get a bigger glimpse of this great God that will do whatever it takes to capture your heart.
Thanks for reading my blog, without you.. I would have no reason to write.