Every once in a while, a memory of hard, traumatic, unexplainable events of the past will raise its ugly head inside of me. It tends to rock me to the core. Sometimes taking a while to get my mind off of it.
Today I was reading in Luke 24:1-12. It is the account of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of James going to the tomb of Jesus to put burial spices on His body. They find He isn’t there. Suddenly, Angels appear and one says “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This phrase resounds in my heart today. The women had seen some of the most traumatic events of a brutal death of a loved one. They surely were processing what had happened trying to make sense. But they were instructed that there wasn’t anything there for them in the dead things of the past. Jesus was living! He wasn’t in the past He has risen!
Whatever we have walked through that was hard, painful, and death to us is not where Jesus is. He has risen!! He is not in the dead things of the past. He is alive now and forever more!
The song “I Will Rise” by Bethel has been on my play list this week. This morning has been a morning that I have it on repeat. It speaks of what I read in Luke.
“Beyond the burial, there's a resurrection Your will be done in me Oh-oh, Let my roots go deep And I will rise, I will rise He holds the time that I will rise”
Jesus calls us out of our graves of the past to stand in the present with Him! “I will Rise! God through my life be lifted high!” We have no time to be looking intently into the graves of our lives! Jesus is not there! The living life of Christ cannot be found in the graves of failure and pain! He is risen and we are seated with Him in the heavenly places of His victorious Kingdom! I will rise! Let Jesus rise in me!
This morning I was thinking about desperation for God. How I lack it. I am the queen of trying to do things in my life all by myself and leaving all the “Big Stuff” to God.
The story of the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible came to my heart. How she saw her desperate situation and knew if she could only reach out to Jesus and just touch His robe she would be whole.
She could of just lived her life with the problem she had and tried to work things out to the best of her ability (i.e. coped). Life never would have been what it was meant to be for her. She had the desperation for more, for more of Jesus. I need that kind of desperation. The kind that will press through a crowd of life’s busy circumstances, and will reach out a hand just to grab hold of Jesus. It’s the only way I’ll ever be what I was created to be: Whole In Jesus.
Desperation for Jesus (7/20/2010)
So much crowds around me That keeps You and me apart. So many thoughts and feelings Deep inside my heart.
I know if I can just reach out. Your healing touch is there. If I can only grasp your robe. You will meet me here.
I take my heart and I reach out. I'm crying out for grace. My heart desires more of You. Please look upon my face.
I'm tired of doing things my way. Because my way doesn't work. I stretch my hand towards you. You're there. You heal all that hurts.
I’m not sure when it started, the drift. My best guess is 5 years ago, maybe more.. That’s why it’s called a drift. You just slowly give up on or slowly release your determination to believe one way and shift another way. Then all of a sudden you wake up and realize you’re not where you used to be spiritually. Those around you may not even know you’ve been evolving slowly because you’ve been looking for and developing reasons to justify your unbelief.
My drift has stopped! Thank God! The past couple of years God has pulled me out of it and set me back on course. But every once and awhile I find myself thinking like I did when I was adrift. God has been faithful to point out “Is that really the truth?” To me over and over.
The past few weeks my eyes have been opened to another area I had let drift away- a desire to listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction, to hunger for Him to show me His will, and the earnest prayer for Him to fill me full of Him. I had put them in a file in my head called “Dangerous Prayers”.
In my mind “Dangerous Prayers” were… well… dangerous. Dangerous because it would require me to step out in faith as opposed to hovering in the shadows of fear. Dangerous because I would have to let go of my plans, my choices, and my will and obey God. That’s the irony of it all “Dangerous Prayers” are dangerous to a heart that wants to drift. Because once you pray them, sincerely and from the heart you are no longer drifting and flirting with unbelief.
“Dangerous Prayers” are really only dangerous to one person, our enemy, Satan. Our enemy knows the moment we sincerely pray from our heart to the Holy Spirit asking Him to fill us full of Him and to make us sensitive to His voice with a heart of sincere obedience, his plans for our demise are done. No wonder the enemy wants us to believe that prayers of surrender are dangerous!
Maybe it’s just me the enemy tries this on, but I bet it’s not. He tries to convince me that if I pray “Dangerous Prayers” then he will put me in his crosshairs and aim his firey darts more frequently. I assure you as one who has been there and done that, this could not be any more false. His attacks are relentless no matter if you cower in a corner afraid to pray or stand boldly declaring God’s Word and His Power. All the more reason to pray the “dangerous prayers”. The only safe place to be is “IN THE LORD our refuge and fortress”, and the best way to get there is to pray the “Dangerous Prayers”. Prayers for the Holy Spirit to help me to hear, obey, and abide in His presence alone are the only safe place to be. They are prayers of safety for the believer. But dangerous to our enemy.
I’ve discovered a pretty good rule of thumb to operate in here lately. If I hear a fearful voice shouting that praying sincerely from my heart, “I want the Holy Spirit to lead me in every area of my life” is dangerous because… “What will God make you do…” Then DUH… PRAY IT! That’s just another “Dangerous Prayer” that needs to be prayed. Why would I not want to follow the only voice that promises to lead me in “Paths of Righteousness for His names sake” i.e., “Good paths/ Peaceful ones” the voice of the One who promises a “Future and a Hope” for me? So, when I hear the lying voice say, “Don’t pray that! That’s a Dangerous Prayer!” May my reply be, “Well thank you for the reminder I believe I will.”
Mark 34-37 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
In my neck of the woods there is an event called Ashes to Beauty Women’s Encounter. It has many powerful moments in a weekend but there is one moment that always leaves an impression in my heart . That moment is when a woman takes a small purple papers she has written on confessing areas of struggle or hurt and walks it to the front of the auditorium where there is room for personal reflection and prayer. There is a large wooden cross with nails right in the center of that area. It is there that she takes that paper and nails it to the cross.
It’s powerful to put to death the areas of our lives that have kept us away from the arms of Jesus. The verses in Mark speak of us not only nailing our hurts, addictions, unforgiveness, etc to the cross. It speaks of us nailing our entire life to the cross. Go all out! 💯. When we “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus” something powerful happens we lose our lives but gain His. It is only when our self will is lost, crucified, that we become fully alive with Jesus life living in us. People may say “I want to live my best life” or “ be the best version of me”. That “best life”, “best version of you” is a life that has been nailed in submission to the cross. And now is resurrected with Jesus life flowing through it! Jesus living in me is the best life!
I’m not what I would consider a musician. I can play the piano some. I have family members that are musicians, which is how I became familiar with a phenomenon of the musician’s world, “Name dropping”. Name dropping is naming someone you have played music with while in a conversation with someone who may not know what level of a musician you are. The more popular or talented the musician is that you can name you have played music with/ the more talented you appear to be because of the association. All it takes is one performance/ gig with the mentioned musician and you have developed your cred.
Another game people who want to impress another might play is talking about your “brushes with greatness” Here’s a couple of mine… prepare to be blown away… #1. When I was in college I went to church with the “Miss America” of that year. She was super sweet and I’m sure she still is. #2. When my husband and I were first married and poor, we had a small duplex we rented. One time we had the then House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt’s daughter over for dinner that I cooked a meal for her in our humble abode. Long story, but she was a friend of a friend and the friend asked if I cared if she came along for the meal. Now I know you are hooked with all the credibility I have since I have spent time with some pretty famous people and on one occasion cooked for one. . Ha Ha.
I’ve been involved in this Bible study about “Abiding in Christ”. After reading today’s study on what it really means to “Abide”- live in Christ, close relationship, tight with Him, it occurred to me, so many “Christians”,including me at times, are content to “Name Drop” God instead of living in the relationship with Him. Or throw Him into the category of one of your “brushes with greatness”.
Here’s how I would define “Name Dropping God”- Saying “Yes, I believe In Jesus, I go to church at such and such place, I am most definitely there on Easter or Christmas… ” Maybe even having some religious artwork hanging around your house. OR “Brushes with greatness with God” – When I was nine, I had an experience with God, I prayed a prayer. Or 5 years ago I prayed, and God did a miracle for me, but those are my only experiences with God.” All of these are good things, but God wants to go past our “Name dropping” and “Brushes with greatness” that we have with Him. He wants us to experience Him on the regular/ daily. He wants relationship. He wants to take us from knowing of Him, to knowing Him, from feeling His occasional touch to being connected with Him like Jesus talked about in John 17:33 When He said He wanted us to realize the “I in them, and You in Me”, the interconnectedness of truly finding ourselves living in Him.
Maybe a more practical illustration would help to wrap this all up. I’ve been married for 29 years, not an easy feat in today’s world, but it has been a great 29 years, because of the “relationship” I have with my husband. We’ve been together long enough that I often know what he is thinking, finish his sentences, can predict what he will do next. And the same goes for Him with me. Now imagine if all our relationship revolved around was “Name dropping”. “My husband has street cred for being the best husband, because he can mention knowing me, but he hasn’t ever hung out with me… or “My husband is legit! One time he met “the most famous husband in the world” But he rarely sits next to me in our living room.
29 years together requires lots of time, weekends away, old people dates to Menards together, holding hands- my favorite 🙂 , working through arguments- not my favorite, being together, etc. A “name drop” or “brush with greatness” simply is not enough. We have to be as the Bible describes it “ONE”. And this is what Jesus desires from us as well. He wants us to “be in Him, and He be in Us” not just conveniently bearing His name so we some how seem “legit” spiritually and have heavenly “cred” with Him. He loves us! He wants more and may the cry of our hearts be “more of Him”!
More than once in my 40 year walk with the Lord, I’ve come to conclusions that my way is best, and more than once in my 40 year walk with the Lord, I’ve figured out it isn’t. Every so often God allows me a course correction, usually entailing me having a brief glimpse of who I really am and who He is. It’s at that point I feel all the feels Isaiah did when he exclaimed, “Woe to me!! … I am ruined!!” I think God allows us those peeks every so often so we can see just how much it was that we thought we knew and we didn’t.
I Thought I Knew
I thought I knew how to grab ahold of You, to be close to Your side. But how can I know how to dwell in unapproachable light?
I thought I had you figured out, what to say to move Your heart. But how can my earthly words command You, the One who orders the stars?
I thought I could impress You by all the good I've done. But how can I compare to You, whose righteousness outshines the sun?
I thought I had perfected the tricks to make me be alright. But how can my performance compare to the price You paid when on the cross You died?
I thought I could fix myself, present to You my best side. But all You wanted me to do was surrender and Abide.
Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” 2 Timothy 4:7
When you’re a writer, you write. I’ve been at this for a while. It’s probably the best way to sort out what’s going on on the inside of me. The other day I was digging through one of my MANY 1/2 finished journals and stumbled upon this entry.
The above journal entry must have been right before I started a new school year. I was calculating the cost that day, and I’m pretty sure I must have been overwhelmed. My baby would have been almost 3 1/2, youngest daughter – 7, older daughter -9, and oldest-13. As I have told many, I have no business teaching math, I was a little off on my calculation for graduation of Andy- the baby, it is this year, in fact, it’s less than a week away.
I did it! It’s almost a done deal. The verse in 2 Timothy 4 has been running through my mind. Paul was finishing up his race on earth., and I’m not planning on going anywhere soon i.e. dying… but as far as the homeschooling season of my life, all 22 years of it, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” It’s really been hard for me to believe it is true. Although, this past year, has had relatively little homeschooling for me, since Andy took some classes at a small private school for dual credit, it signals the end of the homeschooling season for me.
Years ago, when all this started up, someone asked me how long I was planning on homeschooling my kids. I told them that I had no idea. It would be as long as God gave me the ability to do it, and I am glad that He did give me the grace for 22 years. I knew in my heart that God had called me to homeschool my kids, but I have lived with self-doubt of my abilities to teach my kids the entire time. I have had a nagging voice telling me how I was “Screwing them up” whispering in my ear frequently. I have woken up many mornings thinking about how I needed to figure out how to get the school bus to pick up my kids. But in the end after all my self-doubt, fears, and thoughts of quitting, I would not change the past 22 years for anything in the world. In fact, being at home with my kids since July 1995 when my first born came home from the hospital has been the joy of my life and I am thankful that God gave me the opportunity to do just that. I’ve often told my kids the reason I wanted to stay home and then homeschool was that I wanted to see all their firsts: Their first steps, their first words, their first word’s read, their first field trip, their first dance, and oh yes, their first time driving on a road with a permit… so many firsts. All this culminating with being able to stand on a stage in front of friends and family and hand their diploma to them personally as their teacher K-12.
I want to attest to you, that completing the past 22 years is not something that I did in my own strength. I finished the above journal entry on the next page with these two sentences, “Who else have I got besides you God? If I don’t trust, what can I do?” If you only knew me, you would understand how much I have needed Him the past 22 years. In fact, looking at the future, I still see how much I need Him for the next 49 of whatever He has for me to be about. It’s a little disconcerting to find yourself done with the one thing you have focused so much attention on for so long. I’ve found myself tearing up more than once the past couple of weeks contemplating it all. I’ve got things to be about, but honestly, I feel a little lost. Who I have been for the past 22 years is a “homeschool mom”. Now I’m not 100 % sure who I am supposed to be. I’ve got some ideas, but just like it was 22 years ago, when I think of what that means for me to be about it, I find myself shaking in my boots again, thinking about how unqualified I am, self doubt, and the old familiar “you will definitely screw that up…” So I guess I’m on the right track. lol. Because once again I find myself needing to write in a journal for 5/15/2022. “Who else have I got besides you God? If I don’t trust, what can I do?”
Years ago, when I was smack dab in the middle of the years, I spent homeschooling my four kids, we started our day with a daily devotion. I would read a story or two from the “Egermeiers Bible Story Book” then we would talk about it. One day I was describing to the best of my finite capabilities the Greatness of God. I told my kids; God is like an ocean you can explore. You think you have seen it all and there is soooo much more out there of Him.” As soon as I spoke those words, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Yes, and you are content to just dip your toes while sitting on the edge of the shoreline of ME”. “Busted!!”
This morning as I have been praying and reading my Bible the Song “Rest on Us” by Maverick City Music has been going through my mind. Actually, this started yesterday in my living room, while cleaning. This song came on and I was captivated by its words. (Gotta love a time of living room worship 😉)
Rest on Us
Spirit, when You move, You make my heart pound
When You fill the room
You're here and I know You are moving
I'm here and I know You will fill me
'Cause You love to meet us here
He-hey, baptize us afresh tonight
Baptize us afresh tonight"
God is an experiencial God. He wants us to feel Him. Case in Point: Thomas and Jesus after the resurrection. “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:26-27. Acts 2 is definitely an account of the disciples experiencing God. The Holy Spirit comes, people hear the sound of a “mighty rushing wind”, the disciples feel joy, so much so that the people around think they are drunk. Acts 2:15. God talks about in His word that we are to “TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8. Sounds like an experience to me… The cool thing about God is that He’s not about just one good experience of Him, then endure til Heaven. He desires a vibrant, living relationship with us on the daily! BUT so often I find myself like I was telling my kids that school day long ago, “Dangling my toes on the edge of the ocean of God’s Goodness!” AND He is inviting me to SOOOOO much more!
His desire is for us to dive in and to explore the depths of HIs love, His Joy, His Peace, His Patience, His Kindness, His Goodness, His Self-Control! The question is “Will I dive in?” “Will I explore the depths of His love and His wisdom in HIs Word?” The invitation has been sent out. His depths are calling out to the deep.
"Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me."
Psalm 42:7 NIV
Proof that this pursuit is not a onetime occurrence, but a lifetime endeavor of seeking Him, searching out His word, communion/ experiencing His Spirit’s presence.
Years ago, February 4, 2006, to be exact I was contemplating all this and I wrote a Poem
The Deep (written 2/4/2006)
I can't go deep enough when i dive into You.
I think I arrive, but the hunger returns.
Your deep calls to deep and I am moved.
I follow You on and chase after You.
My heart cries out. "How long until I am consumed?"
You alone I desire. You alone satisfy.
"Fill me with you:" Is my hearts Cry.
Just one taste will NEVER satisfy! More of Jesus! More of the Holy Spirit filling us to the overflowing!
I grew up in a small southern Missouri town near Montauk State Park, a state park known for trout fishing. Opening day of Trout Season, March 1st was almost like a holiday in our area. Kids were known to skip school so they could be on the river, pole in hand, listening for the early morning whistle blow that signaled the day of trout fishing had begun. I didn’t go much, but some in my family did. Then I met my husband and we married. He took to the whole trout fishing scene and became pretty proficient in catching his limit of trout, almost every time. That is not easy. I could fish for hours and catch none….. Years went by, camping at another state park for trout fishing became a yearly, if not more occurrence. It was nice. We had a pull behind camper. I would sleep in with the kids, he would go fishing. I would hang out, relax, do some school work with them, since we tended to camp during the school year, perks of Homeschooling… Then the camper was sold, the kids grew up, and my husband needed a fishing buddy. So my love for trout fishing began.
One of the things about catching trout that still stumps me to this day, is they are incredibly smart. They can see the line, if too thick, the hook if too big, and they will NOT bite on it. You use a very light weight line and a very small hook considering the size of fish you will reel in.
This morning the image of a large trout being reeled in on a small hook has been floating around in my mind. I’ve seen it lots of times as I’ve stood with waders on, in the stream. Fish in one hand, my other hand free to remove the tiny hook from its mouth. How I ever got it into my net on such a small device eludes me. It probably amazes the trout as well. One chomp at an alluring fly and it’s a done deal, with the right skills, he becomes mine.
There is a parallel between the trout on a hook and the thought life I have struggled with for years. But finally, something has clicked inside of me that has “unhooked me” in my mind, and all I can do is praise the God who sets me free.
I’m pretty sure any person who struggles with trauma-based anxiety will identify with this pattern in your mind. A thought of an event or situation of the past comes to mind, a trauma. Then the thought, “uh oh… I thought the thought. I remembered the event. I prayed about that memory. I asked God to take it away, but here it is. I must not have experienced the healing God promises. What can I do to set myself free?” So, YOU fight to not think about it anymore: Distract, medicate, meditate, self-help techniques galore, the list goes on… That is the equivalent to a large trout hooked on a tiny hook. That trout will FIGHT to not be reeled in. All the while digging the hook deeper into its lip.
Yesterday, the Bible study group I go to, “Women on Wednesdays” had a workshop on Emotional Woundedness. They invited the Reginal director for Center for Women’s Ministries to lead it. There was something talked about during the workshop that has “unhooked” me, “Holy Forgetfulness”. God must have been trying to get my attention, because not only did it come up during the workshop, the topic was brought up in church on Sunday by a guest speaker for Spring Revival, and it also came up on a teaching I watched online by Robert Morris. In fact, a quote from Robert Morris’ teaching was posted in my Facebook feed. “Holy forgetfulness doesn’t mean we won’t have the memory anymore; it means we won’t have the stress and pain associated with the memory.” I would venture to say God has been trying to get my attention. It hit me… Memories of painful events don’t just vanish. They happened. But fighting the memory by trying to forget will only “set the hook” worse. God has “unhooked” me! Satan wants to drag up the chains, the handcuffs, the prison cell bars, from the recesses of my mind and say, “Yep, they are still there…” But the fact of the matter is NOT that all those things have existed as a part of my story. The FACT is I am not in them anymore! The pain they caused me has been healed. I am free! Jesus, the healer and the source of freedom, has unhooked me! That memory that I have tried so hard to forget needs to only be filed away under the label, “YOU ARE FREE!” and each time it may come up, the label clearly displayed. Because that memory has no hold on me!
A sheep’s life has to be fairly uncomplicated. Graze on grassy slopes, drink cool water from streams, stay with the herd, listen to the shepherd’s voice, hang close to the shepherd. Wool just naturally grows on your back so you don’t have to work up some wool growing ritual, just occasionally yield to the shepherd as he shears it off. Yep, that’s pretty uncomplicated…
However, there are some sheep that complicate the good life. Case in point, New Zealand’s very own Shrek the sheep. Shrek decided he wasn’t content with the good life of sheepness. For six years he evaded his shepherd hiding in a cave living life his own way. He had avoided his only responsibility, yielding to the shepherd as the shepherd would sheer his sheep. Six years of missing his annual sheering left him with 60 lbs of wool on his back, a typical year yielded 10 lbs. Enough wool to make 20 large men’s suits. That, my friend, is a lot of excess weight for one wandering sheep to carry, and Shrek was having troubles bearing up under the weight he had taken on.
I heard the story of Shrek the Sheep years ago at “Ashes to Beauty- Women’s Encounter”. After attending this past weekend, I was reminded of it. Now this morning the images, the thoughts about the spiritual parallel keep running through my mind. (That’s usually a sign a blog is about to be written.)
Oh, the parallels in the life of Shrek the Sheep and me… I am Shrek the Sheep. Something inside of me finds it hard to rest in the beautiful green meadows. That something feels the need to rush on by the peaceful streams. Jesus assures me that a life living under His shepherding would be a life of His provision, His protection, and His care, but I tend to wander away, like Shrek. Maybe it’s my disdain for the process of being sheered every so often. I’m sure for a sheep that isn’t a comfortable procedure. Yielding to my Shepherd’s will isn’t always comfortable for me. Maybe it’s the “I want what I want, when I want it, how I want it” that rolls around on the inside of me. I’m sure that’s what Shrek had in mind as he slipped away to “do his own thing”. Me too… And then there’s the weight that piles on from time away from the shepherd’s care. Not to mention the discomfort of a summer with way too much wool on your back. For me all the choices, the voices, the burden to bear piles on after time spent away from the Good Shepherd’s gentle hand. Thankfully my shepherd has no trouble finding me, taking the unnecessary weights off of me, and showing me time and time again how much His love is for me even when I do not understand.
Yes, I am Shrek the Sheep. Once back in the Shepherds care, I am treasured, loved, healed, freed to roam in the life of abundance that He gives freely to me knowing that my every need will be met, and I am safe as I stay close to Him.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalms 23:NLT