Losing what you wish to once you find what you need

It can be so frustrating when you lose something you need–especially when you have only a certain amount of time to locate it. Ugh! Wee wish we had all knowledge and understanding–and maybe a pinch of x-ray vision. Or perhaps a word from God to direct the course of our search. But regardless of our greatest efforts and most pious wishes, some things remain ever after lost. In some cases this endangers our happiness. In other cases–if it is the right thing that we have lost–we learn to live without it, even improve our living because of our new “lack.”

What am I talking about? How about guilt? So many of us walk around with perpetual unsettledness over something we have done or not done–and, in particularly grevous cases–over the actions of someone else which have intertwined with us in a negative way. We carry so much baggage, sometimes not even knowing that this is not meant to be normal–a state never meant to change.

Yet, who but Christ should tell us that we have been granted freedom from guilt? Who has such authority–such comprehension of our situation–but Him? He who sees all sin; and indeed, has taken every particle ever belonging to man and cleansed us from its stain with His blood? If you do not know the truth of our Savior’s crucifiction and blessed resurrection, do not hang back waiting to be passively impressed by its relevance to your life.

Run after knowledge of this with all your heart. Consider this to be the only water capable of slaking your spiritual, emotional, physical thirst. Consider it so because it is the deepest, truest fount there is and you are the thirstiest human there could be. Still not convinced? Investigate then, and if you find that thirst is awakened that you had not realized previously, reckon the waters you have tested to be authentic and more fit for you than any other.

Don’t he afraid to take this plunge–to come to Christ for the expunging of your sins, the satisfying of your thirst. Don’t be afraid unless it reduces its claims to be aligned with the pithy claims of the world that have yet to usher you into true and lasting life. I don’t want to pressure you on this; I want to awaken your senses to the pressure that is already on you. Be assured, if you sense no pressure, there is no Spirit seeking you out. But, if you do feel pressure–and especially if it deepens over time–know that you must respond.

Pressure is the product of a direct force and it is initiated by a person. Don’t let lesser pressures in your life–caused by lesser persons–to crowd out this greatest Pressure. Shift whatever you have to in your life to be able receive its fullest impact, to know the meaning of it. Do this, and you will be surprised at what blessing you find lurking on the other side this spiritual stress-indicator. But, don’t merely take my word for it–check it out for yourself!

God: Giver of freedom or Minder of minions?

Does that second definition resonate with you? I know it has for me. When it came to God, I felt no welcoming to come and know Him. I felt a calling, yes, but to me it was a brutal thing that clawed at me almost mercilessly in any moments I had–as unusual as I tried to make them–of relative repose.

Do you labor, like I did, under the burden of believing that God is a hard task-master and an undesirable companion in your life’s journey? Do you hear, at times, pleasant things about God and find yourself wishing they were true–if only what you knew of God were not so? Do you understand God to be nothing more than a judgmental tyrant? Do you wish there was some way you could negotiate with Him for a level of amnesty? Not so that there could be a greater possibility of closeness between you–there is no way you would be so audacious as to seek that; instead, you desire to quiet down the battle-hype between you and God.

I can understand this penchant for seeing God with that dominating proclivity for casting humans into despair with His unyielding expectations and crushing judgments. It is such a bad thing for us to think these things because if we had an acquaintance who demonstrated even a sprinkling of these characteristics, we would not be in anyway confusing our relationship as a friendship. We would resent the day they came on the scene of our lives. If they stay, we can be sure that they will ruin everything that we happen to love.

Considering the weight of these conclusions we have about God, it’s no wonder that we try to keep God from being close–we don’t want to be any nearer to these negative distinctions than we have to. But would God have it to be this way? Does He want His person to leave you with such an unappealing impression? I used to think He didn’t care. This was obviously the way He wanted things to be.

But, if we’re trying so hard to maintain a significant distance from God, how can we really be sure of what He’s thinking or wanting in regard to us? If we engaged in this type of relationship-management with anyone else, any objective observer would find it necessary to challenge the untested assumption we had about the other. It would not be sufficient to look at there actions of days, months or years past to make present-judgments. We would be required to explore the matter and gather more recent facts and conclusions. There is always the possibility–with our human counterparts–that with time they have changed. What we thought they were at one time may have been accurate, but today it may be in need of a revision.

Too often we conclude God is so different from us–different enough to make Him appalling in His starkness. But why do we think this? Where do these perceptions come from? For many of us, it must come from more than circumstantial evidence, since our shared part with God in this state has been minimal, at best. Would you be inclined to consider that we were born with this broken perception–with this desire to keep ourselves apart from God, apart from and before the interactions we’ve had with Him and His world.

This is going to take a lot of work to sort out. But there is truly nothing we have more time to sort out. This is the main thing we were meant to decide with our lifetimes. But don’t be discouraged if this sounds like something that is out of your league. It’s out of every humans league but for the fact that God calls out to us with every intention of making Himself known, if we are willing to receive Him; if we will but he made to learn and then distinguish who He is from what we’ve thought and what we’ve been told by other sources.

I wish I could tell you right now all that I know He wants you to hear. How He wants His love to break in on you renew your mind with joy and peace. How He has good plans for you that are deep enough to include everything in your history and present circumstances you have considered to be nothing less than the pitiful reflection of a bad plan or an equally bad Planner. God wants you to know–to accept into the deepest places of your soul–the reality that His love is not simple nor scripted; rather, it takes a lifetime of basking in (or abiding as the Bible calls it) to even begin to understand it, to trace out its waves of light that convey energy and hope to the human that depends on it.

There is so much more to say, but I trust that God will say it. He’s always speaking to you, anticipating the joy He will share with you when you turn attend Him, when you bring your heart in full to share with each moment He gives you. When you discover that He gave you life to encounter Him, to experience Him, to disclose yourself fully to Him and find Him complying. That is just a tiny picture of who God is. If you didn’t catch the steadily growing whisper of freedom in the words, ask for God to change your perceptions of Him until they are true and delighting.

What God would say through our lives if He could…

People talk about developing virtue like its the worst chore one could be given in all the world. But, as I was reading today, I had to wonder why. I thought, if these things are markers of the One who has chosen us, evidences of how high we have been raised in rank, wouldn’t we want to shine them all up and make sure we could parade each one of them about at all times?

You see, there is no real reason to grumble through the striving we are called to make on behalf of virtue. Living in this vein is to strive in the ways of virtue, not to strive to have virtue. God supplies the virtue. We supply the eagerness to receive it. There is a vast difference between living this way and living to make ourselves better by trying to adopt all of God’s rules without constantly being enveloped by more of God. A world of difference.

In the first instance we are submitting to God that He may turn our lives into what they are supposed to look like and be. There is nothing for us to muster up–to create of this life–only to free ourselves up to be conduits of the life God wants to pour into us. Because of Him, and how He is partnering with us, we become the very things that God wants to show the world through us. It is a reward to be called to live lives like this, lives fitting with the purposes God has for us who will be forever a part of His kingdom.

Let’s accept this calling, this purpose, this enabling–this plan He has for cultivating virtue in us–and rejoice over His care that runs all through it. Don’t stop there, move on to flaunting the work of God’s Spirit all over the place! We want others to see and be enticed by what the living God does in the ones He loves. We want others to desperately want what God is already holding out to them, especially when they see it taking over us. “Take what He gives and enjoy it too!” our lives should say to those around us. With a smile–yes, don’t forget the smile…and the joy-filled laughter that comes from being a child of the King!

The weight of the world is on Christ crucified…it doesn’t rest on me

Isn’t that a wonderful thought? One you just want to rest on and let soak into you. I sit here, still before it. I don’t want to pull it apart with thoughts; I want it to pull my heart apart so that there’s room for this truth in every crevice. I want it to change who I am, not just engage my soul for a moment. But this is what I want every truth of Scripture to do in me. And I believe each one can–just as I seek the Father who gives the words and their meaning power over me in love.

Wookieepedia: It was a Caamasi paternal clan.

Whoa, God! This is You?! I thought I knew You…

I have unutterable thoughts. Thoughts that I can’t tell you. Not because I regard you as an unlikely confidante but because I can’t find words to express the thoughts inside. I can’t find a means to communicate them to myself.

Sound strange? Or does it sound familiar? Are some of your deepest thoughts and inner sensations quite beyond you too? Do you find yourself frustrated by what cannot be unraveled because its strand is too long, too tangled to ever be able to locate that one loose thread to start with?

I wonder at times like this why God has made me a being that is more than I can understand. Aren’t the mysteries of the world around me confounding enough without adding the variability of my nature to the mix? I’m so frustrated by all that I cannot understand right now. I wish God would explain more things to me. Why leave me in the dark? I question. The psalmists pleas are understandable to me now. I too cry out, “What benefit is there to this turmoil, God?”

I want to be able to handle life better than this, but for some reason God seems to be making the resources I need less readily available to me than He once did. Besides that, He seems far away. Well, farther away than I want Him to be. I can still see Him, but I have such a difficult time comprehending the necessity of this distance. Can’t we go back to the comfortable rhythms of relationship we knew before? I ask.

Can all this change really be the product of God looking out for my best interest. If so, why does it look so different than what He did before? I feel wedged into a place where no one can answer my questions but God. And He chooses to be silent. Yet, my heart still strains to talk to Him, if not fully with Him.

If this is Your plan, Lord, could You at least help me handle the transitions it brings in a better way? I chafe at the quietness with which You live out life with me, so will You give me more grace? Will You promise to remain steady and true even while I totter and fall? Could You remember my frailties and not be put off by my residue of faithlessness?

You need to give me confidence in this, Lord, because I wonder if I will ever come to the other side of this arid valley. I’m getting to know You here, but there’s still so much I don’t understand. I constantly wonder how I can possibly walk such an intimate path with One I know so weakly. I grow so weary of being secluded from the brightness of the light. But in the traces of light You give me, I find more than what is predictable; I find change.

You work in the darkness and You showcase the light. You do not rely on my vision of light to accomplish the things that lighten my soul. The transformation You are unfolding within me awakens an awe-inspired part of me I didn’t know existed. I wonder at a God for whom I’ve waited, yet for whom I couldn’t feel more unprepared. What…how do I respond to a God like You. You are wild and so intense. Always so much more caring than I expect, yet never so predictable as I hope. You are different from me, but still so close. You are above me–and thrills and terrifies me all at once.

You do not encompass the rigid little perceptions my mind has held of You. I ache from the affect of Your greatness pushing against the walls of my heart; telling me the place I hold for you inside of me is still too small. This all seems so crazy. I thought I knew You. Most of You, but for a few small details. How arrogant of me to think You so simple!

I don’t know what to do with myself now. Even more occupying is the numbness that leaves my response to You flat–without substance. How can I reply to You, God, with what I’ve seen. You defy what naturally issues for from my mouth. You have become bigger, but I have become smaller. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t contain You the way I once thought–in little itemized compartments that showed off Your work in ways that made me look finer. Truly You have burst the boundaries I assigned You. You have made everything I delegated to mind You obsolete. I have to learn You all over. I have to go to the beginning and review the facts again–there was too much I missed in the first perusal I made. My perception of You was not big enough then to truly understand what the truth Your being really meant.

I’m blown away–there’s no other word for it that I know. You are a being beyond my capacity to fully receive. You are a Person all on Your own, and there is so much to You that I will never see. This leaves me wordless, stilling my imagination. What I see and sense makes no sense and at the same time is the most sensible thing I’ve yet seen. You don’t fit here in my world–or in my heart–and yet You come. You somehow make Yourself small, small enough for me to absorb Your essence with some degree of joy. You don’t belong in my heart-i tat–in the sense that all of You just fits there seamlessly–but You make me Your earthly habitat anyway.

You are not only a God of another place, You are a God of another scope and depth than me. Previously my mind has filed these facts, but never has my heart engaged You on such obscure and rocky ground–holy ground. I want more but I don’t have the ability to receive except to the degree that You make me ready to receive further. Father, I guess if You’re going to show me this much, You better show me the rest of what You’ve set out to reveal. I better know the real You if I’m going to know You at all.

Why I think the “G”s of our day are overthrowing the calibration of the universe

I’ve narrowed my focus for today’s humor post. There are a few choice thoughts on the nuances of our “G”-centered culture that I’d like to share with you. Not sure what I’m talking about? Then surely you haven’t been outside in the last 20 years. The baggy jeans which now encircle the man at some point just above the knees are a far cry from the trousers that used to be synonymous with manhood. The knickers of olden days have now been replaced by these “sliders” in the process of making their way down to the ankles. The half-section of leg once covered by clothing has been reversed. And oh, to watch those boys try to hitch their riders up enough to cross the street in a semi-hurry!

Speaking of hurry–though it pervades the work-day world, the external pace of our lives–it sure seems to be absent in the work of accelerating these pants-impaired youths on their journeys to maturity and across a busy intersection alike. If only someone would teach them just how to use their belt…World change would commence. You see, life and its concerns revolve around the little things.

Take the name that is given to the best of these gangsters. It has to be my favorite part of this slightly upside-down culture:

The term “G” is used to designate a person skilled in representing the gangsta persona. I often make the mistake of attempting to use proper pronunciation of the root word gangster and boy, do I hear about it! I guess that’s because the original Italian gangster– who was schooled in organized crime–and today’s teen “sons” (or distant cousins) of the hood–who mainly seek the aura–should not be confused.

Anyway, I find it interesting that in days past, if we happened to see a letter like G found alone, we would immediately assume that it was missing something or that it was being used to teach someone their ABCs. Now, this character holds the meaning of all things. For someone to be the embodiment of a G, he couldn’t ask for more. Especially since being a G is the one quality which instantly assures you infinite recognition and eternal honors. Wow! If you have received this title, treasure the day your life took a leap toward immortal genius, exceptional prowess and incredible humanness. You are a lucky beast!

Okay, enough of my pot-shooting. This post is proof to me that humor has great power to abuse. When I try to be funny, or just share what I find funny, I immediately present a bias. Upon further consideration, I imagine that everything I say has this effect, but humor seems to have an extra punch. I have a tendency to put people down with sudden out-bursts of sharpened whit. Others have noticed it recently and have been surprised that it should come from one who is often so quiet in group discussions–one who also has a reputation as someone “sweet.”

This contradiction reminds me of the verse that says about sweet water and bitter water not flowing from the same spring. (“Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” James 3:11) I feel caught by these words. They challenge me and humble me. They remind me that my desire to have fun is not always pure, even if I do not detect that until after the damage is done. It shows me that purity is about more than damming up the waters before they can pass the gates of my lips, but about seeking to find their source and appeal to God to cleanse their source.

It is about recognizing that more than anyone else, I am the one who overthrows the calibration of the universe as God first intended it. I am the reason that things are a mess. Albeit not the entire reason, but certainly a big enough part that I need not occupy myself solely with looking outward and monitoring the mistakes of others. I need to ask God to give me eyes to see the errors in myself that He wants to work on. Errors that I am powerless to eliminate without His spirit because they rule me far more than I rule them. This all gives me a chance to see myself in proper perspective and groan for the love God has for people to be implanted within me.

Forgery of the cross–everyone talks about it, but who is the one guilty of it?

Is it Christ or is it us–the Savior who hung on the cross and is accused of not rising from the dead to complete His mission or those of us who accept the cross as a “happening” without at the same time accepting the Savior who’s mission made it necessary? A mission that included us, was prompted by His desire to save us from sins that we chose to commit. This is to be decided–for now–not in a court of law or in a college classroom or philosophy conference, but in your own heart.

What does the cross mean and why is this particular cross more important–worthy of notice–than all the others? This is a story too closely intertwined with your own for you to dismiss it; if you reject a part of it, perhaps you are rejecting a part of yourself. Yes, maybe an unpleasant part, but what if it is also the key to pleasantness that atones for all the unpleasantness?

What all the worst of you meets at the cross is all the best of Him. What if it’s better to have His best–even what looks like weakness–than your best. Could this be true? Give it some serious thought. But don’t restrict this process to your brain–extend it; indeed, bring it into the living room of your heart. It must be played out here.

There is no other place for it to go on. Your heart is the place that the cross makes its claim on–though it doesn’t exclude your brain in the transaction. You cannot boast of entertaining or dissecting the death of Christ unless you take it to your heart and let its case be spread against your own. But, by doing this you’re basically asking for a fight because your heart will not passively or pleasantly consent to the claim without resistance. Expect it discomfort and trouble from facing the truth and lies–for both have such sway over your heart.

In fact, if you think resistance is an indicator of this not being your “truth,”  then you are wrong. This truth is above you. All other truths are beside or below you. This one exerts supreme authority. You will either submit to it and change accordingly or you will fight to remain in steadfast ignorance of it. There is no middle ground. But this does not mean that you are all one way or the other. There is a choice; which means that both sides have pull on you. You must decide which one you will give your will to that it may have mastery over you.

Scary concept? It’s only as scary as the worst of the two decisions. Decide which one is which by studying each. In most cases, that will only require studying the one you are unfamiliar with. Yet what is required of you is more than a cursory study. You must remember that the side that has been courting you does not merely play offense. Part of the defensive strategy employed in this war  is to anesthetize you to the claims of the opponent or to make you ignorant of them all together. In this world, this often isn’t very hard. You very easily miss what you never knew was there.

Don’t let this be your fate. Consider the side that’s weakest in your eyes. Perhaps it’s weak because you considered its mystery too strong to unravel. But there is a message here. Do not let the mystery so pre-occuppy you that you ignore or discredit the message. Learn what it is you were intended to know. The object on which you were meant to make a choice.

Both good and evil have their mysteries. God and the world. Your job is to discover their revelations that you may not miss the contrast between them. You must have information to weigh–when you look you will find plenty. Just be sure you get the whole story!

Some good questions to be answered are:

Jesus died, why?
I have a future with God, why/how?
What’s the eternity argument–how do I get to each?

You may be surprised how many answers you find and how much there is to them. Take your time and digest them. Let the answers appeal to your conscience–what you know of truth. Because you are made of truth, based on truth, you have built in receptors for identifying it.

These questions and answers must go deep. They serve no purpose, if left on the surface, but to shift around and make trivial fodder for weak brains. Wisdom is only as deep as the dive that mind and heart together take to find it. Don’t let these two remain separate on this expedition of truth, God and man. Let all be involved–all of you and all of the Deity that out-measures you by at least 2-1. This is the only smart way to do it.

You will not “sail through” this expedition. Why then, does one undertake it? Because there are some rewards more meaningful than sorrow-less success. What you find at the end will not be trivial, and neither, anymore will you be. This journey will change your life and engage your heart and give you a new reason for life. It will return you to your original reason to live/source of life. You will feel as though you’re finding in real life what you once lost but knew till now only as a dream.

You life will be complete yet only because you acknowledged it was empty and sought the One who made it to be full. Your joy will be full, but only to the extent that you enter your sorrow and let it’s work be made complete at the cross–where real sorrow and joy meet. The whole work of the gospel includes everything in your heart being united with everything in God’s heart. The cross symbolizes with the Way, the Truth and the Life being presented to us in human flesh that knew how far we were from Him. But, don’t be discouraged by this reality; instead, be drawn to Jesus who is manifested and magnified in His dealing with our need. To forsake the cross is to claim it is a forgery–that it is not real and does not stand for anything, anything capable of upending your life. The only way to authenticate the power of the cross on a personal basis is to yield yourself to its purpose–letting the Christ triumph in your heart and life. Will you?

How can worship be all that appealing?

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a context of worship, but if you have, you may have questions about it. Depending on where you’ve been and what was going on while you were there, you may have found some of it to be pretty confusing. What are they doing?…And why are they doing it?! you may have thought.

Depending on how you approach things like this, you may have voiced your questions to someone there–perhaps even to someone “in charge.” You may have left disappointed with the answer you got or maybe you decided that things were just as ridiculous as you first assumed and therefore it was high time for you to get thyself hence.

I hope I’m not assuming to much. If you’re not in the place I describe, that’s just fine. Then again, if you are, then I hope you’ll be blessed in some way by this post. You see, if you’re not satisfied with your perception or experience of what worship is, I would like to share with you what I believe worship is and how it has changed my life. I don’t believe that worship is stiff or strategic, nor do I believe that it is shallow or wholly sensational. I know it to be sweet but also something to which salty tears and sorrow are not foreign. I believe worship is the purest uttering of the soul before God.

By this I do not mean that our worship is innately pure–that everything we express is holy and perfect–nor do I mean to infer that it must be. God is not looking for us to make ourselves perfect when we approach Him. For the truth is, if we had to approach Him with adequate worship all by ourselves, we would be removed from His courts for our insolence and depravity. We do not worship God first, we worship ourselves. We only know ourselves and naturally hold allegiance only too ourselves.

Christ knew this was the way it is with the natural born man (and woman). Therefore, He came to make a difference in the relationship between God and man. He came to bridge the gap between where we are and where God is by uniting both of our natures simultaneously in the body of Jesus. Without Him, there was no compatibility between the Divine and the divine-forsaking human, so He became the One to link the two with grace. He came from God with the authority to destroy the penalty and power of sin over man and cause the righteousness of God to triumph where humans have always failed in pleasing God.

Worship–the whole sum of a life that is pleasing to God–is impossible without Jesus Christ being at the center of it. When Christ lives within you, He brings the desires of God into your heart–acquainting you with love from Him and to Him. You know it is worship when the revelation to your soul and from your soul is deeper than you can define. When language becomes primitive and communion consists of groans and weeping. When your heart is compelled by His to rest. When laughter is possible even through the tears. When you let go of your expected end to discover His.

When more fully knowing desire for Him sweeps away human interests that only concern earth and time. When you give away your heart to be broken because any touch from Him is sweet. (You know it is impossible for Him to defile you because everything He does satisfies you with steadfast purity.) He is unlike anyone you know and you are not content to let Him go. You worship Him because you must live and He alone is life. His presence is your anchor. His heart is your hope in motion, in application, in assurance and joy. And this is the purest, most real thing you have ever experienced a the heart level.

Worship–by its very nature–takes us deeper in our hearts, in our knowledge, in our intimacy with God. Who we are as a person opens up because the love of God awakes it from its dormancy. It’s like He is the One we were made to be awake to and we have been waiting all our lives for the time when He would make that happen. This does not happen all at once–instead, it becomes the process that defines our lives. It is the underlying current that at times reveals itself to the outside world in such bodily motions as lifting ones hands, raising ones head or bowing and dancing at various times.

Yes, some people do it for show or to fit in with the crowd or even to convince themselves that more is happening on the inside than there is, but such is also the case with particular spectators at sports games, employees in a board meeting or friends at a party. I think the beauty of the thing, though, is when worship is a heart-investment that carries over into lifting ones hands not just in times of song, but in times when care is needed by someone that Jesus loves and He would like to use ones hands to do it. There is so much to worship that it cannot be studied from the outside; instead, we must immerse ourselves in it and let it teach us what loving God looks like, what being our most fully human acts like.

Worship can be crazy, but this does not make it illegitimate at all times. The matter concerned is what is going on in the heart of the worshiper. Is he/she responding to what they know of God’s heart or are they excluding Him all together and trying to feed their heart with their own acts? Worship is all about the connection between us and God–if it’s anything less, it’s not worship. Our highest objective for worship is that it may include God and us. Whether it is being carried out in others lives and hearts is not primarily our business. The most important thing is that we know we are engaged and that we constantly appeal to God to increase our ability to engage with Him. That’s worship: It’s as close as your own heart.

What about when I need a break from God?

For some of you, your first thought upon reading the title above is utter shock: “That’s unbiblical!” you cry out. You’re so afraid of ending up guilty of such an infraction that you deny that such a phenomenon could even exist among the race of humans–except, possibly, with the exception of the fiercely pagan (which you make it your business not to know).

For others of you, you read the title of this post with relieved expectation: “Finally, someone is acknowledging that mankind at times finds themselves in such a state.” If you’re in this place, you may want to get out of it, but you also may not. If you are honest, you probably want to get to the heart of what’s going on inside of you before you would ever want to move on. You may have many people around you who are coaxing you to pull yourself out of this “slump”–whether they attempt this by anxious persuasion or caustic maneuvering.

But what are your reasons for needing a break from God? And, may I ask you, what are the characteristics of the God you must escape? How do you see Him? How do you see Him seeing you? These are things that must be considered if the relief your heart needs is ever to be found.

I’m not telling you your feelings and needs are wrong, and I don’t believe God is either. I’m challenging you to let these feelings and needs lead you to a deeper level of revelation than you’ve ever plumbed. Find out what you’re running from and what you’re trying to run to. What is the source of your chains and what holds the power of your release? These are powerful questions that hold out to you the potential of freedom.

These questions will serve your heart well. They do not deny the condition of your heart; rather, they seek to diagnosis your heart in the deepest way possible so that it may be aligned with its most ideal treatment. The ultimate treatment is not something you can do for yourself, but you can certainly do some work to get yourself in a place of contracting with God for this work to be accomplished in you.

Not everyone understands the heart well–even people who claim to know God like they invented Him. But if you want to truly understand your heart, go to God and invite Him to reveal what He sees inside you. Expect His tenderness to train you in paths you haven’t gone. Understand that though He does not protect you from recognizing obscene realities of sin within you, He will cause you to rejoice in seeing that your shame He has fully taken upon Himself. He assumed the weight and penalty of your shame so that you might go free. But He didn’t do this so that you could then walk away from Him.

He did this so that you would have every reason to walk toward Him. And not just walk, but run into His arms–knowing and being convinced of how much you’re wanted there. This realization is the only thing that will be able to call off your break from God. More than that, it is the only thing that can resolve the arguments that anchored you in your retreat.

To demonstrate how much He cares about resolution when it comes to what’s going on in your heart, God has already done three things for you:

The first thing He did was that He took care of your ultimate problem. He set at ease the enmity between you and Him and opened Himself up to you. He saw your fault in the problems that exist between you and He and assumed the debt you racked up. Where you were wrong and had to make things right (but couldn’t), He made things right.

The second thing He did was call you to come look at what He did and understand why He did it. A lot of problems we have with God would be cleared up if we would just look at the cross and take the time to ask Him “Why?” He died so that love could be the answer.

The third thing He did was invite you to embrace the implications of that answer. If God loves you, why aren’t you taking advantage of it? No, don’t use this as an opportunity to scorn Him and get the upper hand when it really counts. Doing this will only make the gift you were meant to enjoy non receivable, even a curse. Instead, delve into this love-gift. Discover in it’s depths (no, I’m sorry but you won’t find this from a distance or by hovering on the surface of it) the most steadfast and true love you will ever find. Come rest in the one place where your performance is no longer counted against you–for good or bad. Hide yourself–find your covering–in the place where One performance forever seals you in the arms of your Father and Heart-Lifter.

For all your arguments and struggles, God entreats you to  argue with Him. He does not want your heart to be burdened and beat up any longer. The cross shows us that He is serious. Christ’s whole heart became blistered and bruised by your very pain. Everything that is wrong with your life and you He came to know intimately. He insists, now, that you come near and not retreat from Him because He wants to sort things out with you. He does not want you to isolate yourself with your problems; He came to Calvary so that fellowship could be restored between you–even to the extent that your problems would become His.

God removed every reason that sin and shame had to keep you apart from Him and invites you to hash out what remains–showing you that all these things together are not as strong as His love for you. He will provide the means for conquering them if you will ask Him to. God does not call you to dismiss parts of yourself to be able to fellowship with Him. Instead, He insists that you bring everything that composes who you are to Him. He promises you that seeing yourself in the pure light of who He is will remove all the blemishes of your heart; all the misconceptions, anger and frustration.

This does not mean, for now, that you will never experience these things again, but that they will no longer rule you. They will never keep you from fellowship with Him. Rather, the weaknesses in you will cause you to find greater comfort in His strength. And you will learn to let go with joy because what He holds out to you is far more important than anything that would keep you from receiving His gifts. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” ( Isaiah 1:17-19).

The relationship between your shame and His sacrifice is the only thing with the power to not just draw you “back”–to the less rebellious place you were before–but call you Home (to God) for the first time. This is grace: What you’ve been looking for so long to find. This is fearlessness in facing the truth because the Truth already faced down the reasons for your fear.

He arrested the development of your eternity-defining struggle against Him so He could call you home to mercy and not what you deserved; to life and not the death that awaited you from a wrath-appointing God; to peace and not the enmity you’ve always known to be the chief characteristic of your relationship with God. So, ask God to give you a break from your troubles–if that’s the request that burdens you the most. Ask Him to give you a break from all the things that make you hate Him or misunderstand what He’s doing (or done) in your life. But, above all, ask Him to teach you the blessed opposite of taking a break from Him. He will teach you–oh, most eagerly!