Needy-one, meet The Needy Meet-er

The lock slips into place with the ping you’ve been anticipating since the last time you were here.
Instinctively, your head falls back and your chest rises–doing all you can to obey the inward demand for oxygen.
The darkness settles on your shoulders, quieting the ache of being so long un-held.
Hushed and waiting, this atmosphere offers privacy in exchange for the secrets you’ve been keeping.
Fear, rejection, the-sense-that-no-one-hears-you are foreign here; you’re too busy meeting the One who’s welcoming the real you.

This started as a description of the moment we slip into seclusion, inviting sin to be our companion for uninhibited expressions of our deepest lusts.
As I typed and retyped, trying to figure out where this sketch was going, God tinkered with my perspective and loosened my hold on the ending.
I began to see that the point in time I was illustrating was not necessarily one that was “fixed” as an instance of compromise. Instead, our encounters with temptation are often preceded by an acute awareness of our deepest needs and the failed conquests we’ve made concerning them.
But it is not as if there are needs we hold inside that may only be fully addressed in the darkness, out of the way of interference from anyone. Our sense of need is, ultimately, designed to invigorate our pursuit of relationship, intimacy and increasing vulnerability.
When we accept an alternative to drawing toward another, we dismiss the very object of our need. It’s true, our fellow men and women often leave us adrift rather than welcoming us aboard the beautiful vessel Fellowship. This is painful, but is it not purposeful? Our hearts look about with renewed expectation–wanting nothing less than to meet the One Who is deeper than all of our needs.

What are you really about and why won’t you let me see the real you?

I relish psychoanalyzing people–a raw confession, I know. But, I really don’t have many qualms about it. This passion of mine is wrapped up in the way God designed me. I believe the calling God has given me to write and explore His work in mankind is naturally related to an obsession with the heart–this is, after all, the seat of where we relate with God. If we don’t have the heart, we don’t have anything.

So, I focus my attention on the heart, believing that I cannot understand a person if I do not know their heart. The problem is, that I don’t always have access to others’ hearts. This grieves me. A person could invite me into every area of their life and if they refused me entrance to their heart, I would consider everything else they offered me to be a ruse; a means of diverting me from knowing and enjoying the treasure of their actual person. I would feel shut out and rejected. Even confused. My heart would surely bear the effects of such a loss.

Yet, I wonder if my experience of love’s side-effects is anything in comparison with the ones known to God. Surely, all my frustration with relational disinterest and distance can only be the smallest dose of identification with what burdens my Father’s heart. Were it not for us, He would never know distance of any kind, brokenness or pain in any form. What kind of Love seeks to unite itself with such imperfect and fellowship distorting creatures as us?

The more we look into the pain of our own relationships with men and women around us, the more our eyes will be opened to the most concrete witness we have to God’s love for us: He would intertwine His heart with pain-givers like us. He would willingly immerse Himself in the muck of our disregard for Him–not letting sin separate us from Him without a fight to restore purity. He became the One marked with our impurity–the consequences of breaking harmony with Him–so that with His heart He might reconnect with us once more.

Our final conclusion is that where God is, Love is not diminished by pain, nor is it unable to redeem the sinful hearts that disorient us from enjoying Him. Love expands toward its object regardless of its condition or the hardships it will put Love through. Love delights to rescue and will direct all its energies toward that end until it is fully received or fully rejected. Recognize, dear friend, that you and I are the objects of Love, who is Christ. We have two options regarding Him, yet only one truly offers freedom to our hearts and life to our being. May we grow in choosing to receive Love until there are no longer any holes He yet must fill.

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!

Is my life just a giant stress magnet?!

Does this sound like a question that mirrors your agitation today? You’re just waiting for rest to come and overtake you from some far off corner of your life. The problem is that nothing in your life offers the rest and reprieve that you’re looking for–it can only add more strain to your already weary heart.

Ugh! It just makes me want to scream at times. One person wasn’t meant to handle such stress! But, what were we meant to handle? Where can we look for to discover not just relief, but a pleasant burden that will restore us? Could be found in immersing ourselves in the love, grace and kindness that has overflowed to us from God today?

Is there a way to quiet ourselves right where we are and, instead of screaming at God for help, thank Him for all the ways that He’s already been helping us? If you have been missing these ways, be mindful that it is not hard for us to disregard God’s activity in our lives when we have been too busy being perturbed by our situation and overly concentrated on our own resources.

Can’t find anything to thank Him for? Try starting with that person you marvel out for their ability to get on your last nerve with every word that comes out of their mouth. Sound too hard? Yeah, I’ve been thinking that too. But, let’s ask ourselves: What are our other options? Continue complaining and spewing hate mail with our thoughts? These things only drain our energy and load us down with guilt and self-pity. If we’re looking for a pain-killer, these two aren’t it.

A life without peace is unbearable, but we shouldn’t look to ourselves for the peace we crave. We are peace-loving–yes, peace-needing–creatures, but we do not have the capability of creating peace. We are peace dependent–that is, we need God to be the peace we lack.

Unfortunately, we have a habit of diminishing the potential of our fellowship with the Prince of Peace because we have engaged too many peace-substitutes in His place. We don’t realize that He can cover our peace-needs in every area. In this case, the ultimate question for us to answer is not whether our lives are a stress magnet, but whether we have cleared the debris from our hearts so that there will be no hindrance to our attraction to the One who pulls us into His Peace.

 

COMMe on you, this is about UNITY!

Community among believers must be one of the greatest aspects of our inheritance in Christ! Yet, it is not one of the things that I find it easy to embrace; instead, I resist its integration in my life with all my might.

Being closer with the Body of Christ and letting fellowship create an intersection between other parts of the Body and my part is something I really struggle with. I wish I could be really close with Christ and not have to also care about that intimacy translating over to other people who have Christ within them.

I would like to be alone, set apart from the world and people in such a way that I don’t have to do relationships. It bothers me so much that this isn’t God’s way.

After all, I always thought it was safer and more fruitful to have a life limited to just “me and Jesus”. I didn’t know (as a conviction in my heart) that I wasn’t getting the whole Jesus-package, and He wasn’t getting the whole me-package, if we weren’t being connected through His other followers.

I don’t like integrating with His other followers. For one thing, they’re not enough like Him to make me feel comfortable. For another thing, they will discover that I’m not enough like Him to make them always feel delighted to be in my presence! That, forgive me, is scary business!

So what motivation can I have to move forward with something that assaults my natural instincts for survival and success? Well, certainly none of it can come from me! God, do You think You could help here, I pray, I’ve got nothing. Worse still, I’m not even sure I want to have motivation for this. I would much rather pretend it’s no big deal. But because You are persistently making it a big deal, I really can’t ignore it. So, do what You want to do with me here. I know that I will praise You in the end when I discover in new and incredible ways that Your desires are best for me. You will make me see that You alone are what is True and Beautiful and Eternal.