Tagged: Spirit

The Dead Man’s Mother

Photo by ozgurcakir via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/6nWHbx)

Photo by ozgurcakir via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/6nWHbx)

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

. . . . . .

I have been this dead man’s mother.

I have carried broken, dead dreams. I have cried alongside coffins containing my hopes and wishes and prayers. Sometimes my heart.

And Jesus has met me on my way to bury these things. He has stopped the funeral procession in progress. Moved with compassion, he has stepped out of the crowd, lifted my chin, and whispered words of relief.

Sometimes when he does this, I look first into his eyes and then back at the coffin and say, “but they’re still dead.” What I have been carrying with me is still unmoving, void of life. I continue on with the funeral procession, desperate to bury these things in the ground and bury myself in sorrow.

But he replies, “You don’t have to bury this at all.” And with one swift motion, he approaches the dead and reverses the damage. He breathes life into what I never thought I’d see breathing again.

And I am reunited with my beloved.

I am rejoiced, overcome with gratitude and awe.

. . . . . .

This is a beautiful story of a mother whose hope was revived as Jesus interrupted a funeral procession and brought her dead son back to life.

And this, too, is my story as Jesus revives my hope and brings my dead things back to life time and time again.

I have been this dead man’s mother, yet I have also often forgotten it.

I have witnessed Jesus interrupt my funeral processions and breathe life back into my hopes and dreams, and then I have thrown accusations at him. Why didn’t you come sooner?

I have seen him change my life. I was even once that dead man. Jesus saved me as crying, praying mothers walked alongside my coffin. And yet I live as though I’m still dead, unable to move or see a future ahead.

I have been given by God what no other could give: revived hopes and dreams, a healing heart that once felt irreparably broken. And then I have felt the call of death come again, rendering me forgetful of His healing hand.

I find myself crying out as if nothing has ever happened. As if I have never seen dead things rise. As if I never was this dead man and never was this dead man’s mother.

. . . . . .

The Spirit inside of me contains the power to move mountains, yet I have been staring at mountains without making a move.

I forget the power that raised this mother’s dead son lives in me. I forget the work that has been done and the promises that have been given.

Most of all, I forget that God is good.

I question his desire to move my mountains because I’ve been staring at nothing but these mountains all my life.

Of course they’re going to seem insurmountable when all I do is gape at their largeness and question God in His faithfulness.

How is He ever going to prove His faithfulness in my life if I’m so quick to forget my once-dead son?

In Scripture, we read of stories where God came to His children’s rescue and they then built an altar to declare and remember what God had done. So where are my altars? Why am I brushing past healing, victories, and resurrections in my life? No wonder I can’t remember. No wonder I’m quick to doubt and fear.

Where is my good Father? I’ve been demanding.

Where is He not? is the better question.

. . . . . .

My declaration over today: I once was dead and now I am alive. My broken heart is being tenderly mended. My hopes and dreams have been renewed.

What has taken place is worthy of remembrance.

So today, God, I remember you.

It Takes Time

The writing has slowed down.

You may or may not have noticed.

My summer in Clarkston is coming to a close and I feel like my heart has somehow decided to close itself, too.

No more, God. I’m done thinking. I’m done praying. Let me just stop and breathe for a minute.

I know life is meant to be filled with growth and change and learning. When any of those stop happening, we might as well be dead. Or so I’ve heard.

But growing and changing and learning sometimes hurts. And even though we’re told that we need to press on because it’ll be so worth it, that you can’t have gain without pain… well, I just don’t want to do that right now.

I don’t WANT to press forward with all I’ve got because it’s just super, super hard.

Doesn’t that sound so pathetic? But it’s the truth.

Right now I just want to sit. Forget carpe diem. Forget Paul’s running the race with endurance. Forget YOLO.

I want to curl up in my bed and sleep. Or stare at the wall and not even think about anything in particular. And then when I get up from my bed, I want to drink coffee, sit on the couch to stare at the wall some more, and ignore everyone who tries to talk to me. And maybe I’ll write some. But maybe I won’t.

Of course, my life right now doesn’t offer that “luxury”. I have a week left in Clarkston, and with being in Clarkston comes priorities and people relying on you. I can’t afford to just lie on the floor for hours on end (although I have been giving myself at least an hour of exactly that for the past few days). I can’t just “check out” and silence the world.

Life still happens, whether I want it to or not.

But what I have a say in is (and no, I’m not going to say any of that cheesy “you can choose your attitude” Pollyanna-esque stuff) whether or not I receive what is offered to me.

I know God wants me to grow. And change. And learn. He’s offering me things, I can tell. The doors are there. And stepping through one of those doors could mean the difference between wallowing in my self-pity and finding true freedom and joy.

But if I’m going to step through that door, I’m going to need to take my time. And I think He understands that. God is patient, you know.

He knows I’m not ignoring Him. He knows I’m not giving up. He sees my heart, how much it truly longs for Him and all the gifts He’s offering to me after all this time. It may be difficult to pray, but I still say hello. It may be tough to communicate with the world, but I still let myself be a friend to others. And it’s hard to call myself “happy”, but I know how to find joy in the little moments He brings.

It takes time for babies to learn to walk.

And I’m just a baby. I’ve been carefully putting one foot in front of the other for some time, but I haven’t let go of the ottoman just yet.

It’s okay, Jessie. You can do it. I won’t let you fall.

I know, Daddy. I’m getting there. I just need a minute.

I know I’ll get there. I know it because I have within me a spirit that is yearning for far too much to stand still for very long. It looks like I’m not doing anything right now (and you may be right), but what you don’t see is that every hour I spend in solace and silence makes my soul a very restless one indeed. And when the conditions looks a bit more favorable and I am able to get out of this bed, I will charge through that very same door I’ve been staring at for years. I know this because God loves me too much and I love God too much to stand still forever.

I’m not going to feel bad for not pursuing Jesus as hard as everyone else right now. I AM pursuing him, and HE is making up for the rest (and then some). This is not hide-and-seek or tag. This doesn’t even feel like a race.

No, this is a long and challenging stroll on the beach.

And as we’re walking hand-in-hand, looking out at the horizon, I sometimes get so overwhelmed that I just stop and have to take a minute to look down at the sand. It’s too much. But after a little bit of time, he lifts up my chin, gives me that understanding smile, and helps me take that next step. In some cases, he even carries me. And when I pass by people who are also struggling to take that next step, I’d like to take their hand and walk with them, too.

Before I know it, we’ll be at that boardwalk. That little speck in the distance that I thought (and still sometimes think) I could never reach.

And in that moment, I’ll know that it didn’t matter how long it took me or how many times I had to stop to catch my breath.

All that’ll matter is that I arrived and I didn’t let go of his hand.

What Is God’s Will for My Life?

The scary question always on the tip of our tongues: What is God’s will for my life?

Can I just say here and now that I have maybe asked this question more times than any other question I’ve ever had? And things are still just as hazy as before I ever thought to ask. It’s not that God isn’t revealing things to me. He is! But that’s another issue in and of itself: what do you do when there are so many answers thrown at you and they all somehow feel right? I mean, there’s got to be just ONE right answer! Or maybe not…

Here’s the truth I’m being hit with today:

We have been given all we need to follow God’s will for our lives.

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God– that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

What if the wisdom we’ve been seeking has already been given to us? And that wisdom is in the form of Jesus?

I snooped around on Blue Letter Bible (excellent website that I implore you to try out sometime) for the original Greek translation of this verse in 1 Corinthians. Let me break down for you what I found:

wisdom = [supreme] intelligence, knowledge, interpreting, giving of sound advice, discovering meaning, skill in management, proper intercourse with non-believers, skill in imparting Christian truth, practice of godly living

These are various definitions of the word “wisdom” as used in God’s Word, and it’s interesting how much of those definitions remind me of the search for God’s will for our lives. Are we not seeking out supreme or divine intelligence? Are we not hoping to interpret and discover meaning? Do we not want the skills necessary for the management of our lives?

Wisdom is a vital part of discovering God’s will, and according to this verse, we have already attained it. Jesus has “become the wisdom of God for us.”

If you read further in 1 Corinthians, we are even told that we have the wisdom of God because we have the Spirit of God and the mind of Christ.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

What does this mean for our lives? This means that the supreme or divine intelligence we’re seeking is already found. The ability to interpret and discover meaning has already been given to us. We have already been handed the skills necessary for the management of our lives.

We know God’s will for our lives. We just don’t know that we know.

The next word I looked up the Greek translation for was “righteousness” (referring back to 1 Corinthians 1:30).

righteousness = acceptable to God, may attain from God, integrity, virtue, purity, correctness, justice

There’s a correlation between Jesus being our wisdom and Jesus being our righteousness. It is because we are made righteous (through Jesus dying on the Cross) that we are worthy of him being our wisdom, that we are worthy of knowing God’s will for our lives.

Furthermore, the things the Spirit reveal to us, the things that we are beginning to walk in (perhaps even unknowingly), are acceptable to God. They are virtuous and correct. We are able to attain these insights into God’s calling and will for our lives because we are now righteous.

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

holiness/sanctification = purification, consecration (of heart and of life)

We are in a continual process of being purified and consecrated. That means we are constantly being made more sacred and holy. Through the doubting and the questioning and the seeking and the wandering, we are being purified. When we figure out where God wants us, we are standing on holy ground as sacred creations. When we DON’T know where God wants us, we are even still standing on holy ground as sacred creations.

Our heart and our lives are being pulled closer to God, which in turn makes us more holy and pure.

Even when you feel like you’re at a standstill and you don’t know which way God wants you to turn, your heart and your life are not at a standstill.

Is it audacious to say that maybe we are always in the right place?

redemption = releasing of need for payment, deliverance

We don’t have to pay God for anything. We don’t have to earn anything. We’ve been bought at a price and we are now free to worship, serve, live, and love.

I want you to hold onto that today as you continue the journey of finding your way.

You are FREE.

You are free from the expectation of having it all together and knowing exactly where your life is headed. You are free from the pressure of making all the right moves.

The right moves are in God’s hands.

Because of 1) Jesus being our wisdom, 2) Jesus making us righteous, 3) the ongoing sanctification occurring through Jesus’ work in us, and 4) the redemption we’ve been given by Jesus that enables us to walk in freedom… we don’t have to be afraid of not knowing.

And that truly means something.

How many people do you see aimlessly wandering, trying to figure out what to do or who they’re supposed to be?

We’re different. We don’t have to figure it all out and certainly not on our own. We already know who we are.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

As the world stumbles, we can stand strong and CONFIDENT because we already have the answers (the wisdom) we need. The answer, by the way, is Jesus. Keep your eyes on him and you won’t lose your way. Keep your focus on God and He’ll make sure you get to where He wants you to be.

Repeat this after me: I am wise. I am righteous, I am being made holy, I am redeemed.

I am not lost.