Archive for February 2012
There is a place of peace and rest so deep in God that the things in this world cannot overwhelm us. (Phil. 4:6,7)
It is a place where fear and anxiety are lifted from our minds. The darkness and difficulties of this realm simply have no power over the reality of His realm.
Time always seems to be suspended when I am with Him like this. It does not pass, it just is. He is never in a hurry. He has all the time in the world. After all, He created time and it submits to Him. In one instant He can remove me from the cares and stress of this life and transfer me into His timeless realm of peace, showing me where reality truly lies. It is as though life in the realm we consider real is only a tragic story in a book. Then we lift our eyes and close the book and are once again in the present reality of His realm of glorious life.
The bride of Christ is also a warrior bride in the middle of a fierce spiritual battle. We are not given a choice of being one or the other. We are both. The Apostle Paul wrote more than anyone else about our relationship as the bride of Christ. But he also spent much time telling us to fight the good fight of faith, put on the whole armor of God and be over-comers. (1 Tm. 6:12, Eph. 6:10-18, 2 Cor. 10:4) We ride with the King and the King wins. Incidentally, the fact that you are still standing qualifies you to become an over-comer. If you have fallen, just get up again. A righteous man falls seven times and rises again. (Prov. 24:16 Amp.) If you don’t quit … you win.
This is a present reality where realms overlap. We have the ability to see and experience both realms at once … the natural and the spiritual. In times of great trouble and chaos here, we are clothed in the armor of God with the sword of the Spirit in our hands and a crown of wisdom upon our heads. Yet at any time during that storm we can also enter deeply into His presence where He ministers peace and strength to us for the battle that still lies ahead. He is literally the calm in the storm.
He illustrated this to me once so beautifully:
Thunder rolled and heavy rain pounded the tin roof of the house where we had gathered to worship. The next lightening bolt put out the electricity. Lighting some candles, the worshippers continued as His anointing increased.
Suddenly Jesus came and took me away with Him … somewhere. It was evening and we seemed to be in a small cottage in a forest. The roof and three of the walls were made of glass. The fourth wall was stone and housed a huge fireplace. The same storm was going on in this place as well.
Curious, I watched as the rain beat down on the roof causing rivers of water to wash down the glass outside. The noise of the thunder was strangely muffled as if it was far away, even though the lightening was flashing all around. But I was resting safely in His arms on a sofa facing the fireplace.
There are no words to describe the contentment, the peace, the fulfillment or the deep, deep love. There are no feelings of anxiety because there’s nothing one could possibly be anxious about. There are no questions that need answered. There are no frustrations, just overwhelming peace and love.
After a long while He spoke softly to me.
“My darling, your whole life has been and still is a storm like this. But you must learn to come to Me in the midst of your storm and rest in My arms as you are doing now.”
He gazed thoughtfully into the fire before continuing.
“This is real, much more real than the natural realm. The storm in your realm never really ceases. You must learn to live with Me here and operate from My realm.”
When things get too complicated – stop. Just sit down, close your eyes and breathe in the peace of God for a few moments.
Try not to be frustrated in your relationship with Jesus. This love affair is a journey that is meant to be savored every day and every moment. Let it unfold like the beauty of a rose. Don’t be in a hurry for what you think should be happening. Let Him lead. He knows that we need direction and specifics from Him. He designs every experience specifically for each of us, knowing us so intimately because He created us and our distinct personalities. There are some of us who, if given “the plan”, would leave Him sitting on the love seat alone while we ran off to accomplish it for Him. He knows this. And while He does have work for us to share with Him – the relationship is always His primary interest. Everything flows out of that relationship with Him. Intimacy produces fruitfulness.
There are others whose primary goal is power. The motive may even seem right since without power we cannot accomplish what He has sent us to do here. However, if we have His power but we do not have His heart, that very power will corrupt us. When we are in that intimate, ongoing love relationship with Him, His love will flow into us and out through us to the people around us. He will give us the power to love with. The motivation is love. We want to see people healed and delivered and blessed because we love them … because He loves them and died to set them free.
I have found that focusing on problems and constantly rehearsing my needs and reminding Him of my time limits are quite counter-productive. Yes I do have needs. Yes I do need to know His will so I can try to do it. But He knows all of this as well. What He wants is my heart … not just first but always, daily and moment by moment. Sometimes it’s a matter of building trust. We have told Him our needs as He asks us to do. We’ve assured Him that it is His will we are seeking and not our own. If the answer is delayed can we still trust and be at rest even if we don’t understand?
I once read a story told by Corrie Ten Boom. Her father said to her, “Corrie, when we are getting on a train, when do I give you the ticket?”
And she replied, “Just before I get on the train, Father.”
“Yes,” said her father. “You don’t need it until you step onto the train. Then you don’t have to worry about it and you won’t lose it. I take care of it and make it easier for you.”
This does not cancel out the Lord’s instructions to ask and keep on asking … to press in to what He has promised. Sometimes He will ask you to do that, to even be part of the answer. Other times He will require your trust and rest. Once again, this is a relationship not a formula or a list of rules. Human nature would usually prefer a formula than having to deal with God in person. (Ex. 20:18,19) But our spirits cry out for the living God face to face. (Ex. 33:11, Ps. 42:2) In this place we are close enough to hear Him whisper and we will find He doesn’t usually do things the same way twice.
There are times when the Lord will give us a bigger picture of our assignment here. But sometimes that’s on a need-to-know basis. I like a good heart-pounding, white-knuckle, secret agent movie. And because the Lord often speaks to me through movies, one day He said to me, “Did you notice how little information the agent actually had to go on?” That got my attention and I listened closely to what He was saying.
“He was only given the briefest details about his assignment and given a choice to take it or not. This was for the safety of the mission so that If he was caught, he would not have valuable information for the enemy to try to gain from him. All he could see was his small part in a very large espionage plan. It was also very dangerous. Most of the time it wasn’t even clear who to trust – who was on the side of the enemy and who was not. He just had to completely trust the wisdom and guidance of the one who sent him while drawing from the discernment of the intense training he had already completed.”
From the tone of His voice now I could hear Him smiling. “Do you know how much I love you? Can you believe that I have your best interest at heart as well as My own Kingdom plan? I’m doing many things behind the scenes that you do not see. Will you just trust me, My love?”
Slowly my white knuckles began to relax and my heart rate slowed. “OK Jesus,” I breathed. “Just hand me the ticket as I get on the train … with You.”
The ocean waves crashed against the rocky pier as I walked the wind swept beach. desperately crying out to the Lord for solutions to my problems, answers to my life … something … anything.
“Please,” I finally said in exhaustion, “Let’s just make this simple. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Tell me what to pray, how to feel, how to react and I’ll just obey You. I can do that.”
There was a long uncomfortable silence as He waited for me to think about what I had just said. Finally, I could hear the hurt in His voice as He quietly responded.
“That sounds rather like a master/servant relationship doesn’t it? I say to My servant, “Do this” and he does it. (Mt. 8:9) That’s not quite what I’m looking for from you. You are My bride and I’m in love with you. I want to bring you up here with Me to let you see through My eyes and hear through My ears. I want to take you into the Father’s heart and show you how We feel. It’s an intimate relationship I desire, My love.”
Immediately I repented for being so insensitive. I was looking at things from the wrong perspective again. Taking me in His arms now He spoke tenderly to me once again.
“If you need a job description it is to be My bride. That’s it. That’s all.”
There is a love so deep, so strong, so powerful that absolutely nothing can ever stop it. It comes from the One who is love itself. You were made for this. He created you as the final object of His love. And this is not a gender issue. Whether male or female, every Believer is being invited into an eternal love relationship that far exceeds our wildest hopes and dreams.
Falling deeply and completely in love with Jesus solves many other issues and simplifies everything else. He keeps drawing me back to this one thing – intimacy with Him. He is the goal … not power or ministry gifts or even ministry itself. Of course He has work for us to do but fruitfulness will naturally flow out of intimacy. We do not choose to spend time with Him so that we can get power or revelation or have our needs met or get instructions. We spend time with Him because we are so in love with Him that we long to be near Him. We do not seek Him for secondary rewards…they are a poor substitute. He is the reward. All of these things are a part of Him but we are given all of Him.
How does one fall in love? We are often initially attracted to another person physically. Then the more we find out about them and get to know them, the more we like them. As we share things back and forth we begin to see their hearts, their motives, their desires. We begin to be more comfortable and trusting with them. Soon, the more we are with them, the more we want to be with them. The relationship begins to grow stronger.
It is like this with Jesus as well. The real Jesus is more attractive than the most powerful magnet or the pull of gravity. All it takes is one encounter in His presence and you can never be satisfied with anything less again. The more you fall in love with Him, the more the pull of this realm’s gravity will lose it’s hold on you and the pull of His love will draw you away into His heart.
The Apostle Paul often described our relationship with Jesus in terms of a marriage. II Cor. 11:2 says that we are betrothed to Christ (engaged to Him) and destined to become His bride. I believe the reason for this terminology is that as humans we need a grid of understanding to help us. The love between a man and a woman is one of the highest bonds in the earthly physical realm. While this kind of love and family are given to us as gifts for this life, it is only a shadow of things to come in eternity.
In actuality, the relationship between us and the Lord goes so far beyond any earthly physical love that everything else pales in comparison. It is deeper than … higher than … and completely other than. There is no gender issue and it is not a physical relationship but, as Paul describes in 1 Cor. 6:15-17 by comparison, it is an intimate and powerful joining or bonding of our spirits with His Spirit.
But He will never force the issue. This is the ultimate love affair and He waits for us to respond to Him. “There is no fear in love” for He will never overstep His own holiness or the free will He has given to us. As we keep taking baby steps closer to Him we will learn to allow His perfect love to cast out our fear. (1 John 4:18) The more you get to know Him, the more you will love Him and the more you love Him, the more you will be able to trust Him. It’s hard to completely trust someone you don’t know well. And it’s difficult to fully love someone you don’t trust. Love and trust are intertwined and He is the One most worthy of both.
This isn’t complicated. He is inviting you to dinner. (Rev. 3:20) Just open the door and say “yes”!