The Heart of the Matter: A Lesson on Prejudice

Just then a religious scholar stood before Jesus in order to test his doctrines. He posed this question:

“Teacher, what requirement must I fulfill if I want to live forever in heaven?” Jesus replied

“What does Moses teach us? What do you read in the Law?” The religious scholar answered,

“It states, ‘You must love the Lord God with all your heart, all your passion, all your energy, and your every thought. And you must love your neighbor as well as you love yourself.’” 

Jesus said, “That is correct. Now go and do exactly that and you will live.” 

Wanting to justify himself, he questioned Jesus further, saying,

“What do you mean by ‘my neighbor’?” Jesus replied, “Listen and I will tell you.

There was once a Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when bandits robbed him along the way. They beat him severely, stripped him naked, and left him half dead. Soon, a Jewish priest walking down the same road came upon the wounded man. Seeing him from a distance, the priest crossed to the other side of the road and walked right past him, not turning to help him one bit. Later, a religious man, a Levite, came walking down the same road and likewise crossed to the other side to pass by the wounded man without stopping to help him. Finally, another man, a Samaritan, came upon the bleeding man and was moved with tender compassion for him. He stooped down and gave him first aid, pouring olive oil on his wounds, disinfecting them with wine, and bandaging them to stop the bleeding. Lifting him up, he placed him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Then he took him from his donkey and carried him to a room for the night. The next morning he took his own money from his wallet and gave it to the innkeeper with these words: ‘Take care of him until I come back from my journey. If it costs more than this, I will repay you when I return. So, now, tell me, which one of the three men who saw the wounded man proved to be the true neighbor?”

 The religious scholar responded, “The one who demonstrated kindness and mercy.” Jesus said, “You must go and do the same as he.” Luke 10:25-37 TPT

Flannel graphs images of a man bleeding beside the road, the arrogant priests walking by on the other side, and the kind Samaritan with his donkey coming to help the man in need: these childish pictures flash through my mind when I think about the story of the Good Samaritan. Yet, as I read it last week, much more jumped out at me.

Consider this. The Jews throughout history have been probably the most hated culture ever. They were subjected to hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt, and every time they turned around, they were being conquered again, over run, tortured, hated. Why?Because they were Jews. Not so long ago, Hitler tried to exterminate them. Even today, countries surrounding them want to wipe them off the face of the earth.

At the time of Jesus, they struggled under the oppressive rule of the Roman thumb, which was a cruel, harsh regime. Read the story of the Maccabees to get a better understanding.

What did the Jewish people do then? They turned around and despised their neighbors, the Samaritans. There’s a ton of history I could go into here, but basically the Samaritans came from the same lineage, but broke off because of where they chose to worship and their intermixing with cultures around them. They became a mixed breed. They were considered lower than dogs to the Jews.

Jesus has a way of getting to the heart of the matter with the religious leader. In a matter of moments, he pulled back the curtain on this man’s heart. The beat up man was a Jew, and the religious leaders who chose to overlook their brother’s brokenness, by conveniently crossing to the other side of the road so as not to be bothered, were also obviously Jews. Maybe this was even a story that this leader knew about. However, the compassionate man, the one who came to the aid of the Jew, was the despised one that the Jewish man would have spit on and cursed.

Jesus looked at the religious leader and asked him, “Who proved to be the good neighbor?” He was dealing with a ton more here than what I learned in Sunday School. He was dealing with the religious leader’s prejudices, his hatred of Samaritans.

Dear friends, racism and prejudices have been around since Cain killed Abel. It’s brother against brother. Neighbor against neighbor. Slavery, clan against clan, one people group against another, one person’s skin color against another. It is a part of all our histories, all our generations, all of our stories.

I don’t say this to belittle the current state our country is in, in dealing with racism. By all means, it’s about time the roots and organizations that have fed this monster be brought to the light and dealt with in truth and justice.

Jesus always looked past the surface and dealt with what was in men’s hearts. The answer to racism is not more laws or violent protest or defunding the police.

The answer is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. The answer is Love your neighbor as yourself.

So, when we see someone different than us hurting, bleeding, beat up, we take the time to stop, to care for them, to bandage their wounds, and get them help, even when it costs us time, money, and resources.

We stop ignoring the pain, the hurt. We stop conveniently looking the other way, which the church seems to be notorious for doing. We stop wagging our fingers at each other, judging the others differently than ourselves.

We look in the eyes of our brothers and sisters, we see their pain, and we comfort and help them however we can. We stand up for justice, for making things as right as we can. We choose to forgive and release the pain of the past, so that we can move forward. Together.

However, this goes both ways, for there is pain on both sides. There was pain on the Jews side and the Samaritan side, even the Roman side. Jesus knew this. That’s why, in telling this story, He made all men our neighbors.

The answer is love. Not human love through humanitarian efforts. It’s the unfailing, unending love of God through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where true reformation begins. This is where true unity begins.

A house divided against itself will fall. This is why the enemy is fighting so hard to divide and conqueror. We can, we will, we must choose into love if we are to continue as a great nation. It is the only solution for a broken world. “For God so loved the World, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever will believe in Him, will have eternal life…” John 3:16. This is the radical group I want to align with. They will know we are Jesus followers by the way we love one another. We all have choices to make. Choose love.

Racism and A Clean Heart

The other morning after a run, I felt like I needed to record a video.  I apologize for no makeup, but sometimes when Papa says to do it now, He really means NOW!!!😩  Hopefully content will bless you and make you consider what you are hearing from our Father for your own heart cleaning journey.  ☺️ Bless you guys!

Arise, My Bride!

“After this I let my devotion slumber,
but my heart for him stayed awake.
I had a dream.
I dreamed of my beloved—
he was coming to me in the darkness of night.
The melody of the man I love awakened me.
I heard his knock at my heart’s door
as he pleaded with me:

The Bridegroom-King

Arise, my love.
Open your heart, my darling, deeper still to me.
Will you receive me this dark night?
There is no one else but you, my friend, my equal.
I need you this night to arise and come be with me.
You are my pure, loyal dove, a perfect partner for me.
My flawless one, will you arise?
For my heaviness and tears are more than I can bear.
I have spent myself for you throughout the dark night.[b]

The Sleeping Bride

3I have already laid aside my own garments for you.
How could I take them up again
since I’ve yielded my righteousness to yours?[c]
You have cleansed my life and taken me so far.
Isn’t that enough?
My beloved reached into me to unlock my heart.
The core of my very being trembled at his touch.
How my soul melted when he spoke to me!
My spirit arose to open for more of his touch.
As I surrendered to him, I began to sense his fragrance—
the fragrance of his suffering love!
It was the sense of myrrh flowing all through me!
I opened my soul to my beloved, but suddenly he was gone!
And my heart was torn out in longing for him.
I sought his presence, his fragrance,
but could not find him anywhere.
I called out for him, yet he did not answer me.
I will arise and search for him until I find him.
As I walked throughout the city in search of him,
the overseers stopped me as they made their rounds.
They beat me and bruised me until I could take no more.
They wounded me deeply
and removed their covering from me.
Nevertheless, make me this promise, you brides-to-be:
if you find my beloved one,
please tell him I endured all travails for him.
I’ve been pierced through by love,[d]
and I will not be turned aside!”  Song of Songs 5 TPT

These scriptures have been ruminating in my heart for weeks now.  As I’ve read these scriptures over and over, I’ve seen them in a bit of different light than before.

It seems to me that the church in the west, especially, has seemingly been asleep, and her beloved has been knocking at the door, pleading with her to wake up, to come and allow Him to come in again.

The call is to shake off her slumber, allowing herself to get uncomfortable, as she takes up her cloak of righteousness again, and open the door to the Bridegroom Jesus.

So many things have kept the Bride from answering the request, to even hear the knock on the door.  So many, many distractions have kept us running here and there, doing things that seem “good”, “needed”, but in reality hold little to no eternal value.

Now, we find many of those things stripped from us as we have had to “shelter in place”, and many of our entertainment and distractions, busy activities, have been halted.  Are we now listening?  Has it gotten quiet enough to hear the call for more intimacy, for allowing Jesus past all those things, so that He can woo our hearts into deeper places in Him?

For possibly five years or more now, the idea of the bride being asleep has been on the forefront of my mind.

It began on an anniversary trip, when my husband woke up from a dream about a man being in the bed with another woman, but the man wasn’t even aware until he truly “woke” up.  My first response to the dream had been “That dream is about the church.  The church has been asleep and in bed with other lovers and not even known it.”  That was not my normal first response to a dream like that by the way.

Throughout the past few years, the Lord has brought it back up again and again.  He is wooing and pleading with His Bride, the true church, to wake up, to arise, and let the King of Glory in.

The other thing that really jumped out to me out of these scriptures is that when she finally does get up and He is gone, her heart longs for Him, and won’t be deterred from finding Him, the only one who will truly satisfy her longing.  As she is searching for Him, the “overseers” find her in the night and beat her.

When the true Bride does wake up, and gets to the place where she has to find the Bridegroom at all cost, I believe it will be the “overseers”, the “religious leaders” who come against the Bride, beat her, and remove their covering.   The “religious overseers” in Jesus’s day were the ones who came against the true “Bride” then. Many times today, those truly seeking after Jesus are deterred by the very ones who should be leading them to Him.

Was it their “covering” she ever even needed?  What she needed was the robe of righteousness of her Beloved.  Many are coming out from a false covering into the true covering of Jesus, their lover.

In prayer recently, the Holy Spirit began to shout in my spirit.  This is what I feel the Spirit is saying.

Oh my Bride, Oh my dear love, how asleep you have been.  Asleep at the wheel.  Bent on destruction of your own.  You have not given heed to my words.  You have become warm.

Wake up! Wake up! Rise from the dust, my Bride, while there is still time.  Take your place.  Take your place by my side.  We will war together.

You will be made pure again.

Let go of your programs, your petty, petty littleness.  Lay down your distractions.  Receive me.  Receive me.   Receive your husband, your lover, your King.

Will you even know that I’ve been knocking at your door?  Won’t you get up and answer it once again?

Throw off your deceit, your pride, your arrogance.  Will you yet arise and let me in?

I see your nakedness, and I long to clothe you.  I’d love to wrap my robe of righteousness around you, but you have chosen other lovers, and you have not even known.  You have devoured your young with your words, and not even given thought to it.

Take up my robe.  Humble yourself.  I will yet forgive you, heal you, and restore you.  Oh my love, my Bride, I am here, knocking.  Won’t you let me in?  I love you, Your Bridegroom

May we all answer the call, and let Him in.

We Have Crossed Over

About a week ago I awoke hearing a song in my spirit.  I know there was more, but all I could remember as I awoke was the repeated line, “We have crossed over, we have crossed over, we have crossed over…
As we approach Passover tonight, it seems such a timely song.  His blood is painted on our door posts and death has passed over us.  We are leaving our captivity, the shackles have fallen off, our strength is restored, the enemy is having to pay our travel fares, our minds are being renewed from slave-thinking to much-loved sons.
And now, we have crossed over into the Promised Land, the land of promises fulfilled!
So I asked the Lord to expand on His song and share more from His heart about it.  The following poem/song is what He gave me as I waited on Him:
We have crossed over, we have crossed over
We have crossed over,
to the promises in the Promised land of God
Giants are prey now, ‘cuz we have crossed over
victory’s ours now
Abba’s promise, in the Promised Land of God
Fresh milk is flowing, sweet honey pouring
houses are ready
it is promised, in the Promised Land of God
Each one his fig tree, fruit formed within thee,
harvest abundant
He has promised, in the Promised Land of God
Fresh water rising, bubbling up freely,
forming a river
of the promises, in the Promised Land of God
The water is rising, its coming up higher
now we are swimming
in the promises, in the Promised Land of God
The limbs of the Life Tree, are stretching out wider
the nations are healing
claiming promises, in the Promised Land of God
The Spirit and Bride say,
“Co-ome Lord Jesus!”
For all who are thirsty, for the promises in the Promised Land of God
Come and drink freely, the li-ving waters
We live in the River
of the promises, in the Promised Land of God.
We have crossed over, we have crossed over
We have crossed over
to the promises in the Promised Land of God.

Crushing Fear

This is a little different for me. The Lord has really been stirring up some things in me and I have really felt pressed to share them. It is intended to bring life and peace to you. I had to do it in two parts because I had been enjoying a bit too much of our beautiful and pollen-filled weather here in South Carolina and started to cough as a result. 😁 Let me hear from you about it. If you want to see more content like this, please like it and subscribe to our new YouTube page, Wholehearted You. More will be coming soon. Much love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant A Garden

Listen and hear my voice; Listen carefully and hear my words. Does the farmer plow all day to plant seed? Does he continually dig furrows and harrow his [after it is prepared]? When he has leveled its surface, does he not sow [the seed of] dill and scatter cumin, and plant wheat in rows, and barley in its [intended] place and [a]rye within its border? For his God instructs [him correctly] and teaches him properly. For dill is not threshed with a sharp threshing sledge,
nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin; but dill is beaten out with a staff, and cumin with a rod. Bread grain is crushed fine, Indeed, the farmer does not continue to thresh it forever. Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, He does not thresh it longer. This also comes from the Lord of hosts, who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great. Isaiah 28:23-29 Amplified Bible (AMP)

As the atmosphere became impregnated with tension from all the news reports last week, I heard the still, small voice beckoning me outside.  “It’s time to plant.  Today, plant a garden.”

Musing, I thought to myself, “This is so like God.”  While most of the world is thrown into chaos, the God of the universe invited me to look through a different lens.

So, I obeyed.

After grabbing my hoe, shovel, soil, and seeds, I dumped bags of manure and other things into my raised beds, mixing and spreading the soil together with the hoe until it filled the boxes.  I then shoved poles in the ground wrapping them all with chicken wire building a fence to protect the precious new growth from hungry deer.  With the soil prepared and the gate set in place, my daughter and I plotted and poked the holes, carefully depositing a seed in each indent in the fresh earth.

In this past week, I have seen the best and worst in people’s faces.

I’ve seen the wide-eyed look of panic in eyes as humanity has scrabbled in search of basic necessities.  Suspicious glances have come my way, as I ventured closer than six feet.  I’ve seen greed rise up in others who stuffed their carts full of things as the elderly stood behind them waiting their turn to forage through what was left.  Who would have imagined in a few short days, our culture would change so much or maybe it’s just unearthing what was already there.

I’ve also seen more gestures of kindness, strangers from a distance asking how you are and seemingly really meaning it, people being more open about their faith in the Lord Jesus, and a general awareness that maybe it’s time for the body of Christ to awake up from a slumbered state.  Family’s have gathered together to worship and pray. Others have reached out to neighbors who they may have never talked to before and offered a helping hand.

Quite honestly, in the past, I would have been dealing with some heavy-duty anxiety and panic attacks by now.  I won’t lie.  There have been a few moments of sucking in a deep breath, and refocusing on who God is and what He says about all this chaos.  His still, small voice has calmed my heart on many occasions, so this crisis is no different.

I’m not downplaying the fear I see in people.  I completely understand it.  It just makes my heart sad.  So many people worldwide have suddenly been thrown in to a state where everything in their lives is shaking.  It seems that for the first time in a long time, people on the whole are forced to stop and contemplate their lives.

In the preparation of the garden, there was some pulling up of weeds, and some rearranging of things that I need to place somewhere else.  In this time, I believe there are some weeds we need to pull up completely, and other things we need to put in a different place, prioritizing things differently.

Personally, God has challenged me to really look at the things I’ve put my trust in.

Quite frankly, it’s been uncomfortable, and I don’t like it.  He’s pointed out things that I have placed my trust in other than Him, made into an idol, and He is constantly refocusing my gaze back to Him.  In that process, He is bringing my heart to shalom, to peace.  I’ve felt held by Him, protected and hidden in His care.

I don’t know how far the effects of this virus will be or what repercussions it may have, but I know who holds my life in His loving hands.  I chose to believe that He is good, that this didn’t catch Him by surprise.

He’s not the author of any sickness.  He always wants to bring healing, deliverance, and help.

What the enemy meant for evil, He will turn around for our good.  Deep down inside of me, this bubbles up like a brook.  I know He’s working for our good, because He is a good, good Father. No matter what the enemy throws our way, God is bigger, stronger, and is moving through this.

Maybe this is where revival begins.  Maybe this is where awakening starts.  Maybe it will begin in our homes, with our families, worshipping together, calling and checking on our neighbors and loved ones, and walking in a supernatural peace when the world is freaking out.

Walking out this past year, without one church home, has taught me one thing for sure.  We are the church.  Everywhere I go, in every place we’ve been led to, Jesus is in me.  I am in Him.  I feel centered in that, strengthened in my faith, knowing that He is my Lord, and He is my working in our behalf.   Church is not a building.  It’s Jesus Christ in us the hope of glory!  It’s time to let that glory shine through us.

For the wide, wild-eyed ones, I want to wrap my arms around you, and speak peace to your troubled hearts.  I want to quiet your fears, but I know the only way those fears can truly be put to rest is to put your trust in Jesus.  He is real, and He really loves you.  He really cares.

Let’s allow reformation to start here, in our hearts.  You are loved.  May God’s love drive out every fear!

“The Garden” by Kari Jobi:

I had all
But given up
Desperate for
A sign from love

Something good
Something kind
Bringing peace to every corner of my mind

Then I saw the garden
Hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realized
You never left
And for this moment
You planned ahead

That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green

I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

I can see the ivy
Reaching through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

Oh, You’re healing broken souls
You’re healing, You’re healing broken souls

Faith is rising up like ivy
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all things right

Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears

You crush all my fears
You crush all my fears

With Your perfect love
Oh-ohh, with Your perfect love

Now I see redemption
Growing in the trees
The death and resurrection
In every single seed

 

 

The Shaking

This morning I sat down and asked the Lord what to read. Immediately I heard, “Haggai.”

I am constantly amazed at how consistently and accurately the Lord’s words through a prophet who lived 2500 years ago can apply so clearly to His people today.

In the 2 little chapters of Haggai, even though Nehemiah had finished the wall and Ezra restored the Word to them, the people had become pre-occupied with making sure they had the biggest 4K TV available, the best sound system and the latest iPhone with an app for everything, and had lost all interest in finishing the work that had been set before them of restoring the House of God, the Temple. (I paraphrase)

Because of their disinterest in the Lord, He said, He caused “their paychecks to disappear as though they were putting them in pockets filled with holes.” Sound familiar to anyone?

Here is His solution: “So now go down to Home Depot and Lowes and rebuild my house!” (again a paraphrase.) Another way to say this is, “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

He was telling them, I know how to get your attention, so “you hoped for big bonus checks but they were poor. And when you brought your paycheck home, I blew it away.” Did you see that? It was not the enemy stealing from them at this time, it was the Lord. He wanted to get their attention back to Him so He could bless them. He wanted to give them wealth, not just riches. Wealth; all the love, care, nurturing, mentoring, correcting, wisdom-bombs, character development, creativity, innovative ideas and yes, money too. But their focus had been misguided.

And then He promised to make it worse…Like, “Do I have your attention now?”

Thankfully the people feared the Lord, so he said, “I am with you!” Then he sparked the Governor of Praise, the High Priest and all the people with enthusiasm for the work He set before them!

They jumped into the work with excitement in their hearts for the House of God and for His Kingdom. They began to heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead and cast out demons! Oh…wait…I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Well anyway. As encouragement when the product they were building didn’t quite look like the church in the Book of Acts, the Lord said to them, (2:5) “My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt, so do not be afraid!” Go out and do it anyway and trust me. I am with you and I am for you and I will glorify my name!

Church, the Spirit of God is no longer among us, but is ONE WITH US. We have a greater covenant. We need not fear. No! We CANNOT fear. And we need to know this at the core of our being.

Now more than ever we must make our personal crowns not the Corona, but the helmet of Salvation. What I mean is, our understanding of all that our salvation has bought for us must be full and sure.

In Psalm 91:16, the Father promises that we will know the fullness of our salvation. (TPT) That includes much more than fire insurance. It means we became something new and we are here because the earth needs us to release the Kingdom that is within us.

We also have to know in our hearts that we are righteous before the Lord at all times. so that we never fear the assaults of the enemy. This is critically important so I always know that my Father is holding me by my hand as I go.

I need to be sure of this because He says in Haggai 2:6, “In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. v7, I will shake all the nations and the treasures of the nations will be brought to this temple.”

I believe the Father is saying to us at this time, Trust me and I will fulfill your obedience to act in my name, with glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The shaking has certainly begun. And when this shaking is over more will come. The Lord did not cause this virus among us, but He will get His people’s attention through it. The world is looking for solutions, and we have HIM.

He has given us our marching orders as the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The first step is making Him and His heart our first priority. Return to first love Church!

Now, during this crises, is the time to rise up. I pray the Lord will spark the enthusiasm of all those who love Him to go after His Kingdom with fervor.

I pray the Lord will come upon you in a new way, a way that you have never experienced Him before and literally blow your mind, so that your heart can receive Him without the confinement of your thoughts about Him.

I pray the fire of your passion for Him is re-ignited and that He will breathe upon it until a mighty inferno powers you into the work of the Kingdom, as your heart is entwined with His. Your fingers enveloped in His big hand as you march forward with Him.

 

 

Intimacy

For her, this chance was her last gasp, her last fragment of hope to be healed and restored from the wasting sickness that had aged her, made her pale, given her dark circles under her eyes, stolen her strength, stolen her energy, stolen her hope. But would she dare?

The oppression her culture imposed upon her because of her condition made everything harder. She had tried to find help, wasted all her resources on “cures” that didn’t. Everywhere she went she had to call out, “I am unclean!  Step aside or be defiled by my touch.” She wasn’t even supposed to be in public except for an emergency situation. As she gave her warning, people turned around, wide-eyed and then condemnation filled their faces, as if it were her fault. The most religious wouldn’t even look at her. Well this WAS an emergency!  It was her last gasp for life before she gave up, shriveled up and gave in to death.

Then she saw him, the Rabbi, Yeshua. Well, at least she saw and heard the cluster of activity and people surrounding him, moving slowly along with him. From  houses, from market booths, from begging mats, even from the aristocracy, people called out to Him, “Yeshua!”

“Son of David!”

“Heal me!”

“Touch me!”

She could see people straining to reach Him, straining to touch Him, just a touch, just a look, just a word! They were starving for Him and all He had for them. He was surrounded.

Yet with a kind smile in His eyes, he kept moving, talking, healing, bestowing love on people as He went along. His disciples tried to create some room for Him to move, giving him some distance from the pressing crowd. To do what she must, would cost her the last shred of dignity she still possessed.

As a good Hebrew man, Yeshua wore his tallit, his prayer shawl, with the fringes on the corners. Culturally it is a garment made for intimacy with God. As a man prays, he entwines his fingers in the fringes of the shawl, as he does his wife’s own hand; the reminder of the Word of God and how close, how much a part of his heart it is to be. In the culture of the day, only a man’s wife or children could touch this intimate place on his shawl. For a strange woman to touch it would be treated as adultery.

She could see the colors of His tallit from a distance, and she knew this place of intimacy with the one who sent Him was the key to her healing. Her heart was bursting with this sudden chance. “If I can just touch the fringe of his tallit I will be healed.”

In a burst of adrenaline she rushed the crowd on one side of Him, using the brief shutter of repulsion and the opening made as she shouted out, “Unclean!” one last time, and lunged to reach her arm and then her fingers through as she grasped the intimate fringe of His tallit.

Immediately and finally she felt energy and strength rush through her body.  Color rose in her cheeks as spontaneous recognition of hope fulfilled flooded her heart.  Color began to drain away again as she realized she might be healed but now in serious trouble; so she began to dart away to hide.

“Who touched me?” she heard the Rabbi ask? His disciples were confused. “What can you mean?  Everyone is touching you Yeshua.” “No. Somebody touched me and power has flowed out of me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.48 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace. (Luke 8:47-48 NLT)

“What?” Her eyes popped open. Did he just say that? her mind raced as she realized no one was going to stone her to death. Look, His eyes are full of love and peace and He’s looking at me! He called me daughter! As His daughter I am permitted this intimacy. As one who is intimate with him I have broken no law, I cannot be punished, no law will judge me, I am free! I am clean! I am healed! I am restored! I am His!

Amen!  This is what we have been granted in the new covenant. As partakers of the Body and Blood of the King, we are permitted every intimacy with Him. Our fingers are entwined in His prayer shawl, entwined in His own fingers. When we take His body into ours we become one flesh with Him. From this intimate place we are permitted to know the thoughts of our King and He shares them with us. We are permitted to know His heart’s intention that, when spoken, transforms.

In the physical, it is a common thing for people who have received an organ from another person to have memories from that person’s life. When we partake of our Father’s blood in the blood of Jesus, I believe we are also given access to His memories, His thoughts toward us, the plans He made for us from before the foundation of the world.

As I sit with Him in the intimacy of communion, fully receiving from Him, I am permitted to know the works He has prepared in advance for me to do. I am given the blueprints, the strategies. I am permitted to receive all of Him into all of me.  I am daughter, I am friend, I am bride. I am His.

Based on Luke 8:43-48

Pain Cant Hurt Me

The wave of deep, dull aching pain began to crescendo again in my left side radiating across my middle to my back.  It had been about fifteen minutes since the last crash of the wave, so I knew the inevitable was upon me.

My only momentary relief from the pain was vomiting my guts into the trashcan.  So, I reluctantly grabbed the plastic container again, and hugging it, waited for the compulsion to hurl to commence.   The pain reached the point of no return, causing my stomach to convulse.

At this very moment, I felt my heavenly Father’s embrace, as peace enveloped me.

“Pain can’t hurt you, little one, “ I heard whispered in my ear.

“What?  Surely, I’m not hearing this right,” I thought as I gagged.

I heard it again, and again, as the words tumbled over and over through my mind.  “Pain can’t hurt you.”

“But Papa, this hurts, it hurts so badly,” I countered.

“Yes, my love.  It does hurt, but it can’t hurt you,” He continued.

I struggled to understand what He meant.  Here I am, a trauma survivor, awaiting surgery the following day for a kidney stone that I wasn’t passing, afraid that the pain would be too much for me, and yet the God of the Universe, who could just heal me by the way, is giving me an object lesson on pain.

What?

I can hear some of your thoughts of “God wouldn’t do that.”

I’m not in any way saying God caused the kidney stone to teach me a lesson on pain, but I find in most cases in my life He won’t waste a bit of life’s experiences, whether positive or negative, to teach me something or to bring some inherent good out of it.

“He works ALL things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purposes.”  Rom. 8:28    He also said, “In this world, we will have trouble, but I’ve overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Well, my lesson was not over yet.  That evening, I was dreading a night of pain, more vomiting, and sleeplessness.  I honestly was beginning to wonder if I’d make it to the surgery the next morning.  As I got ready for bed, I again heard the Father’s prompting.  “ Stop fighting the pain.  Rest in it.”

Again, in shock, I countered, “How can you even say that?  How in the world am I supposed to rest in this pain?”  But, He wouldn’t change His mind, nor relent in what He was saying.

Finally, out of desperation, I looked to heaven and said, “Fine.  I’ll lean back and rest in this pain.”  As soon as I did, I again heard Him say,  “I’ll take care of this.”  Within minutes, I fell fast asleep.

Some time later, I awoke.  I had slept several hours straight.  I lay in the bed, waiting for the pain to hit.  It never did.  At some point in the middle of the night, God pulverized that stone.  An ultrasound the next day confirmed the stone was gone.

After the fact, I asked the Holy Spirit for some explanation.  What I came to understand was that yes, pain hurts in the sense of the natural.  We feel pain, whether mental, physical, or spiritual.  It wasn’t that God was devaluing that.  He bore our pains and carried our sorrows.  HE understands pain.  But what He was trying to get across to me is that when He is right there in the middle of it with me, it can’t truly hurt me, not the real me that He’s created me to be.  Nothing is greater than Him in me.  Not even pain is greater than Him.  Pain doesn’t have the power to overwhelm me and make me loose anything, because in Jesus I am held safe and sound.  I can rest back into suffering or pain, knowing that God is far greater than anything I’ll face, and He will turn it around for my good.

There have many times since then that the Holy Spirit has reminded me of those words spoken to me.  “Pain can’t hurt you.”  “Stop fighting the pain.  Lean back and rest in it.”

You see, especially as an abuse survivor, I’ve been afraid of pain, afraid it could push me over some invisible cliff that would cause me to loose it.  I’ve been afraid of suffering.

If you just live for ten minutes on this great, green earth, you will see suffering all around you.  In American culture, we do all we can to avoid it, being driven by comfort and convenience.  Yet, it is still there.

And lately, suffering just seems to increase.  From coronavirus filing the news, to a friend thrown in jail for running with her kids, to another mom fighting for her teenage daughter’s safety, to a loved one fighting Parkinson’s, etc., etc., sometimes it feels overwhelming when evil seems to prevail in this world.

I don’t normally watch the President’s State of the Union address; however, this last time, I did.  The story that caught my attention the most was about the young lady who believed God was a God in the middle of suffering, so she went to a Taliban ruled country to live with the suffering women and children to find that God.  Subsequently, she was captured by the lead Taliban terrorist and made his slave,  was tortured and mutilated until she was finally murdered.  I kept thinking, “Jesus, why?  Why such a tragedy?”

As I asked Jesus that question, He just gently answered, “She found me.  She found me in the suffering.  I was there.  I never left her.  I encompassed her like a shield, and though her body was tortured, her soul and spirit were surrounded by Me.”

Did Jesus want that to happen?  Of course not!   Does He see and care about every single person who is suffering?  Yes.  HE is close to the brokenhearted.  HE sees a single bird when it falls to the ground, and HE cares about it.  What breaks our hearts, breaks His heart.  He also sees a much larger, grander picture than we do though, and in that we can rest in Him.

Honestly, it still makes me sick to my stomach to hear those stories, because I hate that evil.  We think it’s limited to overseas, but it’s not.  It’s all around us in different forms.  Sex trafficking for one – women and children being abused, men as well in some cases – children abducted, murders, etc..

Yet, in every situation, in all the things, I see Jesus entering into that suffering, and being so present, just like He was with me hugging that trashcan.   He doesn’t stand aloof correcting us for not having enough “faith”.  He jumps right into the darkest place we find ourselves in, and He is actively at work turning it out for good for us.

Evil people may choose to continue in their evil practices.  He won’t violate freewill, but He does promise that one day it will catch up to them and that they will be held accountable.  We can rest in the justice of God.

Even in the most painful of situations, He asks us to trust Him.  Sometimes, He doesn’t rescue out of the pain, because He is working something good for us in it.  Sometimes, He is healing something deeper in us, maybe than we can’t even see, or doing something behind the scenes that we can’t understand in the moment.

Yet, He is always good, and is working all things together for our good.

Even as I write this, my daughter is watching a story about George Muller, a man who chose to completely run his ministry trusting God to supply all the needs of the orphanages he ran, never asking anyone for anything.

The story goes that one day there was not food for breakfast for the children, so he instructed them to pray.  As they did, a milk truck broke down in front of the orphanage.  The milkman brought in jugs of milk for the children, so that it wouldn’t spoil.  Shortly after, a baker knocked on the door with baskets of bread, because the Lord had prompted him to bake it for the children that morning.

God sees everything, knows our every thought and need, and He loves us.  He’s really BIG, far bigger than our enemies.  Even when all we can see is disappointment and pain, He is just waiting for us to trust Him, knowing somehow He will turn it for our good.

To me, the more amazing miracle is that He weaves it all into a beautiful masterpiece, even with all the things that looked completely dark or impossible.  Every strand becomes part of this gorgeous tapestry of our lives that He one day will present to us, and show us how He turned it all into beauty.  Every ash.  Every fear.  Every tear.

He asks us, He asks me, to trust Him, to trust that He is really good.  Some how, in some way, as I lean back into His embrace resting in His love for me, He will turn it all around for my good, because after all, pain can’t really hurt me,  not the real me, when He is in it with me.

 

 

Because I’m Free

Raindrops are falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothing seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
So I just did me some talking to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me
Won’t defeat me, it won’t be long
Till happiness steps up to greet me
Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me
Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me
Fifty years ago a doctor hummed that tune as he sauntered into my mom’s hospital room to check on a curly haired, newborn girl.  That girl was me.
My mom reminded me of that scenario last night as we talked on the phone.  As I recalled the words, singing the tune in my head, I said, “Mom, I think that may be my life’s theme song.”  I could feel her smile on the other end of the line.
Though I have my moments of “Oh my Lord, I’m turning fifty,” I must seem a bit weird, because I’ve actually had this excitement welling up in me the last few days, which is kind of different, especially since I’ve had some fairly large raindrops falling on my head in the last few weeks.
So, why in the world do I feel excited?  The answer is pretty simple.  I am so very grateful that I made to fifty, and I’m in such a better place than I was a decade ago.
You see ten years ago, I was struggling through a hurricane.  Those raindrops were huge then; huge!  I couldn’t see through them.  Every day, that I’d wake up, it was a fight to live. I had sticky notes all over my medicine cabinet of scripture verses on life and how I wanted to live, because I was constantly battling thoughts of suicide.
Depression smothered me.  Flashbacks haunted me.  Demons tortured me in my mind. And yes, I was a believer.  I had been faithful to Jesus to the best of my understanding, but I had wounds so deep, they oozed deadly infection; wounds that had been inflicted on me by others, that only Jesus could heal.
All the while, I had three beautiful little girls depending on me to pull through, and a loving, supportive husband trying his best to provide for us, and to help me as best he could.
Most of my church friends turned away during this time. I’ve found out now that scenario is very typical.  I had a few that stood with me.  My counselor wouldn’t give up on me, but most of all Jesus wouldn’t let go of me.
Over these last ten years, Jesus has faithfully, ever so lovingly and patiently, taken me by the hand and led me out.  He guided me through that hurricane, into sunshine, into light, into Him.
You don’t understand how much gratitude I feel in my heart.  I can breathe again.  I can enjoy my life.  I can laugh, and play and sing and dance.  I feel joy and peace and excitement for the future.  I didn’t even know that was possible ten years ago.
Even though some whopper raindrops still come from time to time, and I’m still working through areas of freedom, as I  daily cast my worries on Jesus, for I know He cares for me, I can now sing the last words of the song.  So, if you hear me humming,  “Because I’m free.  Nothing’s worrying me,” you’ll know why.

Lyrics by BJ Thomas

 

Sent from my iPhone