Why We Must Know His Heart: how it will change the world

handfulThis place is fractured.  No one can deny there is something wrong with this world.  The news spreads it’s fear propaganda to millions of wide-eyed panicked souls, I watch and it tries to lure me in, but mainly what I notice more than the news they are reporting is a pattern.  We think we have come a long way, after all we are so advanced in our knowledge and technology.  We are so much wiser now; but to me, I think we look the exact same as those embarrassed and naked people that day in the Garden.  We are still nothing more than formed dust in the Potter’s hands, breathing His breath, trading truth for a lie, scared to death and hiding in the bushes.  There is nothing knew under the sun.

But when judgement was just, here comes Mercy walking in the cool of the day.
one acornbright trail i I’m sitting outside with young women around a table I painted with chalk paint.  The wax surface is getting stickier with each year, and now my leather bible sticks when it rests there for too long.  I peel it up like it’s a sticker.  They talk, I listen.  They share their days and their experiences with a “there’s nothing I can do to change” kind of perspective.  I can feel my heart breaking a little on the inside, I press my lips closed tight and think to myself don’t cry, don’t cry Amy, they will think you’re crazy.  And they would, so I don’t, I save that for when they leave.

And these?  These are the church.  These are you and me who are walking around claiming the Name of Christ, and I am overwhelmed by that.  This world we walk around in is fractured, and we are still, even still in this day of all our advancements, believing a lie.  Maybe now more than ever.  I know the serpent’s head was crushed, but do I live like it?  Do we?  Or are we letting the lie get too close and take up residence next door?  Do we desperately cling to comfort and the stuff that makes us feel secure, instead of the Comforter, the only One who gives security?  Do we believe the lie that we are incapable, unworthy, unintelligent, hopeless, and at the mercy of fate?  Why are we satisfied to live defeated, when Christ’s life, death, and resurrection exists to offer the opposite?  Why are we sitting in church pews on Sunday, and then sitting near a Liar every other day of the week and allowing him to slither around our feet?

Do we even recognize that it’s happening?

That we can conform more into the likeness of this world and less into the Image of Christ and not even know the wrong transformation is taking place?

I listen and listen and listen and then listen a little longer, and all I can think is, this is not the heart of God.  Our lives are not declaring who He is.  He created us to give praise and thanks to Him, in all things, because He is so good and so worthy.  Every bit of creation declares it, and if we are silent then the rocks will give praise instead and we will miss our Christ given privilege.

side door glory iboots ip snakered leaves at feet i

When God revealed Himself to Isaiah in a vision, every being in heaven could speak nothing but “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty.” (v. 3)  Can you imagine that for just a moment?  No matter your background, no matter your circumstances, no matter if you believe Him or not, no matter your Christian discipline or lack there of, the only words due Him in His presence are “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  And the only words we can speak in response to Him?  “Woe to me!  I am ruined!” (v. 5)….and Isaiah was a prophet.

But here this time, when judgement was just, Mercy flies down in the form of a live coal.  A cleansing fire.

mosstrees up above i one pumkin i the white house 1His love and mercy is too overwhelming to comprehend, and after the Lord extends this undeserved grace to his prophet he asks, “Who shall I send? And who will go for us?”   In light of all that God had done, there was nothing to say before the Almighty but, “Here am I.  Send me!”  This quick response and eager enthusiasm, this passion to lie down in surrender, this begging plea to be sent to speak truth, all this because of a vision of God and atonement through a burning coal.

All this before the Word became Flesh and walked among us.  All this was before the cross.  All this before Perfection was tortured and murdered on our behalf.  All this before nails were driven in His hands and He had our names on His mind.  All this before the tomb was found empty, and death had been conquered.   All this before He sent His Spirit to literally seal us and guarantee victory.

How much greater should our response be?

red berries I one berry iBut how?

We can all agree there is something wrong with our ways.  We know it not in our nature to believe what is unseen, to deny events around us and press on toward a deeper truth.  We know it can be effortless to conform to this world, to blend in among the masses, to believe what the world believes, looking the way the world looks, speaking the way this world speaks, and fearing the way this world fears.

But there is a better way.  There is a determined purpose we can claim for our lives, that will supernaturally resist this fractured place and will instead transform us into the image of the One who overcame it.

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]. Philippians 3:10 AMP

Oh how much better it can be.  Our hearts and lives can become sacred ground, a holy temple, a promised land of refuge and security because He fills it.  But we have to know Him.  We have to know His heart, or ours will never turn away from the patterns of this world.

We can’t just know of him, but we must know Him.

And when we know Him, there is nothing left to say in His presence but, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty.”  And then daughter in Christ, He no longer asks, “Who shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  He sends the ones who look like His Son.  And those everyday, ordinary, Christ-like girls, girls like you and me, will change the world.

Who You Are

See, I told you The Gospel is a love story.  Have a beautiful weekend….You. Are. Adored.

YouTube Preview Image

{This post contains a video.  If you are viewing in a reader, you will need to click over to Playing Sublimely to view}

 

Run of the House

1

Every fall a camellia tree out back blooms and I’m surprised.  I forget it does it’s thing it was created to do in the fall.  As everything else is turning brown and preparing to rest for cooler months, this tree comes to life.  It’s a surprise gift each year and I didn’t have to labor one minute for it to be so, and I certainly haven’t spent a single day worrying it wouldn’t bloom.

I’ll always remember several years ago when I was suffocating in fear.  An irrational kind of what if fear.  Maybe it’s being a mother, maybe it’s a chemical imbalance, maybe it’s watching someone too close to home suffer in agonizing loss; whatever it is, you can just wake up one day and be scared to death to move.  Paralyzed by fear.  It’s real.

During that time, I sat in church one Sunday listening, begging God to give me something to grip onto.  I listened as an 8 year old in front of me smiled and whispered, finishing the words of my pastor, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  As our pastor proclaimed truth into a microphone up front, an 8 year was personally claiming it for himself from his seat in the back of the church…receiving the gift and allowing it to travel from his head to his heart.

Bringing it home with him in childlike faith as treasure.

It spoke to me in the most comforting of ways. As I was searching for something to grasp onto, I began realizing my need was actually quite the contrary.  I was gripping fear, and it was killing me.  While I was begging God to give me something to grip onto, he was whispering for me to let go because I was already in His grip.

one bud 6

web 2

3

tree 1

perfectly pink 5

bricks 7I still don’t have answers like I wish I did, and I can’t make sense of circumstances like I wish I could; but as years build upon my life, my eyes are being opened to patterns.  I’m noticing that spending too much time in either yesterday or tomorrow, will almost always lead me to fear and anxiety.  It’s practically a guarantee.  I’m noticing when I dwell on all that is evil, I am blocking the freedom that only comes from faith in the promise of the One in control, the One who works all things for good.  Because He is always good.

When we fear this world, we are doubting the goodness of God.

Fear can become our default, and any pattern we practice will affect the way we live, but God offers a better practice.  The practice of faith, that one and only way we can please Him.

Tim Keller says it like this:

“Anxiety is a daily statement to God saying, ‘I don’t think you have my best interest in mind’.”

kitchen 4

on the cooktop 8By His grace, we must change our default if we are going to live abundantly in the fullness of Christ.  God didn’t ask fear to leave.  He didn’t walk fear out of His presence.  He “casts fear out”, or depending on your translation, “banishes all fear”, or “expels all fear”, or “drives out all fear”.  And then sometimes we just need to hear it from The Message in plainer terms:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.  1 John 4:17-18

So I could worry all year that those pink buds aren’t gonna come.  I could toil and research and treat and care for that tree out back to ensure it blooms.  Or I can personally claim Truth like that 8 year old kid in church, and faithfully practice forgetting about fear, worry, and anxiety all together; and let love run wilding through my house instead.  And then one day instead of waking up afraid, I will wake up and see flourishing, blooming, pink promises that have only bloomed by faith.  And every last petal is nothing but grace.

 

One Thing

whisper blur iphoto
I sit on the floor painting Antibes Green on the inside of drawers.  For no great reason other than it’s somehow unexpected joy to me.  The drawer holds toilet paper in the bathroom.  Toilet paper.  But I opened that drawer and thought it was boring, so I’m painting it with chalk paint.  Yeah, I know.

Kev marches back and forth through the room with missional intensity.  He’s cutting trim and remembering numbers in his head.  He generally doesn’t chit chat while he’s mitering corners, but as he passes I throw out this one question like it’s no big thing.  “Hey Kev.  If you had one prayer to ask of God on my behalf for this new year, what would it be?”  He stops and his confused face is asking the obvious, since when did God become a genie, granting but one prayer?  

I smirk at him, realizing this seems a little narcissistic, “Just humor me on this one.”

He keeps walking, murmuring numbers and disappears into the garage.  I know he’s thinking, so I keep painting green and wait.

Because here’s the thing.  One day you wake up and your kids are all at school, and you stare at laundry on the floor and cereal bowls in the sink, and the news is on but only talking about all this God forsaken injustice, and the neighbor next door dies and her 9 year old daughter plays in the backyard with your girls, and this guy I love kisses me real long at the side door and then smiles and goes to work, and you’re standing there with your hair in a bun and tattered Ugg boots on your feet looking at these two dogs and saying, “Now what?”

Yeah.  That just happened in my world.  So yes, I’m gonna ask, “What’s your prayer?”rows iphoto 2E & K playing ball Geneva blur iphoto

toss blurjacksonHe walks back in and says with the poise of pageantry, “I would ask God for world peace, because that’s always a good prayer.”  He laughs and now I’m laughing because I knew he would say that.  The man speaks fluent sarcasm.  We both keep working.  The air compressor comes on and to this day, 15 years of loving and listening to this man work in our house, the air compressor turning on still makes me jump.  He shoots the wood into place and then walks back into the room where I’m painting and anticipating his real answer that I know is coming.

“I would pray that you would be free of burdens He doesn’t want you to carry.”

His prayer floats in the air between us, but then goes up like smoke before God.

I already feel lighter because I remember now that we can pray stuff like that.  That the temperature can drop cooler and the calendar can turn to Fall, and all that change has absolutely nothing to do with the unchangeable presence of the Father.

We work so hard to change our title from sheep to oxen.  We load the baggage of yesterday and tomorrow on our shoulders and then wonder why our backs are killing us.  We forget that we can drop it all at the cross…today.

single sheep iphotoSo that’s your one prayer huh?  I smile at him because He’s sounding a lot like Jesus to me, but maybe this is a “life prayer” and not just a “when the tides of change are rolling in kind of prayer”.  Or the tides of grief.  Or the tides of fear.  Or the tides of uncertainty.  Or how ’bout you just fill-in-the-blank.

Maybe no matter any of it, at any shore where we stand, there is a way to be still and let the tides of grace flow over us?

But how?  I’m still sitting, and I think about it for a long time.  The drawers are completely green now, and they make me smile every time I open them just like I knew they would, which I know is silly.  And I know it’s silly to pretend we have but one prayer to offer up to God, the wisest of us all is the one who offers up one prayer with every drawn breath.1 sheep standing iphotofeeding sheep blur iphoto

fog with blur iphotoBut what if you had just one?

What would it be?

How about one that would cover all prayers?  A one size fits all for your prayer life.  Is there one?  What if we search the heart of God to find what He would desire we pray if we could utter just one prayer before Him?   If it were so for all of us, all of us who have done a brilliant job of muddling up messes for ourselves and watering down His word.  Us sheep who keep trying to convince God that we are oxen ready to work hard for salvation.  Yeah, you and me, us, one prayer, what would it be?

I’m thinking we might land right alongside David, that guy who had a heart like his Daddy.  That one who suffered much, yet still had much to offer up in praise.  It turns out he asked one thing too.  This one thing that kind of covers all our things.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.  Psalm 27:4

No matter what.  This one thing I ask.  One prayer.  What if we asked it of Him?  To dwell, to gaze, and to seek.  Period.  I think He would be enough.  I think it would change everything for you and me.  How ’bout we see?