Place Cards

Daddy made an observation this morning about Annabelle. And though his remark was casual, it resounded in my heart. He spoke a deep truth and didn’t even realize it…

“Now! Annabelle’s at the table. That’s better than her high chair.”

Huh, I thought. This is it. Within Daddy’s simple statement, I find the heart of my struggle. But also, therein lies the key to moving forward. For my battle has everything to do with placement. Fighting for my place in life… in the worldly realm and in His. Let me explain.

IMG_2317

Earlier this morning, Annabelle cried out. Seems she found herself in a precarious position for she managed to pull herself up to a high place. Problem was she couldn’t get down on her own. No, I had to rescue her. Fortunately, though, she realized she’d fall flat on her face if she tried to. My wise little one year old sensed danger and had the foresight to call for reinforcement. She needed the strong arms of her mama.

Too bad I’ve not been as smart as her…

We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God… 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

I stumbled across the above verse three years ago. And I thought, “This is exactly what I’m supposed to do.” I thought God had given me charge to pull down that which stands in opposition to Him. To Christ. And I was. And am. The problem, though, is I got off-track.

See, I thought it was abortion. In September of 2012, that’s where I found myself. Uncovering a buried up past. And the days leading up to that point, and the months following, were profound. Awe-inspiring. I stood in a place called revelation and glory. Indeed, I stood on holy ground as the presence of God surrounded me.

https://pamandersonblog.com/2013/07/02/the-weight-of-glory/   https://pamandersonblog.com/2013/10/21/a-holy-place/

Back then, there was no question in my heart. About placement, that is. My mission was clear. Tear down that which was set-up against God and His throne. Alas, I ventured on from that place much too soon. Slowly but surely, I began to seek higher ground.

And so, as time progressed, my mission changed. Though I thought I was to speak up and renounce abortion, my objective changed. For over time, I became the target.

It was me.

I became the high-thing standing in opposition to Him. My baby girl shows me how…

IMG_1388

Just look at her. Annabelle was trying to get off the floor even then. She used her little arms to pull up to a kneeling position. Then standing. And within months, she could climb right up onto that piece of furniture. And there, she could sit on her throne and look out.

The only issue now is she cannot get down. She’s not strong enough. Or agile enough. If she tried it, she’d fall. Hard. Thus, she needs a rescuer.

Like me…

Annabelle is a picture of me.

IMG_2318

Three years ago was a heady time. Oh, what a thrill to be awash in God’s glory. For He poured Himself into me and I was filled with fresh revelation again and again and again.

But for a girl like me, that can be a very dangerous place. Because there, standing on holy ground, it’s too tempting to exalt oneself.

See, my battle has been insignificance. Inferiority. Invisible for too many years. But then, He saw me. God chose to reveal great truths. To me. Surely that meant I was special. Worth something. And not just in His realm, but the worldly realm.

And so…

Just like Annabelle, I peeled myself from the prostrate pose of worship and used self-seeking arms to pull up. Before I knew it, I was kneeling. And before I realized what happened, I found myself standing up. Standing on holy ground. And unlike Moses who had the presence of mind to remove his sandals, my feet remained shod. Way to casual with a holy God.

From there, I tried to gain a foothold. I used the force of my legs to propel myself upward yet again. And finally, I sat down on the throne of my heart… without a doubt, I displaced God from His rightful place.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Joseph 50:20

I dared stand in the place of God. And worse, I dared sit in His place. Casually. And rather than casting down abortion as I so thought I was supposed to do, I used my lofty position to cast down everyone else instead. Everyone but me, that is.

So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them:  “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

In looking back, I see I’m not as wise as Annabelle. I didn’t know I was too high to get down on my own. Not a clue I needed to cry out for a rescuer. The writing conference I attended in July opened my eyes, though. Trying to find my place at a table is what did it. Seeing that I wasn’t going to cry out on my own, God gave me a nudge…

Right off my throne.

I arrived late to dinner and chose a table at the back. No less than six people sat side by side leaving five unused chairs opposite. I selected the one in the middle which left me flanked by two empty chairs. I mustered up courage and spoke to the only man there.

“Is this seat taken?”

He hesitated. Just a brief pause but enough to hurt my fragile ego. After a less than enthusiastic offer, I sat. Alone. Those at the table completely engrossed in important discussion. I took a second look at that man because he looked familiar. And as fate would have it, and by fate I mean God, he happened to be my 9:00 a.m. appointment for the next day. I was going to present him with a book idea. And I felt sick.

Because he didn’t even notice me. Not at that table. Oblivious to my existence. He was engrossed in conversation with a lady I later realized was important. In the worldly realm. Because she had status. A position with a publishing company.

And so I swallowed down the herb of bitter with my meal. In my heart, I deemed the Christian realm to be no different than the world. In truth, there are those who matter and those who don’t. At least that’s how I saw it that night. Because in my most vulnerable of places, I was wounded. And it was then, I fell off my throne.

It felt just like God was pecking me on the shoulder and telling me to take a lower seat.

IMG_1671

Look at my girl. This was just months ago. Mouth filled with eggs. Her place was not at the table back then. Her high chair was off to the side and I’d pull it as close to us as I could when we dined. She didn’t seem to mind.

But finding myself in the same position, I did mind. And worse, I was mad at my heavenly Father. Because I wanted Him to acknowledge me. Moreover, I wanted Him to acknowledge me in the presence of others. To honor me. I wanted Him to put me on display…

“See her. This is My girl. My beloved. My chosen.”

At that conference it felt as though God pushed me off into the corner. And perhaps He did. Because wanting to be set apart in a special way kept me removed from everything. In truth, I was sitting in the high chair of mind. The truth revealed as a speaker said, “Remember me, God?”

My heart echoed her words.

She said, “Don’t they know who I am?”

My heart whispered the same…

“Do not come closer.” He said, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 33:4-5, 6

All these years I’ve been struggling to find my place in life. I’ve been vying for other people’s notice because for some reason, I’ve bought into the lie. That if other people think I’m worth something, then I am.

My husband knows this better than anyone. When I don’t feel enough appreciation, he’ll humor me by patting my hair and speaking softly, “Oh, praise Pam. Praise her!” Then we both laugh. I realize how silly I’m being.

But Jason’s words are telling. Because really, should it be praise Pam? Or praise God? And why isn’t it enough that God sees me. Intimately. And privately. Because He does.

Shouldn’t that be enough?

The LORD said, “Here is a place near Me.” Exodus 33:21

I can’t lie. My experience in July hurt. Trying to find my place at God’s table amongst all those more qualified than me nearly did me in. Nearly. The fact my offering was rejected struck an already raw nerve. Because what I had to offer was deemed not good enough. Thus, I wasn’t good enough.

And not only was my gift discarded by those at the table, but also by my Father. At least in my mind, it was. Today, though, I know this was a lesson. A necessary step. Truth to be applied to my heart.

It has to do with placement. Finding my place in life. But more importantly, finding my place with Him. See, God doesn’t share His glory. He doesn’t stand aside so His children can stand in His place. And that’s what I was trying to. And had been doing. I didn’t even know it.

IMG_2343

And as for God’s table, it’s not exclusive. Room for one and all. Whether the world deems you to be special or not.

It’s a process, walking with God. And just as Annabelle is growing up, so am I. I made a special place for her at our table recently. I realize God did the same. He made room for me. A place card etched with my name.

Only, sitting in the highchair of my mind, I didn’t see it. Sitting up too high, I overlooked it. But it was there the whole time.

IMG_2353 (2)

Today, I have to smile. And I let Daddy’s words tickle my ear…

He says, “Now! Pam’s at the table. That’s better than her high chair.”

And a laugh escapes my lips. Just like Annabelle. In every way.

How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:16-17

Wayward Daughter

DSCN2627

“All this,” said David, “the Lord made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.”              1 Chronicles 28:19

We’re each one different and He speaks to us in individual ways that we can understand. For me, it’s writing. His hand upon me, opening my eyes to see His words etched out by my own hand. A placement of Scripture here in a notebook, and a timely word from someone there, blending together to produce an awakening in my mind. And then, the ah-ha moment. For I once was blind, but now I see. It’s not for them, it’s for me. I had to see all this. Three years to clarity. Beginning with a journal in the Spring of 2010. At first, sparsely made entries with a timid strokes graced the pages. But over time, blue and black ink markings became more deeply inscribed. Some passages underlined so vehemently, the markings can be felt through to the back of the page. Passion and emotion poured out onto paper.

Then came a blog. So much inside to be released lest I burst into flame! And thousands of words poured forth in such a short time. It’s been seven months now. And over the course of time, I began to ride high. Because God revealed Himself to me. To me. And I gained knowledge. And so, up I traversed. But then I’d fall. Only to get back up, and move onward and upward once again. I climbed higher and higher, and felt better and better about myself.

It was in August when a verse came to me. As I ascended the steps of my church, I thought, “A woman shall encompass a man.” It wasn’t even an hour later that we were directed to Jeremiah 31. The verse I had thought of just that morning stared right back at me from the pages of Scripture. And so, I chalked it up to a God moment. I reveled in the thought that God revealed Himself to me. To me. I felt elated and thought that perhaps He was sending me encouragement in that His eye was directly on me. He could see me. But, now, I don’t think it was encouragement. In fact, I think it was a bit of a chastening. Because had I taken the time to read the verse in its entirety, I would have seen what I should have…

“How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth– A woman will encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:22

A God moment, in deed, for He did see me. And He was, in fact, speaking to me. But in the Pharisaical manner I had adopted, I saw only the good. In my arrogant high, I thought God was encouraging me… not chastening me. Furthermore, I neglected to see that He was instructing me in the way I should go through the verse immediately preceding…

Set up road markers for yourself;
establish signposts!
Keep the highway in mind,
the way you have traveled. Jeremiah 31:21

No, Jeremiah 31:21 didn’t mean a thing to me then, for I thought I was going in the right direction. It wasn’t until everything came to a screeching halt that God’s word spoke to me. Because I had stalled out… I was stuck, so to speak and could not move forward despite my best efforts. And it was around this time that I heard in my mind, “Not another step.” But alas, I figured “not another step” simply meant that God was telling me to sit tight until He provided a way for me to move forward. But oddly, deliverance was delayed. And so, I eventually remembered what I was supposed to be doing. Months earlier I knew I was to go through all of my journals, using them to set up markers for myself. This was the way I had been traveling, but eager steps forward slowly halted to a standstill. No further progress had been made. Not until last week, that is. That’s when I finished what I had started so long ago.

And God tied it all together for me this weekend. His hand upon me, a verse on a piece of notebook paper, and a timely message provided for an ah-ha moment. Because as I read about King David’s great sin with Bathsheba, a light was switched on. See, David sinned… but then he seemed to have just carried on with his life. It was some time later that Nathan the prophet came for a visit and told David a vivid story. The story was about a rich man who took something from a poor man and it was the very picture of what David did with Bathsheba. However, David was blind to his part in the story. Instead, he was incensed. He burned with self-righteous anger as he proclaimed, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!” David was indignant that a man would show no pity and do such a thing. And in the way of a Pharisee, David neglected to see himself in this story.

Do you think David was surprised when Nathan said, “You are the man!” I do. I think David was very surprised. I think that perhaps he had forgotten what he did. I believe that what took place with Bathsheba brought him low (his child died), and he was on his face before God while the child still lived. But then, his life carried on. I feel he may have traversed upward and onward, leaving the past behind. I think that perhaps his great sin diminished in his memory as days and weeks passed by. But, I wonder if David came to a stopping point. I wonder if he arrived at a point in which he could not seem to move forward with God… for how could he with all that lie deep within the recesses of his heart? And so, Nathan arrived with a timely message. Was it when he heard, “You are the man!” that his heart was pierced? Perhaps, this is when David penned Psalm 51… his heartfelt Psalm of confession. For when he saw a picture of himself, he was sorely grieved by his sin and had to confess.

You know, the last blog I typed up just before digging into my past was called “What Remains.” And I felt pretty good about it. I thought I was talking to other people about the divisiveness that stirs amongst God’s people. So high was I that I could not see myself in this piece. In the way of a Pharisee, I could not see that what was written was in itself divisive. Indignantly I sat, pointing a finger through every stroke of the key, judging another soul for a bumper sticker she chose to display. Smugly, I tapped out a message about remaining love, but failed to see that my message was not prompted by love. Instead, it was somewhat divisive and a bit self-righteous. I received a comment on that post, but didn’t approve if for a while. Frankly, I am just not as deep as the commenter, and for the life of me I didn’t know if I fully understood her meaning. I was troubled by it, though… was it an encouragement, or was it a chastening? Today, I lean more towards a kindly rebuke.

See… for me, it’s writing. He speaks to me, His wayward daughter, through His very words placed on notebook paper. A verse here, and a timely word from a person there. And then, the ah-ha moment. The blinders removed, I can see. And today, what I hear is, “You are the woman!” And so, not another step takes on a new meaning. Not another step means no moving forward till I get this one right. Because this one I’ve been carrying for way too long. My heavenly Father has spoken and He says not another step until I can leave this one behind. Once and for all. And with all my heart, I believe this time, I will.

For I believe I can hear Him calling. I think He’s telling me, “Carry on, My wayward daughter…”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=kansas+carry+on+my&qpvt=kansas+carry+on+my&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=60DCFA7415C565D472E760DCFA7415C565D472E7

A Holy Place

Sunrise

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4

I went down South this weekend. There was a ladies’ retreat at Oak Island, NC, and I went there fully expecting to meet God. I had my Bible, pens and notebooks at the ready. One of the notebooks I carried with me is entitled, “God Moments.” The idea for this journal was birthed about eight months ago. The plan was to review every single journal (all 15 of them) looking for those times when God made His presence known in my life. Those times were to be recorded in a special journal, so they wouldn’t get lost amongst my many words. I hoped it to be a faith building exercise. And I can say in truth, that it was. Operation journal review was complete as of this past Thursday, and my God moments notebook has entry after entry. Evidence of an almighty God’s handiwork all along the way.

And so, this weekend I was expectant. I just knew that on the heels of completing this charge (and a charge it was, for I’m certain the idea of journal review came from God), that I would enter His presence in some way over the course of the weekend. And sure enough, He showed up. Friday evening, there was a God moment. And through Saturday, He spoke in other ways. And so, by Saturday evening, my fingers were itching to etch out what I had experienced already. With a little time to spare, I made my way to the water’s edge with all my “God supplies.” Bible – check. Pen – check. Journal – check. God Moments notebook – check. And I settled down on a not so comfortable bench. I buried my head in my notebook, and had the pen ready. But then, I was assaulted. By gnats. More than I could count. They were everywhere alighting on every surface of my exposed skin. I inhaled them as huffed in annoyance! Irritated beyond measure, I thought that I would write in my journal anyway. I was not going to be dissuaded from the task at hand because I was doing a God thing – getting ready to record God moments. I did my best, till a gnat bit my hand. My writing hand. And it stung. That’s when I relented, and gathered my stuff. That’s when I said out loud, “Are you kidding me???” And so, I decided to move on down to another bench.

But then as I walked… I saw. There was the sun. And suddenly, my plan and my written words didn’t seem so important. Because the sun beckoned me. I had witnessed its glorious appearance that morning. I reveled in its warmth upon my skin. But alas, I quickly forgot it was there. Because it’s always there. So regular is the sun’s appearance that I take it for granted. And so, when it appeared to me again that evening, I was somewhat taken aback. Because I saw it anew. I was captivated by its display and a holy hush settled upon me. As the sun slowly sank towards the clouds on the horizon, I felt drawn to it. So I bypassed the benches and looked to an inviting patch of grass. I took off my sandals and sank to the ground. And there, I quietly watched.

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not come closer,” He said. “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4-5

I didn’t know it then, but the grass on which I was reclined was holy ground. Because not only was I in the presence of the sun, but I was also in the presence of the Lord. And He, like the sun, is always there. I go to Him in the morning, but then, I quickly forget Him. Because I take Him for granted. I get busy and set on my plans. I get engrossed in my words. But He’s there. He beckons me. He draws me. He vies for my attention. He waits for me to bypass the benches in life, and sit on a patch of earth with Him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday evening, God’s creation gave witness to His glory. As the sun sank lower and lower, it lit up the water brighter and brighter. Subtle peach turned to brilliant orange vividly contrasted against dark, murky waters. And then, the most astounding thing happened. The calm water began to move. At first, I didn’t know what it was. There was a crash that startled me. And then, water began to roll. Waters billowed and began to heap up faster and faster crashing onto the walls surrounding it. This calm body of water on the sound side of the peninsula moved ferociously, though I couldn’t find a reason for it. Not a boat was in sight, and yet, the waters rolled.

I almost missed it all. I had been on the other side of a house, sitting on a bench with my head down in a notebook. I was completely engrossed in what my plans were, and completely oblivious to what was taking place around me. So intent was I on journaling about God moments, that I almost missed a very real God moment. And so, when I roused from my stupor, my spirit echoed the words of Jacob… “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16) For God moments abound. And God surrounds. The lesson I learned… open my eyes! Be still and look around. For creation magnifies the glory of the Lord. Had it not been for a swarming mass of gnats on Saturday evening, I would have missed the sunset. Had it not been for the gnats, I would have missed God!

As a side-note, I’d like to mention just before sunset was the only time I encountered gnats throughout the entire weekend. At first, I thought they were sent from the hounds of hell to distract me from my God stuff. But now I see. God sent them. For those pesky creatures moved me from where I sat. They prompted me to move further along and around a corner so I could see better. And when I finally lifted my eyes, I saw what He wanted me to see. I saw Him.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a groom coming from the bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course. It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6

The Lampstand

This_Little_Light_of_Mine

“Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light. Mark 4:21-22

My sister-in-law had a pastor who used to say, if you’re not doing anything for the cause, then take down your Christian flag. I understand what he means here. He’s saying that if the way you live your life doesn’t align with Christ, then don’t fly your flag. Don’t proclaim that you’re His if what you do brings dishonor to His name. Because your testimony will leave an impression on someone. Good or bad. How we decide to conduct ourselves will touch another’s life in some form or fashion. Each action we take through the course of our lives makes up our testimony. Our lives are our witness.

And there have been several times that I’ve questioned what I’m doing here. See, I am a woman. And I am overly sensitive (my husband can attest to that). I will take what someone says to me, and analyze it, and stew on it… and if it doesn’t jibe right – then I let it get me down. If I take a remark as criticism, I begin to doubt what I’m doing. And so, today, I wonder… Am I doing the right thing here? Because if you were to read through all the posts I’ve written, quite a few pertain to struggle. And I wonder – does that honor my Lord? Or, am I bringing dishonor to His name. Am I His credible witness? Or should I take down my Christian flag because my life just doesn’t align with His. I wonder…

I’ve titled this spot “The truth about God & me.” And I think in the very beginning, there may have been some “fluff.” I’d have to go back and read to be certain, but you know, there are some places you just don’t want to go. Some things may be better left alone… skimmed over or ignored. Because as a Christian, shouldn’t your life reflect nothing but light and glory and victory and peace and goodness and love? As a Christian, shouldn’t your light be shining bright to point out all the good there is in following Christ? As a Christian, shouldn’t your life be chock full of the fruits of the Spirit? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

The truth is, there should be. As a child of God, I should be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and all that other stuff. But you know what… I’m not there yet! I emphasize yet. I believe this is the whole point of my blogging. See, I’ve heard some phenomenal testimonies in my time. I have heard stories of those who found Jesus, and they did a complete 180, and they haven’t been the same since. And that’s wonderful. But sadly, this is not so with me. I am a Christian woman, I have no doubt. But the truth is, I hold to my old stuff. For the flesh is hard to overcome. My testimony is one of struggle, for I battle idols and hatred and strife and jealousy and selfish ambitions and factions among many other things. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:19.

There’s a line from a movie that I like… there sits a man in the witness stand and an attorney hammers him, demanding the truth. Jack Nicholson’s voice rings out, “You can’t handle the truth!” Truth. It’s what we all want, right? Truth. It’s what can set one free. Truth. It’s what God demands of His people, for He desires truth in inward parts. Psalm 51:6. The 100% truth about God & me is that I struggle. And there are places that I cannot go yet in writing about Him. For I haven’t made it there yet.

A brother in Christ exhorts me to get the Bride mentality. But I can’t yet. Because the head knowledge has not made it to my heart yet. At least with regard to my being loved and cherished as a precious bride. I know He loves me, for His word tells me so. But for now… today… I have experienced God in other ways. He is my Heavenly Father, and He provides for me. I’ve experienced this. He is my wonderful Counselor and He guides me. I have experienced this. He is the still voice and speaks, for I have experienced this. He has a plan for my life. I know. I’ve experienced His hand maneuvering the seconds and minutes of my day. But cherished… by God? My head says yes, but my heart registers it not.

Another truth? I fancy myself a prophet. Because I love to proclaim God’s word and I want to encourage others. And for the longest time, I thought my mission was to proclaim freedom. But through the course of blogging, I had the shocking realization that I cannot do this! For how can one enslaved proclaim freedom? How can I help free captives when I am not free myself. Imprisoned by bars of my own making. Thus, I don’t feel free! And no doubt, I am not the only one. I am not the only one. I am not the only one. There are others… Christians… who have not experienced the freedom that is available to us through Christ. Why is that?

The truth about God & me, is I have far to go. And I am not the only one. Why fly this Christian flag of mine? Because I want women like me to know… there’s hope. I know my God is real. He speaks to me. He leads me. He provides for me. And I have no doubt that He’s leading me to that elusive freedom. He’s taking me by the hand and trying to convey to me how much he loves me. He’s been trying to show me this whole time. He wants me to know the truth. I can handle the truth. And the truth is, I’ve been bound. I am held by traditions and by rules and by regulations that were set forth by man long ago. I have been trying to adhere to all the things I think I should be doing… but Galatians 5 is clear. Christ has liberated us into freedom. Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery, for you are called to freedom!

The truth about God & me is that I am bound to law. But according to Galatians 5:14, the law can be fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. And I’ve read that love covers a multitude of sin. Love and freedom. That’s what I want. I’m seeking it with all my heart, but for some reason, it eludes me. And from what I understand, it’s there for the taking. It’s free. This is part of my struggle. But you know what? I found something precious through God’s word not long ago… it gives me great hope.

The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room. Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle where the ark of God was located. Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 1 Samuel 3:1-3

Samuel served the LORD, but at first, he never had a personal word from God. See, his mother had prayed for that boy, and she promised that if she gave birth, she’d give that boy to God. And so, Samuel was committed to the LORD before he even really knew Him. He began to serve because that’s what he was brought up to do. And as he lie near the ark of God, he heard a voice. It was God, but Samuel didn’t even recognize who was calling. Here is a boy who had been in service of the LORD, but he didn’t even know God’s voice when it came. But God didn’t stop after one time…

To me, this is a picture of us today. I think we begin doing and serving before we even know why we’re doing what we do. I think we take on tasks that we perhaps are not even meant to do. Because we haven’t heard from the LORD yet. We haven’t heard His call. And because we can become so distracted by busyness, we further alienate ourselves from Him. We bypass relationship with our Creator because we just get too busy. And His voice is a still, small voice. In our noisy lives, can we hear Him when He calls? Will we even recognize His voice amidst the clamor we encounter every day…

Why do I fly my flag if I’m so flawed? Maybe it’s because of the passage of 1 Samuel. Because within those verses, I see light. I see hope. There’s power in those words… Before the lamp of God had gone out. See, the lamp was still lit when God called to Samuel. And if we’re His, we have God’s lamp inside. It’s lit. There are those who have encountered the fullness of God’s love and their blaze is burning bright. And there are those who have broken free of the prison of their own making, and their flame beckons others to follow. But for some… there may only be a pilot light. And the good news is, the lamp of God has not gone out. There’s still time. And in my walk with God, I think this is me. There may only be a pilot light burning right now, but the truth is… it’s still on.  No, I am nowhere near where I should be. But I am on my way. I am on my way. That’s why I fly my flag. Because… I am not the only one. No, I am not the only one. And that’s encouraging to me. I am not the only one…

We have his light in us. Some shine more brightly than others. But in a dark world, just a spark will do.

… and her lamp never goes out a night. Proverbs 31:18

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=light+of+mine+&qpvt=light+of+mine+&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=7AEE361A71CF83429B977AEE361A71CF83429B97

Light of men

jesus-light

With me, it began with His word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5. How beautiful are His words. And how beautiful is He, for He is the Word. And He is the life. He is the light of men and He shines in the dark, for darkness could not hold Him.

The Word. God’s word. I feast on it. And thus, I feast on Jesus. But I haven’t always. No, for so long I nibbled on bits and pieces of Him. But eventually, bits and pieces grew to a steady diet. And now, I cannot get enough of Him. Because the more I read, the more I know about Him. And His word is transforming. See, through the pages of Scripture God begins to speak to us… directly and individually and specifically. And that’s where it all began with me. Reading the word. Reading Jesus.

It was three years ago that I had had enough. Enough of me. It was a turning point, really. And so, I sought God fervently… through His word. And He spoke volumes to me. For it was through the pages of Scripture that I found out what I needed to do to move from where I was. In order to move away from me, and the darkness, I had to purpose to know Him in my heart. I had to determine it, and then, move towards the light… towards Him. Because if I wanted to know God, it wasn’t just going to magically happen. I had to participate…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10

This verse was a life-changer. But three years ago, I had a different version of the Bible. And then, I read it in light of God. Father God. But now, I see. To know Father God, I must first know His Son. That’s the only way to know God, for Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. And that’s what this journey is all about. See, upon finding Philippians 3:10 so long ago, I didn’t really know what I was asking for when I claimed that verse. Honestly, I simply purposed to know God… aside from His Son. But, oh, to know Christ is to know God. For they are One and the Same. And to know Christ… I mean really know Him… we must follow Him. All the way. And when we do, we begin to put off our old self. We begin to transform as we put on a new self who is renewed according to the image of Him who created us. Colossians 3:10. But this can be painful. For in order to be resurrected, we must first die. And just as Jesus suffered, so shall we. And not just in an eternal, end of life kind of way. No, it’s a daily thing.

I think most of us have heard, “WWJD.” What would Jesus do? Some people wear it on a bracelet, or a necklace. And it’s a nice thought… Jesus would help someone in need, or He would be kind to an unlikeable person, or He would heal the sick. You know all those great things Jesus did. But in reality, Jesus came to die. Ultimately, that’s what He did. He died for us. He put His life last, and put us first. That’s what Jesus did then, and that’s what He would do today. He died, and He expects us to do the same. The truth about God & me? I don’t want to die. Not all the way. Not like He did. I’m too selfish. The truth? All this darkness that surrounds me? Well, there’s layers to it. And one layer for certain is my selfishness. The darkness in which I dwell? Well, I’m still in the tomb. But that’s okay, for I know that I know that I know that He’s working on me. I will be resurrected. And here on earth, too, not on the other side of eternity. It’ll happen here where people will witness my resurrected life. Like Lazarus. Whatever suffering I may endure is simply me dying… to me. Following Jesus unto death. It’s what He would do. It’s what He did. For us.

It was Sunday morning as I walked up the steps to my church that a random thought came to me… “A woman shall encompass a man.” It wasn’t much later that my Sunday School teacher took us to Jeremiah 31. Although we read about the New Covenant, my eyes fell to verse 22… For the LORD creates something new in the land – a female will shelter a man. This is the verse that came to me earlier… different version. That day, I thought God was just telling me His eye was upon me. He saw me. But now, I wonder if it was something more…

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child,she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:20-22

Labor is painful, but a new life bursts forth. Anguish and pain will turn to rejoicing. In the same way, dying to self is painful. But, new life bursts forth. We’ll receive beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. WWJD? He would suffer, and He would die. But He would also burst forth – new life. Remember… He told us these things so that we would have peace. He said we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer… for He had overcome the world. John 16:33.

You see, with me, it began with His word. And through it, I found that life was in Jesus, and that He was the light of men. I found that He shines in the darkness, and that darkness did not overcome Him. And it will not overcome me, either. For I’m following Jesus. I, too, shall overcome.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Micah 7:8