Sometimes we get into our little routines of day to day life and forget that there is something better. At least I do. Peaceful early mornings give way to the day’s to do list, and before I know it, the sun’s already set. And though I’m blessed beyond what I’ll ever know to spend my days with the best Friend there ever was-- a focus on today alone is a sad mistake.
I often find myself becoming content with the glory of living life with my Jesus and forget that living this life with Him is not the only goal. True love will never be content with anything but being as close as possible.
He reminded me gently the other day when I was praying and thanking Him for all the gifts He’s given. I’d journaled simple… “Good morning Jesus! I’m so happy to get to spend this day with you. I am so excited about all the things we are going to get to do together in the next month. I can’t wait to be in England. I love that place and I’m so very thankful that I get to take you with me. What could be better?
Gentle voice whispers... The moment when I can have you here with Me and you can feel My strong arms around you… the day when we can walk arm in arm along the streets of gold… the wonder on your face as you see it all for the first time… the tears in your eyes as you realize all I left for you and how much more deeply I loved you than you could ever know… a ceaseless eternity, face to face and together with no barriers…
Oh. Deep breath. Yeah. How did I forget? Of course.
It’s easy to get so consumed in the here and now that I forget there is a future. I forget there is more. I forget this is the journey and not my home. I forget that even this sweetness is only a taste of the best that is yet to come.
Catastrophes have a way of shaking us awake to the future. When I hear of little four-year old Muna Puri from Nepal who was playing outside when the ground began to shake underneath her and the buildings began to sway above her and finally collapse on top of her, I remember that this is not home. No one even knows where her crumpled little lifeless body is right now. Her mother just knows she's somewhere under all the rubble from those buildings… that the house they just took out a loan to build is a mess of stones all over the street… that she has nothing left. Nothing here. And there’s thousands more with such stories… with the death toll over 5,000, at least 8,000 seriously hurt and 8,000,000 heavily affected, the pain has to be unimaginable.
I walk through grassy fields and my heart burns. How could I have thought that this was all I wanted? How can I be so content on this broken little planet? How can I rest until I can throw myself into His arms? How can love be satisfied until it is as close as possible?
Sabbath morning the visiting pastor with greying hair shares how he never thought he would marry or have children before Jesus came and now he is an old man with grandchildren. His elderly friends are passing away, and he wants to go home. That’s when it hit me. I’ve never really thought I’d ever have my own children either. I thought He’d be here by then. What if I grow old and He still hasn’t come?
And sure, that’s not what He wants. He’s more desperate to come than I ever could be to have Him here.
But the truth sinks in… He can’t come until we fulfill His command and shout to every corner of the earth that He is God, and He is good, and His love knows no limits, and He is able to save to the very uttermost boundaries of the earth…
What are we waiting for? If we love Him, why aren’t we doing everything in our power to share that love? Why aren’t we living for the day when we’ll be forever reunited?
Instead of that, we often forget that there even is a heaven to come. We live for today. We do our own tasks and claim to be too busy to do His work.
Wait a minute. What are we even here for if it’s not His work? What is the point of today if it isn’t to love Him and share that love with His people?
It’s not all about living for now. We’re living for a brighter, sweeter, eternity than we can ever grasp here. Sure, I believe in treasuring today, but not at the expense of living for eternity. Today is a tool to bring us closer to home.
I can’t imagine living my whole life and growing old here. I can’t imagine not seeing Him for that long. I can’t be content to always live here on earth with Him in heaven, even if there is a strong connection between. This world is not my home… I don’t want to live like it is.
I can’t ignore those pleading eyes that tell of an even greater desire to be together on His part.
I can’t let my life consume me. It’s not about my to do list-- what I have to get done before the day is over. It’s about Yours… what You have to get done before You can come. I want my generation to see. I want to see myself. I can’t bear thinking that we will sit back and let the years roll by and be consumed with our own tiny stories. Please teach us to live for Your story. Give us a zeal that will be unstoppable to do our part for that day to come. Teach us what it means to love. Then we will know what it means to really live.
We’d only been climbing for an hour or so and I literally felt like I couldn’t go much further. It seemed like every hill I fought to get up would only give way to another one twice it’s size. We’d still had no glimpse of where we were actually going. I just wanted to know how close we were… how many more miles we had left to climb… how many more hundreds/thousands of feet I still had to battle up…
I didn’t know all I had gotten myself into… I did know that when we’d set off from the parking lot that morning to climb a mountain I still couldn’t see I felt a little fear and trepidation about the adventure.
It wasn’t until we’d mounted the hill I never thought I’d get up, and the landscape opened up in front of me, that it hit me. Sure, we had a very long way to go… yeah, that mountain in the distance with the snow on top was the one we were supposed to climb… true, we had to walk along an edge for an hour with a death fall on both sides… yes, my feet felt blistered and sore… But the question wouldn’t leave my mind and somehow it spurred me on—like somehow all the gusto I poured into climbing that mountain was a bit of an answer…
How high would I climb to fall into His embrace? How hard would I fight to see His face?
Maybe it’s fear that stops us. Fear of falling, fear of letting go of the idols that hinder us from loving Him…
I had to face a few of my own fears on that climb. I’ve never been a huge fan of heights… most of my nightmares end in falling off the top of some skyscraper and waking up seconds before I crumple on the concrete. But in climbing that mountain, we had to walk across an edge with a death fall on both sides. And though I had a few moments of panic, my mind was so set on the summit that I didn’t have time to let that fear consume me.
I wonder if part of the reason we don’t work through our fears is because we’ve gotten distracted and taken our eyes off the goal. We look around at all the things that might happen if we really throw ourselves into seeking Him… we look inside and see how messed up we are… and we shake with fear and say that there is no way. But just maybe, if we looked ahead to the moment when He’ll catch us in His giant arms and we’ll be able to gaze into His eyes, we’d be able to look up now and determine that we’ll be willing to do anything to reach that moment.
So often we let the mentality around us affect the way we live. We don’t throw every inch of ourselves into the pursuit of God. We tire of really seeking His face. We stop dreaming of really seeing Him because that day seems so far away. Honestly, we don’t want to expend the effort it takes to walk with Him like Enoch did. We’re not sure if we’re ready to abandon ourselves to Him that way.
But honestly, the only goal that is worth throwing every ounce of ourselves into is to be as close to Him as possible now-- and for all eternity.
We throw ourselves into our careers— studying for years for a degree that claims we know our field… we throw ourselves into sports and athletics for a medal that will last a few years and then mean nothing… we throw ourselves into making something out of our life here, but sooner or later that too will end. But for some reason, we don’t throw ourselves into seeking God, into fighting to see the face of our Jesus. As a friend once shared with me… We know we are to dig for the Treasure, but we move one shovelful and give up because we find nothing…
It’s no new thought… maybe we have to just go back a little and remember what we were instructed.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”
There is nothing to say that we cannot walk with God now like Enoch did. And we have every reason to believe that if we fight for closeness with Him now, we will have it for all eternity. How can we be satisfied with anything less? How can stop short of doing whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to see the face of our Jesus?
The real soldier willingly fights for freedom because He loves His country. The real Christian willingly fights for a relationship with the Omnipotent because they love their Jesus. It's not all about sitting and basking in His love. It makes the enemy mad to see heart who want to live life as close as possible to Jesus and he will do whatever he can to stop them. He attacks hardest what he knows is most precious. He's not about to let Jesus have the highest place in our hearts. He will suggest a million different "glossy" things to fill His place. If we want to spend each minute in His arms and one day see Him face to face we will have to fight hard. We will have to throw every ounce of ourselves into seeking Him.
But if we really love Him, we will count it all joy. We will want to fight because we cannot bear the thought of not being with Him.
We made it to the top of that mountain. I’m still amazed. And very very sore. But it was worth it.
And when we walk down those golden streets arm in arm with our Jesus, it will be worth it. Oh so worth it. Every ache and pain will be forgotten when we can lay our head on His shoulder and simply rest.
As we clambered down that mountain it seemed clearer to me than ever. No hight is too much to climb for Him. No fight too hard. No pain too much. Whatever it takes. Whatever.
How high would you climb to fall into His embrace? How hard would you fight to see His face?
Sometimes I wonder if we have lost perspective. We struggle to get up in the morning to spend time with God. We struggle to take time to really pray. We struggle to be content and really happy. And all the while we sincerely claim to love God most of all.
Sometimes I doubt that we even know what that really means.
You know the love and overflowing happiness on the faces of a newly married couple? The way they look at each other, always want to be together, find everything fun when they can do it as a team, make the simplest tasks a great joy just by being in each others presence, feel like nothing in life matters as long as they have each other, and can’t seem to stop smiling— just because they love each other so much. They are fun to be around… it’s almost like there is something in their joy that we all longing for deep down, even if we don’t know it.
Truth is, we were all meant to love like that. We were all meant to be that happy. We were all created with a deep longing to love and be loved and when that need is fulfilled, we can’t help ourselves from smiling.
We were all meant to love Him like that. But I have to wonder… how many of us do?
How many of us “look" at Him with adoration in our eyes? Do we really want to be in His presence as much as newlyweds want to be together? Do we find everything fun because we can do it as a team and find the smallest tasks a joy just because we’re together? How many of us feel like nothing in life matters as long as we have Him? Are we really radiant with a joy we can’t suppress?
Have we fallen in love with Him as much as a pair of newlyweds have with each other? Because really… if we claim to love Him best, our love should double theirs.
Perhaps we need a dear girl in the underground church in Romania to put things in perspective for us… We don’t even know her name, but the legacy she left has had me thinking for months.
Though young, she was totally committed to her Jesus, no matter what it cost her. Despite it’s being illegal, she spread copies of the gospels among her people, and did whatever she could to teach the children about her God. The secret police found out, and determined to arrest her. But to make it as painful as possible they decided to wait a couple weeks. You see, in two weeks, she was marrying her best earthly friend.
"On her wedding day, the girl was dressed as a bride—the most wonderful, joyous day in a girl’s life! Suddenly, the door burst open and the secret police rushed in. When the bride saw the secret police, she held out her arms toward them to be handcuffed. They roughly put the manacles on her wrists. She looked toward her beloved, then kissed the chains and said, 'I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.' She was dragged off, with weeping Christians and a weeping bridegroom left behind.”
Her husband-to-be waited for her release for five years. She went through terrible torture and when released she looked like a woman thirty years older. But she had no complaint. Instead she said it was the least she could do for her Jesus.
It moves me every time. Because honestly? We’re still trying to get up early enough to have an hour to talk with Him before the day starts. And sometimes we think that is a sacrifice. Heaven help us! We need a totally different perspective on what being a Christian is all about. At least I do.
Because the thing is… He loves us far more than any love we’ve seen here— even more than newlyweds. But we don’t know it. Sure, we’ve heard it a million times. We’ve read it in the Bible. We’ve heard it from the pulpit. We know He loves us. And most of us pass it off as old news, like something not worth giving a second thought to.
I wonder if any of us really know… Or maybe we have become so used to hearing the truth that it's never really sunk in. And maybe because we’ve never really known what it meant to be loved by God, we’ve never known what it means to love Him back.
He has a beautiful way of gently shaking us into the reality of that love though. He’s doing it for me… and if He can do it for me, He can do it for anyone. There really is nothing that compares to being deeply loved by the Almighty God. It’s an awesome thing.
And when I can grasp even a millionth of that love, I want nothing more than to be with Him and love Him back. And though He has to be very patient with this little slow learner… I am learning. There’s nothing sweeter than falling in Love with the greatest One in the universe.
I don’t want to be too complacent to take time to see His love. I don’t want to be content to love Him a little when I was made to love Him with all my heart. I don’t want to pass His love off as an old truth… to be so caught up in my own little world that I forget what it means to be in love with Him…
And I wonder how He feels when we claim to love Him but find it so hard to spend time with Him… when we treat His love as an old truth that we’ve heard a million times… could it be that our Prince stands with aching heart, longing for us to fall in love with Him and want to be in HIs presence even a tenth as much as He wants to be in ours?
A look at the state of things in our world is a sorry sight these days. Depression is an epidemic. A recent survey showed that two out of three americans can't call themselves happy. And we are the people blessed with more than almost any other nation... surely we should be a happy people. We have virtually everything we could want. But instead we're far from it.
And I wonder... where are the Christians who are the happiest people in the world... the Christians whose hearts are so full that they overflow with a joy that is contagious... the Christians who are living the abundant life... the Christians whose joy is a light to a dark, depressed world?
We have the promise.
"Those who in everything make God first and last and best, are the happiest people in the world..."
Truth is, if we don't have a joy that is deeper than any frustration, it speaks loudly that we have never truly known Love. And if we haven't, I wonder how we can be so sure that we are His followers.
Because when we really begin to grasp His love, no pain can quench the deep joy He gives. Life doesn't have to bring us sunny skies when we have the smile of His face. We don't have to have every whim gratified when we have all we could ever need in our Jesus.
One of the greatest evidences to me that my Jesus is real is the way He fills the hole in my heart like nothing else can. Even just this last week I ran off into my busy little world, happy about all the things that were going so perfectly, only to find myself stumbling along a little later trying to understand why I felt so empty. Silly girl. It's not like it's a new truth. Not even "perfect" circumstances can fill the hole He designed to fill with Himself. An hour with Him and I was more sure than ever that nothing in the world can make us sad when Jesus makes us glad-- and nothing in the world can make us truly glad if we don't have Jesus at our side.
Yet we spend so much of our lives waiting for everything to line up so we can be satisfied. As a little girl, I thought life would be so amazing when I could grow up and be a teenager. Once I got to being a teenager, I couldn't wait until I had finished high-school. When I finished high-school I eagerly anticipated finishing my associates. Once that was done, I started looking forward to finishing my Bachelors, and on and on. And I doubt I am the only one who has thought along such lines.
But why, oh why, would we put off our happiness until some future event takes place? Honestly, there will always be something we are waiting for. And if circumstances really are nothing to do with our happiness, why don't we put all of our little excuses aside and put Him first, last and best, and be the happiest people in the world?
Truth be known though, statistics don't show that we are shockingly more joyful and fulfilled than the world. Sure, we may seem to be a little better off, but why aren't physiologists blown away by the incredible joy of those who follow God? What have we missed?
Maybe the answer is really simple... Maybe we've missed Him. Maybe we have a little more knowledge than the world... and thus are a little better off. But maybe we've really missed Who it is all about, and thus there is no shocking evidence of our increased happiness.
I wonder if deep down, we've let the world alter our belief of where joy comes from. After all, we know that happiness doesn't come from circumstances... but so often we live like it does-- like we can't be happy until "such and such" changes.
Really though, life doesn't have to change one bit for us to be happy. We already have everything that our little hearts could ever long for.
We have a Friend who loves us beyond our greatest imagination of love... a Friend who will never stop gently pursuing our hearts... a Friend who will stick with us through thick and thin. It is our privilege to be with Him each second of each day for the rest of our lives. How could we not be the happiest people alive?
Maybe, instead of spending our life waiting for something to change so that we can claim happiness, we should pause and pick the flowers, capture the sunset, and melt in a Love that won't stop fighting for our heart.
Maybe living this second with Him is the only real recipe to our happiness.
And just maybe, it's the recipe to His as well.
I've always admired people whose writing is raw and honest. It has a freshness and grace that polished words just can't carry. But truth be known, the numerous unfinished blog posts stored away on my computer are proof that I am naturally inclined to polish my posts for so long that they become outdated. The likelihood of any of them every reaching my idea of eloquence is rather slim, thus the long silences on this blog.
Perhaps though, to be genuine is more beautiful than to be polished. Maybe the whole philosophy behind my hesitance to blog is actually an issue that runs much deeper in us than we like to think.
It seems to me that society has painted an image of what we are supposed to be, and we feel that to be anything less proves us to be inferior. We feel like we have to have it all together to be valuable.
Truth is, we don't have it all together. None of us do. We are all broken and messed up.
But somehow, we feel pressured by society, and because of that, we fight to look like we are fine. We think that if people know what we are really like, we will loose our value. So we answer the questions of "how are you?" with a typical "I'm great!" and carry on our way with a smile on our face, while we fall apart inside.
And while having such a mentality messes with our human relationships, it really distorts the beauty and intimacy we were made to have with our Jesus.
When we feel like we have to come to Him in our church clothes, with smiles on our faces, and our problems safely hidden inside, we totally miss the reason for coming. What is the point of bandaging ourselves up and then coming to the Healer? How can we even get close to Him when we have a mask in the way?
Real intimacy is always preceded by real honesty.
We don't come to Jesus polished and perfect. We come broken, bruised, and messed up. We don't come to tell Him how good we are. We come because we are angry, confused, discouraged, and afraid.
I come because I have tasted a love "that makes me more that what I was, and sees beyond what I am." I come because I know I am broken. I know I am selfish. I know that I am a mess. And I want to remove the mask and let Him see me just as I am. I want to tell Him every last little thing. I want Him to know. I want to open my heart up to Him completely and let Him into the deepest and darkest corners. I want His love to melt my hard heart. I want it to break down every barrier. I want it to transform me completely.
His heart desperately longs for us to know that there need be no masks with Him... in fact, our masks actually limit Him. How can we expect Love to do a deep work in our hearts when we are unwilling to give Him access to our deep places?
Our hearts can only be healed when they have first been opened. And while we are in no way to boast of our failings, we can only be healed from them when we are willing to admit them.
David is a beautiful example of how raw honesty binds our heart to the heart of God. He was a broken man. He had made mistakes that some of us would never dream of. He had been through exceedingly painful circumstances. But he didn't try to hide his brokenness from his God. Instead, he opened up his heart and laid every ounce of if before the eyes of his Jesus.
He wasn't afraid to come to God and admit that he was so heartbroken he forgot to eat, and that his bed swam with tears. He didn't try to gloss over his pain. He wasn't afraid to admit to God when he was angry with his enemies. And when he had fallen, he openly acknowledged that he was a great sinner and that he needed to be cleansed. He didn't try to be polished before coming into God's presence. He was perfectly frank about what was going on in his heart. That honesty gave him a level of intimacy with God that few people taste. Because of such, he was called a man after God's own heart.
I want that. To be called a girl after His heart. To be as close to Him as is humanly possible. To give Him complete access to the deepest things in my heart. To be totally honest with God.
To stop thinking that my value is in having it all together and realize that the most valuable thing I can do is throw open the windows of my heart to my Jesus and admit that I am broken...
...and find my value in being fully known and yet fully loved by my Jesus.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.