20 Apr 2014

Beyond the well.... an emptied out tomb !

More than a Well, 
more than well-being,
and, more than well-off...

Jesus promises us New Life. 

This is no easy promise to stake claims on. When something is new, how do we see, recognise, live it? How do you claim a promise you cannot envision?

You see, what we want is a life we define as good and well. Many of us want to live  meaningfully and pass on a legacy, go blazes with our passion and make a difference in the world, be healthy, robust, free to choose.We may also marry and have kids with a view to a 'better life'; whether that is beating loneliness or having someone care for us when we are old and frail, living.... but is this God's view of Life?

Plus we have this abiding thirst. When things get dry and hot, we feel it worse. So we run to God and get a few comforting licks of reassurance, an experience of his presence, a supernatural touch. But all of these are intimations of Grace to get us to stay with Him. Our problem? We major on the minors. We forget that fluid is what we are made of mostly. We allow ourselves to get distracted and busy - again. We leave the Watering Holiness and try to live again on our terms. 

We cannot quite see New Life, and we do not quite stick around enough to be soaked with Life. 

So God lets life roll along - 
- all the time His hand upon us, all the while His supply of refreshment, reinvigoration, restoration, and even resurrection close by. We just need to reach for it.

Sally Clarkson discovered this {and O how I resonate!} : 
I had the illusion that because I had a committed heart, I was mature.

But since the Lord is a good parent, and He wanted me to grow into the likeness of Christ, and he saw that I was quite young, immature, self-centered and full of pride, he knew I needed more practice and training to become more like Christ.
So he gave me a husband and children, so that I could really find out what sacrificial love was all about. It has not been easy to pull out the weeds of expectations; to fight the storms of giving up my rights; to endure the drought of feelings that did not always match up to what I thought a loving wife and mother should feel in a happy home. But, I kept holding on to Him, pondering His life and seeking to be loyal through faith in His reality and presence, even though I could not always see Him.

Now, though still growing, I have learned so much more about true love, self-sacrifice, commitment. long-suffering–and it has all made me love Him more because I see how much of my life has required that of Him–as I have tested Him, misbehaved, thrown tantrums, and pulled away at times. But still He loves me and still He sacrificed for us while we were yet sinners.

Still He loves you and I and still He sacrifices for us while we sin. 

The tomb has been emptied. The place of death is now overgrown with wild flowers and small creatures have made a home among the plants. Life is bursting forth in a space where death once occupied. 

When thirsty, beat a path to the Well where He is waiting for you.
Then walk beyond it to that empty tomb {not quite looking like it for sure} that makes New Life a possibility for us.

Don't feel like giving your best?
Impossible to let go of that hurt?
Afraid to trust again?
Been confused and helpless for too long?

God is going to let life roll on. But you are not an idle, powerless pawn in the movements of life. Not when the New Life has been invited in and now pulses within you. What to do?
Ask for eyes to see this Life.
Ask for a heart to believe.
Ask for a mind to imagine.
Ask for sinews that will move in tune with it.

Your soul will at times feel dry, 
Drink much and often.
Your soul may sense the intrusion of  enemy-death
Dally around that garden-tomb much.

Last year, I woke up to a vision {I rarely do}. I saw that I was staring at some dried thorny bush and feeling very frustrated. In the corner of my eye I could see that there were pretty blooms nearby. God was telling me to stop fixating on death and fail to notice Life !

Remember that old advice from fiery apostle Paul -

"..whatever is true, whatever is honourable, 
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is of good repute, 
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, 
dwell on these things."
~ Philippians 4v8

Well, this verse begins with "finally..." so if you will, read back up and discover more secrets of living out of an emptied out Tomb!

Thank you for being on this journey these last forty days. Invite others along. God has more  in store right here.

18 Apr 2014

His Cross... and mine - because Resurrection is coming! {Journey #12}

lively lilies in polluted China

This is the story of Resurrection.

It began with a mis-step. An I-did-not-see-that curb moment. You may have experienced it before? That one moment you were striding confident and the next you come crashing down? My hands were on the floor, my right ankle twisted and I felt a sharp pointed pain in my left big toe. I did not know where to clutch and soothe!

That was nearly three months ago. With care and exercise, my ankle healed. But my left big toe nail region had turned all black, a sign of death. But, I thought, since my toe looked and felt like it was still very much alive, new nail will no doubt grow and it will all be well in time.

Life will push its way forward. But it can get really painful.

I decided to trim my dead black nail. Then I decided to poke around the blackened clog. Big Mistake. The very next day, I started experiencing some serious pain. I had unwttingly introduced an infection.

We began this journey because we were thirsty. We met with Jesus and heard him invite, comfort, assure, steady us. But then we enter deeper into His life as we walk with Him. This week, we see a Cross
looming ahead. He is walking towards it! We nervously follow...

It is his cross. For our sake. But if we dare to admit it, the cross is ours, rightfully. 
In fact, Jesus did not go to His cross so that we won't have to go to ours. He went so that we can. 

We must face our crosses --

Our traumas that left us hurt and seem to take forever to heal.
Our busy niggling that may have turned up more pain.
Our limping and hobbling rather than a full, steady, confident stride.

We are quick to look all around us and point to our horrid experiences (those mis-steps, mistakes), those persons and their expectations/weaknesses/sins, the harsh words...
The soil of our soul is rich food for the enemy to sow an infection. When he does, it will be painful.

It is painful to rehearse our hurts
It is painful to plan a payback
It is painful to doubt God
It is painful to feel alone, lost, unsure, to regret

(and Grace and slow to a trickle)

A course of antibiotics for the toe.
A course of antibiotics for our soul: going up for prayer, sharing with a friend, ranting in your journal...

May not do.

That dead toe nail had more in store. In death, it began to deform. It curled. So as the new nail grows, the curled old nail began to burrow into my flesh. Fresh pain. I decided it is time to get down and deal with it. The doctor had warned that removing the nail would expose the toe and remove the protective covering which is the nail's job. But the nail was malfunctioning. It was not protecting, it was hurting. It must go.

I was nervous. The doctor had said it can take weeks to heal. After two anaesthetic jabs, the doctor yanked and said, 'O, its not so bad, It's coming off like a door. Just this bit like a hinge.' Then, 'Ok, when i remove the rubber band, it will bleed some....O, it's not bleeding very much at all. I think it has healed quite a bit.'

So healing grace has been at work but it's all blocked from view because of the dead black nail!
Is God's work being blocked from your view? Are you unable to trace what the Spirit is up to? Are you unsure of Jesus' presence in your life? Are you looking for Life?

My son had asked, "why call it Good Friday? It's not good! Jesus died. [frowns]"
me: it's good.... for us.

The dying is good for us.
Because the Life is always throbbing and pushing forth. 

"I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, 
but Christ lives in me; 
and the life which I now live in the flesh 
I live by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself up for me." 
~ Galatians 2v20 (NASB)

Dear soul, Good Friday is a day of death and death is no longer what we fear for we know the story. It is the prelude to Life. If God is bringing forth Life, renewing hope, reviving dreams, restoring faith; then you must let that which stands in the way go. You must recognise the death to receive the Life. You must trust the Life you can barely see more than the death that appears so obvious {live by faith in the Son of God...}

Yes, you worked really hard - yet
Yes, you tried so long  - yet
Yes, you cried and prayed and pounded on the doors of heaven  - yet

It is time to accept that you live in a fallen world where you will be let down, as surely as you let others down.
It is time to accept that your best shots may not rip asunder the heavy curtain hanging between you.
It is time to accept that you just may not be able, ever to, figure this one out.
It is time to see that our worst enemies are not out there; but within: pride, lust, greed, envy, unforgiveness.

It is time to die. It is time to Live.

Friends, get ready, for Resurrection is coming!

Take a moment and let this Michael Talbot song wash over you. Sing the refrain with your lips, then your heart, then your whole being.

Peace dear friend.

15 Apr 2014

Meeting the Cross on the way {journey to the Well} #11

Good Friday is coming.

The Cross is looming large in my heart. Its shadows fall long and it seems I am in a perpetual Arctic winter where the days are always dark. Yet it is a good, even glorious darkness. This kind of darkness is meant for us to stop trying to 'make hay while the sun shines'; to stop our busy efforts at making life work. It is the dark of being shielded so a secret work can take place.

Often God does his work very quietly and if we do not come under the shadow of the Almighty, we will miss it. The lights, sounds, dazzles and demands of daily city life often distract and detract us from God's most precious work.

Can I urge you dear friend to come and stand under the shadow of the Cross too?

And would you share with us what begins to stir in your heart as you do?

As I stand under the shadow of the Cross, my mind remembers how Love decided to act. But more, my heart wrestles with whether my love is large enough to act like His Love did. I know full well the areas I want Life to fill and brim over; those areas I am pretty sick of being so pale and lacklustre; missing the Life and abundance.

What was it dear Jesus, that makes you go to that wicked Cross? Why did you face and fight death?

Then the Spirit whispers this ~

"...for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame.." ~ Hebrews 12v2

You know why we struggle so to let go, to give in, to give up, to be wrong, to forgive ... ? 
We have no clue the joy that can come. We are stuck with the nails and hammer. Our eyes are fixed on the pain. Our minds are rehearsing our regrets. Our hearts are clinging on to small delights. 

Jesus was confident of his joy. 

This enabled him to endure the cross. 
This enabled him to look at his ignoble, humiliating, undignified death and loss as something to despise

Jesus knew the enemy would do his worst; throw the whole shebang; but he wasn't going to let the horror, the agony, the loss of face.. - the shame - wrap him up into subservience.  He despised it all. They were not worth his focus.

If Jesus felt grief and loss on the Cross; it was clear it happened at three points: the ignorance of the evildoers, the turning away of God, the inability to continue to care for his mother. 

But the Cross and its shame? He despised it.

It was as if Jesus was having this conversation with shame:

"Listen to me, Shame, do you fee that joy in front of me? Compared to that, you are less than nothing. you not not worth comparing to that! I despise you. You think you have power. Compared to the joy before me, you have none. Joy. Joy. Joy. That is my power! Not you, Shame. You are worthless. You are powerless.

You think you can distract me? I won't even look at you. I have a joy set before me. Why would I look at you? You are ugly and despicable, and you are almost finished. You cover me now as with a shroud. Before you can say, 'So there!', I will throw you off like a filthy rag. I will put on my royal robe.

You think you are great, because even last night you made my disciples run away. You are a fool, Shame. You are a despicable fool. That abandonment, that loneliness, this Cross - these tools of yours - they are all my sacred suffering, and will save my disciples, not destroy them. You are are fool. Your filthy hands fulfil holy prophecy. Farewell, Shame, It is finished."

Death must -come- before Resurrection, and we take the death because we so want the Resurrection unto new Life. Because we are confident of New Life promised to us. Things are not what they seem yet; but they will not remain the same if we are willing to die, to despise the shame that may come with it ... so that Life breaks in.

How high have you set your sights for your life? Is it for Life, or is it just to live?