Jesus Is Near

We were born on a battlefield, beautifully disguised as ‘earth’.

Yet, if we could see through the hologram of this material world, we would perceive a cosmic war waging over every precious soul, and Jesus there alongside each one of us, waiting to be invited to do the fighting for us.

Jesus is as near as my beating heart.

His love already crushed Hell, yet the enemy would tempt me into believing that, “Victory isn’t such a sure thing.  And Jesus is sort of elusive and unreliable, but look over here!  The world is so shiny, so full of shows and sidetracks; forget the big picture, plant your feet in all this temporal stuff and make yourself at home!” 

And how easily I succumb to the overwhelm, the distraction, the self-pity, and the grief; the fruit of this heaving world.

Here I live, where the battle seems so ‘flesh and blood’, where quotidian urgencies and relational explosives make here-and-now so frustratingly real and gory.  It’s easy to rage at the noise, the chaos, the madness, and the people that surround me, yet it’s all a distraction from that fact that Jesus is near and He’s already won.

Frequency

These last couple of weeks, I’ve spent any spare time reflecting from a horizontal position on the couch.

The new life inside seems to strip me of vigor even as it grows in the secret place; my life for my child, it’s as it should be.  My fingers haven’t been keen to write either; as God writes more important things inside of me, my stamina to enter the arena of ideas dwindles.

Ideas and projects are good and important, but where is the heart that is fully devoted to God?

Is there any greater good than to lay myself down inside the heart of my Heavenly Father and live solely unto Him?

Increasingly, I am resting in Jesus.  I don’t know how, after 30-odd years of life on this ball I missed this secret place, but now that I have finally found it, I’m not letting go! 

He’s meeting me; really and truly my heart is – perhaps for the first time – resting in Him.  It’s like the immeasurable greatness that Paul talks about in Ephesians is actually beginning to spill over me and all I want is to spend my extra moments listening to His lovely voice, reading His perfect Word and asking Him all the pent up questions that have been hounding me for years.  It’s like He’s taking my burdens away from me one by one, and I don’t have to wrestle with them anymore… it’s like freedom.

And it’s coming without effort, without striving, without anything being perfect on the outside of me, because the veil has been removed from my eyes and I am embracing Scripture as written, not as the popular evangelical doctrine machines would explain it.

I used to think I was free, but I had no idea that this kind of freedom was available to God’s children.

I used to think prayer was like me leaving a message on God’s answering machine, maybe He’d get back to me, maybe He wouldn’t (“God always answers: sometimes it’s a yes, a no or wait”, right?), and in the waiting I would develop character, of course.  Well, I’ve been learning that God is communicating to me all the time – like a radio station – that simply requires me to ‘tune in’ to the right frequency: Him!

And now, hearing from Him in my spirit through words and dreams, and pressing into His word, I am finally building a relationship with Him… like when I first started getting to know my husband… all the world is new and I just don’t care about hobbies or entertainment or the latest whatever, because the lover of my soul wants to be with me!

Regrets of the Dying

In the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, apparently the number one regret at the end of people’s life is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

I’m pretty sure I never saw a movie where I was rooting for the protagonist to submit to the doomish, narrow opinions of others who wanted to shut down the dream.  (That would make for a pretty lame movie.)

Struggling to work out the vision God has given us amidst the real-world cast of characters that surrounds us has made it clear to me that fear has been a dominant feature in my life; let’s just say I’m not exactly ready to star as a hero any time soon.

I was never scared of spiders or of getting sick or normal day to day stuff; I’m not a wimp, generally speaking.  But, the quiet background noise of fear has penetrated my thoughts over the years, especially as I have stepped out in greater and greater faith, often prompting me to overly care about what other people think about me and causing me to feel strong guilt when I fail to live up to other’s expectations for my life.

But another book I read recently (Fear No Evil) articulated what has been forming in my mind for some time now: “Behind every fear there is a lie.”

Behind every fear there is a lie.

Fear = lie.

Fear is not of God, because perfect love casts out fear.

And so, whether I’m afraid of disappointing others, or getting ‘too weird’, or being totally misunderstood, or fearfully wondering if I will even make it through the mess of this day (if I don’t, I suppose it will prove the critics right, I am in over my head), I’m learning that all that anxious thinking is at best unproductive and at worst massively destructive.

Why do I mess with fear?  Why is it so hard to punch it in the face and just get over it?

It recently occurred to me that of my closest circle of friends in elementary school, I am the only one with children.  The others are doing marvelous, meaningful and glamorous things with their lives.  Yet, it struck me afresh that what will last is the life we build.  Our ideas and art and efforts will endure a season or two or five, but children carry the spirit of life into the next generation, to a place I will never go.

This crazy work of cleaning up goobery faces, waiting out tantrums, matching 8 million socks again, and clearing mold specimens out of the containers at the back of the fridge, is all for a greater purpose: life beyond me, life beyond here.

And that’s the dream we have, essentially: Life, abundantly; life free in Jesus.

Honestly, I don’t know where our story is going, but how can I be afraid of a dream like that, a dream that is woven through scripture like a perfect golden thread?  There’s no fear in that, only victory.

Fog vs. Freedom

As a mother, I have a {metaphorical} blazing target on my back.

I’m fair game to the one who hates my God, because I would dare to lay down my life for others, embrace love, and press into the Holy One.

What utterly confounds the enemy is that I would seek to know the power of God through the fellowship of His suffering, as opposed to bathe in waves of self-centered loathing/delight with my selfish self.

The Thief can’t handle this kind of thing; he can’t handle mothers. 

The very essence of a mother is love, sacrifice and hope.  The enemy abhors this goodness, so, he aims to wreck us; sometimes in big ways, but sometimes in little, endless, drip, drip, drip ways.

There are times, there are days, where I seem to hit a wall of dense fog; could be at any moment, but I’ll walk right into one.  And, boom, I’m down, choked by a stream of dark head-talk, and I’m overwhelmed with unbelief and fear and anxiety… wondering what on earth I am doing, and can I really handle it, and I need help with some of this load, and there must be a better way, and how do I respond to ‘problem x’, and are my efforts and dreams even worthy, and how do I face that ‘y’ situation again, and will I ever get the rest I need?

This fog gets me off course fast; my eyes sink into my own self and I choke on the immensity of my situation.  At this point, the enemy has me positioned right where he wants me: focused on myself and my weakness and the freakiness of the whole overwhelming world.

I sensed that fog, that cloud of oppression, walked right into, and then believed it.  I permitted my mind to agree with the darkness, and allowed unbelief and fear to fog over my vision.  Though my position in Christ remained secure, my flesh took the bait.

But, little by little, as these fogs roll over me, I’m fighting back:

“No, fog {lies}, you are not my problem.  I am free and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I have put my hope in God Almighty and I will not fear.  There is no fear in love!”

Then I stop the mind tapes; I just force them to stop rolling.  I rebuke the garbage fog and press into love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. -1 John 4:18

On the deep, beautiful inside of us, we who know Christ, have already been perfected in love.  Fear is no longer our master.  We are fully, fundamentally, forever free from that bondage, though the Thief will assault us daily, hourly to agree to carry baggage that is no longer our own.

He’s got a millstone around his neck and he wants to wrap it around mine too.

I won’t have it.

I’m free in the midst of all this messy chaos of family life, because my spirit is fully equipped for every challenge and my eyes are on God who is my ever-present hope.  I just have to remember to see through the fog, instead of embracing it.