Blessed

Sometimes, a whisper is all that is left in my gut at the end of the day.

There are matters, at times, that leave me feeling tired, weighty and weak; because I don’t know the way out of the web I’m stuck in or have woven. Even that basic detail I can’t seem to clarify or sort out.

But, I know God knows all the inner workings of my seemingly complex problems.

And this is good.

But somehow, my flesh still feels some need to sort it all out before my eyelids close.

And this is stupid.

Why is ‘dying’ so hard?

Because this:

“The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility – I cannot begin to do it. Then Jesus says – Blessed are you. That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.” – Oswald Chambers

Real life requires dying first. And the enemy and my own flesh want to avoid that dying at all costs.

Because my flesh still wants to be rich and have a claim – whether it’s personal pride or desiring the good opinions of others – I easily get side-tracked on a loop of mental pretzel twists when I hit a chance to die a little more.

But, Jesus told me that I am blessed when I am poor in spirit and when I feel hated by others and when I am weak.

There is mystery in this that I am still unpacking.

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Little Light

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”

It’s funny how that tune still runs so easily through my mind decades after learning it.  It’s also funny how, as a girl, I envisioned a little yellow candle, and a basket, and the devil trying to “blow it out” every time I sang it.  I knew the actions and liked to sing, so it was a comfortable part of my repertoire.

But, now, it’s like an anthem to come and die.

If the Light in me shines brightly, I am welcoming the forces of darkness to come and throttle me (and not, likely, with a wicker basket).  In proclaiming my allegiance to the Father of Lights, I am fastening my name to part of His stellar constellation, and I am no longer hidden, I’m out there, exposed and raw, flickering with the fire of the Spirit.

All of a sudden, my life is being lived ‘out loud’; all of a sudden, I present a problem to the enemy.

My heart is aligned with the one, true God, but there is still a struggle with my flesh that not only likes the safety of conformity, but has been conditioned to desire ‘falling in line’ with the crowd since walking through that Kindergarten door.  And, something about shining in the darkness is just so bold and uncomfortable to my flesh; it attracts attention and telescopes.  It means not hiding from the world, from its opinions and prejudices, it means welcoming conflict and misunderstanding, and sometimes it means sticking out like a sore thumb (which is my increasing reality).

But this desire to move out of the shadows is good, because it means that Jesus is stronger in me; I’d rather risk life with Son than linger under baskets.

When Grace Spills

I once heard a man say that a lack of patience was really a lack of love, and that rather than praying for more patience, I should ask God to fill me with more love.  I was immediately offended by this idea, because as a parent, I love my children, wildly… I just needed more patience.

But the more these words tumbled through my cells, the deeper they penetrated my heart, and I have come around to a place of full agreement.  Patience is a product of love and where the well of love is deep, so too will be the reserve of patience.  After all, patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit is love.

Love (and any of its fruit) cannot be contrived, learned from a book, or teased out of an emotional pep-talk-to-self; trust me, I’ve tried this for years and years – if this worked, I would be an expert.  Willing there to be more love in my heart, is like waiting for my pine tree to grow dollar bills.  I can desire it, but life doesn’t work that way.

However, as I gain increasing insight into the Father’s immeasurable affection for me, my own love-tank fills and spills over into my experience with my children.  It’s like all that grace just can’t be contained in me alone and patience begins to come naturally, even when a child may bust out into unrestrained freakiness.

It’s almost like I don’t mind the ear-blowing tantrums and frustrating explosions of chaos, because grace has fitted me with new glasses and all I see is love when I look at this tense, drooling, red-faced two-year-old who desperately needs to consume the entire bottle of (ahem, real) maple syrup himself, thank you very much.

Love colors everything beautiful, even when the object of my affection is in the throes of something ugly; after all, this is how God responds to ugly: He loved me first, before I deserved it.

It was His love that made me beautiful on the inside and it is this power-love spilling over in me that will produce a spectacular harvest of Spirit-fruit in my heart towards others, regardless of how they live or behave.

When grace spills over like this it nourishes good things.