Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Road is Narrow & Thoughts on Love

Ever since I made the decision to work toward becoming totally devoted to Jesus Christ - it's been a battle. Moving closer to being Christ-like is hard. I have so so so so far to go, but I'm learning some things I'd like to share. It takes discipline in Abiding in Him. My journey to abide in Him has been full of joy and blessings and love like I have never thought possible. (for more on Abiding -- see post from June 5th)

He allows me to give & love and give & love more when it doesn't seem reasonable and doesn't seem possible and quite frankly when I don't even want to give and love anymore - He just gives me more to give out. It's just radical ya know!? Sometimes that's the only way to describe it --- it's wild, it's extreme.

He keeps me pure, do you know what I mean by that? In other words, He keeps me from getting jaded. He helps me not become bitter. He keeps me from getting cynical. I love people, I trust others, I hope in others, I look for the best in others --- because He heals my hurts. He helps me allow Him to be the salt to the world through me.
He is enough for me so that I can allow myself to get hurt by the world -- because He is always there to bandage me up. He's the ultimate healer. Is that what it means to die to self? To be devoted to Him? To put His will and to put others above the fleshly desire to protect myself and my desires?

Yet at the same time of being filled with so much joy and compassion and a greater capacity to love.... at the same time, it's hard. It's so much easier to listen to the world than it is to listen to the Truth isn't it? It's hard to stay focused on the spiritual side of things and not the worldly side of things.

Striving to be Christ-like is a fight because of the world in which we live. I am learning more and more that it's a battle - a battle that is unseen most of the time. One of the qualities that makes Jesus so worthy of worship and praise to me is His ability to just continually give of Himself. His time, His words, His grace, His love. He never let discouragement keep Him down. He clung to the Father and clung to the Truth despite what His senses were telling Him. He stayed tuned into the frequency of the Truth, despite all the blaring noise around Him.

One of the verses I think about when I'm discouraged is, "Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time." Galatians 6:9

I believe that the life of being a follower of Christ is not glamorous or popular at all. In fact many times I believe true followers will be misunderstood, judged and outcast from the majority. I believe that the majority of the good that is done through us is unseen and unknown to the world. It will be uncovered in heaven but I believe the majority of it goes unknown in this world.

I have to admit I struggle with this part of it though. There's something inside of me that wants to fit in and to protect my reputation. There's a part of me that wants to fit in to this world. I even have strong desires to protect self and to protect my needs.... but He is teaching me that He will take care of me - my job is to take care of others. He is teaching me He won't allow me to get hurt beyond repair. He is teaching me He really is not at ALL concerned about what others think of me. I am learning this.

He is teaching me that there is so much freedom in swallowing our pride and confronting each other with our sins. I can talk about my own sin and not only other's sins. I can own up to my sin because it doesn't destroy me, He is always there to catch me. To bring sins out into the open is so free-ing. To be able to say I'm sorry is even more free-ing. When you let go of your pride, then He will be there to build you up. I really believe until we admit and repent, that there's something blocking our relationship with Him.

I am getting more and more bolder the closer I grow to Him. I believe it takes a lot of guts to love. There's a lot of fear and vulnerability to stick your neck out and do opposite of the masses. To me, that is risky obedience. There is risk with true obedience. To take risks, to have guts to me, is learning to confront situations boldly and directly rather than skirting around them or gossiping about them to others.

I am not afraid of pain and I am never afraid to bring to light the Truth because I know that the Truth revealed is always better than the Truth covered up....even if the Truth hurts, in the long run it is better when revealed. I am learning what it really means to wear no masks. To be totally open with my sin and never being afraid to drag up issues from my past just because I'm afraid of what will come to the surface with it.

There WILL be pain when I have to confront my sin - there's pain, there's guilt, there's shame, but I know that the Spirit allows me that pain and shame only so that I will never want to do that sin again. Pain is a great indicator to us to point out our areas to work on. But the pain and guilt never last. God allows them for a short time and then washes them all away. That is what healing is all about -- admitting the scar, coming face to face, letting God bring to the surface ALL the stuff you don't want out in the open....being totally vulnerable and uncomfortable and then letting God totally heal it - not like a bandaid over a broken leg heal -- but a totally better than new, healing! that IS available to you!

I am learning that to get closer to being Christlike, means you get farther away from being worldly. I can't focus on worldly things. My prayer shouldn't be that people understand me anymore - my prayer should be that I look good to God. I don't want to impress any crowd anymore - I just want God to delight in me.

Psalm 19:10 King David prays to God, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, My Redeemer"

I want this to be my prayer of my life right now. I want above all else my life, my thoughts and my actions to be pleasing to Him.

I have so so so so so far to go - but I'm taking steps to being more Christlike - sometimes I am doing it reluctantly dragging my feet and crying out of lack of faith ---- but I'm taking the steps nonetheless.

From I is what love looks like and what the vision for my life is:

Not Self Seeking
Not easily angered
Keep no record of wrongs
Not delight in evil
Rejoice in Truth
Always protect
Always trust
Always hopes
Always perserveres
Never fails

I have a long way to go -- but I'm taking baby steps.
Do you have a vision for your life? What is your prayer right now? What verses are you focusing on?

Love you all!


Rebekah said...

It's as if you're reading my mail! :) I can relate so much to everything you're saying. This post is such a blessing and an encouragement to me because the Lord is dealing with me about all the same things. Thank you for sharing your sweet heart!

Candy-Faith said...

I have clinged to that verse (Dont get tired of doing what is good..) for quite a few years especially when my family (cousins, aunts, uncles etc) chose not to live for Jesus. And here I am, trying HARD to follow Him and have felt so alone. And not only that but my family members either try to pull me down with them or they dont include me because "Christians are boring". They dont get it. The thing is they want to bend Gods rules (commandments) and I simply dont.So yeah, its a battle alright!
And just in the world in general, its a battle. Everywhere you turn, something (the devil) wants to distract you from getting closer to God.
This is the conclusion I came up with: being a Christian is not for whimps!!!! :) :) :) (heh heh) And theres truth to that let me tell ya! Ya have to be tough to live for Christ, to follow Him with all your heart and soul.
I was getting really discouraged a few years ago thinking why do I feel rejected, why is being a Christian so hard, why arent we respected for trying to follow Jesus. And then it hit me... as Christians were supposed to feel that way. The Bible says it. Were going to feel rejected and hurt and like were contantly in a battle. Jesus wanted us to feel that way so we can appreciate what He went thru and so that we can appreciate Heaven when we get there :) are right about "being closer to God means being further apart from the world" Yep, thats 100% true.
I am now ok with not being liked or accepted or whatever people might think of me because of how I live and that I dont do what the world does. Im ok with that now. It took me a while but Im there now. Now im good. Now I know that its GOD that I want to please, not the world, not my family.
It will always be a battle til the day we die. But God is worth fighting for ;)
love c