It’s a little scary how quickly time passes. It seems like only yesterday I looked forward to my mom coming to help me when my first child was born. That was 30 years ago. Now, I am enjoying the arrival of grandchildren and helping my children when babies are born. As I reflected on that, I realized Mom was my age when she came to help me. That didn’t quite seem possible. Life is fleeting and will soon be past. Be careful then, how you live!
I suppose you can say, I took a trip down memory lane and stopped at various markers along the way. With the arrival of grandchildren, I can’t help but revisit the births of my own children and the place I was in life emotionally, spiritually, financially…and then gratitude overwhelms me as I observe how God has transformed my life with healing and confidence that I dreamed about then.
One particular area of my past that has been totally remade is my fear and anxiety. I shared in a previous post (Fear is a Liar), that fear was my companion for too long. It’s difficult to draw a line between which emotion led the other – fear or anxiety. They were both constant companions in my life. Fear led to anxiety, anxiety gave way to fear. They are awful task masters!
During that time, reading scripture with a clear mind was difficult. From this distance and perspective, and with a healthy mind, the same scriptures speak life and peace to my soul. Several from the writings of John are especially meaningful to me. The readings this week will be taken from 1 John 3-4. It is worth taking time to read both chapters to familiarize yourself with what God might want to say to you.
One purpose of John’s writing, is to combat a heresy that was just beginning to gain steam in his day. This philosopy said that Jesus did not come in the flesh because God would never stoop so low as to live in a human body. That would be beneath him. John counters that idea, saying Jesus did come in a body. He saw him, touched him, heard him. John experienced Jesus with his five senses. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are God’s greatest expression of his love for us.
When we receive God’s love into our hearts by accepting his son, Jesus, we are changed. The Spirit of God comes to live inside and he fills us with God’s love. It is from this place that we are able to love others. John proclaims that it is our love for others that proves we love God.
It is my firm belief that when we believe Jesus is God’s son and the solution to sin and we invite him into our lives, he is a permanent resident. He doesn’t move in and out, in and out, as our behavior, actions, thoughts or deeds change. He moves in and stays. We have been transformed from death to life and we can be assured that we will be with him for all eternity.
I also believe that too many of us settle for eternal life some day in the future while living in misery here on earth. We don’t experience the joy, peace and abundance that Jesus wants for us. We allow the things of this life to distract us, creating dissonance within. It’s a perfect breeding ground for fear and anxiety.
An illustration might help to make this thought clearer. Imagine you receive notification that you are the heir of a vast fortune. You have only to receive it. So, you agree to the inheritance and receive it. The deposit is made into your account.
But nothing about your life changes. You continue to live in the slums, eating from a tin can, wearing tattered clothing, drinking dirty water. Your life is filled with disease and decay, your body wastes away. When asked about your inheritance, you respond that it doesn’t seem real or that it is for another day. So you continue in poverty.
Far-fetched? That’s not you? I lived like that for a long time. I was afraid to take God at his word. After all, maybe it didn’t work. And the slum where I lived was all I had ever known. It was familiar. I believed Jesus was the answer to sin. I believed that he offered me new life. I received him into my life. But in many ways, I lived like I didn’t believe.
My companions from the slum were many. Fear dropped in nearly every day, usually accompanied by Anxiety. Doubt also made regular appearances, encouraged along by Unbelief. Judgment brought along Bitterness, Shame was accompanied by Guilt. Something had to change!
I read in scripture that God loved me and that his love casts out fear. I often wondered why I felt so afraid. Did God not love me? I believed it in my head; why wasn’t it leaking down to my heart?
And I felt guilty. All the time, guilty. Guilt is about what we have done; shame is about who we are. Scripture told me my sins were forgiven and my guilt washed away. But I still felt guilty.
It really was my choice. When I invited Jesus into my life, he moved in bringing with him the Holy Spirit and all the treasures of heaven. He wanted to begin the remodel project right away, but he wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t give him permission to do.
Our youngest daughter is getting married in September. Slowly she is moving her worldly possessions into her fiance’s house. I helped her the other day in the kitchen. We cleaned cupboards and moved a few things around, making room for gifts and the kitchen supplies she owns. But we didn’t do anything until we talked to Zac. We honored him and wanted this transformation to be his choice as well.
God is like that. He isn’t going to start rearranging the furniture or doing any kind of demolition without our permission. And he isn’t interested in changing who you are because he loves the person he created. He only wants to bring out the best of who we are and help us move out of the slums to enjoy his favor in the most abundant way possible.
His plan is that we enjoy the benefits of eternity right here and now. He wants us to know joy, peace and hope. He wants our lives to be full of gratitude and blessing. But his best work can only be done when we are willing to move away from what we have always known to embrace a better, brighter, cleaner way of living.
Join me this week as we look at some of the hindrances to change. I believe God has a great revelation in store for you!
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26