“Hey, could I drop in with one of the counselors just to ‘declare’ my program of study?”
“Um, drop-in hours are Tuesday and Wednesday—”
“Sooo… Can I drop in?” What’s the magic word? What am I missing?
Life has been so lovely lately. God is working (as always, of course), God loves me, and every dark, rainy day is brightened by God’s overwhelming Presence. Every time I think about it, I thank the Holy Spirit again.
Throughout the years, being a fairly depressed person, I developed an awareness for a feeling that overtook me when I let my mind wander in the darkness. My gut would clench up, and in the center of it, I would feel a hurt deeper than pain, and I would cry out to God—sometimes, cry out at God.
Now, though, in that same place in the depth of my spirit, I feel gratefulness for all that God has done, all that God is doing, and a love for Jesus that was dampened, muted before. Today, as I was walking through a parking lot—of all places—I felt the wind tugging at my shirt, at my hair, and it reminded me of the Holy Spirit, and I said, “Oh, God, I love you!”
And it is through nothing that I have done. I promise you that; I did nothing to receive this. It is all the grace of God. Grace, and mercy.
Lying in a hammock I bought in Brazil, I read (and recorded) passages of The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I will note that it is a Catholic book. Enough said.
p. 61 “The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the Presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. this is especially important in times of temptation, sorrow, desperation from God, and even in times of unfaithfulness and sin.”
p. 64 “To adore God in truth is to recognize Him for what He is and ourselves for what we are. Adoring God in truth means that our hearts actually see God as infinitely perfect and worthy of our praise. What [person], no matter how little sense [they] may have, would not exert all [their] strength to show [their] respect and love of this great God?
“To adore God in truth is to admit that our nature is just the opposite of His. Yet, He is willing to make us like Him, if we desire it.”
p. 65 “The most intimate union with God is the actual Presence of God. Although this relationship with God is totally spiritual, it is quite dynamic, because the soul is not asleep; rather, it is powerfully excited. In this state, the soul is livelier than fire and brighter than the unclouded sun, yet, at the same time, it is tender and devout.”
About four years late to the party, I discovered a song from Bethel Music called You Make Me Brave. Here are some of the lyrics which have impacted me the most.
“I have heard You calling my name / I have heard the song of love that You sing / So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore / Into Your grace / Your grace
“As Your love, in wave after wave / Crashes over me, crashes over me / For You are for us / You are not against us / Champion of Heaven / You made a way for all to enter in
“‘Cause you make me brave / You make me brave / You call me out beyond the shore into the waves / You make me brave / You make me brave / No fear can hinder now the love that made a way”
Up until the last month or so, it was almost impossible for me to believe that God truly loved me. I knew that God existed, and I believed that Jesus died and came back to life to defeat sin and death, making a way for us to be un-seperated from God. But when it came to me, personally, I just didn’t trust that Jesus did that for me, that God really loved me that much. Somehow, though, the Holy Spirit broke through this, and “in wave after wave,” the love of Christ was impressed upon my heart.
The other day, I was having a conversation with a wise missionary about various fringe movements bearing the title of “Christian”—many of which I would call cults—such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventism. I mentioned my respect for the Seventh Day Adventists’ serious practice of the Sabbath, and he affirmed this as meaningful, but pointed out how the Old Testament Law—including the Ten Commandments—is no longer what we are held to. He shared a verse that I can’t say I’ve ever paid much attention to.
“And you, being dead in your sins… [have been bound] together with him, [being forgiven of] all trespasses; [his sacrifice] blotting out the handwriting of [laws] that were against us…and taking it away, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
Colossians 2:13-15 King James Version, paraphrased—see the original here, on Bible Gateway.
That is so powerful! When Jesus died on the cross, the Law was nailed there, dead. No longer did God’s people have to be good enough for God—instead, the sacrifice of Christ revealed the beauty of God’s suffiency for God’s people.
This reminds me of another passage.
“Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4 New Living Translation
As a side note, I want to make it clear that I affirm the importance of Sabbath-keeping—God rested, on the seventh day, from the work of creation. I don’t believe that fact became irrelevant after Christ. However, it is, as stated, not part of the Law. In my opinion, it is simply a wise practice to follow after God in. I may write more on this in the future.
Another thing God has impressed upon my heart is the need for me to forgive. I must forgive others, over and over. Even when they do not say they are sorry for what they have done. Even when they pretend those things never happened. Even when they do not forgive me. In fact, even when I am not sure they have done wrong in the first place. I must practice forgiveness, letting go of my bitterness towards those people.
“But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.”
(Jesus) Matthew 6:15 Holman Christian Standard Bible
While being soft in its simplicity, this verse is also stunning in its severity. If I do not forgive my sister in Christ when she hurts me, God will not forgive me when I fall short—and I do, often. I cannot afford to withhold forgiveness, because I am in desperate need of forgiveness myself. And without the forgiveness of God, I am cut off from the Presence of God, because of my hard heart. So, every day, I must let go of what others may do—it is not my job to judge or condemn them—and forgive them, through the power of the Holy Spirit within me.
Anyway—these have been my thoughts for the day, for the past week or so. They didn’t quite fit into the “12 Things Ordered in a Numbered List” format, so here they are, in thought format. I hope this has resonated with your spirit.