Last night, eyes wet with gratitude and compassion, I listened to the man I’ve respected, loved, and lived with for over 20 years share how I hurt him recently.
The miraculous part occurred when I didn’t feel it necessary to defend or dismiss his feelings in light of how he’s hurt me, too.
My heart simply hurt because his did.
I empathized and understood how he felt. We talked about that. I apologized. He forgave.
And God let me know that in that moment, I was loving my closest neighbor, deeply, compassionately, and only because I am loving God again, deeply.
I recently allowed myself to be offended and wounded by some personal attacks towards me, and instead of seeing the attackers the way God does, as saints, I only viewed them as sinners.
As long as we only see the sinner, we cannot remember the saved-by-grace saint.
As long as our eyes are on ourselves, we cannot see Jesus, and we squelch the Holy Spirit within us.
And when our eyes on ourselves only see the sinner (or worse, thanks to satan) and we forget as well the saved-by-grace saint that we humbly are… we are blind to the Lord.
I discovered that I literally took my eyes off of my God, and put it on wounds the enemy was trying (and I allowed) to inflict on me.
And then God revealed to me that I literally did not trust Him with these things. That I had forgotten He allowed it for His good purpose.
Like Peter’s paying attention to the waves causing his descent into them, I lost focus on the Truth.
I also learned from our Lord that I was lousy at loving.
The really neat thing is that we’re all lousy at loving, and always will be in comparison to Christ, no matter how much we think we love!
But what seriously spun my heart around and turned it inside out was a reminder that God knew us before we were born. This weekend I read a book by Dr. Mary C. Neal, entitled, “To Heaven and Back.” It is the story of how she drowned in a kayaking accident, visited heaven, talked with angels, and came back to her body. In one of the discussions with an angel, she learns from the angel that we existed in heaven before we came to earth as babies. When I read that, I was struck with a deep impression of, “this is Truth,” yet there was no Scripture associated with it.
So I looked up this concept of “being known before birth.” This link is a pro-life page, but it clearly demonstrates the Scriptures about how we are known by Him prior to being born. Read a little over halfway down, and stop at the murder stuff.
What blew me away further was halfway through the book, she does cite a few Scriptures.
Nearly half of them were the very Scriptures God used to rescue me last week: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19!
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
And I realized something amazing…
To the extent with which we love God and are filled with the Holy Spirit, this is the extent to which we can rejoice and give thanks in ALL circumstances.
To the extent that we quench the Spirit (through our lack of prayer, disobedience aka “sin,” lack of time in the Word, and shallowness of our heart’s desire to pursue/know/love/and experience God’s Great Love), THIS becomes the extent with which we will be offended, hurt, defensive, bitter, angry, etc.
They are quite the opposite of each other.
For some reason, realizing that He knew me before I was born impacted me greatly. Honestly, I’m still not sure why, but that Truth deeply connects with some core part of my being. If you know why that is, I’m really interested in hearing about it.
But here’s the super-cool thing.
I’ve been begging God, deeply wanting His presence, His Truth, His will. “Pursuing” doesn’t even begin to describe this. I’ve also realized something hugely important… that I don’t receive love, even His, very well. And only to the extent that I can receive, can I give. So I’ve been begging Him to show me how to receive His Great Love. He’s revealed a ton to me through another book (sorry, I usually have about 3-4 going at the same time…) called, “TrueFaced,” by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch. I got the “experience edition” and can honestly it’s lived up to its name.
My husband and I attended a funeral yesterday morning of a man named Mike Michaelsen. It was remarkable. “Coincidentally,” this was a man who really experienced and gave God’s love to others. He accepted Christ at age 9, and that same day, went home from church to his mother, shared the gospel with her, and she accepted Christ. A month later, he led his dad to the Lord.
Person after person shared stories of how he loved others… it was remarkable. I left feeling two things: 1) jealous of where Mike was at the moment, and 2) desperate to experience God’s Love and Grace such that I could live a life like that. What an Inspired funeral!
And last night, I was aware only of God’s compassion for this other man, my friend, my lover, my other better half. Nowhere within me was the self-focused human in action… only Spirit. This was fruit.
And though the behavior on the outside could have looked the same as a time before, I was somehow different on the inside – and my husband, who deeply knows me, saw the difference.
This was fruit.
And it was fresh, like water for his soul.
I’m still marveling at these things. And I’m overcome today with the sense that I’m only scraping the surface.
What do you think?
I laughed out loud with great joy today when I discovered something else remarkable. Our peach tree is also bearing fruit (for the first time!) and they were all green two days ago, and I’d swear smaller… but today, we picked the first fruits off of it …
And they were juicy, sweet, and made us laugh and smile like no other peaches have before.
So much wonder here… And so, to “save” the relationships in our lives, we need to learn how to receive and give God’s Great Love.
Dare you to join me as we figure that out together… Double-Dog-Dare you to subscribe above, Triple-Dog-Dare you to share and comment on your experiences!
Glad you are on the journey with me…
Love to you,