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,
God’s timing is so perfect. Typically I read your blog the very second I see it but Aug 1 I worked an almost 16 hour day being loved on by our community at a particular fast-food establishment. Then our internet was knocked out by a storm and even now I am “stealing” the web from next door in hopes to comment. Saturday we lost a friend, a young man that lived a life similar to your friend. Today I left visitation feeling the exact same as you 1) I want to be where he is right now and 2) oh to live my life in that same manner, giving so that others see Jesus in me. But the biggest relation to your post is the sermon from our pastor yesterday. “Your God is too safe”. WE put limitations on God. He was speaking to prayer specifically. “How you pray is the direct reflection of what you believe. What you believe directly reflects in who you become.” Why are my prayers vague when there are specific areas that I NEED God? I pray for God to bless me – bless me how? I pray for God to protect me – protect me from what? I pray for God to give me wisdom – wisdom to share with who? I pray safely so that I won’t be disappointed if the prayer isn’t answered the way I think it should be. Maybe I should pray dangerously and experience something bigger than I ever imagined. The more faith I have the more specific I will pray, the more specific (and boldly) I pray the greater the glory my God will receive. And isn’t that it? my purpose – to bring glory and fame to Jesus. So anyway, sorry to hijack your post but I wanted you to know that I get it. The whole thing, the moving of the Holy Spirit, the fruit that brings laughter in the oddest moments, the reality that my Father is with you hundreds of miles away in the very same real way He is with me here, He is speaking clearly and moving intentionally and it is just so sweet and fragrant to share. Yet again, your transparency brings something beautiful to my life. Thank you, as always, for sharing. ~katy
Such deep biblical truths… all I can say is thank you, Nina, for sharing what the Lord has been revealing to you lately because we are all going through such chaos in this crazy world. We need other believers to help us stay focused as we should. It’s difficult not to look at the storms of life and feel overwhelmed and fearful just as Peter did but we have to keep looking to Jesus. We can even know this (and know how the enemy is trying to scare us through our circumstances) yet it is still so difficult to do as we should! Yet in our weakness, HE is strong…just as long as we look to Him. To God be the Glory!! Thank you, my dear sister in Christ!!
We’re both in good company, gorgeous! 🙂
Another beautiful, honest and inspiring post. Thank you for reminding and encouraging me on this difficult but rewarding journey… Many blessings, Lisa
Oh Nina, my heart is heavy and I’m struggling today. My husband and son had a terrible altercation last night and I’m having a hard time rebounding from it. My son and husband have been able to make up today but my husband is still very upset and hurt by me for saying he reacted to our son in a very threatening and damaging way. I am hurt by his extreme behavior and verbally abusive mouth. Im having a hard time knowing what to do. Oh God help my heart.
Dear Jesus..I join this sister in seeking Your wisdom! She hurts so…and so does her husband. Father, I pray that You be in the middle of this…I pray You reveal to her Your heart… we simply cannot do these things on our own… we cannot move past our own hurts… we can’t SEE, Lord…without You filling us. Lord, I pray that there be a verse in a daily devotional that speaks into this situation for her. I pray that she obeys, and doesn’t trust her feelings, even though right now she feels like she’s losing by forgiving and apologizing. Father, I pray she has Your eyes to see her husband as a man on his own journey with You, and that she not get in the way of that… I pray that her husband and she come to a place someday SOON, where they are trying to be the first to be Your Great Love to each other… but in the Now, Father, please comfort her. Increase her trust in You. Increase her receipt of Your Great Love, such that she can extend it to her husband… and in the midst of it, remind her that she’s not alone… she walks the path we all walk, that I’ve walked…and am walking still…
We love You, Lord. Your Word says if we ask with the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains… help us have that much and more, Father. It’s in Your precious Son, Jesus Christ’s Name we pray… amen and amen…
Hi there Nina.
I read your blog often, however I rarely comment. (slack I know). But this moved me. I loved the raw truth in it. I loved seeing your change in you… and the words are so true..about when we’re self-focused and taking our eyes off the Lord.
Great message here..thanks xx
Juanita (new zealand).
🙂 Just glad to be useful. 🙂 SO VERY GLAD YOU are here! 🙂 And that’s true whether you comment or not. 🙂
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