4/21/2013

Staying Close to Jesus

I went to church today feeling a lot less lonely than I did last Sunday. It's been a week of me imagining Jesus in bodily form close to me. I've never really done that before but since my imagination is more pure I feel confident that I can bring Him nearer in that way. In spirit I laid my head on His chest and it couldn't have been more real. It seems so impossible to be fulfilled in that way. But doesn't a child's imagination fulfill their longing for wonder and discovery? We are supposed to be like little children with Him. Some may say, "It can't be better than the real thing. Heaven will be the time and place for embracing our Lord." Indeed. But let us not forget that we are already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The Kingdom of God is within us now. Eternity for the born-again starts as our beings are transformed into the likeness of Christ. My life didn't feel very heavenly when I first began following Jesus. Being merely a follower, I was a lot like the disciples before Pentecost as I flailed around trying to understand the words of life I was devouring like bread. Little did I know that the Bread of Life was healing deep broken places in me so that I could start receiving more of His love. That love had planted seeds that took five, ten, and even fifteen years to grow. Now I have a personal harvest where there once was a polluted wasteland.

All that to say I've been healed enough to have the Spirit's power to take every thought captive. I still need a lot of practice cleaning up after letting my mental environment get sullied. There's no escaping the obnoxious voice of the enemy yelling and making a spectacle of himself. I simply don't allow the din to penetrate my will and influence my actions, on a good day. Sometimes I find my mind wandering into that old familiar place of self-hatred and perversity. But I start to feel the ground beneath me give way and I get disoriented and start to panic. That's been my cue lately to check my thoughts. Some days it's been too long since I checked and I am so far off base in my thinking that I've already stained my day and stunk it all up. Thankfully, Jesus' blood is the most powerful cleanser in existence and He is merciful and gracious to help me restore my pure mental environment. But that takes time with Him and time focusing on His reality, i.e. the Truth. Then I can reach for His hand and He's closer than a thought.

Today I doubted if I was in the right church. I started to feel like an old housewife in the midst of dream-conquering college students. My ambitions to be a part of the worship team started to look impossible so I turned my hands over and let them drop. I even started letting go of being a member of that church. Then the pastor began the message. "Navigating the Jungles of... Delay" Delay?! So waiting can be a jungle too? This was part 3 in his jungle series. As is common among God's children it was exactly what I needed to hear. Earlier in the week my "Moms Equipped" bible study was about waiting on God. Our study leader asked, "What are you doing while you are waiting?" After hearing those two messages I knew I just needed to stay put. I am a master at switching goals because stuff is taking too long. But I need practice sticking it out. So this time I'm going to wait, delay, tarry, and yearn.

One of several good quotes from Pastor Aaron today was (I paraphrase), "It is the tension of the process that gives us the ability to accomplish God's purpose." He was actually referring to a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, but I made the connection with us humans. Tension. Isn't that what makes stories and movies so exciting? Isn't that what romance is all about? Without tension we would turn quickly into limp, overfed butterfly-like clumps that didn't squeeze the goo off of our wings enough to fly. We'd be spoiled brats at the mercy of our own flesh. But if we do the work to wait in Jesus and let Him take us through the difficult passages toward His goals for us, we will emerge as radiant and glorious before Him. He will watch us with great pleasure as we play out His perfect story. I want to be a part of what He does here. I will hold onto Jesus' hand in the pure and trusting way that only a child can. Wherever He guides me and whatever I do as I wait for my dreams to come true, I will imagine Him near me.