On Coffins & the Spirit-Led Life

Like JesusJesus is the poster-child for the Spirit-led life. “Out of my league,” is my initial response. He’s God. I’m not. Ask my family. They will verify, in flowing narrative, the degree of my fallen nature.

As a child, I never had a hard time recognizing the divinity of Christ. His humanity, however, was harder to grasp. For me, His divinity overshadowed His humanity. It felt like He always got the “Pass GO and get $200” Monopoly card.

“How hard could life really be living on planet earth if you were God?”

Jesus did not get a “Pass GO and get $200” card—ever. His was a life of rejection, betrayal, missed meals, fatigue, fickle friends and torture. On top of that, the realities of a human body were also His: a sun burned face, sore feet, blistered hands, a pebble in his sandal, dust in his eyes, and about everything else we can imagine…hangnails, heartburn, headaches.

His divinity did not trump the “nit and grit” of life on earth, yet He lived for one thing.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me. John6:38

Can that desire be my desire? The driving force of my life? About ten years ago I read through the Gospels, blue highlighter in hand, looking for passages that spoke of Jesus’ time with His Father. The fact that Jesus prioritized prayed, also astounded me as a child. “Prayer was about getting things from God. What would He need that He couldn’t get Himself,” I reasoned. The Gospel of Luke is covered with blue in my Bible. Jesus was a man of prayer…personal, private, and intentional. Maybe, I’ve surmised, prayer is more than just request. Maybe there is something about communion, intimacy and marching orders. Things I don’t always invite or receive, hindered by my ideas of prayer that miss the mark.

Luke 4-6 is covered in blue: 4:1, 4:14, 4:42, 5:16, 6:12.

I found this “lead up” intriguing as I read the story of a funeral in Luke 7:11-17. Unasked, Jesus “went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.” (vs. 14) Whoa, baby! What a way to make a scene. That was not a casual action, a stage show, but a Spirit-led reaction to do the will of the One He knew so well.

Jesus was Spirit-led.

And the impact?

Not only was a dead man raised to life, but it caused the crowd to see, recognize, acknowledge “God has visited His people!” (7:16 ESV & HCSB). Jesus’ Spirit-led action that day brought life to more than just one man. The news of Jesus spread far and wide.

Eyes were opened. Hearts made ready.

The pressure is off, dear friends. Being about the Father’s work is beyond what we can do. It’s not about us and our gifts and plans and abilities. We do not have to make or manufacture the work of God on earth. We only need to know His voice.

How do we know His voice speaking into ours today? It’s not hard. It’s not complicated, but it does take time.

Like Jesus, we spend time in our Father’s Presence.

Been there lately?

How do you find yourself in the Father’s presence?

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Pilgrimage

PilgrimageTomorrow I will be on retreat. It will be a full day away, and my longing heart is hungry—hungry to be unplugged, un-needed and free. Physically, I hope to be outside much of the day.  Spiritually, I am longing for a Spirit-led journey into the heart of God. I don’t know what I need, but He does and I can rest in that truth.

Timothy Jones, in his book, A Place for God written in 2000 reminds us that on retreat, we trust that

“the God who leads us on pilgrimage will lead us to the place where we need to be.” (pg. 46)

Jones goes on to write,

“We open ourselves to God and let God be the prime mover…(we go on retreat) out of more than a desire to become less frazzled but also out of a desire to become more aware and alert to God. Deep within is a longing to be met, loved, guided, wherever that might lead.” (pg 47)

I will go empty handed and open hearted. Honesty will reign. Masks will come off. Tears will flow. There will be songs to sing and prayers to pray. Things to think and God to meet. I hope for a blue sky and fluffy clouds. I hope for a breeze to whisper in the leaves.

And I hope to be brave.

There are places I need to go within. Places that will not be easy. Places that demand space and a pace for God to do His tender work.

Militarily, many view “retreat” as a cowardly move. But I have learned that retreat is for the brave, for the courageous ones bent on an adventure like nothing else the world can offer. Feeling brave, but don’t have a day? An hour will do. No doubt about it.

Update

The thyroid surgery went well, the news was great and my recovery has been smooth and uncomplicated. I have learned new things about rest. Can’t wait to share them. A smiley face scar now rests at the bottom of my neck, a testimony to the battle I fought and lost over burning the candle at both ends. Sleep was the last rhythm I learned to embrace (about 2009). Retreat was the first (in 1992). We are all on a journey…

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Price Tag

There is a price tag attached to our overload and exhaustion.Matthew 11:28

  • A deep discontentment that settles in our bones and sours our soul.
  • Relational tension – combative, distant, destructive.
  • Illness. Mild and annoying. Dramatic and life-changing.
  • Death. How many of us die years before our time?

There is a price tag.

I write this blog as one who was driven and reckless. I lived under the motto, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(Philippians 4:13) True, when living the life God intended. But I chose my way over God’s way. My way was addictive in nature and rooted in a series of faulty beliefs.

At that stage, I questioned the the truth of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” I believed that promise was reserved for Heaven, not a promise for the here and now. I came to God every day, multiple times every day, but there was no rest to be found. There was much to receive—love, forgiveness, joy, marching orders, but never rest. God’s rest eluded me because I came to Him on my terms, not His. I came sweating and heaving, with eyes on the next goal. No time for foot stools, green pastures or quiet waters. God’s pursuit of us is centered on our greatest need and through a series of difficult days and the Body of Christ, God placed me on a journey that would root out the beliefs that were leading to my demise and planted the seeds that would bring life, a life empowered by the rest of God.

Sabbath. Stillness. Solitude. Sleep. It’s been a 23 year adventure.

I was (am) a slow learner. Sabbath, Stillness (personal prayer focused on the Presence of God), and Solitude (personal retreat) were rhythms God began to weave into my life in a manner that re-sculpted my hardened heart. But sleep. Sleep was for sissies. Sleep robbed me. Sleep was a waste of precious, God-given time.

Embracing God’s plan for sleep was my last frontier. I began to take it seriously about 6 years ago. It proved to be an exceptional gift. Pesky ailments that had begun to plague me began to lessen and disappear. I felt like a new woman. But there is a price tag for our overload and exhaustion.

On September 12, half of my thyroid will be removed. I’ve been fighting an autoimmune thyroid condition for 12 years, a condition (for me) that is tied to a life-time of elevated cortisol levels, a result of my refusal to get the sleep my body required.

Am I beating myself up? No. This is life in a fallen world. There are natural consequences for the choices we make. Some times they are instant. Sometimes they are delayed. Maybe the scar across my neck will speak volumes to another in search of a better way.

The promise in Matthew 11 and Jeremiah 31:25 (ESV) is true and sure. “I will satisfy the weary soul and every languishing soul I will replenish.” For this to be ours, rhythms of rest and restoration must be explored, embraced and prioritized as gifts from the Father’s Hand.

Where are you at, at this juncture in your life? Exploring? Embracing? Prioritizing?

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Idolatry Today

G.Rahl quoteWe all serve, honor, live for something, whether it’s God or a god. People did it 4,000 years ago and we’re still doing it today.

Through the years, my definition of idolatry was limited and uniformed. As a little girl in Sunday School, I breathed a big sigh of relief. “Good thing we don’t do that wooden idol-thing today.” As a teen, I knew I was exempt from any concern over Commandment #1. Idolatry meant a hunger for money, prestige or sex. Again, another big relief.

God is a gentle, determined teacher.

I now know that idolatry is the #1 sin in my life. Some things never change. There are few modern man-made stone images set up in homes in my corner of the world, but there are plenty of modern man-made beliefs and priorities that are set up in unsuspecting hearts.

Our modern day idols separate us just as much if not more, than any ancient image. Exploring idolatry today requires a personal inventory. Upon inspection, the top idols in my life bounce between “me, myself and I” (a trio of dangerous proportion) and my use of time.

Many dedicated church-goers have come to idolize time. In an era of endless opportunity and monumental demands, time becomes extremely precious and how we choose to use it, one of our biggest idols.

Gordon Rahl captures our use of time and the challenges we encounter because of it in three succinct statements:

We worship our work. We work at our play. We play at our worship.

Of which ones are you guilty?

Idolatry and faith are kissing cousins. They both require a throne. Both ask for our energy and our allegiance. They desire it and require it. Both ask for sacrifice—sacrifice of time, talent and treasure.

Idolatry speaks to our deepest fears: worth, emptiness, boredom, value.

God speaks to our greatest need: love.

He speaks the language of love with arms extended and dancing eyes. He invites us to give Him our best. Before His throne we work, we play and we worship.

 

Before His throne do you work, play, worship? What has God been teaching you?

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Prayerless wonder

Psalm132.7Convicted. Again.

I am a prayerless wonder. I have learned of yet another Kingdom worker who spends hours (HOURS) on his knees before entering his day. And it shows – in his heart, his hope, his vision, his fruit.

In the arena of prayer, God and I share a casual closeness. He’s never far. I keep Him in my line of vision. (More importantly, He keeps me in His.) I dive deeply into His Word each morning.

It’s the highlight of my day. But my prayer time is lacking. It’s OK. But I want more. And so does He.

I want to learn how to pray.

I want to learn how to pray like Jesus.

I’m not alone. One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He was finished, one of his disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray …

Jesus response began with the word “Father.”

Relationship. Contact. Connection.

Psalm 132:7 invites us:

Let us go to His dwelling; let us worship at His footstool.

Mary sat at Jesus feet. What did she do there?

She listened. Focused and undistracted.

Jesus, teach me to listen, so I may be praying for the things on Your heart.

 

When was the first time you asked the Lord to teach you to pray? When was the most recent?

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.