Friday, June 18, 2010

The Interwoven Life of Us ©

I've already raised two teenagers. I am currently raising two with another waiting in the wings to start her journey in about six weeks. Regardless of their gender they've shared a generic phrase during life encounters; "I know".

My teenagers think they know alot more than they really know. That is until life proves otherwise.

It's really not just a commonality with teenagers. It was true for the "learned" in Jesus' day.
It's true for me too.

Knowledge became my goal. I believed that if I learned enough about God I would be loved. At least I would prove my allegiance, hopefully pleasing Him. Had I lived in the days when Jesus walked the earth I think I too would have been a good Pharisee.

Once I came to the end of my quest it was there I found love.

As I considered this paradox the other day Jesus sweetly began to reveal to me what knowledge had done to my life.

"Knowledge puffs up, Jewel." "It's often the hindrance to the encounter." "It's not about trying to understand me to know what I want from you." "It's about being open to receive me as I am in you."

"You've spent most of your life trying to understand me so that you could be like me.... do all the right things, make all the right choices..."

"That's not it, Jewel". "That will take you into a life of knowledge much like the men of my day." "They thought they knew so much about my Abba, yet they didn't have a clue about Me." They didn't see me for who I was." "They were looking for something they had learned." "I was there in their midst, yet they didn't see me." "Their knowledge puffed them up and kept them blind."

"Knowing about Me and living in Me are two very different creatures." "One requires Me, the other requires you." "Seek me to know me in you, not to know about me to imitate me." "You cannot imitate me." "I've lived my life, now you must live yours..." "It's the life of you and I interwoven together as one."

"As the Father was in me, so I am in you." "The Father was reflected in me as I lived our life together." "It's the same for you, Jewel." "Dependence is the key." "Knowledge just puffs up."

"Encounter me in you." "That's the ticket." "The people of my day had me right in the scope of their eyes and they had no clue." "They could have encountered my Abba through me, but they didn't."

"I'm in the scope of your eyes, too Jewel. I'm in you." "Live out of that." "Don't try to figure it all out yourself." "You'll never figure it out." "It is my Spirit which was given to you that reveals all things." "Listen to My Spirit within you." "He will guide you into all truth." "You need Him in order to live this life." "Don't forget that."

Jesus told the disciples that He had to leave in order for something better to come to indwell them. No longer is Jesus on the outside living His life. His Spirit now lives in me. His Spirit waits to reveal what that looks like, allowing me to live from the inside out.

Maybe that's why Jesus told us to become like little children. Little children look to their parents to guide them. They need.

It's in the need that I am finding my release. I can't figure out this life. I have no clue. Honestly I don't want to have a clue anymore. After all, having my own ideas kept me from the beauty of encounters.

The Spirit of the living God resides in me. He was sent to comfort, guide, counsel, teach. I have access to Him every moment of every day. It is He who guides me into all truth. No longer do I have to lean on my own understanding. I don't have to get it right or figure it all out. I am now invited to need Him to live. By His Spirit alone I live and move and have my being.

Life bearing encounters are making their way into my life as I awaken to this beautiful Spirit that chooses to make His home in me. As He engages with me in the moments of life I am finding my way into the stunning discovery of this interwoven life of "us".

"Knowledge puffs up by love builds up."
I Corinthians 8:1

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Loving the Impromptu©

I gathered my things together and headed out for my normal Friday Starbucks day. I knew my 1st and 3rd born children would be standing behind the counter, waiting to serve me. I was surprised to see my 2nd born married girl walk through the door. She'd stopped by to sit with me on her lunch break.

What a gift it is to have impromptu times such as these.

We grabbed a table and within minutes my oldest took her 10 minute break and joined us.

The 3 of us sat talking, laughing, enjoying the sheer pleasure of being together. It wasn't what we talked about that brought me joy, it was the gift of comfortable conversation and love shared.

My heart was taking it all in, relishing the gift of this time. I had no record in my mind of how long it had been since we had all been together like that. I didn't really care. The truth is all I care about at those moments is the pleasure of sitting there with my girls.

It's in times like these my heart sees a clearer picture of the One who loves me beyond measure.

So many years of my life I went to sit with God due to a requirement I was encouraged to fulfill.
I was told often that if I loved Him I would spend at least 30 minutes a day in "quiet time", preferably in the morning. So, I did. I wanted to prove my love for Him.

When I missed a day, guilt came after me. If I missed several I often chastised myself. I didn't deserve for Him to talk to me. After all I had neglected Him for days. I had no idea how wrong I was about Him. But now, as I move into this place of intimate relationship He opens my eyes to see things I've not known.

He's not waiting with a record book to see if I will come. There is no data kept that tells Him how frequently I've visited Him. There's no agenda that needs to be discussed, no right words to speak. His heart is the one that beats in me. He loves it when I drop by for a visit. He relishes the impromptu visits led by the heart.

The words spoken in conversation are not even what it's about. The sheer pleasure of having me come to hang out with Him is.

The truth is, He's just plain delighted to see me.

As Hannah's break ended, Courtney's time was up as well. Hugs and kisses goodbye, "I love you's" spoken left my heart full to overflowing. My girls came to hang out with me. There is no greater gift for my mother's heart.

I love the impromptu moments of the heart's leading with my children. What if I required them to come and sit with me? How would it fare? Intimacy would be replaced with expectations. It just wouldn't be the same for my heart, nor theirs.

Days will go by before the next opportunity comes. Impromptu times have no routine for they happen as we live in the moments. It's times like these that fill the soul unlike anything a schedule could ever bring.

"Come as you are, Jewel." "It's what my heart longs for." I hear Him say.

His Spirit indwells us. He said He had to leave in order for something better to come to us. Yet far too often I've not even allowed this Guide inside me to invite me into the moments of the impromptu. I've met requirements for the better part of my life. Intimacy, true deep heart igniting intimacy, has been held back.

It's in the moments that my heart cries out to "be" with Him that I am finding a love that leaves me undone. For in those moments, those beautiful moments I see that all He ever wanted was for me to come as my heart beckoned me. It's in that place I find the sheer pleasure of His delight.

As I relish the impromptu moments of with my children it's then I see, so does He.

I really am the image of God.
©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Friday, June 4, 2010

Do You Want to be Well?©

I always hated it when my children were sick. It caused me to spring into action, finding whatever resources I had on hand that might lessen their suffering. Immune building medications were given to help fight the culprit that invaded their bodies. Some took the dosages easily, one did not.

Whether not wanting to deal with the taste of the liquid or the swallowing of pills, one of my children often refused that which could help their body recover quickly. Their choices often prolonged their illness. I hated it for that child. I would try to coax them asking, "Do you want to get well?" When it came down to it, they wanted their suffering to end, but on their own terms, terms they were comfortable with.

It's funny how you can read a story several times, yet miss the revelation hidden inside. It happened to me a few days ago while reading John 5: As Jesus pulled the veil back to reveal, I saw something I'd never seen before. Like my child, I unknowingly refused that which would set me free from the ailments of my soul.

The story goes like this. Jesus came upon the pool of Bethesda. A man who had been ill for 38 years lay beside it. When Jesus saw him laying there he said, "Do you wish to be well?"

The man answered, "Sir I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming another steps down before me."

Thirty-eight years this man has been sick and yet he knows no one who can help him into the pool? Seriously? How in the world did he get to the pool in the first place?

Did he want to be well? Really?

There written in the spaces of Jesus' question was the confirmation of what I have been discovering. Self effort gets you no where. Living in my old self trying to make her get to where she needs to be doesn't work. It only prohibits my healing.

I didn't understand that. I thought this walk with God was somehow up to me. Wasn't I supposed to work out my salvation with fear and trembling? Wasn't I somehow supposed to get this life right. I wanted to make God happy with me. I wanted Him to be glad that He had allowed me in. I didn't want to be a disappointment. Therefore, I worked hard to make who I was better.

Something was always missing for me in that life. I was crippled with my shame and brokenness. No matter how much I did, I never knew if it was enough. I had no way to measure. Like the man who lay by the pool I kept trying to get myself into the right place to be made whole.

Once that man acknowledged he couldn't get himself into the pool, Jesus said, "get up, take up your pallet and walk." He allowed the One who spoke this world into existence to be the answer. Immediately he was made whole. Afterwards Jesus told him not to go back to his old life, to leave it be. It's not who he was any longer. Life started anew.

"Do you want to be free from those things that cripple you," Jesus has asked me? "Are you willing to stop living by your efforts so that I can be lived out in you?" "Are you willing to let that old self, you've lived in so long, die?" "Will you allow My resurrected life to be lived through you?

That old self mentality with it's lies, hurts and shame will continue to hold me captive. Yet Jesus offers His life to me, which brings my release. "Jewel, cut the ties with your old self, let her go." "Who you were before you entered into a covenant with me was crucified with me." "Everything started afresh." "I gave you my life." "Now it's Me in you joined together as one."

This story paints quite the picture for me. I cannot get myself where I want or need to be. Jesus died to the requirement of having to live by my abilities. He offers me His perfect life resurrected in me, now.

I'm making my way there, sometimes one baby step at a time. The more desperately I need Him, the more I find, I live. In those moments He comes in totality of who He is and releases me to see what He knows. The old is gone, the new has come.

So, how about you. Do you want to be well?
©copyrighted 2010 Julie L. Todd