Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When God Came Down©

I've heard the stories. Flannel graph pictures depicting lives of people born years before were told each week in Sunday school. I've known the story of Jesus for as long as I can remember. He came as a baby born in a manger with a mission. I was told He would die to take my sins away.

The emphasis was salvation from my sins and entrance into heaven. Nobody really talked much about the relationship or the completion. Until recent years I didn’t really understand that it wasn’t my sin He was focused on, it was ME. Sin and shame blocked my heart from receiving. He came to clear the pathway, opening a way for me to get to His love. For God so loved, ME, He gave His only Son to clear away the effects of my sin.

In His unmerited favor I was given, life. Grace opened the door allowing me to receive all that He offers me. It's by His grace that I have been saved, not by anything of myself. As I trust Him with me, my heart has opened to embrace the love that has waited in the wings. As I have seen that my sin isn’t His focus I have been driven to run into His presence. He doesn’t care what I’ve done. He cares about me.

At this time of year the focus is on a baby born in a manger who would take away the sins of the world. But this year more than ever I am seeing the beauty of the story of this One who came to redeem my heart. Jesus came to love the world. Sin and shame were in His way. He had to stand against them once for all with the gift of His life. He’s not focused on the sin. He’s focused on loving those He created to love.

When Jesus stepped out of that grave, he left my sins behind, buried in the grave with death. They no longer keep me from Him. From that moment forward my offenses were covered forever. I no longer have to live in the identity of a woman covered by sin and shame. I was given the gift of a brand new life. I was invited into the embrace of love, perfect, unconditional love.

I am not loved less for what I’ve done. I am loved perfectly. My actions don’t please Him. I do. I do not have to do another thing to be pleasing to Him. The works of the law are fulfilled forever closing the door on performance based acceptance.

Unmerited favor is freely given. I can’t do one thing to deserve it. I can't earn it nor can I attain it. I just get it. It's not based on me and what I do. It's based on the heart of the Giver. I am invited to receive all that He freely gives.

Jesus invites me to live His life out of me. He reminds me when I fall He is there to pick me up, brush me off, wrap His arms around me and love me with truth of who I am. He constantly reminds me that my junk has been redeemed, forever. He desires that I live as He made me to be before sin wracked my mind, soul and body. He tells me often who I am to Him. I do not have to do any rituals to be close to His heart. I am already there. I am now invited to receive my inheritance.

The One who is perfect love came to this earth to redeem me from a life riddled with sin, guilt and shame. He took me off the gerbil wheel of performance. He perfected my imperfections. He gave His life in exchange for mine. My old stony heart was removed and His was transplanted in. When Jesus walked out of that tomb my life began over again.

He has made me holy, righteous, godly once for all. The requirements of the law have been fulfilled for all eternity. The Old Covenant has been replaced with a New Covenant. Love has redeemed me from the law of sin and death.

When God came down life was altered forever. For the first time since the sin of mankind perfect love was put on display for all to see through the life of one who came as a babe and grew to be a man. I rejoice as I consider what this little life meant to me. When God came down in the body of a baby perfect love invaded the world to change my life forever.

©copyrighted: 2010 Julie L. Todd

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seeing Anew ©

As I sit here contemplating life I am reminded of my son around 4 years of age. I see his little face looking up at me and winking. At first I thought it was adorable. But when it became more prominent I began to wonder if something was wrong. He was taken to a specialist who diagnosed him with a high level of farsightedness. His right eye was turning inward seeking to find it's focus. After several years the treatments stopped yet he continued to wear glasses.

We believed the problem had been absolved but it hadn't. Unbeknownst to us the brain had reverted back to it's previous, familiar focusing techniques. Bifocals were added to his prescription to force the right eye to focus correctly. In the process the doctor believed the mind would be trained with the true programming. He's been in this process now for several years. As time has passed we've seen improvement.

A month ago we went in to pick up a new pair of glasses. As he put them on immediately he struggled to find focus. At first we thought the lab had gotten the prescription wrong but upon further examination the Optician discovered the problem. His old pair of glasses had gotten out of sync. The bifocal line had moved altering his vision once again. The new glasses were correct. The old were not. It would take a little adjusting but in a matter of hours he should be good to go.

Immediately I knew it was a picture for my heart.

Years of living a religious life has left it's effects on my mind. So many "should's", "ought to's" and "musts" have been pounded in. For the better part of life I had been trained to think a certain way. "I need to make who I am better." "I need to strive to be pleasing to God." "If I do enough right things maybe God will be happy with me." "If I study, pray, and read enough maybe it will be enough." It was a life about what I could and would do that would make the difference. It was bondage at it's finest. It caused me to live with a ruler that measured everything and hoped it would measure up.

That is until God added bifocals to my prescription. It was then I first began to see.

At times it feels as if there is a boatload of mismatched thoughts floating around in my brain. Years of knowledge have programmed my thinking. It's easy to revert to the old way of seeing pretty quickly. But as God sifts the wheat from the tares my focus begins to change as my mind is renewed with truth. It's a process I'm certain will go on until I meet Jesus face to face.

I've begun to see things I'd never seen before. I cannot make who I am better. The old me was crucified forever. I was made new. My past and all it's effects have been removed once for all. The sins I have done, the sins that have been done against me are forever absolved. I will never, ever be able to do enough to make God happy with me. For it's not about what I do that makes Him happy, it's about who I am to Him. I don't have to pray or read to find Him, He's inside me all the time. His Spirit has made His home in me.

Everything now becomes an invitation at His initiation. His Spirit indwelling woos me to walk with Him into new places. He allures me to a life that requires nothing of me but to receive all that Christ gave to me when He was crucified, buried and rose to new life. As Jesus was buried so was my past. When He rose anew, I did too.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around it all.

Sometimes these lenses get out of adjustment and my mind wanders back to the old way of seeing. Gently, lovingly He takes my face in His hands to direct my gaze back to where it needs to be. Slowly but surely my mind is being reprogrammed by each new prescription. Moment by moment I am seeing anew.

At times it overwhelms me. At times it feels as if there is too much out of sync in my mind. It's then I remember that God comes for me in the out of sync places to tell me what is true. The gift of His Spirit indwelling will always guide me into to the path of life. I rejoice as I see it is He who connects the dots inside my mind. His Spirit makes the way into understanding. He leads the blind along the unfamiliar paths. I see I am right where I need to be. I am desperately dependent on Him in me.
©copyrighted 2010, Julie L. Todd