Putting the Lie to Rest

leather bound journal with calligraphy pen, by Curt Fleenor

Leather Bound Journal with Calligraphy Pen by Curt Fleenor is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

I look at my journal, that precious place where God and I meet, and I see a great, big “SHOULD” button flashing in my brain.  I try to pick up my pen, but I can’t start to write.  Shaking my head, I drop the pen back on the desk and push away the journal.  “No,” my insides shout, “not now,” so I sigh and turn to face the lush green woods outside my office window.  Something tight, something heavy, blocks my wonder, my creativity, my productivity;  I can’t even finish the simplest of tasks.  I can almost feel a physical grip on my heart.

“Oh, just do it,” my earnest evangelical friend (whose voice resides firmly in my head) exhorts.  “Don’t think and introspect;  Only start, and the rest will follow.”

Fair enough.  Plenty of times, my mountain is moved by small ant-sized accomplishments.   But this is not one of those times.  I know myself.  This lack of rest, driven busyness, and restless non-work are not driven by a lack of will.  Gutting it out may work as a short term prod, but never as a long-term solution.

“Ah,” my charismatic friend might say, “Your symptoms scream ‘enemy’!  His hallmarks, right there, holding you back!  Pray against that stronghold!”

Maybe.  In truth he is undoubtedly at work.  But that’s not where to start, not by a long shot.  Instead, I think about my reactions: my busyness, the piles of work I can’t complete, the immobilization that halts my every start.  The busyness isn’t my enemy—it’s just a coping mechanism.

What really lies at the heart?

Lurking beneath my roadblocks are usually deeper issues—reasons I don’t stop, or don’t rest, or can’t accomplish.  Unearthing those reasons will free me to move forward—or step back—intentionally.

Ironically, pondering will have to lead to journaling, that thing I don’t want to do because I’m afraid of what I will find.  Yes, that’s one block:  I’m afraid to rest and find out what’s lurking because I surely won’t like my own sin, or the sin done against me. Perhaps I won’t like the solution, either.  Can I trust that the word the Lord speaks will heal and not destroy.  Another block, surely.

But underneath is yet another lie. A bigger one, sucking me dry.  I know it’s there, and I know the process:  find the lie, discover where it came from, and pray for healing.  Listen to what the Lord says, and feel His presence changing my perspective surrounding its birth. He pours grace and peace over the still-throbbing ulcer and the pain subsides.  He heals the wound and changes my heart, and my body and soul return to rest.  Gladly.

I don’t know what it is yet.  I can’t tell you what the offending lie is, nor where it came from.  But I promise you this:  I will not rest, cannot rest, until it is found.  Jesus and I…  we will find that thing that chokes me, and Jesus will dissolve it.

And so I’m off on a lie-hunt.    And what about you?  Do you hunt, too?

Let’s hunt together, you and I. We all have those callouses of long-forgotten lies, built up to protect our vulnerable hearts.   Now they hurt instead, keeping us from all that Jesus brings: healing, restoration, and rest.

Can we join forces here?  What are the lies that hold you back?  What healing will free you and destroy them?

 

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A Different Color Holy

image (c) by Shelly Ribeiro. Used by permission

image (c) by Shelly Ribeiro. Used by permission

The house held order and expectations, looming obsessive elders ensuring perfect behavior. Did all old people turn dour and strict?    She sat in the kitchen watching Mother finish the school assignment – her school assignment. Always the good girl, she figured out the rules and did what Mother expected, but it was rarely enough.

Mother’s way was hard, boring, painful, and always right, but never right for her. That was her picture of Jesus, too. No wonder she couldn’t trust Him. Why would His way be any different than Mother’s?

Tracing the memory in her imagination, she braced herself for the dreaded conversation with Jesus. Sighing, she’d screwed her eyes shut and clenched her teeth, bravely forcing her will to do whatever “The Master” wanted. Jesus would be “The Master,” just like Mother, wouldn’t He?

Holding her breath, she peeked, expecting to see Jesus, arms crossed, giving the next instruction. Strangely, His eyes twinkled as He pulled her outside, away from the kitchen, into sunlight and frolic.

Rose- and salmon-hued streaks coursed across the sky, sunset colors exploding in a world-sized palette. She looked up, imagination alive and pulsating, and saw Jesus flinging more pigments across the firmament. Yellow and gold mixed with apricot and peach and coral, radiant colors glowing from the afternoon sun. She threw her own arm skyward and watched as the colors responded, blurring, blending, swirling with every motion.

No critique? No “wait, it’s not the right color?” or “Dear, do it this way?” She couldn’t remember unjudged creativity in her little-girl life. Finger paints and messes? Strictly forbidden. Now Jesus offered her freedom? Her fertile imagination saw the colors dance. She erupted with giggles and laughter, and ran around the acre tossing clouds and painting grass.

Her eyes roamed from her drab, gray-shingled home to the verdant lawn, where Jesus formed huge, neon-bright fruit for glowing green trees and brilliant clouds for the perfect sunset picture. Funny, HE didn’t seem so concerned with immaculate order. She thought holy meant sacred, spiritual, somber, purposeful, and… intense. This new image of Jesus didn’t fit any model she’d ever imagined.

Jesus infused this healing time with life, and the pictures in her mind whirled with His presence. He seemed intent on providing what she didn’t know she lacked – play; Jesus created a new space entirely. A fun holy-place, a free and life-giving world of creativity.

This was the foundation for a creative identity she’d never owned for herself. The imagination play-yard sent her artistic spirit soaring. The yard became a holy place where she and Jesus could talk, play, walk, hide, laugh and romp, and it pulsed with delight and color.

Is your “holy” hard and drab and lifeless? If you could choose a color, what color would your “holy” be?

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Pressing Through

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He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Is 61:1b, NIV)

 

His forehead wrinkled and a tiny grimace floated across my husband’s face. No one else noticed, but I saw it and winced. This would be harder than we thought.

The microphone in his hand didn’t stop him; nor did the sixty people in the room, who variously prayed, winced or watched intently. He was meeting with Jesus but he was doing it in public, verbally telling us the intimate pictures and conversations He and Jesus were having internally. It was classic inner healing (the person, the problem and Jesus all in the same room at the same time) but brave was far too mild a word to describe this interchange.

My heart raced with a strange combination of pride and concern. I was eager to see if the new prayer process which had worked so well in more private settings could hold up to this kind of public scrutiny, but had we gone too far? My husband was not easily jostled, but this might be too much.

“What’s going on?” I prompted.

“Jesus knows this internal wound requires surgery and it might be painful,” he responded. “The hateful words became arrows in my heart, and they’re infected. He has to pull them out and… well, this may be too graphic,” he paused. I edged almost off my stool and silently prayed my standard panic prayer. “O God, O God, O God, Help!” We didn’t need to scare away sixty eager prayer ministers wanting to watch God at work.

“He wants to suck out the [metaphorical] venom from my heart. The venom came from the poisoned words, the ones I believed.” OH! Graphic, perhaps, but incredibly freeing! Jesus had such creative ways of relieving pain.

I breathed a little, and we waited while my husband’s spiritual surgery continued. He asked questions, Jesus responded. Jesus offered healing, he cooperated. It wasn’t a smooth road, but the lies dissolved, and he forgave the ones who had hurled them.

And then, as if on cue, it was over. “Thank you Jesus!” I said involuntarily. My valiant praying husband looked up, exhausted but happy. The heartache was gone. So was the mental picture that had held him back for years. And sixty people watched the whole miracle happen.

The room was electric with anticipation. Hurting hearts grabbed hope and dared to break through pain to Jesus’ healing.   One vulnerability led to another. Dread and anxiety eased out the door, and we watched pained faces give way to joy.

Was this freedom worth the risky cost of being so terribly transparent and vulnerable? I looked up at my husband, searching to see what he really thought, and smiled as he said all the right words. “Jesus knew what they needed and the model opened the door for them to go deeper!”

The risk was real but the reward was even greater. Pushing through the boundaries of doubt and anxiety brought more healing than we imagined, to my husband and to dozens of others who joined in. “I desire healing even more than you do,” Jesus reminded me. It was an old lesson, now made new: He offers hope and emotional healing to all who are willing to receive it. Relieved, I nodded. He certainly honored prayers, bravery and faithfulness that morning! How many others would benefit from that lesson, as well, I wondered?

Grateful, I wrapped my arms around my husband’s chest and hugged him, hard.

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