Reordering Joy

distorted-emotions

Have you ever said no, I’m not having it. I won’t be hurt that way anymore. Or, no, I’m never going to be subjected to this kind of stress and strain again. I know I certainly have.

Growing up always involves some mix of pain and life lessons that sets the stage for how we manage and function in the world.  We may have drawn lines in the sand declaring we would not experience certain feelings ever again (such as pain, anxiety, sorrow, and so on), and, on the unseen spiritual level, these declarations were put into effect.

Resolving to not feel pain or sorrow or be duped — yet again — can actually harm us because these kinds of vows have unintended consequences. When we block our negative senses, we also block our positive senses. Our capacity to experience joy and beauty then mirrors our capacity to experience pain.

By making these kinds of inner vows, we give the enemy the legal right to mess with our emotions. The enemy has power but no authority unless we give it to him. Jesus had joy as his goal while he endured the cross. He was able to see joy ahead because there was no legal place in him for unhealthy, sinful emotions to land.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

To experience this kind of freedom and joy, we must:

  1. Admit we have been wrong to make willful declarations about our emotions and what we will or will not feel.
  2. Erase the lines we’ve drawn in the sand and give God permission to guide our emotional lives.
  3. Tell the enemy to vacate the premises because he no longer has the legal right to mess with us in these areas.
  4. Stand firm in the truth and word of God. Christ has the power and authority to forgive us. He cleanses, redeems, and restores our emotions.
  5. Receive God’s forgiveness and welcome his loving kindness and mercy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We can experience the freedom of feeling all our emotions, including joy and pain, and know that God is good.

This has been my experience. I have been taking my authority in Christ and have found the most unexpected joy and tenderness in my spirit to beauty and sorrow. It is the Lord reordering and restoring me emotionally as he aligns me with his truth.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.(Psalm 34:8)

Love Roots

Buds

God’s love songs for us aren’t just for children. They tell us basic, foundational truths about God’s heart and posture toward us. They shape us and tell us who we are in light of His love.

It makes sense then that our belief in God’s love is a prime target for the enemy. If we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, then, we are transformed by receiving the truth of God’s love for us. This is not as easy as it may sound.

“While there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does, we can experience a greater revelation of His love for us. That must be our grand pursuit as His children. Hell trembles at the thought of you coming into an increasingly greater revelation of how deeply, greatly, and infinitely you are loved by God— your Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ— your Savior.”  From Living Free by Mike Riches

Paul encourages us to welcome the Holy Spirit, who works to help the love roots grow.  This, in turn, allows us to live and love more and more freely and less and less under the calcified sin responses of hearts saturated in love deficit.

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Keep pressing on. Keep pressing in to God’s inexhaustible love. It is the heart of everything.

God-breathed Peace

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”  John 20:19-23 

He said, “it is finished” as he breathed his last on the cross. After rising up from the tomb, he said “peace be with you” to his disciples. This divinely brokered peace was (and is) offered by the Prince of Peace or shalom, which means wholeness, completeness, and fulfillment. They must have felt a mix of fear and joy when they saw him, and he gave them “peace be with you” as pure gift!

This is peace. This is shalom. It is Forgiveness. It is God-breathed peace, wrapped in forgiveness. They had just witnessed his murderous death. And Jesus came bearing gifts: of peace, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit and the instruction to forgive. 

Beyond the Threshold

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I am beginning to see beyond the threshold. I can see the light and greenery through the open top half, but I am still inside behind the bottom half door.

Truth is, I am beginning to feel the hope of freedom rising, like anticipation or like a sob welling up in me. I sense a freedom of living in the glorious light of what is, of trusting myself and others, of not carrying the weight of what ifs and what if nots. It is free of managing the expectations of others and of juggling all the extra things for which I take responsibility (i.e. take control) in order to keep the risks of uncertainty and chaos at bay.

What might it be like beyond the threshold? What might it be like to let others be, to let the chips fall where they may, to let silence reign, to let friendships die, to let gatherings unfold, and to live simply and quietly in the present trusting that there will be light and wisdom for the path when needed?