I Don’t Know

question out of boxI’ve been struggling to write this post because I understand only an inkling of what is taking place at this time, with no grasp of what’s in store down the road.  It all comes down to this simple, overriding fact: I don’t know.

Rather than attempting to clarify for you what I don’t know (Isn’t that silly, anyway?) and why it matters, I prefer to say only that I will not be posting more on this blog for the time being (however long that may be.)  I don’t know all the reasons why.  I only know this is what I am to do . . . for now.

In this place of admitting I don’t know – to myself, the Lord, and you – there is a sense of freedom I haven’t experienced before.  That false sense of responsibility to know the answers is a heavy weight not meant for us to carry.

Will I ever write here again?  I don’t know today.   What I rely on today is the trustworthiness of Jesus and His Spirit of grace to reveal more of Himself to me each day, leading me by His Spirit in showing His love to others, as well.  That’s what I know today.

For all those other as-yet unanswered and even unasked questions, with joy and freedom I declare:  I don’t know those answers, but I know the One who does – Jesus Christ!

The Refrigerator Incident

mini-004There I stood, in front of my new refrigerator, doors open and food and beverages looking back at me.  It wasn’t neat, and I wouldn’t even say it was orderly.  Were things in the right place?  Were the shelves where they should be?  My son had suggested that one of the lower shelves should be eliminated to accommodate the height of two-liter bottles or a pitcher of tea.  He was right, but I didn’t want to lose that nice wide shelf for long casserole dishes or things that needed more than the half-shelves.  What should I do?

Holy Spirit graciously interrupted my internal back and forth argument with the answer that was so obvious.  There is no right way.  Nor must the shelves be left in the same configuration all the time, because needs will change.  Who says I must set them and forget them?  The current order of the shelves will work for me most of the time, so there’s no need to rearrange them.  When they need to be adjusted to fit an odd item, I can change them.  Really, it’s that uncomplicated.

In that simple answer, Jesus ushered me another step further into the freedom for which He has set me (us) free, and I laughed aloud with joy!  Freedom from sin, with all its guilt and condemnation, affects all areas of my life – even the proper arrangement of refrigerator shelves!  There is no right or wrong way.  That’s why the manufacturers make shelves adjustable.  If shelf or item placement needs to be tweaked – now or down the road – it doesn’t indicate a lack of intelligence, common sense, housekeeping abilities, or any other such thing.

Daddy used this refrigerator incident to reveal how far-reaching the bondage (yoke of slavery) of a wrong mindset can go.  And how much farther His freedom in Jesus Christ goes – even to the freedom from needing to do “it” right, whatever “it” may be.  Oh, the glorious freedom of the children of God!  Oh what a wonderful Savior!

2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV  Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

True Freedom

Freedom.  It’s ours in Christ – why Christ set us free, according to Galatians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  We already know this, so let’s move on to something deeper, right?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAReading the verse this morning, I was stopped by that word.  Freedom.  Just what is this freedom Paul tells us Christ died for us to have?  Obviously, it runs contrary to a yoke of slavery.  But I suggest that maybe – just maybe – this yoke of slavery is actually what we have considered freedom most of our Christian lives.  And that we have been kept from living in the true freedom of Christ.

We have let the world and natural thought define our freedom – even in terms of living as Christians.  For instance, we consider freedom of religion as a right to do certain things considered religious, without interference by government or others.  Or freedom of expression as a right to speak out about whatever we want, whenever we want, in the way we want to, regardless of others’ wishes.  You get the idea.

Is freedom in Christ really about rights on earth?  Maybe government-given freedom concerns rights, but the Bible tells me Christ-earned freedom eliminated all our rights.  Demanding rights to freedom of religion, expression, or anything else, reveals the yoke of slavery that binds us, the one that deceptively disguises itself as freedom.  How much greater is the freedom of Christ!

Freedom in Christ (Read all of Galatians for proof) is the freedom to know God as Father, His love, and fullness of relationship with Him through Christ.  It is freedom to know Him unhindered, unlimited, intimately, unconditionally, without condemnation and guilt or fear of judgment for our past, present, or future sins.  It’s freedom to live in His righteousness, peace, and joy, because Jesus Christ bore our deserved judgment, condemnation, and guilt at the cross.  True freedom is all this and so much more.

Freedom in Christ is not about rights and privileges, for those can be given or taken away by the whim of man.  No matter what man does, however, we can never be disconnected from fellowship with our heavenly Father or His love.  The Holy Spirit is in us from the moment we receive Christ’s free gift of salvation.  No one and nothing can separate us from Him from the outside.  None of our own bad choices, words, or actions can separate us from Him from the inside.  This is true freedom!

Romans 8:38-39 NIV  38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the freedom Jesus died for us to know and live in – this freedom that is so much greater than we have ever understood.  Thank You, Jesus Christ, for paying it all so we could know true freedom!

It’s Really Okay

My mother, Edella Walker, at age 16.

I do not hate my mother.  I loved her and she loved me.  I just want to make that clear before you read any more of this post.  Furthermore, even though this relates to the relationship with my mother, that’s really only the surface issue, as you will see.  It’s the heart of the matter, wrong thoughts I’ve believed for so long, that’s important.  And it’s what the Lord spoke to the heart of my matter that I believe will minister to you, as well.

On March 18, 1987, my mother died of cancer.  I was only 31 at the time, with two young children – too young to be motherless.  Nevertheless, it is the fact.  I mourned for a few months, until the weekend I visited my father where we experienced my mother’s last days together.  Though we had a close relationship beforehand, there was a special connection forged by living those last days together.  Our conversation naturally centered on what we had gone through and all the details.  We didn’t have to explain anything to each other, nor did we have to withhold anything because of discomfort from someone who hadn’t been right there.  The conversations of that weekend completed my grief process, even my mourning.  In the ensuing years, there have been a few moments I considered what it might have been like with Mom around, but not with tears or sadness.

Though I still remember the events clearly, especially as the anniversary of her death approaches, those memories come with no emotions – good or bad.  I simply remember.  Twenty-five years after-the-fact, I wanted to record in my journal, though I really had nothing in my heart to write.  But God.  It turns out He was the One stirring me to write, because He had a bigger purpose for me than simply remembering an event.  Daddy wanted to apply more of His love to an area in my life I didn’t even know was there, so I could walk in greater measure of His freedom in Christ.  May the Lord also minister to you through what follows.

It’s 25 years today since Mom died.  There is no sadness in that statement, and hasn’t been for so many years.  Yet, I have felt condemned because of my lack of sadness.  After 25 years, though, I feel relieved. Like I’ve crossed some imaginary boundary between unacceptable and acceptable.  As if I am free to admit my lack of emotions to others without them thinking less of me, now that it’s been a quarter of a century.      

Condemnation is not from You, Lord, so help me break free completely.  I see.  Who have I been trying to hide my feelings from?  Who are these people who would think less of me?  It’s this invisible “they” the enemy has used to keep me caught up in this condemnation and guilt trap.  It’s kept me from being honest with myself . . . and You, and not letting You help me through.  And now I hear in my spirit, “It’s really okay.”  My Lord is saying it’s okay that I am not sad about Mom, or that I really don’t even miss her, and haven’t for a long time.  It’s really okay.

And with that, I walk free from something that has bound me for 25 years.  The scales have come off my eyes, and I now live in freedom where I’ve known only condemnation.  In those simple words, my Father has broken through with the assurance of His love.  There is no condemnation for not having emotions that match what the world considers normal.  Nor would there be if I were still emotional so long after Mom’s leaving.  He loves me.  I am His child, and I have life – and freedom – in Christ Jesus.  It’s that simple.  And it’s that freeing.  It’s really okay!

Romans 8:1-2 NIV  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Because of Love

Was Paul a man-pleaser?  In reading 1 Corinthians 8 through 10, Paul’s continued references to becoming like whomever he was with almost made me think so, except that his response towards those in opposition to the gospel quickly dispels that notion.  How was it, though, that he was willing to live in bondage again around different people, though he was absolutely free in Christ?  Finally, it began to sink into my heart that Paul did it all because of love.  He had such a revelation of God and His love that his life was a reflection of that amazing love – not only for him, but for everyone else.  In fact, in his next letter, a short phrase sums up the guiding heartbeat behind his every action and word:

2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, . . . NIV

You see, Paul understood the freedom he had received in Christ, far beyond what most of us have grasped; yet, he knew others could easily be led astray if he stayed focused only on his freedom.  For others who didn’t yet know that same freedom in Christ, the gospel would be hindered.  Nothing in Paul’s life was more important to him than being an effective witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere.

1 Corinthians 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. NIV

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 19 For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ].  20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law.  21 To those without (outside) law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.  22 To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and overscrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].  23 And I do this for the sake of the good news (the Gospel), in order that I may become a participator in it and share in its [blessings along with you]. AMP

This isn’t so hard for me to grasp when I remember that Paul followed Jesus Christ, and Jesus willingly suffered the pain, humiliation, and separation of crucifixion – because of love.  Beyond that, Jesus humbled Himself by leaving His true home in heaven to come to earth as a man to live among us, imperfect man – because of love.

Will I follow Paul, as he followed Christ?  In that love, will I yield my God-granted freedoms, when necessary, so I don’t hinder anyone’s journey to or in Jesus – the One I claim to represent?  Will I become as one who is lost, that I might win them to Christ?  Without increasing in the experience of God and His love in Christ, my answers will be “no.”  If I will but purpose to know my Lord more, just to know Him, I will know His love more.  I will be changed because of His love.  In turn, I will help others see and know Christ – because His love compels me.