Not Strange, But Sad

It’s strange that you can’t find words to say when you’re praying, but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend.

Part of a recent Facebook post in my newsfeed, I found this statement nestled among similar ones designed to highlight Christian failings.  Instead of finding it strange, however, I found it sad.  And not in the way intended.

If the statement is reality for believers, then prayer has become something other than it was meant to be.  Something we do (or should do) because we’re Christians, rather than the means by which we become more intimately acquainted with our heavenly Father.  This is strange, but in a sad way.

Proverbs 18:24  NIV A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The friend who sticks closer than a brother is Jesus Christ, Who lives in us by His Spirit.  That’s as close as it gets.  In addition, He calls us His friend.1  If we are really friends, why is talking together so difficult?

friendship-1534626-639x479Friends talk with one another about anything and everything, listen to one another, find comfort in silence, work together to help others, interacting along the way.  The more time they spend together, the better they know one another.  The better they know one another, the more time they want to spend together.

Is this the kind of friendship I experience with Christ?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  How about you?  When the methods and mindsets from so many years of religion become my default mode, I lose the freedom in prayer for which my friend Christ Jesus has set me free.2  When the duty becomes my focus, rather than the relationship, that sense of intimate friendship is lost temporarily, leaving me unable to find words to speak.

That’s not strange, my friends.  It’s sad.

1 James 2:23

2 Galatians 5:1

The Eyes Have It

It was quiet in the house in that early morning hour, and my dog and I were in our regular positions for my prayer and Bible time – I on the couch, and Sandy on the carpeted floor next to me.  As usual, he was facing away from me.  As usual, to pet him required me to reach, barely able to touch the back of his head.  Sometimes, I really want to pet him face-to-face, looking into his beautiful golden-brown eyes while he looks into mine.  This was one of those mornings, and I was a little frustrated that he wouldn’t give me his face.  Then I sensed Holy Spirit giving me the bigger picture.

I have been like Sandy so often with my heavenly Father, Who yields to my will, even as I yield to Sandy’s preferences (most of the time).  What part of my heart does Sandy miss by facing away – even when he is near?  What part of the heart of Jesus do I miss because I look at all that is going on around me, when I could look at His face and into His eyes of love instead?

When I stop focusing on all the distractions, turning instead to focus on His face, everything else fades in importance.  His understanding of all my concerns becomes much clearer to me, simply because I have sought to know Him more.  The more I know Him, the more I know His love.  The more I know His love, the less room there is for fear of any kind (the root of my focus elsewhere), and the more I want to know of His love.  Also, the more I practice facing my Lord when I’m in those quiet times, the more I will seek His face during the remainder of my day.  It’s a wonderful circle!

Ephesians 3:17-19 AMP

17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,

18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];

19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Will I remain content to know Daddy’s love for me only to the extent I now know it?  Sandy feels somewhat trapped in those rare face-to-face encounters with me – wanting nearness, but on his terms.  Is it the same with me and my Lord?  Jesus came to set me free, that I might truly know my God as Abba, Daddy – with all His unending and unconditional love.  Oh, that I will seek His face so that His face of love will be reflected to others wherever I go!

Psalm 27:8  NIV  My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”  Your face, Lord , I will seek.

It’s Empty, but I’m Not!

Here is a Wow! thought I’m still pondering.  I think of this earth as being so big – and it is.  I think of the billions of people on this earth as being so many – and we are.  Then I think of the world – the entire cosmos – with all its planets, stars, constellations, and galaxies, and realize just how small is the earth, and how miniscule the inhabitants in comparison to the vast sum of the universe.

Yet, Creator God, our heavenly Father, chose earth for humanity.  He chose earth for relationship.  He chose earth for His Son to be born, live, and die on.  And, out of the entire universe – before He ever created any of it – He saw me living on planet earth in 2011, and knew I would need Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Compared to the vastness of all He created, this one human being isn’t even a speck.  But Daddy doesn’t compare me to anyone or anything.  He sees me, Kay Stocking, and He loves me – fully, unconditionally, and eternally.  For God so loved Kay . . .1 Wow!

That place of the skull, Golgotha, is but the end of a street outside Jerusalem now.  That nearby garden tomb is empty now.  This life that was empty and meaningless before, though, is now full and overflowing forever – because of the finished work of my Jesus Christ!  Glory be to my God!  Glory be to my Savior!

“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”  Mark 16:6 NIV

1 John 3:16

Happy Mother’s Day!

It happened so unexpectedly.  On the way home from a pleasant gathering at a friend’s house for one of those in-home sales parties, I decided to listen to Focus on the Family as they aired a special Mother’s Day broadcast.  At the end of the show, Holy Spirit stirred me to write a letter to my mother for Mother’s Day – completely unexpected since she’s been gone for more than 23 years.

As I listened to the broadcast, I tried to put my finger on some good and happy times from my early years, without success.  Though I know they were there, only the sad times stand out.  I expected this letter would be a way of drawing out those happy memories.  There again was the unexpected.  My Daddy knew what I needed could only happen as I faced those sad memories with His love guiding me every step of the way.

Chronologically, I addressed the specific memories that overshadow the others – all in letter form.  When I brought up the last memory, which happened during the last weeks of her too-short life, the tears flowed.  Though I had forgiven her through the years as each of these things surfaced, it took this difficult and painful task to help me see the whole, rather than the individual parts.  Only then could I get past my self-centered point of view.  At that point, I realized my mother couldn’t give what she didn’t have – what she had never received – though it was available to her.  I ached for the sadness in which she lived that could have been removed by knowing the unconditional love of her Father for her.

Daddy didn’t let me dwell there, though I had to get to that place of looking beyond my own pain to feel my mother’s pain, to have His compassion for her even now.  Holy Spirit then directed me to declare that I am not responsible for my mother’s sadness, nor was I responsible for her happiness.  It wasn’t that she expected me to make her happy or held me responsible for her sadness.  That’s part of the lie the devil has fed my mind repeatedly over the years, but it’s been exposed, and I’ve been freed!

This session of the unexpected was not quite over, however.  One more item to be dealt with, the thing that was really at the root of it all.  You see, a deceptive thread had been woven through my life, with ever-increasing “proof” with each successive memory-maker, that I was abandoned – even up to my mother’s dying days.  But God!  Because of God, I declare that I am not abandoned, never have been abandoned, and never will be abandoned.  Before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me.  All the days ordained for me were written by Him before ever I was born.  Even if my father and mother forsook me, He never has and never will forsake me!1

Now the fruit of all this began to manifest.  I thanked my Father (from my heart) for giving me the mother He gave me, and for her loving and raising me the best she knew how.  Though the good memories haven’t yet returned (and may never), what is different now is the peace in my heart in the midst of the hurtful memories.  Never again can they darken my present or my future as they have in the past!  It’s as if I moved out of my flesh family more fully and moved more fully into my Daddy’s family – that one into which I’ve long-since been adopted through the blood of my Brother, Jesus Christ!

The unexpected interruption brought me through in an unexpected way to the expected end – greater freedom in Christ, greater compassion from Daddy’s heart for others, and greater awareness of His love.  Glory to God forevermore!!!

1Psalm 139: 13, 16;  Psalm 27:10  (Kay’s translation)