It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

A year ago today, my life changed dramatically in one moment.  I had already begun the search for a smaller house as we moved from just talking about downsizing to doing it.  This was already a major change for someone who had lived in the same home for twenty years.

For the first time in too long, that morning I had stopped my normally busy activity just to worship my wonderful heavenly Daddy.  In those moments, He dropped into my heart that we were to relocate from North Carolina to Texas in this downsizing.  While there was no doubt about what He revealed, and there was no doubt that I would go, it didn’t stop the tears as I reminded Him of what He had already heard so many times, But I hate Texas!

DSCN0615 hungry babies croppedOver the course of the next nine months (interesting how it coincided with the timing of a natural birth,) besides an amazing European adventure, my shoulder surgery and my husband’s two separate foot surgeries with their accompanying recoveries, we planned and prepared and prepared and planned for the sale of one home and purchase of another, as well as the physical move.  Along the way, our minds were changed.  Just as the child forming in the womb doesn’t change themselves, we didn’t change our own minds.  Jesus did it in us, taking us from sadly obedient to excited about such a major change at this stage of our lives.

More of the Spirit’s change in our hearts became obvious the day we left our comfort zones completely.  The online house hunt had gone on for six weeks with the only positive result being a change in attitude about what we were to expect.  A ten-day house-hunting trip was on the calendar for early November (between Tom’s two foot surgeries), though it looked as though we might be wasting our time.  Looking at the latest online real estate additions that mid-October morning, one immediately attracted my attention.  Enough so that we enlisted the help of our son and the realtor to do an in-person inspection of it the next day.  With our son’s positive report, as well as his accompanying video, we found ourselves on the verge of making an offer to buy – sight unseen.

We got busy about our day, separately, as we awaited the realtor’s call, each dealing with excitement of what we were about to do at the same time hearing inner screams of What are you doing? As I spoke with the Lord about it, wanting to hear only Him, yet feeling like we hadn’t done the needed laborious house hunting, I heard in my spirit so clearly, It doesn’t have to be hard.

It doesn’t have to be hard.  In those words, I found release.  In those words, I was assured we were walking by and with His Spirit, and it was far different from and far better than our norm.  I also knew effort would still be required to complete this moving out and moving in process. I just didn’t need to rely on my own wisdom or understanding to make it happen.

Our house-hunting trip three weeks later was, in fact, a house closing trip.  I’m pretty sure this was Daddy’s plan for us when we made our airline and hotel reservations. 🙂   Instead of exhausting ourselves traveling from one house to another, we had a different type of exhaustion as we arranged for work to be done on our new home before our move.  When I felt myself becoming overwhelmed again by all the details, He lovingly reminded me, It doesn’t have to be hard.  Once again I found release from trying to work it all out myself and went back to doing the one thing I could do right then.  You know, every single detail was handled from beginning to end – not one left out . . . at just the right time.

So, on this one year anniversary of that life-changing day, three months after moving into my new home in a state halfway across the country, I realize His words to me that afternoon were not just to help me through the move.  Instead, they are for my whole life:

It doesn’t have to be hard!

New Glasses, Anyone?

Many might consider tedious what I spend untold hours doing, but I find it therapeutic to transcribe my handwritten journals, giving thought to the words as I type them into the computer. Each entry revisits life moments, and the Lord’s part in them I tend to forget otherwise. Sometimes, I need more than just to remember.

I hoped to find at least a thread during this undertaking, at least a hint of a theme, to make sense of what I’d experienced. There had been so many hard things, so many hard times. Perhaps the wrong choices I had made (must have been many) and the point at which I turned away from the Lord’s joy and peace would become obvious in the multitude of keystrokes.

i-can-see-1426645Entry by entry, the threads came together, but the emerging picture wasn’t what I expected. You see, I was looking through the wrong glasses. The difficult circumstances did, indeed, take place, as did my struggle with them. But my perception of them was way off. I needed new glasses to help clear things up!

Maybe telling you how I read Hebrews 11 when wearing the wrong prescription will help. I plunge into the highlights of the lives of those often referred to as the heroes of faith. I agree these are great people worthy of Bible mention, until I remember the rest of their stories. You know, the parts including adultery, murder, drunkenness, self-indulgence, etc. My old lenses quickly cause what’s not written in this chapter to supersede what is. In other words, I become a harsh judge.

When I read with God’s glasses, however, my attention is drawn from the very first verse to the reason for recalling this part of their lives:

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. . . 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

This chapter is all about faith, real faith. Faith in the perfect Jesus Christ. And about people who somehow believed even before He came to earth in human form. It isn’t about humans living perfectly, but about what happens by faith in the One Who is perfect.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Our Father sees them through lens of the perfect Christ.

When I began to transcribe, I steeled myself for a heavy hand of correction from Holy Spirit. What a completely skewed perception – to think this of my wonderful Lord! Instead, as letter after letter and word after word made their way from the pages to my eyes, into my brain and through my fingers, He gently exchanged His glasses for mine, and I began to see myself as He sees me.

Now as I viewed the journal, I saw the reality of ongoing physical challenges and unconnected emotional hardships not being caused by my bad choices, but resulting from life in a fallen world. Had I re-read entries during those tough times, I’d have been reminded of Daddy’s gracious words of encouragement and the ever-unfolding and expanding revelation of Christ and His unconditional love. His tone was only gentle, and His responses to my rants contained only amazing grace and tender mercy, no hint of judgment. That’s Who He is! That’s Who He was at the time I lived through it! And that’s Who He will always be!

cross-fabric-1-1145687-1279x1657By the time I completed these journals, the threads had woven a simple picture, correcting my vision for the future, difficulties or not. It reveals what God always sees when He looks at me . . . and you. He sees us seated with Him in Christ Jesus. Christ, the perfect One Who received at the cross the heavy hand of correction we so deserved.

Thank You, Lord, for the new glasses! Thank You, Lord, for the cross!

I Still Need Jesus

NYC 2014 088Teetering on the edge of falling full-force into the pit of condemnation, I poured my heart’s contents onto the pages of my journal that morning. I had failed . . . again. I thought I learned the lesson last time, expecting myself to handle things differently going forward. But it was the same as before. I was the same as before.

I had made natural adjustments since the last time, ones that should have made the difference. But they didn’t go to the heart of the matter. My bad attitude was still there. Realizing I had focused on the natural to be the difference maker only pushed me farther into the darkness enveloping me.

In the middle of the next guilt-ridden sentence, Holy Spirit broke in. It was like a gentle, but forceful, shaking – one meant to return my attention fully to Him. Without speaking the words, or anything that could be so construed by many, He conveyed His unconditional love for me.

That’s what I sensed so overwhelmingly as I was given a glimpse of the situation as He saw it. I still need Jesus! Hallelujah! I still need Jesus! I haven’t graduated beyond Him. Even though I acted in my own strength . . . again . . . He still wants to remind me of His grace and mercy for me.

Only Jesus Christ can make the permanent and necessary changes in me – ever. Somehow, I subconsciously thought I had learned from my past mistakes and could take it from here. I failed. Again. Miserably. Always will on my own. Only in Christ is any good found in me. How freeing!

What absolutely unconditional love enveloped me again where the darkness had pressed only moments before! Indeed, I still need Jesus – every moment and every day!

Merry Christmas to all who, like me, still need Jesus!

In Christ. Period.

journal wordsEven as I poured out my heart on the pages of the journal, receiving clarification in the midst of it, I knew it was to be posted in the blogosphere.  Not to focus on me and my inner mess / workings.  I prefer to let the Lord do His work on me in secret, so you see only the new, improved version.  Apparently, our Daddy wants a few more of you to receive the same sweet release His Spirit brought me this morning in these words. . .

As much as I’ve been struggling inside for a while now, it’s been me in my own strength struggling and trying to understand, to figure out, to look the part and convince myself (of what???).  But it’s really the old dead me seeking to stay in control even while the new me in Christ wants nothing beyond living by His Spirit, trusting Him 100%.  I haven’t fully reckoned myself dead; thus, the struggle.

Oh, Daddy, how can this dead man continue to exert so much influence?

Maybe it’s not a greater revelation of reckoning myself dead, but of new creation in Christ I so need to grasp.  Which all goes back to in Christ, period.  As in, focusing on Him, knowing Him more intimately – the fullness of who He really is and of what He really did for me.

After all, I can’t kill the old man in me – the flesh – no matter how much I’d like to or how hard I try.  In actuality, the more focus I give that dead creature, the stronger its hold.  Furthermore, I already died with Christ in His death and was raised with Him in new life – a new creation.  Already done.  Not needing to be done.  It is finished!

Help me fully rest in this, Holy Spirit, fully trusting my Jesus – the Way, Truth, and Life.  Help me keep letting go of all the “what about…” questions every time they come up, no matter how many times they come up.  Help me choose to remember, instead, that I am in Christ.  Period.

In Christ alone!  My only hope!  Yes, in Christ alone, my only Hope!  My rest!  My peace!  My righteousness!  My joy!  Jesus Christ, my Life!  My All!  And in Christ, I am a new creation! Period.

I Know Who

It would have been my dad’s 91st birthday, eight years after he had moved on to heaven.  As I thought about him that morning, I realized it was no longer sadness I felt, but anticipation of being with him again – in heaven.  It wasn’t the first time for that thought, but where it took me was so much better than what I had glimpsed before.

birthday candlesI used to imagine the two of us catching up on what we’ve done since he moved on.  What an earthly view that was.  Even in the best of times here, there is some sort of pain involved – whether emotional or physical, great or small – because we are still in the flesh.  How much better the heavenly view!  This time, the only communication between my dad and me was the almost tangible love of Christ between us and around us.  It was, essentially, the air we breathed, and it required no words.  There was no comparison between the love we shared on earth and this greater, more all-consuming love of Christ.

With a slight turn of attention, I experienced that same love, unhindered by anything mortal, surrounding my mother and filling the space between the two of us, as well.  Despite all the struggles in our earthly relationship, the love of Christ connecting us in heaven was of the same magnitude for her as for my father.  All earthly walls between us were non-existent, and only Christ and His love remained.  What a joyous reunion!

As if that wasn’t enough, I then became aware of His love surrounding and connecting me with others in the body of Christ for whom I have not felt love on earth (understatement :-)) – where I have chosen to focus on differences of opinion, personality, etc.  In heaven, these differences are actually appreciated, not simply tolerated, because each difference reveals another aspect of Jesus we would not otherwise see.

When this “visit” ended, eager anticipation remained, though it was no longer aimed at joining my earthly dad in heaven.  Now it was to experience the love of Christ for all my brothers and sisters still on earth.  I don’t want to wait until heaven.  Fallen flesh may work against me to hinder, but greater is He Who is in me than the flesh in which I currently live!

With boldness and confidence in Jesus Christ, I pray the following verses for myself (and for you), knowing He will bring it to pass.  I don’t need to know how or how long it will take, because I know Who!

Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV  14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.