Lost and Found

This post would be it. The grand finale, that is, the third part of an online blogging assignment involving the lost and found theme. I knew it would, indeed, be grand the moment the following sentences lit the writer portion of my mind, giving foundation to the first and second installments.

Philippians 3:7-9a (Amp) But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake. Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him . . .

Something happened between the first and third assignments to change this post’s thrust, though I didn’t recognize it at the time. What I had planned from the beginning had lost its luster, though I tried to continue unwavering. The truth it elucidated needed a different delivery vehicle. No grand finale, after all. The Lord wanted, instead, to use the pain of loss I desperately desired to avoid.

The first assignment challenged us to write about loss, instantly reminding me of the recent deaths of an elderly friend and my 14-year-old dog. Besides the lingering sadness and pain associated with those, I faced the imminent death of another elderly friend. Deciding I’d had enough of all this death and sadness, and having written about it once, I decided on a different object of loss. I’ll add my own twist, I thought, and use, “counting all as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ,” as the springboard.

Installments one and two were published, so I had begun jotting down notes in anticipation of the finale. The sense of victory I’d experienced at the beginning of the project was waning, though, not building. Glimmers of understanding touched my heart as I read of a family who left the comfort of England for Uganda to share Jesus’ life and love with those who had no hope – untold poverty found in the slums where sewage ran down every street and into the homes, rampant treatable illness untreated, leaving children and adults dying before their time. Yet this family and others with them continued to serve, continued to love, continued to share life in Christ Jesus.

despairWith every story, the struggle in my heart intensified, as I related it to my world. These elderly became friends because I deliver meals to their homes. A few minutes of weekly interaction led to blossoming friendships – ones that continued even when they moved into assisted living, no longer needing our meals. They shared their lives with me as I did with them, each of us gaining from the other.   One-by-one, they have left me behind, multiplying the pain in each loss.

Self-preservation said I should distance myself emotionally from those who remain, to avoid further pain. It went on to suggest getting involved with children’s groups on some level (totally out of my calling,) because they won’t likely die before me. That way, I could greatly reduce additional pain, I deduced. Those were Kay’s thoughts, not Daddy’s. When I read the challenging words of Nicola Neal, the clarity of His heartbeat took my breath away:

What would you be prepared to give for love’s sake? . . . Would you love knowing that pain will inevitably come? Will you love even when it hurts? 1

Shaken to my core, my mind erupted in a certain, “Yes!” as more rhetorical questions arose.

“Would you rather not have known these precious women, these sisters in Christ, to avoid the pain of losing them?”

“Would you prefer to miss the personal enrichment gained from those you may not have begun to serve, again as self-effort to avoid future pain?”

“Is it possible you are the vessel through whom I share parts of Myself and My love in the latter days of their lives? That you could be helping prepare them for the day when they see Me face-to-face?”

I am undone. The loss remains, but I have ceased the fight against the pain. It is a reality of this life, no less so when living in Christ. My greater loss – temporarily – has been focus on Jesus Christ, the only One Who comforts, encourages, and is my Hope. What I’ve needed all along has been in those quoted words, but I was too focused on my hurt to see. The pain of loss I have felt is as nothing compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. In Christ is the strength and joy of continuing to love even when it hurts.

spring hope

1 Nicola Neal, Journey Into Love: The Unfailing Power that Restores Lives (Shippensburg, PA Destiny Image Publishers, 2014), Ch. 18, location 2304 (e-book)

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.

Not My Job

Changes continue for me and my writing.  The Lord spoke to my heart on the pages of my journal again, and what He spoke is for now.

stepping stonesI considered my writing to be transparent, but realize I have actually been quite guarded in my transparency. 🙂  Daddy has made clear that it’s time for my guard to come down.  It’s called trusting Him more.  I’m not sure exactly what the posts will look like, and expect Holy Spirit to make changes regularly.  However, I am certain you will feel as if you are listening to a private conversation between a Father and His child – for that is what it is.  This child sometimes questions, sometimes withdraws, sometimes marvels, and sometimes has tantrums, but she always wants to know her Daddy more.  And she wants His other children to know Him more, too.

I invite you to listen in as He reveals this very thing to me . . .

It’s not my job to convince (or even try to) others of what the Lord reveals to me.  As soon as He begins to show me something, my mind goes into “How do I write this?” or, “How do I tell this?” mode – all for the purpose of convincing others . . . not convincing them that it is “Truth” or “right” or “God,” though I fully believe it is.  But, reality check.  It’s so “they” will not reject me for yet one more “oddity.”

If I had to draw what it looks like, there’s this large group of people around me – seemingly connected by Christianity.  With each new revelation of Daddy, of Jesus, of Holy Spirit, of the kingdom of heaven, some of those people drop away from me.  Over time, the group gets smaller and smaller – noticeably so – to the point that I’m aware of what sharing another revelation will mean.  While I want very much to be so much more aware of my Jesus everywhere, in every situation, and be radically set free from the things of this world, there’s still one big thing of this world that hinders – the desire to be liked, agreed with, approved of, accepted.  Thus, the effort to explain “logically” to convince my readers, hearers, acquaintances, etc., so they’ll not leave me.

And what does that do?  It keeps me from experiencing in full that which my Daddy is revealing to me. It’s not that He won’t have others exposed to it through me.  It’s that it’s not my job to expose them, to explain “it,” to convince them.

Neither is it my responsibility to keep people liking, accepting, approving of, or attached to me in any way.  This is not in your face: “I’ll be who I am and if you don’t like it, forget you.”  Rather, it’s the love walk of Christ.  I AM lives in me, loves me, loves you; therefore, I love you unconditionally and will not intentionally offend or harm or reject you in any way.  By the same token, I understand that what I know of our Christ and of our Daddy may be so radically different from, even opposed to, what you have known thus far as to create a divide you feel you will no longer cross in order to maintain any form of relationship.  It doesn’t affect Christ’s love for either of us.  And it doesn’t affect my love for you, either, even if we never have contact again until we are in heaven seeing clearly what neither of us ever could while on earth.

My writer’s instinct is to bring this all together, to tie it up with some nice, neat closing.  But, it’s not my job!  Besides, that’s where that particular revelation ended that day.  Conversations with Daddy are like that – ongoing.  I daresay We will revisit this very conversation many times, possibly every time someone disagrees with me. That’s part of this journey of life and love in Christ.

Stay tuned . . .