I’m in a strange season right now, which could be true of all seasons as we enter into new challenges and walk along new paths. In recent times I’ve seen a battle unfolding outwardly and inwardly that has really illuminated some walls that I began building when I was just a child – but didn’t realize they were there. My opposition in this battle is religion…. churches…
Mankind seems to be on a never-ending mission to show others the way… “the key to life”.. And beginning at a very early age, attending church was part of this process in my own life. I learned about Jesus and sin – I learned about the ten commandments and I learned that the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus would be seen in my life, according to how my life looks and feels. So for example, I learned that that blessings from God come in the form of happiness, plenty, completeness and success. I don’t know that I even realized what was being implanted in my thoughts at the time, yet I know that I didn’t feel blessed at all. I know that I looked at myself in the mirror and compared my circumstances to others with a deep sorrow that churned inside of my stomach. I was different. I didn’t have a perfect family and that perfect love that children are “blessed with” from a traditional husband and wife unity that comes into fruition as the basis for bringing a life into this world was absent when the thought of “me” came to pass here on Earth. I was a curse to my mother – a souvenir of the worst experience of her entire life. I was a mistake in every aspect of the word and I didn’t belong here. And these half-truths that battled inside of my internal identity crisis beginning in childhood were just the beginning of the alienation I felt towards the so-called “blessed life” that believers in Christ were to experience, according to what I was taught to believe in the continual mantra of “coffee cup scriptures” defining a God who wants us to be healthy, wealthy, happy and successful.
So apparently Jesus didn’t work for me. Apparently depression, sorrow, inadequacy and shame was the evidence of my pointless existence separated from the blessings of God. Fast forward a few decades and I mastered the art of pretending to feel something on the outside that was not rooted in me on the inside. But as this game seemed to bring with it a form of outward prosperity, life began to make sense. I was “blessed” with marriage, beautiful children, health, success, wealth – prosperity. God must love me now, right? And I could look around and see this “favor” upon my life through tainted eyes. You see, this mindset leads to empty pride – believing that I somehow DID something to deserve God’s favor upon my life, while looking at for example, innocent children who are starving and battling with horrid diseases, telling myself “Well, I guess God doesn’t favor them like he favors me.” As I’m writing this I can hear the different voices throughout the history of my life using that line, “God’s favor upon your life. – God’s favor.. God’s favor…” What is God’s favor? And how is it that some of us get it and some of us don’t if Jesus died for all and the will of God is that not one be lost but that all come to repentance and the truth? Where is the truth in believing that we somehow DID something to deserve to be born healthy and wealthy, when babies enter this world everyday with impairment, sickness, disability and their mothers are too poor to provide them with clean water to drink?
In the book of Revelation it says that men cursed God in their pain – as the plagues were upon them, they cursed Him. I know many believe and teach that these men aren’t believers, but how can anyone curse someone they don’t believe in? Obviously they DO believe in God, hence why they blame Him for their pain. So why do they curse Him? I think the answer is in 2 Thessalonians when Paul discusses those that do NOT love the truth, therefore God gives them over to a delusion and they believe a lie. A lie.. Self-righteousness…. Pride… Expectation of creating heaven on earth and following doctrines of devils.. If that sounds harsh, consider the weighted belief systems in our own hearts that cause us to boast in our “blessings”, never considering that we did nothing to deserve or earn the right God gives us to to roll out of bed each day and to earn a living when so many don’t have this ability because they were born into circumstances different from our own. I take myself and put me in a line-up next to children with autism and downs syndrome and ask the question, “What did I do to deserve my circumstances and what did they do to deserve theirs?” The answer….. Nothing. But if our shoes were switched in an instant, how would my faith stand, then? Would I curse God because all of the “blessings” I’ve enjoyed were suddenly ripped away from me and I’m suddenly experiencing a different journey, away from the ease of life that I’d assumed was somehow owed to me because I follow Christ?
When we got home from the hospital, I was overwhelmed with sorrowful thoughts of blame and shame. I remember being told things like, “If your sin that is blocking your blessing is removed, then Josh will be healed.” I remember being told that, “If I were obedient to God, then Josh would be healed.” I remember being told that, “If my faith was stronger, then Josh would be healed.” So, basically, I was thrown back into that childhood mindset that I’d thought I’d escaped long ago, questioning if God is for me, because my circumstances didn’t “look like” an alignment with the popular definition of being “blessed by God.”
It’s been a long process of healing that the Lord has revealed to me internally through this continued journey. And somewhere along the way, I know that I’ve been called to share in the truths He has shown me and continues to show me. I don’t know where or when I’ll get there – but it seems in every teaching, I’m shown the opposition to “half truths” and it does break my heart that I so easily believed a lie and that it took such tragic measures in a bitter-sweet revelation for the Lord to open up my mind and start “unteaching me” everything I thought I knew about His “blessings” through this life here on Earth – to show me the little passages we skip over like they aren’t relevant – like in Hebrews when those who were tortured refused deliverance because they wanted a better resurrection – like in John when the rich man called out to Abraham and asked for Lazarus to dip a finger in water and cool him from his torment, as Abraham said to the man, you already experienced your riches on earth, and it was the poor beggar that was taken to the bosom of Abraham. The truth sets us free because we begin to see that this place is nothing but a womb that we pass through on our way to being born into eternity. The truth sets us free because we can begin to see that the doorway was opened by Jesus when he shed his blood and the circumstances we endure now are nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed (by His doing not ours), to those who LOVE HIM and are called according to his purpose. I used to think loving HIM was about loving his stuff – like God was a vending machine – I put in a prayer and a prize drops out … I give money and a blessing drops out. I DO and he answers. When in truth HE DID, because anything I do falls short of His glory. To love Him is to see how much he loves me. To love Him is to see the price paid on the cross for my eternal salvation. To love Him is to want HIM, not the stuff this broken world has to offer in temporary satisfactions.
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things
– 2 Corinthians 6: 4-10
In half truths, my expectations are based on a lie. But in THE TRUTH I can run my race with endurance, remembering that Christ suffered for me, and as He sanctified himself, He prayed to the Father that I would too be sanctified (made perfect through this process)… I am in this world but not of this world… This world is not my home. and there lies the blessed hope of what is yet to come. And in that, I can say, “Thank you Jesus”, not because I’m comfortable today… but because I know there will come a day when the sun of righteousness appears with healing in its wings and my Lord and Savior will return with the promise that he purchased and paid in full with His righteous blood.
JESUS is ENOUGH. I could watch this video everyday and raise my eyes to the Heavens in thanksgiving for my Savior. <3