I was one of the few women who showed up this morning. The home where we gathered rested red against the silent, melting snow. The plot gets its name, "Cloudland," from the beautiful sky view from their hilltop perch. There's an entire building dedicated to prayer and spiritual mentorship on the property, two wildflower fields, and a barn where weekend worshipers gather. I've walked the flower fields and written my heart out on these grounds, but today I was talking out my story with some peers and mentors.
After you share your story enough, it can lose its sparkle and seem dull to you if you're not careful. While others might easily leave you with part of your story giving them a new twinkle in their eye, the hard part is letting God's faithfulness and your history with Him break you open and up again and again. This time around, I flat out cried from the old and beloved earth of my soul being tilled up once more. I think it's because I finally understood what my life has been about so far:
Letting experiences of the Father's love turn me into a child all over again instead of remaining an orphan governed by Religion.
Matthew 19:14, "But Jesus said, 'Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.'"
Matthew 19:13-14 is a beautifully succinct nugget of Jesus' work on earth. Right before this passage, the Pharisees were harrying Jesus about what the Law says about divorce. As always, Jesus provides the new truth of Grace which defeats the Law. The next scene Matthew writes about is parents scurrying to Jesus with their children so He could "lay His hands on them and pray for them." The disciples shoo them away only to be rebuked by Jesus with the words that fathered our concept of childlikeness.
I see in these beloved words a picture of the Father's welcoming heart and the shaming nature of Religion. There's a moment where we we've been brought to Jesus for blessing and love and Religion tries to deter and discourage us. I think it's interesting that the disciples scold the parents for bringing the children but Jesus invites the children, not the parents, to keep coming. Religion not only discourages us, but it defames the stories, hopes, and expectations that brought us to Jesus in the first place.
Religion keeps us orphaned while love makes us children. Religion is a Master while Love is a Father.
Fatherlessness has always been Religion's favorite breeding ground. Whenever we find ourselves struggling to remain in the Father's love, don't the voices we hear always sound like someone who doesn't know what it is to be encouraged and believed in?
"You'll never become anything more than your flaws."
"You'll always feel empty."
"You're not worth loving."
"You may try to love people but you just end up hurting them."
"You're a failure because you think praying is boring."
The Law made us aware of sin but was powerless to cleanse us. Religion tricks us back into believing the Law is our only Father. And what a dissatisfying and disappointing Father it is.
If you are dissatisfied, even a little bit, with your experience of God or your relationship with God, it doesn't mean that God is dissatisfying or disappointing. It means that there's more and that you weren't meant to stay at the level of intimacy you're finding yourself at.
Our hearts were created to be in love with God. If we find ourselves out of love with Him, it's not because He has become unattractive or even that our tastes have changed. If we find ourselves out of love with the Father, the way back to "in love" isn't only reminding ourselves who He is, but, gaining a deeper intimacy with Him entirely; seeing new parts of His face which were unknown to us before.
You want more. That's why you're dissatisfied. You want to be a child with your Father. That's why you're disappointed.
Courage, dear heart. The fattened calf is killed and the Father is ready to robe you.
Intimacy and love can be so foreign to us that we don't even realize that we are hanging onto something less than. We can be in the Word every single day and remain unchanged. We can pray and feel no deposit of peace, release of tension, or revelation of God's heart. We can go to church Lawfully and numb out immediately. What've we missed? The person of the Father and His simple invitation of returning to childhood.
Bless me, bless you, the thoughts of rallying my tired soul into a position to experience God as a Father and myself as a child feels exhausting. It may for a moment. Adoption isn't easy. But deciding who your true family is--choosing to live in the arms where you truly belong--will lift any weight.
I am not an orphan. Religion and Law are not my parents.
I am God's kid. Grace and Mercy mark my days.
"I have 'childlike tattooed on my right foot." When I shared that at the women's group, a sense of hope filled the room. I've taken on God's name for me (quite literally) and there's no reason you can't too. Let's not confuse our hearts any longer. Let's decide who is our family.
What I've learned about what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ, be reconciled to Him, myself, & others, and how to be His disciple.