We were created for something more. Many of us will never know what that is. I believe God is very dynamic. We see this throughout the pages of scripture. That God in His mercy continues to offer chances of reconciliation and is willing to accept even a tiny step towards Him as a means of hope and course of redemption. He is the waymaker.
What was the plan “A” for this world? That was Eden and it seemingly only lasted for a moment compared to the (likely) 8000 years that have followed sense then. Are we on the plan B or C or D? I am thinking more like plan XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX or even worse. Maybe even that many exes for just my life itself! God is a God of second chances and reclaiming the broken transforming it from what was ugly to what is beautiful. Ashes to Beauty. The goal of sanctification is to be completely of Him and not of this world. You might even say that we will be transformed to be the opposite of what this world has become.
Don’t you long to be free, redeemed and full of Joy?
But I bet you feel like you will never get there. Are you tired of negative messages and the lies of the world? God doesn’t want you to fall into the trap of believing the lies of the world. There will be tribulation (but even they become joy); but that comes by living a life fully given to Him, not by simply wallowing in your misery. God has redeemed you of your past, that work has been done already, don’t continue to let the lies of the world hold you back from your potential in the kingdom and a life of freedom. I bet you want this for your life, don’t we all? But how do we get there?
The scripture has the plan. God longs for us to be fully committed to this path for our life and promises in covenant to walk with us. We not only are asked to go on this amazing walk of life with Him, but also to bring others into the plan of redemption and “wholiness” for their lives through learning, and the sanctification of our minds given to Him. We have to be diligent in our commitment to the word and soon that diligence that at first seemed like toil will turn to a love for the scripture and Jesus. We have to believe that God’s voice spoken through His Word has the power to transform and bring Joy and healing.
When I was 9 I made a decision to give my life to Christ. My mother and father encouraged me to start my day by reading the Word for 5 minutes and making a priority to never miss a day. I started on February 12, 1984, the day I was baptized, I set my timer for 5 minutes and started the toilsome process of reading my Bible every day. What happened was spiritual magic. 5 minutes slowly went from being a chore to transforming into something I enjoyed. I began to look forward to that time and even set my alarm to get up early. My mother would come to wake me up and I would be reading away. Within that first year the bible had become my love language and turned into the thing I enjoyed the most in life. Over the next few year’s I would spend sometimes hours a day reading through my Bible and become infatuated with my new found love. I would stay up late and get up early to read the same book. At 10 years old I found myself addicted to the Word of God and had read the Bible cover to cover.
Almost 40 years later I am still deeply given to this passion. Today, I often wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning because I can’t wait to get to my “Jesus time” each and every day. Over the years I have learned to frame our lives around what is the most important aspect of my day, my time with the Lord. This sounds almost impossible in our world, but I have even designed the rest of my world around the ability to live freely for the exploration of God’s word each and every day. I have decided I am not going to be bound by the world’s schedule for my life. The Word of God truly will be first not only in my life but in the life of my family. There are many days I find myself blowing off the responsibilities of the world (like the jeep I “should” be building right now) because its now 10 am and I am still writing away as I am immersed in the spirit of the Lord in my life. (The Jeep can wait.) I don’t say this in a boastful manner but to hopefully guide the reader towards regaining a more child like faith for life in Jesus. Its not to late. This is God’s desire for your energy, and time. That you might redefine what it means to live for Him.
In many ways, we need to get back to these basics and stop trying to listen to anything the world says that is contrary to life in Christ. Perhaps the reason your struggling is because you’re trying to live up to the world’s standards rather than Gods. Maybe you need to try skipping work and “sleeping in” with your Bible a couple days a week!
Allright, this has been an easy read, but brace yourself, I am about to get a bit scholarly.
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s book, The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus is based on the idea of the exodus which has been a huge theme this year for Matt (co-host of the x44 youtube channel) and I. Just so we are all clear, this is not “rapture” in the dispensational (non)sense of a “leftbehind” definition of rapture that probably comes to your head. This is a much more Biblical definition of rapture based on the Exodus.
Avivah writes, “‘Ve’omru no’ash—they will say, ‘It is no use. We will keep following our own plans; each of us will act in the willfulness of his evil heart’ (Jer 18:12). God here predicts that their response will be a kind of autism: they will simply continue walking in the wake of their own thoughts, sunk into the old structures, like Winnie-the-Pooh pursuing the fabulous Heffalump round and round the same tree.”
How many times has that been you? Stuck in a rut that is defined by the world. Don’t you long to be vindicated and set free? That is the theme. Often times we think of the word “exodus” as being a long boring journey through a dessert. But the exodus was freedom to slaves. It was the giving of life itself. Some of us still have never experienced what life in Jesus should feel like. The dessert was a result of not walking with God. It became basic training. Some of us might need a desert before we can experience the oasis. God gave His people the word and the law to help them get through the deserts in life and bring them to living water, the Oasis that would eventually be fully given in Jesus.
Too many of us are lost in Winnie-the-Pooh and Heffalump world doing circles in our own deserts and we never really get through boot camp and learn to live and experience the plan Jesus has for us. I like the authors use of the word Autism. Autism can be a strength in the kingdom, but like anything it needs to be renewed by Jesus to get there. Sometimes we aren’t willing to make commitments to get us and others there and the result is wondering. Maybe we just don’t know how.
Avivah continues, “Nadezhda Mandelstam, for instance, writes of the ‘sickness—lethargy, plague, hypnotic trance or whatever one calls it—that affected all those who committed terrible deeds in the name of the “New Era,” . . . They . . . imagined that time had stopped—this, indeed, was the chief symptom of their sickness. We had, you see, been led to believe that in our country nothing would ever change again.’”
If you are going to get real with yourself, I think you need to stop and consider that the lies of the world that you continue to believe are making you spiritually sick. The problem is the sick often don’t see the sickness and sometimes aren’t capable of taking the steps they need to be healed. That is why we are surrounded by a body of believers. We all need a hand at times. In fact, most of the time. Some of us are so used to feeling the sickness of the world that we have no idea how good it will feel to be healthy again. Not only that but those around us have become sick as a result of our sickness.
“‘Living with a lie’ is a denial of responsibility, it is a token of a demoralized person. ‘The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society.’ . . . Living within the truth, on the other hand, is a moral act, uncalculating, generously responsible. The hidden ferment in the semidarkness is ‘difficult to chart or analyze.’ When it bursts through the moribund surface of life within the lie, it has a shock effect on those embedded within that system.”
What if we as the church could lead each other to healing and redemption better. Can you imagine the kind of explosion for the kingdom we might have for the kingdom and our lives individually if we all received complete healing? How do we get there? It starts by getting help. Start with a reflection of yourself and pray to believe and take action. The second step is to get outside of yourself. The church, God based programs like Celebrate Recovery, Jesus retreats, small groups, all of these things will be successful if they are bathed in commitment and prayer inviting God to bring you to closer to Him one step at a time.
It may take post it notes everywhere, it may take checking in with a brother or sister multiple times a day, surround yourself with Jesus. Music, messages, scripture, reading, even movies that reflect Jesus. Put yourself where you find Jesus at every part of your day. This might at first sound like labor, but eventually it will be transformed into a passionate devotion that results in Joy.
Don’t put yourself in hard (worldly) places and positions. Don’t do it. Don’t listen to the lies that Satan (and the world controlled by him) wants you to believe. Don’t even give those words or ideas a foothold! Believe that God has given you more. Believe that you are a victorious overcomer.
Take the bad things in your life captive and put them away forever. They no longer have a place in your sacred world.
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 NASB
If you can commit to a good study of the Greek you will find that eis here is best translated as “into.” In other works take every thought captive INTO obedience. Obedience is not allowing your sacred space to be desecrated. Don’t bring the pollution of the world into your new sacred life space. This pollution debases and defiles anything you have before the Lord. In the Old Testament, the law was clear about this, but today many of us struggle in our Exodus because we have forgotten this basic principle that God gave his people. He knew they needed their hand to be held, and even though we have Christ (which was the main ingredient they were missing & needed for the atonement of sin) we might still need someone to hold our hand and help us guide the defilement of the world into our own prison. Lock it away and longer give it a place in your life.
We need the covenant of believers to bring holiness to this world and God gracefully grants that to us one step of devotion at a time. It starts with you and a commitment to take the first step to overcome, and a body of brothers and sisters behind you. The Exodus is the army of the Lord to freedom in Christ.
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus(Schocken Books, New York: 2001), p. 48.