Oh, beloved of God.
Shall we pause there?
Okay, I think we can move on now.
But, if you need to stay there….stay there…
The season of Lent began this week.
On the 13th of February I realized that Ash Wednesday was on the 14th this year, Valentine’s Day. I began to think of all the different things I could do, or could give up, for Lent…and felt a little guilty for being super aware of Valentine’s Day and super not aware of Ash Wednesday.
Around the same time I was also looking at other scripture about getting rid of things— I read John’s account of Jesus driving the profit-hungry religious out of the temple before Passover. I also heard Christine Caine and Bianca Olthoff (thank the Lord for technology) teach on these words from Paul:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
In light of all of this, I felt like the questions I needed to ask myself were clear—
What do I need to throw off? What do I need to drive out of the temple of my heart? What specifically do you want me to add or subtract during this season of Lent, God?
Again and again I asked and His answer didn’t seem clear.
I was once again (dang soul-amnesia #annvoskamp) caught in a desperate striving to understand.
Wouldn’t it be super cool if you audibly told me what to do, God? Or, supplied me with some holy dice?
Instead, the Spirit led me to the dark of my prayer closet (aka…my closet) and to a place of silence.
He showed me, reminded me, that what my soul really wanted, what my heart was really longing for, was intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of God. I wanted to be closer to Him and I was afraid that something was in the way, something that I just couldn’t quite figure out.
He showed me the lie I subconsciously believed— that I needed to love Him perfectly before I could receive His perfect love.
When I was His enemy, He died for me. When I was helpless, He poured out His grace on me. Indeed, my body is like dust, but God knew my soul before the foundations of the earth.
He predestined me in accordance with the pleasure of His will. Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross I am justified before the Father, I am FILLED with the Holy Spirit, I am a co-heir with CHRIST.
And here I am all distraught wondering what I should do, what I need to do to be okay with God…forgetting that He did and DOES it all.
Paul reminds us to fix our eyes on JESUS. How often do I look down at my feet? How often do I, like Peter, forget that it is by God’s power I am carried nearer Jesus and doubt that I can make it to the finish line?
There was NOTHING separating me from His love while I knelt all angsty-like in the closet. My ability to have intimacy with Jesus is not the result of what I’ve done, but what HE has done. He paid with His blood for the grace and love poured out on me— all I need to do is open my hands and accept it. He always wanted communion…communion.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).
The glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:22-23).
We can do nothing apart from God— intimacy with God is where we start.
We start with the knowledge that apart from Him we can do nothing.
We start with basking in His deep love for us.
We start with adoration of our sweet, mighty, warrior-lover— Jesus.
When we kneel at His feet, marveling in His power and glory, and let go we can trust that He will reveal to us exactly what He wants to, when He wants to. And, He’s already revealed so much through scripture.
The word I received from God in my closet was unexpected— an invitation to adore Him and connect with Him rather than worry. An invitation to follow Him step by step with JOY…with the lightness that comes knowing that all things are from Him, and through Him, and to Him (Romans 11:36)
Where does sacrifice start? In the fullness of Christ’s provision— the fullness of His love.
To Him be the glory forever and ever.
How have you experienced God’s love lately? I would be happy to hear from you!