“Darling, if you want me to be closer to you…”

I never get tired of the hilarity and the absurd closeness of God. Try to picture this.  I have just come back from a mind-blowing week of listening to people who are movers and shakers in the Kingdom. (More on that later.)  My head and heart is like a whirring blender full of questions, resurrected dreams, and — numbness.

What?

You heard me. Last week, I was so completely overwhelmed by the reality of God’s movement on the earth, so undone by the hugeness of God that my heart shifted into paralysis mode. I suddenly felt very, very small.  My efforts seemed so insignificant. My “risky” endeavors now seemed ridiculous and little.  Was I hearing from God at all? Did I have faith at all?

I told a friend at lunch yesterday, “One common theme from all the speakers was intimacy more than outcomes.”   Even my spoken revelation didn’t help me in this blurry moment. It did trigger a tough question in my spirit.

“Lord. Am I loving you well?”

IMG_6117

The question surfaced in my spirit at the conference. Here in the quiet aftermath, it surfaced again.

“Lord. Am I loving you well?”

After my lunch, I asked the question out loud in private, as in, wanting Him to answer. I really wanted some grand ray of sunshine to pour down out of heaven, or an angelic chorus, or a neon sign. Anything. But nada. Nothing. Silence. And to be honest, His silence scared me.

All I could do was cry out to the Lord. So I spent the day praying, seeking Him.  As I was going throughout my chore list, I just kept saying the same thing:  “Touch me again. Tell me again you love me. I am listening. I will do whatever you want.”

Nothing.

So I reviewed my notes.  I tried to collect the stories I had heard at the conference. I worshiped and studied. Still, nothing. No response.

Finally, I threw up this simple prayer more out of frustration than faith:

“Jesus.  I believe everything you have ever promised me. I know you love me even if I don’t feel it. I am going to stand on the truths you have deposited. I am going to move forward in faith, with or without the warm fuzzies. I am not quitting. I stop comparing myself to others. I love you. No matter what.”

I buried my thoughts in my work for a little while. When it was time to pack up, I noticed this oddly familiar song over the intercom. I hadn’t heard that song since high school. Who is that? Seals and Croft? Wait, what are they saying?

Darling if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darling if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darling if you want me to love, love only you
Then love only me
Darling if you want me to see, see only you
Then see only me

The lady in the store looked at me funny when I busted out laughing. God knows that is one of the few albums I owned in high school. God knows I have hardly heard that song since high school. God knows how to capture my heart. Again.

 But trust me, I didn’t miss the instruction. Get closer to Me. Love only Me. See only Me.
That whole intimacy over outcomes revelation? That’ll preach. That’ll change your life.
I am still unpacking my heart and head. But this is a great guide. He is always, ever always, after my heart. And that is the model we are to follow. To be ever always after His heart.
It’s not the What that matters, it’s the Who. And when the Who is rightly placed, then the What falls into place. It’s not the great feats, signs and wonders, tremendous salvations, or heroic endeavors, that matter. It’s the Great God of Love being well loved by His people that matters. Those other things will follow.
Here is something the Lord told me on my last beach trip. “Jana, your obedience is precious to me. There are seeds I have planted in you that will only grow through your obedience.”  Sometimes “Yes, Lord” and “I love you” mean the same thing.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

 

 

Rain, Weeds, and the Good Gardener

I’ve just come in from weeding in the rain. Me and Jesus had quite the conversation so I thought I’d share some of His perspectives. It seemed at every turn God whispered lessons and thoughts, parallels and analogies.  How good He is to take the most mundane task and turn it into a devotional time, which leads to His first whisper.

“I don’t want to do this. I’m tired,” I said.

“I know. C’mon, it’ll be fun. We’ll do it together, ” He said.

Together.  Ah  yes.  He reminded me He is here with me. And my weeds. God reminded me of this download about worship. In short, when we do everything with our whole heart, when we do it for Him, it’s worship.

1) Worship is doing everything with Him and for Him.
“Got it. I’m not weeding, I’m worshiping. Here I go into the downpour,” I said, trying to sound cheerful.

Let me just say, I love walking in the rain. However. I did not want to pull weeds in the rain. So I debated whether the cool weather and soft soil would be worth the wetness. It was.

2) Sometimes the hardest step into the uncomfortable is the first step.
Once I got out there, it was actually enjoyable and the raindrops on my skin proved to be a mosquito repellent. Who knew? (Well, besides Jesus.)

3) Keep your garden watered.
The rain-soaked ground was so easy to work with. As I pulled up weeds and dug around my plants, the soil was pliable in my hands.  The weeds literally pulled up out of the ground with minimal effort. I had gone out couple of weeks ago but the ground was so parched that the weeds only broke off in my hand.

The Lord continued.

“See Jana, you have good dirt. It just needed a little rain to soften it up. And now the weeds come up root and all,” He said.  I pulled in silence for several minutes, but I was more and more aware of the all the weeds that had overtaken my garden.  I kept thinking about His comment of pulling up the weeds up “root and all.” I kept noticing the how soft the soil was because of the soaking rain.

“Kind of like repentance,” He added.

IMG_5914

 

Continue reading

God’s Idea of Perfect…

I was typing an email yesterday and God just laid this in my lap.  We live in a culture of pseudo perfection. We attempt the perfect body, marriage, family, church, country. We  spend countless hours trying to achieve some shifting notion of “just right.” And, frankly, it’s killing us.

Yes, we are spiritually wired for perfection, but it is one of those “not yet” scenarios. When we are fully with the Perfect One, we will enjoy our perfect reality.

But in the meantime. What is God working on?

God-molded-me-for-who-I-am.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

This jumped off the page for me! God has his own goals of perfection. He is not focused on six-pack abs, or 401K totals, or world issues, although He intimately knows and cares about those things. In fact, He graciously “gives us all things” and uses those things to shape us and reveal His love and nature.

But God is working daily to perfect our faith that we might believe in who He is.
All His love. All His power. All His availability. His Kingdom come, His will be done.

Is it possible that our greatest achievement in this life is how well we believed Him?

Perfect in Faith.

Is it possible that the goal is to become and accomplish all that He promised us only because we believed Him more and more with each passing year and circumstance?

Fixing our eyes. Focusing our attention, but also repairing our vision. We are learning to see with Heaven’s eyes, looking through His lens of truth and love.

On Jesus. The only One truly worthy of our trust and adoration. All other ground is sinking sand.

The author. He is in all and over all. “All the earth beneath you, all my life before you.”

And perfecter. His intention, goal and plan is that we would be made perfect in the knowledge of him. Who can thwart the plans of God? Job asked.

Of our faith. “Help my unbelief” the man cried to Jesus.  What a blessing. What a gift. What a relief to know He is actively working to perfect our faith to believe Him more.

I am so struck by this glimmer of God.  I want to respond to what He is actively working on. My faith. I want my heart to be so steadfast, so held by His perfect love, that when I see Him face to face, we won’t be talking about what I did for Him but what I believed about Him.

Pay attention to your life. All of it. And know that Jesus is actively, wonderfully perfecting your faith. Because when you believe Him well, everything else changes too.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautifully Hard Lessons of Motherhood – Part Two

Like many of you, Chuck and I went through a ceremony with each of our newborns. Dedication, baptism, christening. Different words and rituals, perhaps, but these solemn moments were our humble expressions of thanks and need. We thanked God for giving us this child and we acknowledged that we desperately needed Him to be good parents. These moments were, in fact, acts of surrender. We understood it would take God to make us godly parents and thus raise up godly children. And yet.

Take a deep breath.

One of the most gripping and overwhelming emotions I see in parenting today is fear. Fear of sickness. Fear of un-coolness. Fear of being different, being picked on, or being left out. Fear of failure. Fear of lack of intelligence, beauty, popularity, or sports skill.  From the need to get all “A’s” in kindergarten (let that sink in a moment), to the need to wear just the right clothes, we fear that our kids may not “be enough.”

Widen out the lens to a bigger worldview and the fear factor only increases. Fear of not having a good job, fear of not marrying well, fear of not serving God, fear of not living well “enough.” Don’t even mention world tensions and local threats. We are consumed with the what-if’s.

We find ourselves living in The Land of Unknowns. From the child’s first night alone in the crib to the first day of school; from the first time driving behind the wheel to the first day at college; from the first kiss to walking down the aisle, we are forced into situation after situation where we have no control.

balloonballoonscolourskyhappywoman-ddd1c40771d79320f4912c2de0d193aa_h_large

Continue reading

Beautifully Hard Lessons of Motherhood – Part One

Somehow I want to soften this story to make it appear, well, perfect. But alas. That is the moral of the story. I am not. Neither are my children. And that is very good news. But first, allow me the story behind the moral.

A friend ordered Salem a customized potty training book. The little bear in the story was named Salem so page after page revealed a cute little bear talking to the Mama bear about how to go to the big potty and how “Salem” would soon learn to wear panties instead of diapers. We were both so excited to read it.

Continue reading

Why I Still Go To Church

Ah yes. Hear that collective groan?  “To church, or not to church,”  that is the question among believers. Many of us are sick and tired of the way churches have become bloated institutions driven by the agendas of a handful of people. Many of us have been seriously wounded, neglected and rejected. Many of us, old and young alike, remark, “I just don’t see the point.”

I do not deny these stark accusations. And yet, I still go to church. Here’s why.

balloons

Continue reading

When Dead Things Come to Life

It is one of those Holy Convergences. You know the ones? When God is trying to tell you something and He brings the same message from all these “random” directions? Yeah, one of those. It is freaky and delightful all at once. Let me break it down.

First came the lunch meeting at Aubrey’s.  I casually glanced out the window and time stopped for a moment as I watched this beautiful “pink snow storm.” Only it wasn’t snowflakes but seeds and petals caught up in the wind.  I couldn’t take my eyes off this magical display. The wind, like the hand of God, just wrapped itself around this life-laden tree. It  gathered up the pink promises, and in a gust, tossed the tree’s future into the air, carrying seed far from the original planting. Literally, it was like a river of pink seed carried through the current of air.

Are you seeing this? the Spirit whispered.  Yes, Lord. Yes.

Then came Easter. God always brings a new revelation around what Father, Son and Spirit did for me. For you. One revelation came as I was planting new flowers and seeds. I heard the phrase, “Jesus was  planted in the earth.”  A dead seed. But then God raised him to life and from his resurrected life came forth many seeds. That is me and you.

Our very spiritual lives are a result of His power to bring new life from the dead.

seeds

Continue reading

The Launching…when God shows up

There are just these moments when other people’s stories collide with my own.  And when they do, it gets so crazy “coincidence” that you know in your Knower that God is up to something big.

I have had this ember burning in my soul for months now. It has been a mystery, a wonder, a prayer. And I have hardly been able to even speak it out and  be coherent. But every time I tried to release in the physical what is happening in the spiritual, the ember would flare up into golden flame.

And then I would hear comments about hunger, and restlessness, and even eagerness.  “I am never going back,” is a phrase I have heard not once but three times from women who have gone beyond the bible study, the church going, who have gone into the deep places of God. My heart beats with theirs. So much so, that I feel like now there is a rolling fire in my soul.   We can’t go back to okay, God is wanting to more for us.

And thus. “The Launching.”

red Launch

God is gathering women who are hungry,  even desperate for more of Him.  There is a rising ache and groan among women who have really tasted the beauty and closeness of Jesus. And we want more. But how?

So this event is to help women soak in His presence. Really. To impart revelations that we need to stay centered in the middle of our lives.

Rest. Dependence — which produces peace and confidence. And so much more. Continue reading