Suffering Obedience and Freedom

sky

Have you ever waited all week for results to come back to tell you whether or not you have cancer again? The doctor who removed the troublesome skin humbly admitted that she had never been in that position.
I’ve never once walked into a week hoping for suffering, hoping to have to wait on more lab results. Never once.
Jesus didn’t hope for suffering. He didn’t delight in the great agony He faced as he awaited probable pain and death. He cried out to God. He asked to be delivered. He asked if there was any other way.
But then He chose obedience. Perfect obedience which led to suffering. Suffering which led to freedom.
As I walk this road of suffering, complete with twists and turns which seem to lead away from what I desire, I am being trained in obedience. My ways are being stripped away. My flesh pierced. My mind and will transformed.
This week the transformation came in allowing Jesus to partner with me. The enemy loves to tell me I am alone. He loves to feed me lies about no one else understanding my pain. And, I seem to have a sick way of clinging to those lies.
But my suffering is bringing about transformation, when I obey. When I listen to that prompting to stop the Facebook scrolling and instead read the Word, I read the promises of Jesus. I read about His faithful love for me. I read about His pain and suffering. I read about the anguish He expressed during His most intense trial.

I read about freedom. Freedom the believers received as they opened their hearts to His Spirit and were then released from past bondage.

Just as Jesus didn’t desire the suffering that was coming to Him, I do not desire more suffering. But nowadays, I can walk into it with much less fear and much more peace, knowing suffering, coupled with obedience, always results in freedom. Thank you, Jesus!

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”

God keeps taking me deeper, into deeper levels of freedom. Just over 6 months ago, I wrote this, Freedom and I was overwhelmed with that deep level of freedom.

But, God…

He’s unwrapping the blockades like an onion, layer by layer; the blockades that have been blinding me from further freedom. He shows me there’s still this wall of anxiety between us. He reveals there’s still this fence of doubt getting in the way. And then He opens my eyes to a layer of fear stumbling me on His path

Despair threatens to set in. “Oh God, I thought I had moved past anxiety, doubt, and fear.” But, His strong loving voice assures me, He has yet more for me still.

On the other side of the chains of despair, He has LIFE awaiting me. And, He has LIFE awaiting you!

Have you ever thought of the people shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”? They shouted the term hosanna, meaning save us. I imagine them feeling sold out to Jesus, placing their hopes in him, thinking they were finding and receiving freedom. Laying down their cloaks, their cut branches. Perhaps feeling as if they were laying down their hearts in submission.

But, we know those same sold out people, the ones willing to lay down their offerings, changed their cry just days later to “crucify him”. When Pilate asked, “Why?”, they only shouted again, “Crucify him!”

It’s hard to imagine this extreme change in behavior from “save us, Oh, God!” to “kill him!” until I allow the Lord to show me what’s in my heart.

Am I much different than the hosanna shouting people? Am I really any different at all than the people I read about in Matthew 21?

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9

One day I claim freedom and power and then the next day, when faced with a trial, I claim my life as my own and kill God’s voice of love. 

I, too, shout, “Save me!” and then I crucify Him by holding up my blockade once again and kill His plan for my life.

But, God…

Crucify him post

As He unwraps these blockades, chipping away at my attempts at crucifixion, His freedom fills my soul.

When I see Jesus for who he is and not what he can do for me, he changes my cry. He puts my life in order.

My cry becomes crucify my flesh, my will, and my desire.

Oh Lord, hosanna, save me!

The Lord’s

No created thing can bring fulfillment, heart change, or security

No created thing holds all truth, power, or wisdom

No created thing can be trusted, believed in, or relied on

But God…

My Creator

The Creator

I belong to Him

No other name shall be placed upon my hand

No other name shall hold my future

No other name shall I proclaim

I am the Lord’s

His name is upon my hand

Stamped on my soul

hand the lord's

Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
    others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
    and will take the name Israel. Isaiah 44:5 

Looking Up

I am downcast when I look to myself

I am lost when I look to myself

I am defeated when I look to myself

Oh, but when I look to You…

You are my Shepherd

You are my Maker

You are my Truth

When I look down, I see myself

I see my faults, my needs, my weakness, my inabilities

I look to the sky

I need to tilt my head, my gaze, my mind upward toward the heavens

The treetops, the clouds, the sky all remind me of You

My Shepherd, my fulfilling Creator, my Sovereign Truth

cross and skyflowers and skypalm tree in windpalm treessky above ruinssky at beachsky at pyramidssun on water

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

A Perfect Heart

When I seek mercy and justice

When I offer mercy and justice

When I receive Your mercy and justice

My heart is renewed

My heart is cleansed

My heart is healed

When I seek Your way

When I offer Your love

When I receive Your Spirit

I behave as a woman following You

I love as a whole person

I give from a complete vessel

When you come to me, oh Lord

When you walk with me, oh Lord

When your Spirit fills me, oh Lord

I am set free

I am made alive

I will walk with a perfect heart

I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, oh Lord, I will sing praises. I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Psalm 101:1-2

The Way of Holiness

The Lord’s highway for the redeemed.

The Way of Holiness.

His path to glory.

Set aside for those who acknowledge their need.

Those who accept His hand.

Those who reach for His cleansing.

Those who grasp onto his purifying redemption.

He says,

“Enter in to Zion! Enter with singing. Rejoicing. Everlasting joy. Here is your crown of righteousness. Breathe out your last sigh of sorrow because there will be no more. Gladness and joy will be your breath now.”

Follow the Shepherd up the Way of Holiness.

forest pic

Yes, Lord! Lead us in your Holy Way! Thank you for your goodness! Thank you for your plan of redemption. You are good. So good. Amen.

 

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:10

From Pity to Gratitude

Groggy, quiet, and contemplative I enter my prayer closet this morning. Holding my hot coffee in one hand, I open the closet door with the other hand. Upon opening the door, I am filled with defeat from a night of tossing and turning with doubt and hopelessness.  Yet at the same time, I remember Hopeful Expectation, the promise the Lord keeps whispering.

tunnel opening

I enter the closet, overcome with envy, self-pity, and discouragement. Envy over the moms who have children that can get themselves ready in the morning. Envy over the children who got ideal starts in this world. Envy over kids who are able to hold two thoughts in their minds and complete those tasks. Pity for myself for the elaborate measures I take to help my kids follow simple routines. Discouragement over the lack of progress seen.

Stepping into the closet and then plopping down on my pillow, I begin my seeking. Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  

I come filled with ugliness, but seek the Beautiful One. I come filled with doubt, but seek the One filled with answers. I come full of myself  but leave filled with His Spirit.

As I begin my study and prayer time, I am reminded of how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

I remember my Father in heaven who leans in to listen to me, who meets me there before I even awake. I remember my need for Him and His ability alone to meet my daily needs. I remember His heart to forgive me (even my stinking pity party) and my need to forgive all those around me. I remember to seek Him to deliver me away from the temptation of self-pity.

This morning, He changed my pity into gratitude. This morning, I entered my time with the Lord covered with stains. This morning, I left my time time with the Lord with one last whisper, “Lord, that I’d stay connected to you all day today, that this wouldn’t be the end. That it would just be the beginning of our day together.”

Thank you, Lord, for these children that keep me at Your feet…keep me coming back to You. Keep me seeking You for wisdom, peace, encouragement, and hope. Amen.