I heard her say many things were lost in material possessions and I loved her peace of mind about it. We all try to hold onto our things, embracing this false sense of security. When she went on to say “we lost some church friends” I knew exactly what she was talking about. To really love Jesus means to lose our religion.
Gal 1:10 (NLT) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Father, where are we going?
To a new place daughter
Father, I don’t recognize this place
Trust me young one
Father, it looks so different
I Am taking you into a new place
In the light of the candles
I see more than just the flames
In a room full of people
I see more than just their names
In the sound of the guitar
I hear more than just the strings
In the voices of the music
All of heaven joins to sing
In the words being spoken
I hear more than what is said
In the hearts of His people
By the Spirit we are being led
Contemplating the deeper things can look an awful lot like doing not much of anything to the eyes of the world.
My bare feet felt the wetness in the grass. Looking around, the streets and sidewalks were completely dry. Life giving moisture in this water was not poured out on anything man-made, only that which was grown by the Lord Himself. I enjoyed this wetness touching my feet, wanting so much more of it.
I sat in the comfort of my home. I was surrounded by my bibles, notes, computers and aids to look deep into God’s Word. I had even written in my precious journal about “having a heart of love, a heart without compromise for my Lord Jesus”. I even enjoyed my worship music quietly playing, and then it happened. My cell phone rang with a phone number I didn’t recognize.
It was a friend I had helped a couple of times before. Her life was messy to be honest. It looked nothing like mine. She was often homeless and needing more than I ever thought I had to give. Her request was simple today and it was something I felt I could do without interrupting my life too much; drive her to an appointment.
We talked some more and eventually I prayed for her. As she began talking about her life, she shared with me her desire to have a bicycle to get around more. She mentioned a pastor’s name who said he’d try to help. I shared back other church names that had services that could help her as well…but then it hit me!
So quietly, so tender, so gentle to prick my heart in truth; it wasn’t organizations who were meant to help her. It was the one she reached out to, calling for help…it was me. I had bicycles in my garage hanging on hooks for the couple times in years I had used them. My heart was wounded for how I had been so blind to think it was someone else’s job to answer her need. I quickly responded to the prick of my heart to tell her I had a bike for her. Her words of gratitude felt bitter to my ears, but they corrected my steps once more.
After getting off the phone, I looked at my bible, my notes, my journal and the comfortable environment I was given to enjoy them. An ache pounded in my chest for how easy it was to get so far away from the very words I was reading. I added to my journal, “thank You, to show me what You really mean by love without compromise, keep it coming Lord!”
I had been watching in the early hours, in the day and in the night. The ways of my heart needed close tending. My heart was desirous to wander away in the comforts of self. Often it’d be distracted with a mere voice saying “look” and I would stop “watching” my heart.
Pro 8:34 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.
I hadn’t been aware of when it started but I could feel tears upon my cheeks. Tenderness had captivated my heart. In the quiet and solitude I was allowed to look into the depth of Love. I danced a slow dance with Love, feeling His arms wrap around me intimately. Holding me close, I was encouraged to let my head rest upon Love’s heart and hear its beating. I began humming softly in response to this deep Love.
The moment drifted away, leaving within an ache and desire to share this Love with the world.
I saw her from a distance and I wasn’t even sure it was someone I knew, but she seemed familiar. When I got closer, I called out her name and sure enough it was a friend. She was crying and looked disheveled. Putting my arm around her shoulders, I asked her what was wrong.
She replied, “They even took my smile from me”. I felt agony in my heart. Clearly she was intoxicated and numbing her life pains on a regular basis. She was covered, head to toe, in words written in red ink. I asked her about the writing all over her body. Her answer surprised me for its genuine sincerity, “I figured if they are going to call me names, and label me, I may as well do that myself!”
A novel came to mind, “The Scarlet Letter”. The character in the story had been publicly disgraced because of her sinful actions. She was instructed by the community to wear a “red letter” upon her person as a badge of shame. I hadn’t thought about that book or its story in years, but here I was, face to face with its representation. And my friend had put it upon herself!
An irritation bothered me, but I stayed silent about it. I could see the insidious lie cleverly disguised. Self-righteousness was not only covering my friend, it was covering the people everywhere, all of us. She had put the pen to her own skin, but that was the cleverness in the lie. Just reinforce the words of how sinful she was and she’d accept it as truth. No one need feel guilty for a thing; after all, we didn’t actually write on her skin ourselves did we?
In the hour of the night
When things just seem so quiet
I wonder at my thoughts
In the place where I find quiet
In the place where I hear truth
I wonder at my thoughts
In the dawn of each day
I make myself be quiet
I wonder at my thoughts
Clearly I hear Him say
Watch and pray
Now watch and pray