Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Just As I Am

“To live as God's child is to know, at this very instant, that you are loved by your Maker
not because you try to please him and succeed or fail to please him and apologize,
but because he wants to be your Father. Nothing more.
All your efforts to win his affection are unnecessary. All your fears of losing his affection are needless.
You can no more make him want you than you can convince him to abandon you.
The adoption is irreversible. You have a place at his table.” 
(Grace, Max Lucado)

In Waking Up: How I Found My Faith By Losing It, (free on amazon) Ted Dekker shares: “I was sure that my powerlessness was uniquely my fault. I didn’t have enough faith. I needed to try harder and do better. Others seemed to have it all together, but I was a failure. So I pressed in with greater passion. I got filled with the Spirit; I got a degree in biblical studies; I spent days praying in the mountains; I fasted; I wore the pages of my Bible ragged; I went on retreats; I recommitted my life at the altar over and over; I took communion with utter sincerity; I worshiped in silence; I worshiped with my hands raised; I worshiped to organs; I worshiped to drums; I served as best I could; I shared my faith; I started a home group; I preached on a corner; I went on a mission—I did it all.

I was that kind of person, desperately seeking the approval and favor of my Father in heaven by measuring up to His expectations of what constituted a good son—one who is known for a love that holds no record of wrong and who does the works of Jesus wherever he goes...

For fifteen years I pressed in, writing more than thirty books in a solitude I called my prison, driven by an almost maniacal obsession that few I knew could understand, determined to experience God as He was presented by Jesus.

But the more I succeeded in the world's eyes, the more I realized that that success in itself was only another prison, fashioned by the values of this world...

There in my office, drowning in a sea of self-condemnation and unworthiness, a gentle question whispered through my mind.

Does your Father in Heaven not love you with the same love that He asks you to love others?...

Let go of all that you think you know about Me, so that you can know Me.

I didn't hesitate. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment, because if it was true that God was this kind of loving Father, I would throw myself off a cliff to fall at His feet in gratitude for such an extravagant love.

An so I did. There, in the darkest of nights, weeping, I closed my eyes, let go of who I thought I was and who the Father was, stepped off a kind of cliff, and I free-fell into that space beyond mere intellect where faith and love are found...

As I knew my Father in a new way, I discovered who I was as His son. That I was already all I could hope to be because I was in Christ. All of my striving to become had actually hidden the truth from me, because in striving to become, I was only denying who I already was.

Falling off the cliff into faith, I began to discover that I already had wings. And that I could unfurl those wings. And that to the extent I experienced my Father's love, I could love with that same love. Love Him that way. Love myself that way. Love others that way...

My entire identity shifted...For the first time in my life I felt truly worthy and complete.”

“Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace-laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands.” Brennan Manning

“Now with God's help, I shall become myself.” Soren Kierkegaard

In As Soon As I Fell, Kay Bruner writes, “I had spent most of my life trying to figure out how to be good enough. Now I had to learn how to be me. I had to learn that my way of being was acceptable . In fact, my way of being was beyond acceptable. God had made me this way on purpose...

By accident, one day, I happened to read the passage that had given me so much grief, the one that says, Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) I finally read the context. The passage is talking about how much God loves us, and everyone else. The verse tells us to be perfect in that way: in our love for each other.

I was starting to feel, for the first time in my life, that I might have genuine love to give away. It seemed that in the past I had been a counterfeiter. I didn't really believe or experience that God loved me, but I was supposed to love other people anyway. I gave and gave and gave, thinking it was love, but often I was giving out of emptiness, a fake love. But now, the more I received love from God and from others, the more I was filled full of love, and the more I could genuinely give to others...

It felt to me that terrible day on that hillside, as if I fell into the deepest, darkest, most trackless depths of the sea. Instead, that day, I was actually falling into Love, into grace, into healing.

As soon as I fell, He caught me.”

“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet,
and learn to be at home.” 
Wendell Berry 

Casting Crowns: Good, Good Father

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