This is the latest chapter in the love story God has been telling me. Last month, my parents took me to see a special showing of Ragamuffin, the story of Rich Mullins, for my birthday. (Oh, yea, quick update, I turned 16. :D YAY!). If you haven't seen it, there's a link to the trailer here. The story is about Rich Mullins life. He had a rough relationship with his father, and so he struggled with the idea that God, the Father, could love him even though he was so messed up. What struck me the most was the way that Rich was still very very human all the way through the film. By that I mean this; there are lots of christian movies, even good ones, that portray a message of, "Once you realize what you're doing wrong and give it to God, then everything will be better." While there is an element of truth in this, I think we often skim over the fact that life will still sometimes be very difficult, and it's not easy to let go of some things, like control, or idolatry, or anger. So throughout this story, you see Rich's genuine desire to follow God and honor him, but you also see him struggle,.....and mess up,...and mess up again,......and struggle,.....and good grief his attitude is really getting on my nerves.....It's an honest depiction of what living like a Christian is sometimes like. Let's be honest. We're all sinners. :)
Along with connecting to the humanity of Rich Mullins, I also really connected to the message of God's love that was wound through the film. These last few months, I have experienced release from a ton of baggage that I have carried with me for years. It's funny, sometimes you don't realize how heavy something is until you are no longer carrying it. For me, I never fully realized how much fear I had until I let go of it. I got to the point where any failure, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, would often bring me to tears. The worst was failure to reach a self-established goal or standard, when my emotional stability would go all haywire, and I would start to beat myself up. I saw myself in such a low light that I couldn't accept God's love or forgiveness for me, even when I tried. Now, where my common sense was through all of this,...I have no idea. But a lot of this I didn't fully recognize until just recently, when I was helped to step back and went, "Woah. How did I not see this?"
Spiritual healing seems kind of like redecorating an ugly house. This may not be the greatest analogy, but bear with me here. Imagine when you go through this house, it's trashy, and full of junk. When all that junk is removed, the house is clean, but remains to be filled with beautiful, godly things. Otherwise all you have is an empty house, that anyone can move into and mess up again; just another fresh start, prone to ending up in either good or bad state. Like in Matthew 12:43 where it says “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first." So when God has moved in, and the house is cleaned, he will begin to make the house beautiful and fill those empty spaces, where all the trash was, with beautiful things. And as long as that house is given to the Lord, no evil thing will be able to come back into that place again.
By the time I went to see this film, I was at the state where God had helped me clean out my "house", and what I needed was a replacement to all my junk. And God's timing just blew me away. The whole way through, I was watching God throw the last of my fear out the window, and then turn and say to me, "Here's is my love. I think it would go nicely on that coffee table in the middle of the room where you can always see it." :)
He is always ready; right there when you need him, with healing in his hands. It shouldn't be a surprise. I mean, it's written all over the bible. The most classic verse in scripture, one that any Sunday-school student could recite from memory, says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 ESV)
"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19 ESV)
"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19 ESV)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." (Jeremiah 31:3 ESV)
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." (1 John 3:1)
In the concordance of the NIV bible, the word "love" is referenced 242 times. That's waaaay more than most of the words listed in there. Seems to indicate a pretty big theme if you ask me. But it's one thing to know something. It's a completely different thing to experience it.
So, all that to say, God LOVES you! I always seem to come back to that. God is good, and he loves you. It just dawned on me that this blog is titled Finding the High Places, based off of the book, Hinds Feet on High Places, where the Shepherd leads His servant, Much Afraid, to the Kingdom of Love. It's like maybe this is important to know or something. :) I'd encourage you, look for God's love in your life. Move beyond the Sunday-school answer, valid as it is, and ask what it means when he says that he loves you.
Yea, you're a sinner. You're messed up. So am I. But that's the whole reason Jesus came to earth! There no longer needs to be question that He loves you. He does. You don't need to be overwhelmed by your sin.
He loves you. :)
Happy first day of spring everybody!!!! Newsflash, it is 69 degrees outside! Yay! Hope you all enjoy the weather, wear flipflops, drink coffee, and have a lovely week!