Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Open Skies

The goodness of the LORD is all around us. Some days I recognize it more easily than others, but my awareness has no impact on His presence. Rather, His presence has everything to do with my awareness.

I've been reporting about my Abyss-Cave-Tunnel experience through my blog posts, 3 October and 8 November. It was a series of trials that lasted over several months which I hope never to repeat. I did my best to share the reality of the struggles though I pray God's graciousness stood out in stark relief against the harshness of my ordeal. It's only right that I let you in on the release from my confinement.

The physical sensations caught my attention first. It was as if I had come out of a dark and cramped enclosure and stepped into the middle of a wide expanse of open sky. I could feel the sun pouring its brilliance over me. The warmth of the rays evaporated the dankness of the underground chambers. It was as if I were seeing for the first time as I took in the colors that surrounded me. I simply couldn't process their harmonious hues fast enough.

I could feel my lungs expand as I breathed in the fragrance of the flowers. The fresh air going in and out caught me by surprise. I realized that I must have been holding my breath during my agony. For the first time in a very long while I was actually breathing freely. My mind flashed to the words of John 8:36, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Then it jumped ahead to John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Thankfully I kept notes on the breakthroughs I gained because they allow me to share with you and remind myself as I do so.

Freedom from the Hot Seat
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1,2

I have been given a new and deeper awareness of the Truth of these verses. The battle that rages inside me is not me against myself to be able to do the right thing. It is my true self clothed in the righteousness of Christ warring against the flesh that heeds the call to sin. It's the same struggle Paul faced in Romans 7.

My pardon has already been effected through Christ's absolutely sinless life, substitutionary blood sacrifice, and victorious bodily resurrection. In light of the Son's work, the Father is not holding me on a 'hot seat' waiting for me to make a mistake so He can zap me. I stand in a fresh category of blessings.

"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered. Blessed is the man who whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Romans 4:7,8

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Psalm 32:1,2

The joy and peace this new setting engenders causes me to realize that since I'm not on the 'hot seat' I no longer need to try to put anybody else on a 'hot seat' of any sort. Oh the freedom Truth brings!

Esteem God as God
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth." Psalm 46:10

It's not enough to know about God or have a nodding acquaintance with Him. It's not even enough to understand His gifts of grace and faith or love Him for who He is and all He does. I've come to appreciate the need to recognize and revere the God of Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 in His rightful place of sovereign authority.

  • God is not a 'placeholder' for human beings, such as a father, friend, husband, boss, or anyone else. God is holy and perfect in all His attributes while humans are imperfect in all their ways. I realized that often my understanding was backwards. I was looking at people to be perfect, getting frustrated when they weren't able to fulfill my expectations. Worse yet, I was getting angry with God, blaming him when people couldn't make things right according to my standards. God is God and there is no other.
  • God is not a 'gum ball machine' for petty pleasures. I can never hope to be good enough or smart enough or anything else enough to put the right 'coin' into a heavenly machine, pull the lever, and have my dreams come true. I need and want to be in relationship with Him, to grow so close that His will becomes my will. That will be blessed contentment no matter the circumstances. "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3,4
  • God is not a 'safety net' for used up resources. Yes, He promises to answer me when I cry out to Him in need. He does rescue me when all hope is gone. But need-based relationships are flawed. God wants and I crave more, much more. I want a Garden of Eden type of relationship that infiltrates my being. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20
  • God is the great I AM. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is worthy of ALL the gratitude, love, honor, praise, reverence, awe, respect, adoration, . . . I can muster, expressed in humble submission and devoted service. Yielding to Him in my being and obeying Him in my doing.

Psalm 146

Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. 
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - the LORD, who remains faithful forever. 

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 
The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. 
Praise the LORD." Psalm 146:7-10

I was like a bird struggling in panic against a trapping net and then miraculously set free.

Psalm 124
A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side - let Israel say-
if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, 
when their anger flared against us; they would have swallowed us alive;
the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 
the raging waters would have swept us away.
Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird out of the fowlers' snare;
the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

I can claim no super powers, not even an extraordinary level of such things as spirituality or intelligence, skills or abilities. "From the LORD comes deliverance." Psalm 3:8

"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." Psalm 18:19

The Almighty and Holy Creator and Sustainer could have left me in the dungeon of my confusion and fears. Instead He held me close. He showed me the way. He brought me out into open skies. His motives and purposes are His own and I am humbled before them. May He make Himself likewise known to you. Amen

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