Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blown by the Breath of God

In the past week I have been reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C. Reading from Mother Teresa’s personal letters and about her spiritual experiences has brought forth various emotions and wondering thoughts within me. As I read the book it encouraged me with the aspect of her devotion to God and to the Lord Jesus because I can relate with her passion to give ALL of herself; to have God be true King over her heart and her life. But then I also became disheartened all at the same time because I feel so awful when I compare what she was led to do with what I have been led to do for Him. She was led and called to do something truly beautiful and sacrificial for the benefit of others. Five years ago, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was calling me to know Him more intimately and to make Him known. Over the last five years, there have been great difficulties with this calling…not in the knowing Him more intimately (that has been a miraculous experience), but in the making Him known part. Every time I’ve stepped forward proclaiming something (whether through singing, writing, or speaking) it somehow doesn’t quite go quite as well as I imagined or hoped it would. There have been a few instances when people have become very angry with me for boldly speaking out.

Over the past week, as I have read about Mother Teresa, I had a great deal of wondering and doubting thoughts and “maybe’s” go through my mind. It started by my wondering if it could be that all God truly wants from me is just to know and experience Him intimately and nothing else. I wondered if whatever other “task” which came along as a result of that relationship was just to make this little daughter of His feel like she was being of use and of help to her “Daddy”. I love Him so much, and He knows that very well. He also knows that I want to be “helpful” to Him, and therefore, He allows me to do these little “jobs” here and there to make me happy and to feel like I am being useful to Him. But maybe, ultimately, what He most desires from me is intimate relationship with Him.

In the last few days I ran the gamut of emotions and possibilities in my ponderings—from the above thoughts all the way to pondering if I should just keep my writings and experiences with God completely private from now on and delete this blog all together. I don’t claim to know any “grand” spiritual purpose any longer—the “grandest” it gets is knowing Him, period; knowing my God and my Lord intimately and passionately; no more, no less. I am worthy to Him even if I were to sit here in my chair and do nothing else. Although, it is hard—very hard—for me to not have a goal before me. But God knows that about me. I long to help my Father God and to live Christ and the abundant life He offers me. He will accomplish this—it doesn’t have to mean my doing anything “special” by worldly standards. It can all happen in the simplicity of daily life if He so chooses. Five years ago, Jesus said to me, “Let’s cross over to the other side”. I believe we have. Though, I have yet SO much to learn from Him.

I spent at least two full days exploring in my dark ponderings, wonderings, questions, and doubts along with second-guessing my past, present, and future actions…then He began to change the direction of my thoughts and bring His light into the darkness.

Through my reading in another book, I ended up at Acts 4:20 where Peter and John tell the Sanhedrin, “We cannot but be speaking of what we perceive and hear”. They could not keep themselves from speaking out about what they had experienced with Christ! I can relate well with them. Sharing with others about the moving of God in my life is what I get most excited to talk about! To remain silent is to be like the “walking dead”.

The next day, I awoke with the realization of how much better I did living each day if I just went with the flow of each moment, as His wind blows me, rather than trying so hard to understand each step I take and what that means next. I knew it was time to relax into His arms once again and that I had been way too tense because I had been playing a comparison game that was detrimental. I basked in the magnificent truth that I was to let His breath blow me where it will…to take me where He wills! I could second-guess every word I wrote or spoke and each move I made…but I knew that was not my purpose! My purpose is to know Him and have an intimate relationship with Him. All else is icing on the cake; dark chocolate icing. I am to let the breath of God blow me wherever He desires. The breath of God blows me—my job is to relax and let myself be blown wherever He chooseshowever He chooses. The wind that blows me from here to there is the very breath of God. His breath has been blowing me perfectly; if I resist it now then I will be flailing in mid-air and may fall. I certainly don’t want to fall from the heights that He has brought me to.

Through Jesus words in John 3:12, it was reconfirmed to me that I was to relax and let Him blow me as He wills. He said to me, “If you are having trouble believing these simpler truths having to do with this earthly realm, how could I ever tell you the truths of the heavenly realms and you believe them? How can I keep taking you into My heights if you continually doubt where I take you and what I show you? It’s useless! You might as well just stay content below, on earthly territory.” Then it was so beautiful to find myself at John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." What’s even more beautiful about this whole breath of God thing is that the Greek word translated spirit in the New Testament is “pneuma”, which literally means “blow-effect”. Pneuma is the Greek word for “wind” and “spirit” in John 3:8.

It was also brought to my memory of a part in The Chronicles of Narnia story, The Silver Chair, where Aslan blows Eustace and Jill. There is so much Christ truth in this story written by C.S. Lewis as Aslan, the Lion, represents Christ. After Jill is left alone on the cliff (due to her “showing off”) she finds herself “dying of thirst”. She longs to find “water” to quench her thirst. She eventually finds a stream to drink from, but there is a lion sitting by the stream, and she is so afraid of him eating her that she hesitates to take that drink. He invites her to drink but her fear at this moment supersedes her desperate need for a drink. She asks the lion to leave so she may drink, but he refuses her. Finally, frantic with thirst, she asks him, “Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come? He answers her, “I make no promise”…

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion…

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill…“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

There are no other “living waters” to quench our “dying thirsts” except that which Christ offers to us through Himself. Jill finally decides to take a drink from the refreshing waters and the lion asks her to come to him. After getting her to admit her wrong-doing, which caused Eustace to fall off the edge of the cliff, he informs her that he has a task for her and Eustace…

“Please, what task, Sir?” said Jill.

“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.”

This puzzled Jill very much. “It’s mistaking me for someone else,” she thought…“I was wondering—I mean—could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to—to Somebody—it was a name I wouldn’t know—and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

“Then you are Somebody, Sir?” said Jill.

“I am.”…

As Aslan called Jill and Eustace out from their worldly realm so also Christ calls us out. We could not call out to Him or draw near to Him unless He had not already been calling us and drawing us to Himself. No one can come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing [dragging] him” (John 6:44) Aslan proceeds to give Jill the task given to her and Eustace and a set of signs or instructions as to how they are to go about accomplishing the task. He impresses upon her how important it is for her to memorize and remember the signs he has given her. Jill asks the lion…

“Please, how am I to get to Narnia?”

“On my breath,” said the Lion. “I will blow you into the west of the world as I blew Eustace.”… “Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning, and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters…”

Yes, on the “mountaintop”, with the voice of God speaking clearly to us, we have no doubts of what God is saying. His voice is clear, the instructions are not hard to understand, and we are filled with great courage to believe all that He has spoken and to follow through with whatever He has instructed us to do. Then we come down from the “mountaintop”, as we must, to regular daily, worldly life around us and suddenly the “mountaintop” experience becomes muddled, fuzzy, and unbelievable. Questions begin to race through our minds: Did it even really happen? Was that really God speaking to me up there? I’m not so sure I heard Him quite right? Maybe I imagined the whole thing? Did I misunderstand what He said? Did He really say…? Oh boy, that question, “Did He really say…?” reminds me of what the serpent said to Eve in the beginning. “Did God really say…?” Let us not be deceived by that voice.

I was doing quite a bit of that type of questioning over the last week’s time. So it was a loving reminder from my LORD to not doubt Him, His voice, and His work in my life just because the worldly circumstances didn’t seem to fit in nicely with the moving of His spirit in my life.

As a final word of reassurance and correction to me on that particular day--after the passages in John 3, the reminder of His breath blowing me, and through the story with Jill’s encounter with Aslan—God showed me one more thing. I was looking through a Christian bookstore catalog and saw the front cover to the story book The Three Trees. And suddenly I knew the bottom line of the truth He was confirming to me. My life, most especially over the last 5-7 years, has been a story much like the lesson taught through the folktale of The Three Trees.

There were these three young trees standing on a mountaintop and each one expressed what they wanted “to be when they grew up”. The first tree wanted to hold treasure and be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world sparkling with jewels. The second tree wanted to be the strongest sailing ship that traveled mighty waters carrying powerful kings. The third tree just wanted to be the tallest tree staying on the mountaintop so that when people looked up at it they would raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. Well, time passed and the trees grew up and there came three woodcutters to the mountaintop. Each tree was cut down and taken away to the world below. The first tree was certain that now it would be made into a treasure chest, but instead, it was crafted into a simple feed box for animals and filled with hay. The second tree was certain it would now be made into a strong sailing ship, but instead, it was crafted into a fishing boat hauling stinky fish in from the sea. The third tree was totally confused about being cut down in the first place when all it ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God. It was fashioned into strong beams and cast aside in a lumberyard. Then one night a woman placed a newborn baby inside the feed box that was the first tree, and the tree realized that it was holding the greatest treasure in the world. Years later, on a stormy night, the second tree trembled in the middle of a sea storm and thought that it would surely not have the strength required to carry its passengers safely to their destination. Then one of the men he held stood and spoke “Peace” to calm the storm, and the tree knew that he was carrying the King of heaven and earth. Not long after that, the third tree was picked up and carried harshly out of the lumberyard where it had sat forgotten so many years. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her. She felt so ugly and harsh and cruel. But a couple of days later the third tree realized “that God’s love had changed everything. It had made the first tree beautiful. It had made the second tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

And so it is with my life…He does the growing, the blowing, the cutting, and the shaping…that He may create with me and my life the perfect work of HIS hands. At times, it may seem to me that what is being done cannot possibly be for His glory, but my understanding and my vision is greatly limited and hindered. I will trust in HIS work BY FAITH. Faith is an assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed” (Hebrews 11:1). No matter what must take place in the process, I have complete faith that the end result He has in mind is perfect and beautiful. Whatever He has planned is far superior to anything I can imagine.

In His arms…

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