"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This is the key to lasting change

This morning I was lying in bed, thinking about the coming week, knowing I needed to talk to Jesus, because I could feel my spirit twisted up inside me. It’s the kind of fog that makes you think so unclearly you can feel it, when you see the lies you’re believing and know they have to leave, but only Jesus can free you.

My thoughts: they are the dirty dishes, the spilled puddle on the floor, the back of the tapestry. They are the real life that I hide, and by doing so, I take my own poison.

So I needed to hear Jesus. There are times I can’t stop hearing Him; this often seems to be around four in the morning, when Jesus seems especially chatty, or, perhaps, I am especially silent.

But it was seven in the morning, and there was silence.

Jesus, I need you. I want to hear you. Please don’t leave me alone like this.

And suddenly, He spoke. He spoke with the sort of clarity that I don’t always receive but desperately pursue, the Voice that cuts so deeply and so unexpectedly that you wonder if you heard it out loud.

This is the key to lasting change, He said.

I waited for the rest.

Be yourself.

It is not that anything is permissible. It is not that I was being told to skip off and live willfully blind to responsibilities or people or truth, for that would be a sort of death.

Instead, what had upset me that morning was expectations. There was the person I thought others wanted me to be (whether that belief was rooted in reality or my own insecurity), and, even more, she—the “me” I wanted to be—was good. It is hard to fight a good idea, even if it does lead to death.

For I felt to get there, I had to run until I dropped. I had to work harder. Be more. Don’t disappoint. Don’t be a failure. Follow through. Be everything to these people you respect. Just thinking about it made me want to give up, made me die a little inside.

And yet, in all that, I still knew who I wanted to be.

I wanted to bring beauty and peace and grace. I want to operate out of the overflow.

I want the supernatural, the beauty, the laying hands on people and healing them, the miracles. I want to see more pictures for others in my mind and words for them in my heart, and I want to my joy to infect the world. I want to hear Jesus’ voice and go into the realm of heaven. I want everything, all the gifts of the Spirit, to see angels and release power and be the most radiantly loving person the world has seen.

I want everything Jesus and His kingdom has to offer. I want the miracles and signs and wonders, I want to see His face and hear His voice, I want to bring others before His beauty and to rescue others out of their captivity. I want to act and I want to fight.

But all of that is the power of Jesus flowing out of you.

And you can’t have Him flowing out of you if you’re not overflowing to begin with, and the overflow comes from His heart.

It comes from spending time with Him, it comes from sitting at His feet: the one thing that is needed. I want the heart of Jesus, not just the actions or the power of Him, for without His heart, I am just a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. To become who I want to be, sometimes I don’t have to do anything more at all.

Sometimes, I just have to be myself. I have to go for a walk in the woods, or rest for a day, or read all night. Sometimes I have to try against all logic and perhaps then to fall, for to fail is not to be flawed. Sometimes I have to follow where my heart leads in order to find that He was guiding it all along to His own.

For in the end, even if He never gave me power, if He took away everything I held dear, if I never witnessed another miracle or saw another vision, but if He gave me His heart, I would be content. For out of the radiating glory of my life would come all the beauty and joy and calling I longed for when I was pursuing the power and the kingdom in itself so desperately; in His heart I find the victorious life that, when I pursued it for its own sake, became a freakish carnival maze of mirrors that leads only to confusion and death.

For while all of the power and eternal expanse of glory in the kingdom is indeed part of His Spirit, His heart is always where it begins. It all begins there, and it never leaves. It stays. You stay at His feet. You’ll stay there forever. You stay in His heart as it becomes yours, as He pours out of you—as He pours out into your life and world and kingdom, He pours out in power and love and grace.

This is living in the overflow.

This is the key to loving without getting tired.

This is the way to stand against the evil of the world without getting lost in the darkness.

This is the beauty that sets the captives free.

With His heart, I will be content.

Only one thing is needed.

Love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.