Psalm 17:15 (NLT)
Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.
When I think about the Lord…sometimes I get so lost in the vastness and complexity of His Love that I really don’t understand it but sense these bits and pieces of something so amazingly wonderful that I have to know more. Each morning when I wake up, feed the dogs, grab some breakfast heading to my office, I am already trying to wrap my head around the word or truth that is circling in my head. In this process of elaboration, I am finding that the deeper I go into the Word of God and the more I try to find His Way that I have become acutely aware of one thing. This concept of salvation and definition of grace are way simpler than we have made them – I include myself in that revelation. I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied. All I have to do is wake up looking for Jesus and it’s all good. I will be satisfied in the moment that I discover Him no matter where I find myself.
When I was a kid, I was a sleepwalker. One night my mother once shared that she was watching television late one evening, when I walked out of my room heading for the front door. She asked me where I was going and I told her my grandparent’s house. She ushered me back to bed. On another occasion, she heard the front door open and found me walking down the street. I have absolutely no recollection of these events. But many times, by other family members I have been told that not only do I sleepwalk but will carry on a full conversation while I do. Crazy to think that while you are sleeping that your mind and body still fully up and functioning. I wonder if that is how some people make it through life, just going through the motions without intellectual thought with a subconscious that is so overwhelmed by what the conscious cannot fully process that we live in a daydream.
Life is hard. It can be a struggle. Sometimes too much for us to bear emotionally, so we suppress these emotions, feelings and otherwise so that when we sleep and let down our guard they resurface in our dreams. I once lived that life. Many years ago the stress, worry and anxiety became more than I could bear. Before I gave my heart and life back to Jesus because surely He didn’t want the mess that I had made of it. (Hint – that was a total lie of the enemy trying to keep me in bondage.) Raising three small children on my own, I was maxed out. I began to experience physical symptoms such as insomnia, hair loss, weight loss and horrible fever blisters. Finally, an emotional problem became a physical one and I went to the doctor who told me that all of these problems were associated with the stress and anxiety in my life. He told me I needed some help and prescribed anti-anxiety medications which I continued on for a couple of years. I couldn’t take the consequences of my life. The burden that I was carrying was way more than I was created to. Though it minimalized many side effects, I still needed something – that something was called love, joy, peace, and satisfaction. Life can be a nightmare. Bad things do happen to good people. Christians still suffer. Sickness and disease a real threat. If only we could wake up to the reality that living for God through Jesus Christ is not just another thing to do and add to the long list of problems, fears and responsibilities but the help that we have needed all along. When I met Jesus in that moment that I knew I had just turned around, not even taken one step closer just saw that He was there – I stopped taking the medication and have not needed it again.
Acts 12:6-11 (NLT)
The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
When I turned to see Jesus, it was not in a church. It was not during a church service or altar call. Church is not the foundation of our life in Jesus Christ it is an outlet. A place to express our worship, to connect with other believers and live our Love together. My daughter and son-in-law are missionaries. Not in a foreign country but in America. The New England area reports only about 3% of the population are in church. A young pastor had a vision to offer experiences so that man and woman could encounter Christ. The concept is crazy as they take moving trucks filled with sound equipment, chairs and everything else needed to make a church setting up in different locations for a single service. There is no fancy building or building fund but rather they use the existing structures in the area such as movie theaters etc. They offer people an opportunity have an experience with Jesus Christ. I love it. There is no preconceived notion based on this doctrine or that just “Here’s Jesus!” Our new life in Christ does not incorporate church but rather we become the church. We are His Body. He is with us everywhere and always. We accept Him INTO our heart. His Spirit fills our heart and soul breathing new life into us. He is just waiting for us to exhale and stop holding our breath.
Peter was on trial. He knew what this meant. He was there when Jesus was put on trial, tortured and crucified. He was sleeping between two guards. Does it not strike you as odd that a man facing the same fate as Jesus would be sleeping? Peace. When you find Jesus, you find peace. It passes all understanding. It is not logical but it makes perfect sense. Anyway, an angel woke him up and said, “Let’s blow this popsicle stand…” Okay not really but you already know everything he was told to do to leave. Next thing to note, Peter did it. “And he (or she) did it” may be the most defining moment in our life. To hear the Voice of God and just do it. Nike was on to something. No fancy instructions just do what God says to the best of your ability. Don’t wait for six confirmations and fifteen “fleeces” to show up wet. Just say, “Why not?” Peter thought he was dreaming until it took him out of prison and he was free! Peter said, “It’s really true.” Peter woke up a free man. We need to wake up…
Are you wondering when this nightmare will end? Are the details of your life unbearable? Does something need to give? Are you going through the motions? Are you going through the motions of Christianity too? Keep going. God is working every single detail of our life for good. It may not make sense. You may be out of all options. There is no simple solution. You are probably at the end of your rope. It is usually in this place that you turnaround. You need help and in desperation you find Jesus. He doesn’t require it – we do. He was there all the time.
Psalm 119:147-149 (NLT)
I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise. In your faithful love, O Lord, hear my cry; let me be revived by following your regulations.
Not many people know this but there was one day in my life (just one) that I contemplated suicide. I am embarrassed and ashamed to even share it. But I think the problem is that those who have decided to follow Christ and leave their past behind try to bury it in shame rather than celebrate the triumphant victory of salvation and deliverance. I had the pills. I drove to the place. I was completely broken in that moment. My children were away. I was so empty, tired and over this life. Lost in my head going over every disappointment and failure, I picked up the bottle looking at it. God woke me up in that moment. A fountain came on in the park where I was sitting. I jumped. Suddenly I could hear the Lord speaking to me softly. He reminded me that I had three beautiful and wonderful people who loved me that would never be the same if I left them right now. He told me this awful time would soon pass and to just hang on. Suddenly, I came back to my senses. What was I thinking? It didn’t even seem like me. I am not the type to give up. I rarely give in because I am so stubborn. I woke up from a nightmare that had almost become a reality. As if a light came on inside my heart, I knew that this was not the answer and dumped those pills in the fountain, threw away the bottle and went home. I slept that night although many other sleepless nights would follow until I turned back to the Lord – ending my life was never an option again.
The enemy wants us to believe the nightmares in life will never end. But they can when we wake up. We must take the time to fill our heart and mind with the Love of God before we do anything else. We have to let it sink in so that like Peter even in our darkest hour we follow the Light of His Love. It is not about what we do but what we believe. If we truly believe that God loves us and that Jesus is with us, it will allow us to walk through dark times not necessarily because they are easier but because we are confident in the hope we have. Turning to Jesus is surrender, it is not service. Service is born from that love found in intimacy with Christ. The Lord does not expect us to get it all right. He paid the price for every fault and failure we have in advance. The bondage is our own personal choice to remain the keeper of our life. The Love of God is real. It is available. Christ made the way. But surrendering our life is another thing – we want to fix it. We don’t want to hurt. We hate the pain. But there is no outcome outside of Christ that will completely satisfy you where you are today. See if nothing in my life changes, I know that God loves me. Christ died for me and lives in me. I have the Holy Spirit so even when things aren’t perfect that He is my helper, my way maker, dream catcher and fulfillment!
Ephesians 5:14-20 (NLT)
For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Light of God’s Love makes everything visible. See what you see is the world’s take on your life – but that’s not what God has for you! He was you to live a satisfied life despite your inability not to sin. He wants to bless you, complete you and prosper you. This is a wake-up call. Not an invitation to church. It is the testimony that lived in bondage due to my own wandering but found Jesus Christ. I met Him face to face. I am satisfied. God doesn’t want you to “do” anything for Him. He is not asking you to be anyone other than you. He loves you and truly wants us just as we are. I can tell you that I have run myself ragged trying to serve God in church. It didn’t change my life like the time that I have spent right here in His Word learning more and more about His Love. Grace is enough. No really, if I do nothing else but trust God – He’s pleased. I cannot add to my righteousness just step in it. Careful in how I live is not in my attitude and actions but commitment to Christ. To think and mediate on the Love of God and His Word fills my heart and it will overflow in my attitude and actions. The difference between the two is lip service versus heart motivation. God wants a genuine and real connection with each one of us. Everything or anything else we do should be an expression of the depth of this new love. I am blown away all over again at how much God loves me. I stand corrected time and time again at what I have tried to make this relationship about. Wake me up God from the inside out until everything I do, say and become is all about Your Unfailing Love!
Psalm 57:7-11 (NLT)
My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.