Stop and Rest

There isn’t anything you could do right now that would make Jesus Christ love you any more than He already does.

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“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”

Where is the Music?

“Every sound perceived by the acute ear in the rhythm of the world about us can be represented musically. Some people wish above all to conform to the rules, I wish only to render what I can hear.” ~ Debussy

Waves

I was going to post an entirely different thing this morning, but circumstances have steered my mind on a different road…..or a different tune. So here I am on this road of familiar scenery, this song of the all too familiar sound: failure.

I woke up to in-your-face-13-year-old emotion…….
and (That is a very short word, but a lot can happen or not happen in those 3 letters)…….
I let all of that annoyance enter my skin and seep into my mind. Allowing it to enter caused a physiological response called “fight or flight”: my blood pressure rose; my heart started to beat faster; and my potential responses, stemming from rule and law, piled up quickly against the doors of my mouth, ready to burst them open.
(Here comes that word again) and,
I reacted.

The way I reacted was to raise my voice and harshly counter her tone with a consequence. That may not sound too bad, but harshness and quick reaction did not demonstrate my love for her in the correction. In fact, it demonstrated a back-in-your-face-48-year-old emotional response……..
(and here comes that word again)…and…….
my daughter allowed that annoyance to seep into her skin and mind.
So, you can guess what happened: frustration given, brewed frustration; sin given out, created more sin.

She went in her room. I felt the conviction of my Father.
Things could have been different.
I could have not let the noise take over the music.

God’s convictions in my heart have never been harsh or reactionary. They have never been given to me out of a posture of authority. They fall on my mind like sadness, like something is wounded or dying. He knows what it means to speak the truth IN love – and He never fails at it.

Today, when His conviction came, I could have merely heard it and went on my way simply breathing an “I am sorry” to my daughter, but I knew doing so (by the wonder of experience) that I needed to go deeper. Times like this are times to be still……….
and (that beautiful word of rest)…………
really listen. These are times to learn. These are times to understand HOW all the facts we learn, are implemented and woven into the fabric of our lives.

Listening is not easy though. It is an exercise or labor of sorts. I calmed my mind before Him, but, and here is the labor, I felt immediately unworthy to be with Him. I did not feel like I could call Him Abba or Dad. I was shamed by my failure to obey the laws and the rules. But thanks be to Him, He has unlocked those prison gates – my mind does not need to stay there.

I knew those “locked” gates of condemnation were from my human nature and not His nature, because sin and our nature will always block His voice. They will put up walls and veils so we cannot really SEE or HEAR what He has DONE and completed for us in Christ.
He wants me to see and hear that the same Spirit of His that is grieved when I do the wrong thing is also telling me to cry, “Abba, Father!” He does not EVER distance Himself or turn His back on me (us) in times of sin. He already forgave all my sin, past, present and future. His love is unwavering. His love has no limits. His love fulfills all laws.
Blessed thoughts! He has sealed the victory over sin and the law, death and the grave. His love is steady, sure, and faithful.

I am reminded of this after His convictions, and my thoughts fall back onto Him.
All fears and guilt leave………
(and here it is again, the rest note) and……..

Whole note and rest on a staff.

I am THEN able to hear His Spirit teach me. I am able to allow His resurrection life to bring victory over failures. There are no walls. There are no veils. I am able to be taught. I am able to learn.

I am learning.
Today I am reminded to treat my daughter exactly like He treats me.
I need to listen to His voice when I am faced with the harsher notes of life……….
and (rest and listen)……..
so I will not let the sin of others get in the way of my seeing Him in their life… even IN their moments of failure;
so I will not let my sin get in the way of my seeing Him IN all things, working the moments of life into His full song.
I am learning to keep close to Him, and be close to His children – everything else can resolve in the midst of that
love relationship.

Rest.

That vital note in the music of our days.
That pause of allowing the entrance of His love and life, instead of sin and shame.
That pause of knowing that His love for my daughter is deeper, broader, and wider than her sin…..and mine.
That pause and rest that says, I do not need to let failure pass fear, or guilt, or shame in me or on others I relate with.
He is bigger than this moment……He has fought and won the battle, and therefore,
our relationship is bigger than one note.
We do not need to fight what He has already won.

I desire to live in His place of resurrection, victory, and steadfast love.
It is only There that the effects of failures lose their power.
It is There that the noise fades……….
and…..(that vital pause)…….
He makes true music of our days.

Where is the music?
Listen to Him.
He is making it. He is continually working all things together for good.
The music is found “in the space between the notes.”

And………that He is.

The Composer

(Ephesians 4: 2,15; 5:2; 4:30; Galatians 4:6; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 15:55-58; 1 John 4:18; 2 Corinthians 3: 6-18; Philippians 2:7-9; Hebrews 10: 1-23; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 4)

Abba, Father

Father's Hands

I am sure many of you have a similar desire as mine: a desire to be close to Him, to know Him well, to know Him intensely and deeply. I would like to know and be as comfortable with Him as a young child is with her parents – as comfortable as if He were physically here. I want the entire weight of His immense character to move my life and actions at His will.
This yearning of our hearts is reverberated over and over in Scripture on a cord struck first from the heart of God.
Christ expressed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
And the Holy Spirit via Paul:  “that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus”

Christ has fully apprehended His own.
He captivates and binds us to Himself,
…..yet this makes us utterly free.
He woos us to Himself,
unshackling us from the chains of the spirit of man……
then He seals us with His own Spirit to make us one with Him.
Blessed freedom!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,
‘Abba! Father!’“

Do we understand the intimacy of those words? I can only begin to understand them as I think of the relationship between Christ, the Father, and the Spirit while He walked this earth……and even more so, long before, in eternity past. His connection to His Father via the Spirit was constant and created  perfect union of thought and action. Now, through Him, we have entered into that same relationship:

“I [Christ] in them and you [Father] in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” No wonder He desires us to abide steadily and deeply in Him.

Several years ago in my quest to allow my heavenly Father into every corner of my life I wondered…..could the fact that I come from a broken home skew my ability to see Him rightly as my Abba?
I knew my concept was distorted.

So I made a list. As I made it, it was as though I were letting my heart cry out for something I never had. My pen moved……

I would love a father, my father:
1. To see me as beautiful…..always….because He sees what others, and even myself, cannot see.
2. To take interest in the little things I do (patience) and to find joy in those things, as much as the big things.
3.To always be there – to never leave me. 
4. To tell me gently with love when I am going down a dangerous path. That he would be firm, but not harsh. 
5. To keep his promises, to want to be near, to want to listen, to help me actually do what is important in life.

I paused for a while after writing down these things……..and could not help but well up inside (and out) with thankfulness no words could express. I believe it is times like these where, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Funny, I already knew that He was that perfect father, but somehow, writing the list, thinking on Him, and praying within the process, brought Him more fully IN to that hidden area of my heart.
His “perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

He will never fail us – no matter what is going on in our minds or actions – He is constantly loving us with the protection and tenderness of our Abba.

I think what struck me then, as it does still, was that my Father in heaven was not only all those things, but that He was far more than all those things. Inconceivably more. As a writer I have appreciated put it,

“If we take all the goodness, wisdom, and compassion of all the best mothers and fathers who have ever lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of our redeeming God.”

Those are the words are Brennan Manning’s.

(About a week ago, he passed from the murky vision of faith unto that glorious reality of “face to face”. Wow. What he must be seeing now! He was a man of many struggles, yet, he was beautifully transparent with those things. Transparent to people, transparent with His Father.)
Here as an excerpt I love from his book, “The Furious Longing of God”:

“Abba means in literal English: daddy, papa, my own dear father.

“American child psychologists tell us that children learn to speak between the ages of 14 and 18 months. Regardless of the sex of the child, the first word normally spoken at that age level is “Da Da Daddy.” A little Jewish child, speaking Aramaic in first century Palestine at the time of the historic Jesus, at the same age would say “Ab Ab Abba.” I really think we caught the revolutionary revelation of Jesus’ teaching on God the Father because He’s daring us to address the infinite, transcendent, almighty God in the same colloquial form of address our own children used that morning, which is Abba, literally meaning “Daddy.”

“Jesus is saying that we may address the infinite, transcendent, almighty God with the intimacy, familiarity, and unshaken trust that a sixteen-month-old baby has sitting on his father’s lap – da,da,daddy.

“Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candour, boundless trust, and easy familiarity of a little one crawling up in Daddy’s lap?  An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys, or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment?  Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?”

I hope and pray that our interior life will be increasingly decorated with such freedom, joy, and life. For when the Son sets us free, when He flings the prison doors open, when He bids us to enter into His rest, we cannot help but sing! “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. (Selah)”

Father-child-shadows-300x199

(John 17; Phil. 3:12; Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; 8:26; John 17:22,23; 1 John 4:18; Galatians 4:4-7; John 8:36; Psalms 84)