Saturday, February 13, 2016

Nor Any Powers

Sometimes I have these ranting, parenthetical, overwhelmed, gushing, crazy-person "chats" with God.  I've been getting myself into a funk, relentlessly pursuing one single thought or conception of what I am doing or not doing wrong, and eventually it'll all bubble up and I'll just go off.  It'll start as a typical everyday devotional prayer, and end as a panic-stricken existential conjecture.  My mind just becomes this merry-go-round of worry, worry that I'm always idolizing stories, worry that I don't truly love God, worry that I'm not devoted enough to Him and that I don't always want to spend time with Him, worry that I'm deceiving myself, the list goes on and on.  And, though these "conversations" usually take place mentally, not vocally, I won't even give Him a chance to speak and to try to shake some calm into me.  I'll just go on and on in one never-ending run-on sentence.

But then, when I finally do stop, out of mental breath or plain exhausted by my ridiculousness, He will respond, and what He says is (no surprise) basically the most perfect response ever:

"Are you done?"



If you've experienced this (as I'm sure most if not all of you have!), you know what an unspeakable relief it is just to hear those three words from God.  I can't even explain it, but, since reading about that being the Lord's reaction in various books and things, I've started recognizing it when He says that.  And He does say it--not in a ridiculing, impatient, stern way, but in an affectionate, level-headed, redirecting sort of way.  He lets you have your "cry," lets you release all the pent-up self-confusion and frustration and self-induced misery, and then He shifts your focus.  He says, "C'mon, girl, you know better than this.  You're imperfect, certainly, but I am working in you.  I'm not giving up on Us.  Pick yourself up and act like the daughter of the King of Kings that you actually are."  

The healing starts just in His listening, really, doesn't it?  He allows you to rant and rail nonsensically, but He starts to pour His healing in while we are still doing so.  "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."  It all starts as the small, still voice:  a gradual calming of one's spirit, a gradual change of perspective.  He shows us that sometimes revelation is reached not by the giving of an answer, but by your pouring out what's in your heart and then experiencing His reaction to that outpouring.  We are taking our own issues very, very seriously (to paraphrase Craig Bernthal), and is it possible that we sometimes allow our own perceptions--of our own sins, habits, things we dislike about ourselves and feel might be a hindrance to our relationship with the Lord--to take root in us and rise up as a stem of egocentricity?  Even if we feel we are conducting deep soul-searching and trying honestly to get rid of anything that might separate us from our Savior, are we in reality just focusing on the wrong things?  Are we missing the point?


"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  I think a common misconception we have--at least, one that I have very often--is how available or unavailable God is to us at any given moment.  We measure our ability to draw close to God by how worthy we are.  God help us--have we even known Him at all?  Have we never truly realized the miracle of Calvary?  It is always our human nature that limits the availability of God's love.  He is always, ALWAYS there--simply being and loving and caring for the world--and, as Catherine Marshall put it, He is not trying to prove anything, because He knows.  He has already proven everything.  The Savior is always living right by our side, and the issue is not that He is too busy or too holy to come close to us, but that we think (subconsciously) that He is…or that we are.  Through Christ's intercession, we always have complete, unequivocal access to the throne of grace.  Do we truly understand this phenomenon?  The God of all creation is right here, right now, with us.  He INVITES us to come into His presence--filthy sinners though we are.  The full power of God--His love, His grace, His redemption--is always, constantly, 24/7 available to us, only a prayer away.  So reach out and touch Him, lean into Him, snuggle up against your Daddy's chest, for He has invited you to.  "Come near to God and He will come near to you."  

This beautiful catharsis God initiates--this outpouring of human limitation--to be met by the limitless love of Jesus Christ, is how we can find peace in the midst of life, in the midst of the sanctification process.  After we freak out, He whispers gently but firmly, "There is not a new answer, but the one I've always given--get your mind off all your worries and self, and back to focusing on Me, and the job We're doing together."  


"Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus."


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Well.  That was a very long post  O_O  If you read all the way through it, kudos to you and I really do appreciate it.  Looking forward to seeing (and posting ;D) all the Valentine's Day posts tomorrow!  And I love you guys <3  Y'all are the best.  


22 comments:

  1. "Are you done?"

    SHEEEEEEEEEESHHHH. I think I need to remember that phrase.

    I know how you feel--it's so, so, so easy to get caught up in what a horrible person you think you are, and to feel that "God would never want to bother with somebody like ME." But it's so not true. I've had to learn (and it's a loooooooong process sometimes) that God just loves me anyway, no matter what I've done or how weak or sinful I am--and that He isn't actually as worried about my faults as I think He must be. Because He UNDERSTANDS. He does, truly. And it's wonderful to realize that.

    Thank you so much for posting this, Olivia--it reminds me to keep trying not to get all "worked up" and keep trusting God. And boy, can I use that reminder :-)

    Ohhhhh, a Valentine's Day post? Sounds awesome--I can't wait!!

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    1. Isn't it fantastic, Jessica? I had never thought of it that way before, and then I read it in one or two places, and I started realizing that that IS what He says to us.

      "He isn't actually as worried about my faults as I think He must be. Because He UNDERSTANDS." That…that is just perfect. I'm going to have to remember that.

      Of course! Thank you for your comment, it was fantastic <3

      Haha, thanks! It's pretty simple, though ;)

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  2. Okay, well I kind of teared up a little reading that post. I get upset over such petty things, but He still loves me. I really needed to read that, thank you. :)

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    1. Really?! Oh, Laura, I know just how you feel--I get worked up over EVERYTHING, it seems. Kind of like what you said in your post: I get worked up, and then I get worked up about getting worked up, and it just goes on and on. Thank YOU for reading and commenting, it means a lot <3

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  3. Eeeesh, OLIVIA!! I actually read your post this morning and I've been thinking about it all day (I'm bookmarking it ;)). It's so true and deeply, breathtakingly, incredibly beautiful!

    Romans 8:38-39 is amazing. And also the similar passage in Ephesians: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." That passage has brought me to tears SO many times and seen me through so many dark days.

    And if you actually look at what Paul's praying for, it's crazy. Asking for the impossible -- for us to know the boundaries of the unknowable, for the finite to be filled with the infinite -- but yet God gives it. It's all in Christ and He's so utterly and completely patient with our stumbling, even when we're doubting everything and desperately crying that we can't even see Him.

    And His love is pure piercing joy.

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    1. Awwww, Heidi, THANK YOU! You're too kind, really :D

      Oh, goodness, that passage about the height and depth and length and width of His love for us…it's a very special one to me, too. Thank you for sharing it!!!

      YES AMEN. You put it perfectly. "His love is pure piercing joy."

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  4. Oh, Olivia, this was so RICH with beautiful words swirled together. :) (I have a feeling that may not have made any sense. Oh well.)
    I can relate to that, as I used to do it a lot. But I have lately been learning to realize that we don't have to be 'worthy' of God's love, we don't have to work for it, or think it all depends on us: He has given us His love and it's always there. He already loves us. And no matter what we do, He still will. I just finished this book by Wayne Jacobsen called "He Loves Me!" and it has certainly made me see how much God really DOES love us. I LOVE love LOVE that Bible verse you wrote, about how NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.
    I wrote this poem a few days ago...I'll show you the last stanza of it:
    "Even if life breaks me
    There is one thing I do know
    God is always there to hold me
    And He'll never let me go."
    I feel like that is something I'll never be able to fully grasp or comprehend. That we can always run to our heavenly Father, and He is always waiting, with His arms wide open.
    I loved this post Olivia! :)
    ~Miss Meg

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    1. Dawww, THANKS GIRL. No, it made perfect sense, and it made me warmly-fuzzy inside, so thank you ;D

      That's fantastic! I should read that book He Loves Me!, it sounds great. And isn't that verse spectacular?

      WHOA. MISS MEG. That stanza is gorgeous. Could I, um, could I maybe read the whole thing sometime? Like over email or something? If not, I completely understand, but…wow. Thank you so much for sharing that, it really impacted me: "Even if life breaks me/There is one thing I do know…" <3 <3 <3

      Yes! Aww, thank you, I'm so glad you liked it :)

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    2. Your comment made me smile so much. <3 :D
      "He Loves Me!" is a great book in my opinion, but there are some controversial things. It's all about your relationship with the Lord, and His love for us, and how important it really is. But I still recommend it anyway - if you ever do read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts! :)
      Aww, THANK YOU. Oh well, I wouldn't mind if you read the whole thing, certainly! Only I must admit, the last stanza is my favourite and the rest isn't as good, in my opinion, hehe. ;) I think I'd prefer to send it over email....I don't believe I have your email address, though? :)
      Thanks for your sweet words. They really meant a lot to me!
      ~Miss Meg

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    3. Oh, good :)

      Gotcha. I'll keep an eye out for it, thanks!

      YAY! ('Hem, well, I beg to differ.) Sure thing! You can email me at livvyforlife@gmail.com :) Can't wait to read it!!!

      Aww, you're welcome! YOUR words really meant a lot to me, so I'm glad I could at least try to return the favor ;)

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  5. This was amazing!! Such beautiful words! And you're right! "Are you done?" He loves us no matter what :)

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    1. Thank you soooooo much, Rosie! I really appreciate it. Amen! His love is ridiculous and astounding, truly.

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  6. Oh, Olivia. This post sent shivers up my spine. It was so beautiful. And so familiar. I can TOTALLY relate to what you said about the "merry go round of worry" (perfect description, by the by). I've been there many times myself, and over the exact same things you mentioned. "...worry that I'm always idolizing stories, worry that I don't truly love God, worry that I'm not devoted enough to Him and that I don't always want to spend time with Him, worry that I'm deceiving myself, the list goes on and on." I'm telling you, that is SO me! My heart resonated with every single one of these worries, because, truly, I've been there...time and time again. I don't think I worry quite as often as I used to--thankfully it's gotten better with time-- but I can certainly still remember all the agony of those moments. I love what you said about God listening to us talk out our frustrations, and then when we've finally exhausted ourselves simply saying, "Are you done?" God's patience with us is amazing! "'C'mon, girl, you know better than this. You're imperfect, certainly, but I am working in you. I'm not giving up on Us.'" Oh, I love that! Not giving up on US! It really puts things into perspective when we realize that we're on a very personal journey WITH God. There's a lot He wants to accomplish in and through us and He is perfectly able to do that regardless of our limitations. "'...get your mind off all your worries and self, and back to focusing on Me, and the job We're doing together.'" That is SO spot-on! Just, YES! I definitely need to be reminded of that.

    Olivia, I want you to know that I really appreciate your transparency and your honesty (your ponderous ponderings are the best!). Thank you so much for sharing this with us. There's not much I can add, seeing that you've already said it all way better than I could, but your post did remind me of a quote and so I'm going to tack that on to the end of this comment. It's from the book "Surprised by the Power of the Spirit" by Jack Deere, and it's a quote that's been very encouraging to me at different times.

    "If you ever make it in the Christian life, it won't be because you are a good follower. It will be because My Son is a good leader. Put your confidence in His ability to lead you, not in your ability to follow."

    Thanks again for this post, Olivia!! And one more thing. No matter what your silly worries say, you are a child of God. You love Him. You believe in Him. And He will, indeed, accomplish His purposes for your life. He's not finished with any of us yet. :)

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    1. Oh, Miss March, THANK YOU. Your comment was such an encouragement to me. Thank you <3

      It really is, isn't it?! It's mind-boggling, really. Yes! I hadn't really thought of it as "Us" before, but then I realized--we ARE on a personal journey with Jesus. He is working in and through and WITH US, praise His name.

      Oh, thank you! I want YOU to know that I really, really appreciate how you encourage me and challenge me in my walk with the Lord. Seriously--you're like an accountability partner, and I really appreciate it. Oh! Thank you so much for that quote, I've been thinking about it since I read it! HIS ability to lead, NOT my ability to follow. You can find so much rest and a ceasing from striving in those words. Thank you!

      Oh, thank you for your comment! Honestly, it meant a lot to me. Oh! Thank you so much! That really encourages me a lot. And right back at you, girl! The Lord is working in you, and He delights in you.

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    2. Oh, Olivia. I'm so glad my comment was an encouragement to you! Yours was an encouragement to me, too. :) Thank you for your kind words. It's wonderful to have sisters in Christ, and to be able to share with one another on this journey.

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    3. Miss March, yes, it really is! I'm so glad God gives us sisters in Christ <3

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  7. Thank you for this, Olivia.<3

    ~Rilla Blythe

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    1. You're so welcome, Rilla! Thank you for your comment <3

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  8. This was perfect Olivia.. Thanks so much for your honesty. <3

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    1. Aww, thanks, Abigail! I appreciate that <3

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  9. I'm sorry this is so shamefully late. I bookmarked this post to come back and read when I had more time and....well, here I am. :/

    But oh!! This was beautiful. I really needed this today. Thank you for writing such heartfelt and TRUE posts, my friend. You really do have a gift. :)

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    1. Natalie, oh, no, it isn't! I completely understand! I'm often super late commenting (sort of like right now).

      Thank you so much! *blushes* Aww, shucks. I'm so glad you liked it!

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