This is an ugly story and this is your warning.
If you are artistic or creative and see stories come to life, this will be icky and you have my permission to walk away before I get going.
When people tell stories, the pictures form in my mind. In color even. The only way I can stop it is to plug my ears and hum a song. It makes it quite uncomfortable during dinner when someone starts telling a blow-by-blow account of their latest surgery. God knows this about me so I was quite surprised one day when God told me this ugly story. He has only given me beautiful or fun pictures. Since this one was so awful, I knew it must be important and I should pay attention. It is an image of death.
The ugly story begins…
I saw a woman whose body was puffy. She had a yellow-green tint to her skin. I recognized she was sick and close to dying. Then it became gross as I realized she looked like that because her body was filled with pus. And suddenly, I knew I was seeing myself. I was shocked and wanted to move away from this image, but God encouraged me to keep looking.
I asked Him what it meant and watched as Jesus stepped up close to her. He reached toward her with His palm up and His hand open. I saw something very small come out of her heart and fall into his hand. He turned and showed it to me. It was a tiny sliver.
All at once I understood that a single act of unforgiveness had infected me with death. The wound I buried deep inside and would not let go of was literally killing me. No matter that what was done to me was wrong. That it was not my fault. That I didn’t deserve it. Or even that the person who hurt me did it intentionally and it was unjust. It was my unforgiveness that kept the disease growing. That kept my body trying to expel it in the way it was designed to do. But I resisted, keeping the death growing inside me.
When I allowed Jesus to come close and trusted his hand in my life, he took the sliver and there was healing. I watched as life came back into my body. As the puffiness left and my flesh became pink and healthy.
God made me see that no matter how small I think it is or how deeply I’ve buried it, some things will kill me. Unforgiveness is one of those things.
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 NASB
Be gentle with one another and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you. So you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 TLB
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not giving you our whole hearts. Forgive us for not asking you to come close enough to heal us, Jesus. Today, we repent and invite Jesus into the deep places of our hearts. Come in with your love and compassion. Your patience and gentleness. Come in and show us where we need to forgive and give us the grace to forgive those who hurt us. Those who rejected us. Those who brought pain crashing into our worlds. We give you the pain, the anger, and the offense that we’ve buried so deep and tried to forget. Make us clean and new this day. Help us to forgive ourselves for not being able to let go and forgive others. Help us to forgive you, God, because you did not stop them from hurting us. We seek you for the grace we need to be people who forgive. Help us to realize how much you have forgiven us so we can more easily forgive others.
For those who have cursed us and who consistently come against us in word or deed, we forgive them and take the further step to bless them. We ask that you would bless them with your love and purposes for their lives. We bless them with your salvation to the uttermost. With your abundant life. With the blessings of their Heavenly Father who calls them and empowers them to become sons and daughters of God. No longer orphans but knowing the God who calls Himself their Abba Father.
Thank you for the power of your love for us that would not be denied, even when it meant the cross for Jesus, so we might become your children and know your name. That we might see we are your wildest dream. Give us hearts to seek you. Give us whole hearts to love you and follow you into your wondrous kingdom. We ask all these things in Jesus Name, Amen.
A Goose –
The other day God started talking to me about a goose, a golden egg and a fish. About how I spend my energy in life; how I sacrifice a lot of time, peace and joy to gain some golden egg laid by a special goose. I chase it, making prayers to convince God to give it to me. I even believe it is my right to have it. To own it. Sometimes I even think it’s my job to chase the egg. I think, well God gave it to me, of course I’m responsible to make sure it doesn’t get away from me.
I think He’s trying to teach me that it’s a matter of focus. Of seeing that the gift is never more important than the Giver and never more important than spending time getting to know the One who loves to give gifts. When I’m chasing the golden egg in my life, all my prayers begin and end with petitions for the egg. All my focus is on this golden orb or lack of it. Your egg may be different than mine but each of our eggs represents an area of lack in our lives. The career that isn’t quite climbing. The bills that aren’t quite being paid every month. The dream that just doesn’t work right. Our relationships with people, our gifts and talents, our challenges with money. There are golden eggs in all our lives. Eggs that take our focus, that drive us down a tortured path on a quest that sucks the joy, fun and vitality out of our lives.
I forget I was was invited to take care of the goose that laid this golden egg. I’m called to nurture the source of my dreams, my abundance and my joy. The goose is not God, but rather it’s my relationship with God. God who is the giver of all good gifts. My relationship with Him is the source of all golden eggs in my life. My invitation is to steward my relationship with the One who offers fullness and abundance. I am called to care for the gift that is His presence because everything I need is in Him. And then, through this one act of coming closer. Of opening my heart’s door to Jesus so He is in me and I am in Him, He stewards the path of my egg. He makes the high places flat. He makes the crooked places straight. There is no more torment in gaining the golden egg, only joy in co-laboring with the One whose heart desires to give. The one whose heart I know and trust.
I cannot manipulate God but He longs to be with me, in relationship with me. He waits for me to notice the goose, as it were, and lift my hands from the egg then see the Living One who is the source of all. A living, breathing being who loves me so deeply He gave His most precious son as a gift to redeem me from the kingdom of darkness. From the power of the evil one whose intent is always to destroy—to drive me to distraction as he steals from me and lies to me. But God reaches out toward me with His huge love and longing and simply waits for me to take my eyes off the golden egg and look into His face.
We are made in the image of God and have great capacity for accomplishing things, great reserves of strength and a strong will to survive so the quest for the golden egg we’ve touched with our hands can consume us. It can lead us to give all for it—all peace, joy, hope, family bonds, time with friends and relationship with God. We cannot chase this egg and care for the goose at the same time. It is only possible to do one or the other.
The path to leaving the egg-quest can be a bumpy one. It takes prayer. It takes inviting Jesus into the dark places of fear within me that convince me there isn’t enough unless I have the egg. It takes faith to take my eyes off the egg when fear says it is THE most important thing in my life or tells me it is my best hope.
I see myself rolling a big golden egg through a tortuous path. I hear Jesus speaking behind me, inviting me, calling to me and I hear my own voice say, “Just a minute, God, I’m doing something important here.” Imagine that.
It is impossible for me to chase the egg and love the goose at the same time. Impossible, like it is a physical impossibility for light and dark to share the same space—the nature of light causes darkness to disappear. Following Jesus is a way of living from a paradigm that appears to make no sense but that brings more life, fullness and abundance than I ever knew was possible.
The thing is, our ways are counter to God’s ideas. His ways make no sense to us, so seekers who choose to go against all they know and understand take a giant step of faith. A step that moves the heart of God and the hands of heaven.
A Fish –
Stewarding our relationship with God means taking time to know Him. Reading His word, worshiping, meditating, waiting to hear His voice. It means making time with Him a priority and it makes no sense because I have lots to do and don’t really have extra time to…what, waste on God? So awful to think that, be we do. I know it’s true because until I knew Him more, I thought the same thing. And it’s not like I can hide this thought from Him! As I started getting up earlier and giving time to God, I began to hear new thoughts. Feel new feelings—like love and honor for others who had hurt me. Like confidence in God’s goodness. Like hope in a future I thought I was too old to explore.
In our time together, He began to speak about my business and my writing. Creative thoughts, interesting ideas and strategies. He gave me plans about things I had given up on, and I saw the fishermen lower their nets one more time, obeying the words of Jesus, though they had fished all night without catching a thing. I saw their excitement and amazement when the filled nets nearly sunk the boat. I heard Jesus laugh at the look on my face when I realized He meant for me to do the same thing, to launch that failed project one more time, to lower my fishing nets again—but only when He speaks the word to me.
I cannot hear God if I am not listening. We all live busy lives. Most of our listening is done in between tasks or while we’re doing something else like waiting in line at the store or standing in the shower or driving to work. It is important to make Him a part of our lives in all those places, but it’s critical to make a space for God that is His alone. One He does not share with any other task. He died so He could have a close relationship with us. It matters to Him. It must matter to us, too. If I cannot hear God, I will not know when or where to drop my nets. I won’t know there’s a coin hidden in a fish for my financial need. I won’t know which fish has my coin. I won’t even know there is a fish!
The source of what I need is never in the answers such as the egg, the coin or the fish. The source of what I need is in the questions. A searching heart that seeks for God asks, “What is on your heart, today? How can I come closer? What must I do to see you?” This heart finds Him. The heart that stewards a relationship with God, like we would care for a goose, not starving it to death but feeding, watering and protecting it, is a heart headed for transformation. It’s a great journey following Jesus and you want to be on it.
God tells me stories, complete with pictures in color and really, who doesn’t love a story? Today I am going to share one with you. Grab your coffee or tea and enjoy!
THE STORY: This story begins with me standing in my backyard with shiny bits floating out of my mouth. I realized I was speaking words from the Bible out loud. Speaking declarations. I saw these shiny particles float out of my mouth and dance around in the air. As I kept speaking the Word, these sparkling pieces started forming together. I could see the outline of something in two dimensions like a drawing in the air.
As I kept speaking, the drawing took on form and mass and it became a three-dimensional object. Strong and Solid.
Then I noticed that all this was happening inside a big bubble with Jesus. There was Glorious light and strength and protection. It was like there was a force field around us.
I feel the power of the words going into the earth becoming, accomplishing, growing His purposes.
I looked to the right and there was a paper dragon slamming its head into the side of this structure. Over and over again. I knew that in this place of God’s Word being made manifest, the dragon had no power or entry and there was complete protection and glorious life for me.
THE TRUTH: Last year, God started to speak to me about making declarations from His Word regularly, as part of my daily prayer time. Recently, I noticed something happening as I speak them. I am feeling the power of the words. It courses through me as I speak His promises. His plans. His purposes. I feel the power of the words going into the earth becoming, accomplishing, growing His purposes. Producing life where there has been death. Producing beauty where there is ugliness from sin seeping in. Breaking off chains and bringing freedom where the enemy has entangled people. Manifesting truth and shattering the power of lies that have staked a claim and polluted. His Word going forth reclaiming what is His.
If I can encourage you in one thing today, it would be to begin or to keep making your daily declarations. Don’t get discouraged. Let them stir faith in your heart that they are going forth and becoming, birthing, growing in the earth, in your life, and in your business.
There is power in the Word of God. So much power.