You can’t ever get any closer to God

I wanted to write down this revelation I had and parts of this talk I had with a good friend. There’s some wordplay here, but hopefully, you’ll get the heart of the matter.

There’s a story of Jonah where this prophet of God, this man that talks to God probably more than most of all the people of that time, he gets a word, and he doesn’t really like it, so he runs away or tries to get to a place where he doesn’t hear that word anymore because he knows God doesn’t change and what Gods will is like. After this whole experience of trying to get away and being in the fish whale thing, he says that where can I go where your presence isn’t there, even in Sheol (hell) You’re there.

– It hits me that God doesn’t love me more after I believed in Him than when I didn’t. That’s human love; conditional love.

– praying and reading the Bible, doesn’t make God less or more real or love me more, it doesn’t earn me a seat at His table, Jesus gives me all the love and forgiveness freely.

– praying and reading the Bible changes my love toward Him but the act of piety or inaction can never change the nearness or love He has for me.

On this journey, i am trying to understand what the good news is really about. For someone who is a perfectionist, a religious mindset is usually hard to get out of. I don’t want to be a Pharisee. I want to be like David where He says God you hold me by my right hand ( i think David knew how close God was that He’s literally so close that God is holding him up). Or Elijah when He sees mountains quake and storms and power, and he hears a whisper and thinks oh yea there You are ( because God was so close in His life that Elijah was used to the whisper in his ear).

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My child will fail me

I was meditating on some things, and the thought occurred to me that one thing I can be sure of is that my child will absolutely fail to meet my expectation more than 80% of the time. You think about kids in general, you ask them to do something, and if they’re listening one of the three times you have asked them to do something, there is muttering, arguments, and tantrums and the like.

They’re bound to make mistakes because well let’s be frank here, remember your teenage years. The moodiness, the no’s, the ‘ I don’t want too’, I mean it’s almost an assurance that my kid will not meet my expectation.

Then I laughed because I thought of God as a Father and billions of missed expectations. But His love for us trumps all that. His love for you has so much grace and peace, and the expectation is not even mentioned. He’s kinda cool and chill when I really thought about it.

Man if my daughter is anything like her dad, there will be a lot of missed expectations. But it’s all good I love her so much I’m focused on just being near her instead of what she does right or what she does not do right. I know this is the way how Jesus loves, where He prefers nearness to perfection, perfection actually isn’t even on the table. I want to love people by being near to them like how He thinks of us, no naughty or nice list, no expectations, just presence and community.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also – John 14 2-3

Intentional Living

Several things happened this week and so I wanted to make sure I spent intentional time with my daughter on Saturday. We went hiking, food market, tried food, zoo, camel rides, and played with friends at this kids place.

It was a good morning, but things went sideways as we started to go past nap time. Lots of fighting and screaming because she didn’t want to leave and after ten minutes she went to sleep in the car. We got home, and she kind of woke up right away but SUPER cranky as can be. Five minutes of crying; trying to sleep and then she just suddenly stopped. We were lying in bed, hand in hand just looking up, completely tired and exhausted and out of nowhere, we both started laughing at the same exact time. The laugh would die down, and we would start laughing all over again completely in sync; connected to each other in a way I can’t explain except that we spent a day of intentional time together.

Life gets rocky; there are billions of people living life in the way they best see how and that doesn’t always jive with your own world. But when you truly surrender yourself, focus, and time to be present with someone, the connection that comes out of it is truly worthy of awe. I’m thankful every day for a wonderful and precious daughter. I’m grateful every day for a God who desires presence and a walk with me.

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

Vindication for the accused

I had such an interesting week, and there’s still another half to the week! I don’t have peace about going into details, but I struggled with this label that was given to me. It was usually given to me without circumstance so it just stuck and became a form of mental abuse for a very long time. Let’s be real words can really hurt; they can last longer than physical wounds if they are craftily used for the purpose of slander and putting others down.

I spent a lot of time working on me, trying to heal, letting Jesus breathe over burnt flesh. So when early this week I got some factual information that vindicated my past from the labels given to me, I was ecstatic. Vindicated. Free. Gravity couldn’t hold me down until yesterday when I got the label again 🤣.

I went to God and asked what it doooo. Well, then last night I got information that vindicated me from my accuser. I’m on cloud nine right now. I couldn’t sleep. I got the nuclear football case, the access codes and the big red button is flashing PRESS ME. I was doing a happy dance, and then God told me NO.

Anyway, I don’t have peace about releasing the information that would release a wrongfully convicted person even though I’ve waited for this for so stinking long. But on my terms.

Coincidentally (?) I had read about Jesus facing accusers yesterday. Mark 12. He tells this parable about this owner sending his people to collect the harvest or money, and these workers just beat the dudes. And then the owner decides to send His Son because He believes hey will respect Him. Well, the workers kill Him right away.

I never really got that story but for me, what looks like vindication is limited to my ways and standards, and as right as they are, they are entirely wrong. The owner, God, does something that doesn’t make any sense, who would send their own Son in a consistently bad situation. Gods vindication is different than the worlds and the way He goes about it and what it produces is much more than we can possibly do. Anyway, I know there are peoples hurting, I know a couple of people looking for freedom and vindication themselves. Your time will come, but the way to go about it is not with your methods, it won’t produce what you think it will, rest in Jesus. He will give you the peace that surpasses the need or desire for your vindication.

Is God good?

I found myself asking the question today God are you actually good? See I had this thing He told me and the position and truth that I find myself in contradicts what I heard from Him. It almost makes me feel like I’ve in some cosmic game where He told me something good is about to happen and I ended up landing in jail without the get out of jail free card and I did not collect $200. So I asked Him are you good.

Well i didn’t hear anything but before my rabbit trail minded brain went anywhere I thought to myself, why do I get to set standard of what is good and what isn’t for my life? So I take it to the basics. If God exists and I believe He does then His goodness just is, my goodness or ability to judge the standard for the world for goodness should actually be in question.

The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God. I believe that without faith it is impossible to communicate to God, to sit there and interact Him and understand His language, and context, and culture. Faith is a heavenly substance, I should talk to Jesus where He lives and in His vernacular instead of trying to drag Him down to my muck.

My daughter does this thing where she asks, what color are your eyes dad. I remember after ten minutes of coming back to the question of my eyes having an exasperated thought ‘ kiddo YOU KNOW MY EYE COLOR’. I remember the smirk she made after asking me that time and how much joy and pleasure she gets asking me my eye color or her own. Two weeks into this line of questioning, I love answering her because the question is irrelevant but the time I get interacting with Her is priceless.

Is God good? That’s an irrelevant question that we don’t have the ability to answer or the right to question. Of course He’s good, He died on a cross just to make sure we would not be lost and that we could have complete access to Him. So what is the good stuff? His nearness and all the conversations we get to have.

The faceless one

I keep seeing this image in my head. There is this ocean on a cloudy day and the waves are crashing so violently, it resembles the chaos of emotions i have felt before. In the middle of the ocean is a rock. This rock isn’t a tip of a mountain, it’s just there and the waves slam all around it.

I found out some crazy things today. It certainly makes me feel like I’m in the middle of an ocean being swallowed up violently. I have a face to my issue, i prefer to know what I’m up against. Don’t we all? When we find betrayal, when we need hope, when we want to be loved, as humans it’s instinctive for us to find faces. I find it interesting that are so many religions in this world, they certainly can’t all be true can they? So many faces for so many gods. I find it interesting that for so long , the one true God was the faceless one. Even then knowing our disposition to want and need more than having a present Father in our lives who loves us , He sent His Son down to say, let me show you what the Father looks like.

I go back to this vision of this rock I’ve seen for a week now. The waves aren’t crashing on it, the waves churn because of its proximity to the rock. Sometimes bad things and good things happen, the faces that come up for you are irrelevant. Your proximity to the rock, to Jesus, that’s all that matters because that rock will stay firm and won’t change. I saw my daughter look at herself in the mirror and all this just kinda hit me. The struggles we have and the truth we so desire, when it’s all about proximity like a child being so close to their parent.

Ziklag

There are places and times in life that completely redefine you and wipe you out. Where emotions of loss and pain take new meaning in depths you never thought you would ever have to explore. David in the Bible went through one of these times when He fought with the Philistines and while he was away the amalekites burned his home and took his family and the families of his men.

My daughter had a birthday party the other day. The thing is the night before her cousin came over for a sleepover and they ended waking each other up all throughout the night from 12-4 am when they actually got up for the day. The party was at 10 and if any of you know toddlers and sleep schedules, you can assume pure Ziklag.

The party was great and she did throw a few tantrums but probably no more than she would of given if she had proper rest. On top of that she got to meet some cool people, good times with friends and great food. I laugh because i for sure was not going to the party knowing how worn down we both were, but I’m so glad we didn’t because things were fine, better than fine. I’m so glad I didn’t let feelings take away from us.

Interesting things to note about David’s Story and Ziklag.

    Phillistine means to wear down or wallow in self pity
    Ziklag means a measure of pressing down or to reveal hidden things.
    David’s reaction is to praise

All I’m trying to say with all this is there are times (Ziklags) that things suck, a lot ! But Jesus is near and it’s not that you are in Ziklag that changes how close He is, it is being in Ziklag that changes how much we can focus on Him. You can be the kind of person who goes through hard times and cuts your losses like David’s men wanted to do but that’s a natural answer for what  men can do. If you believe that there is a God who loves you, then the focus shifts from what I can do for me or even what Jesus can do for me but rather How good He is. When you’re in that kind of focus, all you can do is smile and praise and know even in the worst Ziklags, it’s all going to be ok, because He is near, and He will redeem , conquer , and be victorious in only the way that the one true living God can. Praise in Ziklag, let the only thing situations reveal is more of Him.

“And it came to pass,

when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day,

that the Amalekites had invaded the south,

and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;

And had taken the women captives, that were therein:

they slew not any, either great or small,

but carried them away, and went on their way”

1Samuel 30:1-2