Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do your Kids Deserve Adoption?? warning: thoughts in process

The kitchen door slammed for the hundredth time against our faded pistachio wall.  Frames rattled their annoyance right along with mine.  I turned with a jerk.  Sweat drizzled down her dirt-stained cheeks.  Her face flushed, she ran in and tugged at my shorts, "mommy can I have some water?  The butterflies won't let me catch them!"  Turning toward her, I got down on my knees, Tinker Bell cup in hand, smiled sweetly and said, "I'd be thrilled to offer you this water, but first I need to remind you that you don't deserve this.  didn't you slam the door open?  look at the mud you brought into the house!  It's all over your face."  With arms outstretched, "I really shouldn't offer you my kindness, and you need to remember that.  Now doesn't that make the reality that I'm giving you this water even more special?  I really shouldn't but I'm going to.  Because it really is all about me.  Delight in my water.  I'm so generous I'm going to overlook the messes you continually make.  I'll overlook the circumstances of your birth.  Because that's who I am. There's nothing you've done that could earn my water.  Now that we both know the playing terms, feel free to drink."

Is anyone else choking?!  I know it's a crazy analogy but I needed to flesh out what my throat does every time I hear "I don't deserve you Jesus."  The Christian group Plumb has a beautiful song with those words in the title.   I'm singing loudly in my van but I can't choke those words out.  I can't get past that wall of shame to receive the hug on the other side.  "Not deserving" is like a thorn that snags the sweater of warmth and comfort.  By singing the words it's as if I have to pay homage--bow to the God who reminds me that I'm unworthy.  Do You want my unworthiness continually before me?  Are you saying that I need to acknowledge that when it comes down to it, You really shouldn't love me?  Like a leash around my ankles, You'll yank if I get too far into a kingdom of freedom.  I still have to pay, even if it's remembering I'm unworthy and undeserving.  I drop my sweaty worthless coin in the bucket at the doorpost of your throneroom.  Maybe you'll think I'm special if I humbly remind you there's nothing special about me.  As I bow my knee before a holy God and look into His pleading eyes--I speak the words, "I'm so undeserving." Where does my gaze fall? to my dirt-stained sneakers. I can't say the words and hold His gaze.

If you've adopted a child, how long would you want them to whisper, "I didn't deserve this rescue" as you tuck them under the covers? a year later would it bring tears to your eyes to hear them playfully singing off the back porch, "you didn't have to love me, but you did, I'm so undeserving, unworthy of your love"? Do you keep their adoption papers on the kitchen table, so that with every bite they're reminded from whence they came? Did the word "deserve" ever enter your mind as you were anxiously, longingly scanning websites looking for your adoptive child? When do the terms of their entry into your kingdom become overtaken by their daily presence within it? Why can we say that every child deserves a safe, loving home simply because they are human, but yet we get nervous when someone suggests we deserve God's forever home?

At this point in the discussion my opponents would make sure that I make the distinction between deserving love and deserving forgiveness. No I can't do anything to earn forgiveness- I get that- but
unfortunately Christians get caught in this whirlpool that filters the real truth of adoption down to the bottom of the pool and get distracted with all the unworthy leaves swirling on top. Once we have found our way back home, the adoption is sealed. Done. Over. Your past, your failures, your neediness are no longer on the table for discussion. The prodigal Father shouted "Quickly!!" Why? so that his son's shame wouldn't overtake him. Not for a minute did the Father need to hear his son's confession. His son's act of returning told Him everything He needed to know.

Abba what do I need to know? "Elaine, please walk through the doorway of the cross.  There's a whole kingdom to explore.  By believing you're not deserving, you paint Me with one hand open and one hand closed.  Why do you need to keep reminding Me you're unworthy?  why shouldn't I love?  because you believe what's wrong with you  is way bigger than what's right?  which came first, the glory of Genesis 2 or the shame of Genesis 3?" 

As His eyes light up and welcome me into them, He speaks without speaking, "I'm thrilled to see you Elaine! " Joy explodes from His face!  He picks me up off those crusty Converse rubber soles and lifts me skyward, twirling as we go.  He reminds me that at the infinitesimal moment I welcomed Him into my spirit, He flooded me with the spirit of adoption.  His Spirit cried within me Abba Father and in a flash of lightning I became born from above! 

. "Yes, I say Yes to each one of you!  Always and forever love.  You do deserve it.  Why? I formed you in your mother's womb.  Let's Quickly deal with this sin issue and put it behind Us forever.  Behind the cross.  Now take My hand and skip into My kingdom of light and immeasurable glory.  Mine and your's."  Amen!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pour it on Abba!

One day out of the blue, the Father asked me a question.  "Do you know why Jesus died?"  Sure, Father. So I could be forgiven of my sins.
"Yes and no.  He died so you can have access to come and know Me.  Your sins
are just in the way.  But He died to give you the right to come and know Me."

A week later He asked again, "do you really want to know why Jesus died?"
Father I thought you told me!  He said, "there's an even higher purpose.  I AM
love.  I was tired of having to restrain My love.  I wanted to be able to freely
pour it out unrestrained on whoever would receive it.  Jesus went to the cross
not just because He loved you but more because He loved Me so much. He said
Father I'll do whatever it takes so that You will be free to pour love on people
the way you want to."                                                 --Janice Seney
                                                                                       The Goodness of God CD

                 Daddy God, I choose to open my heart to let You be good and love me!  Make me
                 an amazing squishy receiver, a sponge, as big as the ocean, to soak up all the
                 love you have for me--  Pour out Your greatness on me in such measure that
                 others will come and splash in the overflow!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Taste and See!

In all sincerity she implored, "Don't worship the experience Elaine because then you'll demand more and more experiences.  Live in the truth that He is who He says He is and you are who He says you are.  Otherwise you'll grow discontent and seek the experience, not the Giver.  You will end up questioning God's reality rather than questioning your experience, your own dustiness."

How many times have I heard this? Too many to count.  This one came from a beloved friend at Pine Cove Family Camp.  The last person I'd expect.  And I felt a curtain fall down on my soul.  My heart wanted to push away from the table.  Maybe from the relationship.  I have to be careful.  Do you ever struggle with receiving feedback?  I need friends to be "disruptively honest" as Jesus was (Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw).  Lord help me keep my ears open.  I pondered her ideas like a lemon drop in my mouth, gently pulling flavors out and was about to swallow when the drop turned into licorice.  I hate licorice. So I spit it out.

Abba, How do I separate You from my experience?? I find You in my experience!  I experience You as a Giver.  I know you as good.  You are my Source--from distant streams that never run dry.  To know You, to be in Your presence is to experience You.  Is she afraid to get you wrong?  She seems more convinced of her failings, her ability to miss You, than she is of your Spirit inside.  Is she suggesting I could pursue You apart from an experience?  Seems like then I'd only be receiving knowledge.  Propped up.  Puffed up.  Outside of me.  Plastic. 

I guess if by "experience" she means Christian rock concerts, mountain top retreats, even refreshing family camps, then experience becomes a noun, a place, an event.  I actually consulted Webster for his definition.  "Experience" the noun means to try, to put to the test, to prove, and anything personally observed or lived through.  Is 'experience the noun' something I attend where I'm demanding God show up?  I guess I could put Him to the test and He might fail and stay home that day.  Hmmm, then I'd be disappointed, discontent.  So the lie goes, "Elaine don't expect Him to show up and you won't be disappointed.  Or be careful trusting the Road Adventure, the Captivating retreat, or the St. John the Divine prayer time.  These could simply be emotional highs that won't carry you when the curtains fall in your life. Those nasty feelings.  They'll take you right off a cliff.  Trust the dry, crusty truth.  Who wants to wake up the dusty aching longings of the past?  Those giants are too big to tame."  I hear the accuser sneer, 'you know you can't trust yourself or anyone else for that matter.'

And yet Daddy God you reveal this mystery to me that Jesus in me is my assurance of glory (Col.1:27). Glory--your Presence within, your favor, your shining, your value, your beauty, mingling in oneness with my own!  To be with You is to be touched. Felt. Known. Heard--experienced. Lived. From the inside.  Not an outside event.  "Taste and see that I am good," you shout (Ps. 34:8).  Or do you whisper?  Sounds like Truth to be taken in--sensed.  Sounds like experience.  Raw, wrestling, bumpy, tart, soft, loud, raspy, wet experience.  Blackberries in summer.

Webster continues "experience in verb form means to undergo, to feel, to meet with, to endure, to encounter."  Phew.  Sigh of relief.  I can live in this verb.  "In Me you live and move and have your very being," You remind me (Acts 17:28).  Can a fish not experience the water?  So I choose to encounter and meet with the entire outrageously lavish Trinity every day.  Where love is a verb.  Where experience is an every day encounter.  One that intertwines with my soul.  As we dance, we impact each other.  He takes me in and I take Him in.  "I AM the Truth," juicy and full of flavor.  A person, not just a set of ideas.

As I was wrestling with this, He spoke, "Take Me in Elaine, like rich, dark chocolate and fresh lilacs.  Breathe Me in--receive Me as I have received you.  I receive you like fragrant  incense.  Your prayers tickle my nose.  To be with you is to experience you.  Your affections fill My throneroom like alabaster oil.  I continully give you immense love, wild freedom, and bubbling joy.  My eyes open wide and light up when you peek out from behind the veils still lingering in your soul.  A longing fulfilled indeed is sweet to your soul (Proverbs 13:19).  I truly desire to fulfill every one of your longings.  Did you know My name means 'to fulfill'?  I've hidden myself in this verse."

Sure enough, I looked up the verse and word "fulfill" in my Key Word study Bible, and the word for "fulfill" in the Hebrew is "hayah" (Strong's #1961).  The editors' commentary states, "the key to the meaning of the name Yahweh is found in this verb."  Again Websters' defines "to fulfill" as "to fill to the full, to carry out something desired."  Then Yahweh fill me! to the full!  I desire to feel, to know Your desires.  To burn from the inside with Your fire.  The Message paraphrases Proverbs 13:19 as "souls who follow their hearts thrive; fools bent on evil despise matters of soul."  Then would it be snarky of me to say to my critics, don't worship your lack of experience?  I plead for you not to settle for mere words about Jesus.  Eldredge in Beautiful Outlaw explains mere words about Jesus are useless if they don't point to an experience of Jesus.  Jesus himself challenged the Pharisees saying, "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there.  But you miss the forest for the trees.  These scriptures are all about me!  And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want" (MSG Jn. 5:39). 

Funny how Abba speaks.  Driving home from gymnastics today with my ten year old daughter, she'd been given a lollipop as a reward for hard work (and why are we getting exercise?!).  After a few licks of this red heart shaped confection, she shoved it into our trash cup declaring, "I can't eat plastic candy Mom."  Neither can I, Savannah.  Neither can I.  Follow your heart sweet child.  Your longings will take you right into the throneroom filled with pungent perfume, soft delicate orchids, and luscious strawberries.  Take and eat!