Escape or Rescue?

Getting Off the Coaster

I was caught up in the roller coaster rescue last week because I’ve always been afraid of getting stuck on one. God used the image of riders hanging for five hours in a sharp turn far above the ground to help me see my heart was in a very similar predicament.

I can’t scream loudly enough to stop a roller coaster if I want off. I can easily catch the attention of the person controlling the Merry-Go-Round and get off; but the noise and excitement of a roller coaster drown out any pleas for help, so I’m stuck until the ride stops.

Five hours seems like a long time to be suspended in the air on a hot summer day, but God reminded me that it’s much worse for my heart to be left hanging by a thread. My heart broke when I heard Robin Williams committed suicide last night.  I imagine he simply saw it as a way to escape. I’ve been tempted to escape myself rather than allowing God to rescue my heart.

Pain will always come with living and loving, and no one understands that better than God. My heart stopped in a very dangerous curve this weekend, and I found myself screaming for the ride to stop and for someone to get me off the roller coaster. God bid me to take His hand and trust Him to rescue my heart.

What’s great for a carnival ride isn’t necessarily great for a heart. The word carnival gets its meaning from the 1540’s when folks would make merry before Lent. It literally means “flesh, farewell.” Staying on the coaster is staying in the flesh and enjoying the thrill that comes from all those unnatural highs and lows that come with the flesh. Spirit offers a very different high which lasts longer and is much stronger than the flesh. God made it clear that the ride He has in mind for my heart is much better than anything I can imagine on my own, and His rescues are always better than my escape plans.

I know it will take some time for my heart to make the transition God desires, but I also know His transformation will be just what my heart needs. While my heart heals, I plan to keep the promise He makes in Psalm 30:5 very near my heart.

“weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” NIV

 

Life or Death?

Choices can be confusing, so I like it when they are simplified for me. I want to choose without being overwhelmed. God’s lessons this week have been crystal clear. He offers two choices, and I can have one or the other.  I can have the life He wants for me or not. It’s completely up to me. Love and fear will not abide in the same place. Anger and peace cannot coexist. Unforgiveness and grace do not mix. Insecurity hates trust, and comparisons kill gratitude. I cannot have control and surrender at the same time. Living in the flesh prevents me from living in His Spirit. The choices are simple, but I have the tendency to hesitate and complicate things. When I stop and think, I get into trouble. When I trust and love, the right decision is much easier.

My small group is reading “She’s Got Issues” by Nicole Eunice. God is using the book to help me see clearly that my issues are, as Nicole says, “joy stealing and love sucking.” I love that phrase because it creates a vivid image of what fear, anger, unforgiveness, insecurity, comparison, and control do to my ability to love as God desires.

Letting go of control allows me to surrender.

Gratitude puts comparison in its place.

Insecurity falls away when I remember God is trustworthy.

God’s infinite grace reminds me of His forgiveness and opens the door for my own.

The peace that passes understanding comes when I let go of my death grip on anger.

Fear doesn’t stand a chance in the face of love.

Spirit reminds flesh of its temporary nature, and resurrection living becomes possible.

Life or death? God leaves the choice up to me.

Flesh and Faith

Galatians 2:20-21 tells me, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

A Spirit-filled life is a life of faith lived out in the flesh, and Romans 10:17 reminds me, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” God’s Word fills my faith and tempers my flesh as it reminds me of Christ’s righteousness. When I see God’s Word as a set of rules for righteousness or try to live out the law instead of loving out my faith, I miss the life God has for me. The law is a guide and a reminder that Jesus did fulfill that which I cannot do on my own. As Paul says, “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” I’m learning to gauge all in my life by looking at how it relates to Christ’s gift of love. Leaning on the law, dismisses His gift. Floundering in the flesh does the same. The Holy Spirit allows me to live out my faith in a way that blesses Him and teaches me.

If I think I can be good enough, I nullify God’s grace. If I think His grace gives me the license to do whatever I want, I nullify God’s grace. If I believe Christ is the Son of God and understand that His love comes to me through God’s grace, then flesh and faith can work together. The problem comes if I try to live out my faith on my own or think I can control my flesh. Forgetting His Spirit is breathing without lungs. If I try to live by faith without the Holy Spirit, I end up worn, weary, and out of breath as I get caught up in the process of being good and forget the purpose of Christ’s coming. Paul knew, and I’m learning, that faith is hearing, understanding, and living out Christ’s words with the help of His Spirit.

 Christ promises to be with us always in Matthew 27:17-20, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Christ’s commission includes a precious promise that assures me I can live by faith if I will take His words to heart with the help of His Holy Spirit. God’s sweet message this week has been that I am not alone. He is always with me through His Holy Spirit, and I can live the life He has in mind if I stop trying to do what His Son has already done. I’ve never felt as alive as I have this week as God has given me a taste of living the life He has in mind. Faith forces flesh to relax and allows me to breathe in a way that changes everything:)