Why the Truth Sets Us Free

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) is a verse I quote when I want the truth of others to set me free. I believe this verse is more about coming to terms with the truth in my own life.

Truth is easily distorted, and some argue that we have our own version of the truth. Twisting the truth gets me off the hook temporarily, but getting off the hook never sets me free. More often than not, I am dropped into a dark hole that’s worse than the hook.

The first step on the journey of finding the truth is admitting I’m wrong. Only I can take that step, so the first step is a lonely one.  It is a narrow gate to pass through, but it opens up quickly.

Christ waits patiently on the other side of that gate. The journey becomes more bearable, but far from easy. After admitting I’ve said, thought or done something wrong, I have to turn and go in a new direction.

Reparation comes next. God knows that a simple sorry is never enough when it comes to sin. We all know the effect fast, forced apologies have upon us. They’re worse than the original offense.

Truth is about sincerity, and that must come from a deep place in my heart. I was particularly sickened by the news last week as I watched the truth being battered around like a pathetic ping pong ball in a grotesque game of politics.

I can’t know someone else’s truth, but I know that when I am honest with myself, others, and God, I experience a freedom unlike any other. The truth sets me free because it helps me see that I am not perfect. That puts me in the perfect position to call upon One who is. Admitting I am wrong is the most difficult thing in the world, but nothing is sweeter than the peace and freedom that truth brings.

 

 

 

Home

Home is where my heart is free.

A place where I can just be me.

It’s never very far away.

I can visit every day.

 

When I’m feeling all alone,

My heart will find its own way home.

Longing for those sweet connections

There’s no need to get directions.

 

There I find my sense of being

In a place where love is freeing.

I don’t have to be call ahead

And never feel a sense of dread.

 

My heart can rest and just be free

For love is waiting there for me.

Home is where I get my bearings

And let go of all the parings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming in the Kingdom

I’ve been afraid of the water for almost sixty years; so when my granddaughter Lilly asked me yesterday why I didn’t like to swim, I decided it was time to be honest with her. I had skirted the issue before when she had noticed my reluctance to get into the water, but I was ready to tell her the truth. I told her that I almost drowned when I was her age, and that made me afraid of water. She said, “Didn’t you know how to swim Gigi?”

I told her I didn’t know how to swim at the time but I did learn later. She wanted details, so I told her that my father threw me into the deep end of a pool a few years after I almost drowned. He was determined to get me to swim, and he was tired of waiting. Sink or swim is an effective method because fear is a powerful motivator. I was already afraid of the water, so it made sense to use that fear to help me learn to swim. Lilly was sad that I didn’t like to swim because she’s a little fish who loves the water, but now she understood why Gigi stayed near the edge and always had a noodle near by. She offered to help me swim better. Her sweet offer makes me want to swim better because it comes from her heart.

God knows I am a visual learner, so He used the image of a country club pool to help me understand my struggle with the water and my search for community. I don’t belong to a country club; but there is one near my sister’s home, and she is a member. Club members may bring visitors as long as they don’t overstay their welcome, and I’ve gone with her a few times. I don’t recall a time when I ever felt unwelcome, but I was definitely unwelcome at the pool in my dream.

In the first dream, I was swimming happily with a dear friend who was a member of the club. It was a beautiful image of how I would so love to feel in the water, but the sweet moment was cut short by an angry voice screaming from the side of the pool. I saw a man pacing back and forth, telling me that I did not pay dues and should not be in the pool. I was rattled by his rage and started treading water so I wouldn’t sink.

His wife has a different concern. She is yelling instructions because I was not treading water the proper way. I tried to follow her instructions, but fear got the best of me when I noticed all the angry faces and heard loud voices screaming for me to get out of the pool! I stopped treading water and started sinking. Now, this was a familiar feeling.

I found strange comfort in sinking, but loving hands lifted me to the surface. A calm presence guided me to the safety of the side. I was clinging to concrete, coughing water, and wailing like a two-year-old. When I stop sobbing, I noticed a man kneeling in front of me. He looked down with loving eyes, and I realized I knew Him. He was the same man who had been on the pier fifty-eight years ago when daddy pulled me out of the lake. He looked over my head and said, “This all belongs to My Father, and I’ve already paid your dues. So enjoy it.” The dream ended abruptly, and I woke wondering what it all meant.

This morning, the dream picked up where it left off last week. The kneeling man was bidding me to look behind me. I thought He meant the country club belonged to His Father, so I expected to see the same scene I had seen before going under the water. I knew the man was Christ and imagined He meant He would help me deal with the angry mob, but He had something much different in mind. His sweet, loving presence made me forget about the danger of letting go and gave me the courage to turn around. I saw an image I could not have imagined on my own.

Crystal clear water stretched as far as I could see in every direction. The beautiful body of water was filled with people of all sizes, shapes, and colors. They were swimming, floating, talking, walking, or simply sitting. There were no paddle boards, boats, tubes, noodles, or floatation devices. There were no sides to this pool, and the temperature was perfect.

Everyone, including me, was suspended in water that felt like a warm, loving embrace. I moved and felt the sensation of freedom. I dove under the water and saw legs all around me. There was no kicking, thrashing, or splashing because they was no need to struggle or impress in this pool. Fear wasn’t present in this body or in mine because I was connected to Love that flowed through the water and each of us.

When I came to the surface, I looked around and noticed Christ laughing and clapping His hands with delight. He had been waiting fifty-eight years to watch me swim. He was loving every moment, and so was I. Everyone smiled at me, and I couldn’t help but smile back. Such a different scene than the one at the other pool. This was kingdom community at its best.

When I awoke from the dream, I was as rested as I’ve ever been. I smiled when I realized it was morning, and my very first thought was Psalm 51:12.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit. “(NASB)

There is joy in His salvation, and love is His kingdom. His Holy Spirit will sustain me with a willing spirit if I will simply let go of my fears and swim with the heart of one who trusts His love to keep me afloat.

 

 

Unpacking My Heart

My dreams this week have been unlike any I can remember. Like folders neatly stored in a box, they have come in simple succession. Each contained a small bit of history or a memory long forgotten, and each was very pleasant. I’ve dealt with recurring nightmares that contained trauma too difficult for daylight, but these mundane little memories were simple scenes that left me wondering what to make of them. God used a tapestry to remind me to enjoy each and not ponder hidden meanings.

I overthink, overlove, overeat, and overdo; so God’s message made me smile as I enjoyed the memories the dreams brought to the surface. There are many opinions when it comes to the meaning of our dreaming, but I agree with the notion they are meant to help us heal and move forward.

“In the 1980’s, Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift took the work of Ann Faraday and further explored the relationship between images produced in dreams and the dreamer’s waking life. Their books identified patterns in dreaming, and ways of analyzing dreams to explore life changes, with particular emphasis on moving toward healing and wholeness.” (Wikipedia)

I’m not an expert when it comes to dream interpretation, but I have found great healing in dealing with recurring nightmares in the past, and I am finding sweet solace in the simple dreams of the past week. When I downsized before moving, I had to go through the painful process of letting go of things that were dear to me. It wasn’t an easy process, but the results have been amazing. I am moving forward, unencumbered and free.

I found healing and wholeness packing and unpacking all those boxes, and the simple dreams this week have unpacked my heart in the same manner. My sister, Ann, made a tapestry for me years ago that I have above my desk. It reads:

“We shared many secrets,

the same Mom and Dad.

We shared lots of good times.

Don’t think of the bad.

Our memories we’ll cherish

with love without end.

I’m glad you’re my Sister.

I’m glad you’re my Friend.”

When I woke wondering about the deeper meaning of the simple dreams, I saw the tapestry and smiled. I needed to remember the good times, the simple times, the everyday and ordinary times. My heart has been deeply hurt by bad times and and shared secrets, but it is by good times and shared memories. God’s lesson for me this morning was to unpack those memories and savor each one.

When I got to the bottom of my heart, I found love expressed in thousands of moments which came to the surface in simple dreams. It was nice to unpack each, smile, and remember to focus upon the good times instead of the bad. I’ve allowed nightmares to define me, but God sent a new image with a series of sweet, simple dreams that paint a much more accurate picture of my heart.

Unpacking My Heart

Authentic Authority

Evil spirits haunting a man in the synagogue knew Jesus and asked why He was interfering with them. That made those in attendance stop and stare in disbelief. Jesus had performed  miracles before, but a conversation with evil spirits? When He told the spirits to be quiet and come out of the man, the crowd heard something they hadn’t heard before. They heard a man speaking with authority and wanted to know where He got that authority.

Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28 NLT)

The crowds were used to being read to, lectured, and told how they should behave. They were not accustomed to hearing someone speak with God’s authority. Jesus exerted that authority to the evil spirits, and they obeyed Him because they had no choice. God gives me a choice because He wants my obedience to be out of love.

Religious leaders resented Jesus. They were, and wanted to remain, the authority when it came to God and His Word. Who did this rabbi think He was? To the Pharisees, authority meant control. To Christ, authority meant freedom. The evil sprits were forced to obey Christ’s commands, and He could make all of us obey in the same way, but He wants obedience born in freedom and carried out in love. That’s the way He obeyed, and it made a beautiful difference in the world.

Photo Credit:maxresdefault
Photo Credit:maxresdefault

Attached at the Heart

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 invites me to look at my attachments and see how they affect my focus. Paul isn’t just talking about relationships in his letter to Corinth; he’s talking about accomplishments, regrets, possessions, or anything to which I may be too attached. There’s nothing wrong with a happy marriage, an engaging job, a time of grief, or nice things as long as my heart isn’t attached so tightly that my focus is misdirected.

But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.(NLT)

Unhealthy attachments cause my heart to fuse, and fusion leads to confusion. God isn’t controlling, or I would be a mindless drone in His field or a heartless statue at His feet. God has the power to make me do exactly what He wants, but He will not use His power to make me love or obey Him. He knows obedience is worthless without free will, and love will never be forced or coerced.

Self differentiation is necessary for love to grow as God desires. Fusion appears to forge a powerful bond, but it only confines and defines in negative ways. Self differentiation frees my heart and leads to healthy connections. God is the ultimate example of self differentiation. He is the great “I Am.” He is who He is, and He wants me to be who He created me to be. That requires putting my focus upon His love and getting away from unhealthy attachments.

I love being a daughter, sister, mother, mother-in-law, Gigi, teacher, friend, etc., but if I cannot have an unhealthy attachment to any role. I am me, and if I fail to be the true me, no relationship, title, or possession will fill the void left in my heart. I believe it’s what Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians.  This world is not permanent, and nothing in it will last. Rather than making me sad, I should find great joy in knowing that the essence of my truest self isn’t about the things in this world. I am created for eternity, and I am free to live and love in a way that reflects that beautiful truth.

Heart in the Sand

Captivated, Not Captured

Whee!!
Whee!!

God placed Colossians 2:6-8 in my path this morning. As I read these verses in another blog and looked at the snow outside, I thought about the difference between captivated and captured.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” NASB

I am captivated by the beauty of the snow this morning, but I feel captured by the freezing temperatures and the ice-covered roads. Children don’t think about temperatures or roads when they look out at the snow. They trust their parents to take care of them. They only see a winter wonderland, and their thoughts are about snowmen and sledding. Being captivated is a beautiful feeling; it’s what Christ’s precious love does when it is firmly rooted in my heart. Like a child, I have faith in my Father’s love.

The principles of the world capture my heart and mind in a different way, but Christ turns those principles upside down with principles based upon love and grace that made, and still make, no sense to pragmatic or lust-filled folks who say it’s a nice idea, but it just won’t work in the real world.

What is the real world anyway? Are the elementary principles of the world right, or did God change the world with Christ’s precious love? The answer depends upon whether or not I’m changed by His love. If I walk in Him and remember that I am firmly rooted and built upon Him, my faith will overflow with gratitude. That kind of gratitude changes the world. If my faith has the attitude that I’m being punished or that others should be punished, the world sees fear. If my faith depends upon or promises prosperity, the world sees lust. There are many in the market to be held captive by either principle. Captivity is the safest place to be because I don’t have to worry once I choose my cage. I can shout my happy song, squawk my rhetoric, or sing my sad suffering all day long and never experience the freedom of Christ’s love.

If I seek the truth and embrace Christ’s love, I’ll be captivated. That makes a big difference in the way I live and love in this world. Gratitude is the key. Gratitude that comes from being firmly rooted and built in Christ isn’t bragging about all I have. It’s a much deeper gratitude not dependent upon circumstances. It can only come when my heart experiences the captivation of Christ precious love. Lust holds the heart captive and is the root of all addiction. Practicality and pragmatism hold my mind captive and is the root of all doubt. Faith sets me free and is the at the root of my love for Christ. It opens doors and sets my heart free to love as God desires.