All God Asks

God asks only one thing of me, and that is to love Him. Not surprisingly, He used “All I Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera” to get His point across to me this afternoon. I am not a big fan of musicals, so part of the learning this week has been a greater appreciation for them. While I’ve never seen the play, I love the song because it was a favorite of a dear friend of mine. Dorothy’s son and daughter recorded a beautiful rendition of the song, and she gave a copy of it to me. It spoke to my heart when she gave it to me, and it touched me, once again, as I listened to it today.

Dorothy loved music, and she had an incredible voice. She sang all the time, and I loved to stop what I was doing and listen when she burst into song. She once told me that she only knew one way to sing, and that was to just belt the words out with all her heart. It was also the way she loved, and that was especially true when it came to God. I learned a lot about God, love, and singing from Dorothy. I am learning that the three go together beautifully. Dorothy loved me, and that love changed me. I hope my love changed her, as well. Love does, indeed, change everything it touches.

All I Ask of You

Andrew Lloyd Webber

No more talk of darkness,

Forget these wide-eyed fears.

I’m here, nothing can harm you –

my words will warm and calm you.

Let me be your freedom,

let daylight dry -your tears.

I’m here, with you, beside you,

to guard you and to guide you . . .

Say you love me every waking moment,

turn my head with talk of summertime . . .

Say you need me with you,

now and always . . .

promise me that all

you say is true –

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Let me be your shelter,

let me be your light.

You’re safe: No-one will find you

your fears are far behind you . . .

All I want is freedom,

a world with no more night . . .

and you always beside me

to hold me and to hide me . . .

Then say you’ll share with

me one love, one lifetime . . .

let me lead you from your solitude . . .

Say you need me with you

here, beside you . . .

anywhere you go,

let me go too –

Christine,

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Say you’ll share with

me one love, one lifetime . . .

say the word

and I will follow you . . .

Share each day with

me, each night, each morning . . .

Say you love me . . .

You know I do . . .

Love me –

that’s all I ask of you . . .

Anywhere you go

let me go too . . .

Love me – that’s all I ask of you . .

The song is a desire to be loved and share honestly and completely with another. It’s what God asks of me. The last lines are powerful ones when applied to loving God. I pray I will make sure that anywhere I go, He will go too. I know that’s up to me.

To be blessed with one love in one lifetime is a gift, and God is the best example of that type of love. Love is for a lifetime and leads me out of my solitude if I am willing to accept it. God’s lessons this week have left me wanting to sing as Dorothy sang. Love makes my heart want to sing, and there is nothing I enjoy more than singing praise songs to God. I’ve always thought of musicals as a little corny, but I’m finding the songs God continues to place in my path are just what my heart needs. I have to admit that those songs have made me want to sing along, and that’s what loving God and others is all about:)

Cross Examination

When a witness is called to the stand, they are often asked to testify in regard to the character of the one they represent. As witnesses go through cross examination, they often fall apart. Taking the stand does not ensure the character of the witness will be left in good standing when the dust settles. I know my own heart doesn’t fare well when God puts it to His Son’s cross for examination as He’s done this week. Good witnesses are not the ones with the strongest opinions or the ones with the most elaborate details about what occurred. The best witness is the one who sees and hears the truth without the filters of self interest. God’s witnesses are the same.

I am very adept when it comes to rationalizing, and I can be very selfish when it comes to getting what I want. I can be even more so when it comes to getting what I believe I need. God showed me yesterday that my arguments are convincing indeed. He listens to all of them and gives me all the space and time I need to convince myself, however, He is not going to change His mind or heart during my exhaustive presentations. He listens and waits for me to see my argument in His light.

When I stop my flowery delivery or determined debate and look into the heart of His Son, I see His precious love and am silenced and humbled by the cross examination that takes place. In the light of Christ’s love, my arguments miss the mark. My flowery speeches wilt, and I turn to God and beg for His mercy and forgiveness. In the courts of this world, my stance stands firm and prevails; but it’s not in the courts of this world I wish to dwell or prevail.

God makes it crystal clear that it is, and always will be, up to me to choose the courtroom I prefer. The world offers talented lawyers and luscious loopholes that tempt me to stay and win my case, but I will lose His presence in the process. God offers mercy, forgiveness, grace, hope, and love; but He will not accept my arguments no matter how eloquent or elaborate they may be. He sees His Son’s precious love in my heart, and He will accept nothing less from me if I am to go the way He wants me to go. I can let Him lead me on His path or leave Him and go on my own. I can be my own witness on my own path and become my own judge and jury, or I can follow where He leads and be His simple witness.

Being God’s witness doesn’t involve convincing anyone to do anything, and that includes me. It is a simple path that requires only that I love Him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and love my neighbor as myself. His Holy Spirit will help me understand how to do both, but I must first stop my arguing, get off my stand, stop leading and allow myself to be led by His beloved Son.

Going With His Flow:)

Flow has a number of meanings and many applications.  All relate to a source and continuous movement which beautifully describes love as it’s meant to be. Love flows from God’s heart and causes love to spring forth in mine. God is the source of all love, and Christ’s manifestation of God’s love is the single greatest expression of love ever known.

Like the living water in John 4:14, love not only flows into the heart, but it also creates a spring from which love will flow continuously and spill over into the world around me if I receive His love. 1 John 4:7-9 says it well.

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” NASB

Loving God and not loving others is no more possible than jumping into a lake and not getting wet. It can’t be done, and that is the sobering message in 1 John 4. It is a simple statement that makes me check my own heart. If God’s love is in me, it will spill forth beautifully into all I say and do. If obligation, guilt, or need motivate me, my heart will be dry and weary. Love is the most powerful force in all the earth, and water is a great comparison when it comes to strength as we have seen in Hurricane Sandy.

Dryness cause death, but stagnant lust rots the heart. Sourness, bitterness, hatred, and jealousy bring out judgment as misery looks for company in kindred spirits or somewhere to point and direct attention away from it. The sad state of the world today is due, in large part, to the fact that many do not know the Source of love, hope, and peace; but nothing creates a more miserable state than Christians who do know God but refuse to go with the flow of His love or attempt to contain and define it in ways that cause stagnation.

The beauty of God’s love is that there is more than enough for all to have an overflow. In fact, the only way God’s love will flow is when complete access is given so it can do just that. God will not force me to let His love flow through me, and I do not have to accept the fact that Christ’s precious blood starts the flow. When I do accept Christ’s love and let God’s Spirit open those flood gates, it is more powerful than the flood Noah encountered. The big difference is in what it does to me and my heart.

Earthly floods flow in a way that destroy everything in their paths. God’s love makes that flow look like a trickle. His love also destroys everything in its path, and that’s a beautifully cleansing feeling. The only thing in God’s way is my stubbornness and need to be in charge. High waters show me how little power I have; God’s love does same. Being swept away by His love is dizzying, but it forces me let go of all to which I cling.

The flow of God’s love in my heart over the past two weeks has not been like the juggernaut created by hurricane Sandy. That was unstoppable and destructive. God’s love is stoppable, and that’s the most frightening thing about it. He lets me get out anytime I want and gives me free reign with my heart until I’m willing to hand those reigns over to Him. That’s what I did, and the result has been purging in more ways than one:) God uses all circumstances to teach the messages He has in mind for me. He used a nasty virus and a hurricane to help me truly see Hebrews 9, Mark 12, 1 John 4, and John 4:14.

God’s love brings life to my love and healing to my heart. I can’t take a little here and give a little there. Only total immersion, which not only soaks but also creates a spring in my own heart, will do. Love will not be contained or cut off; by its very nature, it must flow and flow freely from a pure Source. God’s love is the Source of the spring He has in mind for my heart. Christ came down and tapped that spring when He took my place on the cross.  Knowing His love is the Source of all love allows me to go with His flow:)

Who’s In Charge?

Who’s in charge? The answer to that question is a sobering one. I am. God will not take charge of my life, and He will not make me love Him, listen to Him, or obey Him. It’s my choice. God presented the opportunity for me to teach that lesson yesterday. I teach high school Sunday School, and that’s a difficult time and a turning point in the life of a believer. The faith of my father and/or mother must become my own if I am to form a relationship with God. So many young people don’t make the transition well and end up wandering from the church body and the faith without ever experiencing a deep, personal connection to God. I hope to help young people find their faith and form that relationship.

I taught middle school for thirty-three years, but that did little to prepare me for the teaching I’ve done during the past three. However, I do recognize a teachable moment when I see one, and I saw one yesterday as I grew frustrated while trying to get students to focus upon the scriptures at hand. The scriptures were very important, but God had another lesson in mind.

God will let me be in charge. He won’t force me to listen, learn, or obey, and I made it clear to the class that I wasn’t going to force them to either. The most frightening aspect of God’s love is that He doesn’t force me to love Him and lets me say no. It hurts Him deeply, and it hurts me deeply, and that’s true anytime love is not returned. Trust and truth are essential when it comes to love. I wish I could help my students avoid the pain in life, but I know it’s part of their journey. Some things must be experienced, so I decided to give them the control they wanted. I left the room and closed the door behind me. I wanted them to understand that God will let them do the same thing to Him.

You don’t have to ponder for very long when wondering why God doesn’t force us to do what He wants. That isn’t love, and love is His perfect plan. Loving because I have to is worse than not being loved at all. Sitting in a classroom doesn’t make me learn a thing. Obeying out of fear causes me to hate.  Those with lots of money and power pay or force people to agree with them and do what they want, but that never works outs in the long run. I hope the students learn the sobering truth at the heart of  being in charge.

The beauty of obedience is that it takes a big load off my mind. I’m learning it’s okay if folks aren’t as excited as I am about God, and I no longer feel responsible for getting others to love Him or His Word. Loving God and letting Him make a difference in my life is all I can do. Hopefully, that will make a difference in the lives of others. If it doesn’t, then that’s between them and God. Knowing I don’t want to be in charge is acknowledging that He is God and I am not. God will let me be the god of my own little world, but it’s never as much fun as I think it will be:)

Transparency Makes Me Vulnerable

The vulnerability honesty creates is humbling, but the freedom that results can only come from the humility true honesty and love make possible. It’s the kind of honesty and love God desires and opens me in ways I am only just learning to appreciate. Honesty and love have always gone together. When I love honestly, I become transparent and open to those I love. People are not always going to accept that love, and transparency isn’t for everyone. But it’s worth the risk of not being loved to find the kind of love that comes when you find someone who hears and understands your heart. The beauty of loving God is that He has always loved me and is simply waiting for me to accept that love. His love is deeper than my heart can understand on its own, but Christ bridges that gap and allows me to experience God’s love and walk in His kingdom now.

To prepare me for the level of love He desires, God first shows me the deepest part of my own heart and allows me to see what He sees. That includes all that is keeping me from loving Him and others as He desires as well as all that He created me to be. Seeing and understanding His love for me fills me with hope and grounds my heart so I am able to experience the fullness and the cleansing that creates the transparency that comes when I let go of myself and praise Him. That praise releases my spirit and allows it to flow with His.

The plate God fashions in my heart is clean and clear and ready to hold His fare and not my own. The transparent nature of love lets me, God, and others see me more clearly. It’s what being known is all about, and I must come to that place before I am able to truly know God. Knowing He is God is the point of the journey because when I know Him, I cannot help but love Him. The same is true as I come to truly know myself and others through honest communion which makes walking in His kingdom possible now. I am perfected by His love as He becomes closer than my very breath and understands me as none other.

The beauty of God is that He knows me completely and still loves me completely. The same is true of friends with whom I share honest communion and transparent love. I can relax in His presence and in theirs. Why God, the Creator, would care whether or not I love Him is the biggest mystery of this journey. I know He does, and that changes everything. Can I even begin to walk in God’s kingdom in the presence of such love. Of course I can’t, not alone. The amazing news is that I can walk in it with the help of the Holy Spirit. God’s love for me, Christ’s amazing grace, and the Spirit’s loving presence enable me to not only live and walk in God’s kingdom now, but to also love in it.

I wish I could say that I stay on the right path all the time, but I can’t. I fall victim to fear’s tight clasp far too often, and worries fuel fear’s fires and leave me consumed at times. I can say honesty that I’m getting better at recognizing that fear is fake and of my own design while God is real and causes fear to flee. In the presence of God’s love, it has no choice but to do so. Christ purchased my inheritance at a very high price, and it cannot be taken from me. I can, however, forget that I have it.

I cannot get where God desires for me to be as long as I fall victim to fear and allow my insecurity to block the path. I must remember that I’m not alone on this journey. Christ is always waiting with arms extended and ready to love honestly and help me do the same. Transparency makes me vulnerable, but it brings me near to One who transforms vulnerability into the openness that gives God free reign with my heart.