Finding True North

When you feel as if you have lost your compass

Can you embody a faith that you haven’t explored and dissected from the inside out?  Inquiring of the Lord unashamedly as you hunger and thirst for truth?  Is that not a part of spiritual maturity?  In these times of upheaval in our country, with the angst that COVID-19 is lurking around every corner, the politicization of this serious health pandemic, and the thunder of racial unrest colliding with what has been status quo, an unequal one for sure, I find myself searching for answers:  What would Jesus say?  What would Jesus do?  What do I believe?

I have always relied upon the Word of God for truth.  I still do.  In the last couple of years, even before the current atmosphere in our country, I have been seeking more deeply what it means to love Christ and to live for Him in the unique way he has created me. The last time I had questioned things that I had been taught was when I left the church of my childhood, one that had very legalistic views on who was saved and who was not, what was allowed and what was not.  It didn’t feel right to me, but Jesus met me where I was in my early years, and He was enough.

For most of my adult Christian life, I lived habitually, routinely, learning and growing, yes, but not asking the deeper questions as to what I was receiving. I was satisfied with my status quo, and wasn’t it wrong to question anyway? What would that say about me as a Christian?  Yet God again met me at every stage of growth in that season, and I’m very thankful for the good foundation in the Word I received.

My life began to change dramatically in the years preceding my becoming a widow and as a single lady.  God was my lifeline, the Rock that I clung to during all the upheaval surrounding that time in my life.  When I married Mark a few years later, we were immediately called to a healing ministry which has grown in depth to a place we both would have never imagined.  We have witnessed the ways of the Lord in his interaction with his broken children, always meeting them at their point of need and capacity to understand the truth He was giving.

We are made in the image of God; indeed, Scripture says we have the mind of Christ if He is our Lord.  He gave us our amazing brains to think and to reason, to contemplate.  Yet, it is only through the Spirit that we encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible.  We learn how He interacts with man in all manner of circumstances. The Spirit is the one who shows us how to apply the truth in Scripture to the events of this fallen world.  In our natural mind, we are only lifting out verses, proof-texting, to justify the words to our own ends.

I’m disheartened because some of what I’ve been taught doesn’t line up with the ways of the Lord I have come to know in an intimate relationship with Him.  The purpose of the Word of God is to reconcile hearts to Him, so I’m puzzled because it seems that much of the body of Christ is not exemplifying love, but division. How did Jesus address the political unrest of the day in which He made His appearance on earth?  He didn’t address it.  He always redirected people to his kingdom saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  How did He address the social unrest of his day? He said to take care of the needs of people, to love your enemies, and to love one another.

I may not have it all figured out. I may be still questioning some things. But this is my true north:  I know Him.  My faith, my “belief system,” is a person—Jesus Christ.  Though these are unprecedented times for those of us now living, we have an anchor for our souls.  And it’s not a church doctrine or a political party or any single interpretation of the Scriptures.  Jesus IS the Word.  He is faithful to show us truth, to be our guiding light, if we will only look to Him. 

Sometimes when it feels as though we have lost our compass, it is only that God is leading us to a new path.

Learning to Love Myself, Even the Broken Parts

I have a big birthday coming up next month, and I’ve had a lot of angst anticipating this birthday.  I think what the Lord is showing me is that I have an unrealistic view of what “this age” looks like.  I’ve set up a standard that I should have it all together, my life figured out by now, and I’ve been panicking because I don’t.  The truth is that it’s never going to happen on this earth.  Perfection comes after this life, when I’m revealed in Christ to be fully myself, the one he created me to be.  That’s what sanctification is, and on this earth I’m still in process.

The last couple of days I was struggling to get out of a pit, lamenting the fact that here I was again.  In my time with the Lord, I sensed him tell me, “I love you whether you’re healed or not.”  I’m thinking if Jesus loves me just as I am, shouldn’t I love myself that way too?  If I place a higher standard on myself than the Lord does, is that not idolatry?  Because it’s saying, “I know better than you, God.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t desire to be healed and seek Christ for it.  The truth is that because of those wounded places in my heart, I’m driven to seek him more earnestly, and my intimacy with him grows.  Our broken places are where we often have the strongest encounters with the Lord.  And then out of those places where I’ve been broken and experienced healing, he can use me to be a vessel of compassion and understanding, offering hope to those with similar struggles.

So the challenge that I’m taking up and offering to you is to thank God for every struggle and see it as not just a place that needs to be “fixed,” but a place where we can encounter Jesus.  Sometimes it’s very hard to connect in those places because the pain is too great.  But we can whisper, “Jesus, come and get me.  Be with me here,” and he’s right there.  He always has been.  He was with us when we were first wounded in that place.  

Let’s recognize that there are little girls in us that have been broken, and when they are triggered, they hurt.  They cry.  They are “stuck” in the space and time where the original wounding took place.  We should ask Jesus to minister to them, yes, but we can also minister to them ourselves, from our core soul.  We do that by loving them and treating them as very valuable parts of ourselves because they are.  When we stop and recognize that the pain that put us in a pit is coming from a different part of ourselves, we are on the path to healing.

I’m now excited about my upcoming birthday and what God has in store for me in this new chapter.  And I am at peace knowing all I ever have to be is who he made me to be.  These are words from an old Amy Grant song that speaks to my heart, and I’ll leave them with you:

When the weight of all my dreams is resting heavy on my head 
And the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said
But I’m still hurting, wondering if I’ll ever be the one
I think I am…I think I am.  
Then you gently re-remind me that you made me from the first 
And the more I try to be the best, the more I get the worse.  
And I realize the good in me
Is only there because of who you are…who you are
And all I ever have to be is what you’ve made me 
Any more or less would be a step out of your plan  
As you daily recreate me, let me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find  
And all I ever have to be…all I have to be
All I ever have to be is what you’ve made me.  
(“All I Ever Have to Be,” Amy Grant)