Wednesday, June 8, 2011

By The Stream

This is what the LORD says:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when itcomes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:5-8

Bushes in the desert must be really stressed out. They are hot, withered, and thirsty all the time. They are parched and literally dying, waiting for their next drink. They could use some friendly people to go out and water them, but nobody lives out there because it's lame!! It's hot and dry, with the same land stretching for miles and miles. There is little life or color; it's a hopeless and bleak existence for those bushes.

But trees by the water must be really chill. The awesome thing about being one,I'm sure, is that you are totally secure. You don't worry, you don't fear, you don't panic. You're above all of it, and you just are...and it's because you aren't concerned with providing for yourself. Instead of expecting rain, you just draw from the stream. Instead of relying on someone to water you, you just drink to your heart's content whenever you want,because your roots are planted in the thing that gives you life. Never getting thirsty and never withering, you're good. You are healthy and you always have green leaves and fruit to show for it.

I love Jeremiah 17:5-8. These are my favorite verses in the Bible because the similes demonstrate such a truthful example of my life. I remember the person I was before Christ. I know what it's like to trust in the things of this world for happiness. I also know what blessings occur, what wondrous peace there is, in planting myself beside His living water.

I used to be a mess. I used to trust in man for my happiness, putting all my stock into people. My friends and my significant other were so important to me,what happened with them could make or break my day. Because everything is so unpredictable with people, I was a constant rollercoaster of emotion. There were some good times, but they were never sustainable. Even the "goodtimes" didn't seem to quite satisfy. Most of the time, I lived in the anxiousness that comes from trusting in man.

I also lived out the anxiousness of depending on flesh for my strength. I was a pothead, and I hung out with potheads. I was very addicted to getting high. I also used to be a slave to my sexual desires. Totally hedonistic and selfish, I lived for my flesh's satisfaction. But again, it was never enough. The "good times" always left me wanting more, and it was awful and erratic trying to obtain them.

Then, a series of events gave me a taste of what it was like to trust in the Lord. My eyes snapped open. He brought me to a place where I could not deny His existence. I tried to keep doing things my way for awhile, but I just couldn't. I was miserable. Finally, I thought, Ok, God.Have it your way. I am going to really seek you out for forty days. I will pray to you, I will listen to you, and I will read your Word.

And something miraculous happened. He proved Himself to me, so faithfully. I sought Him and He met me in that parched place of the desert. And when I tasted the water he offered, I knew that it was different from that of any other. It wasn't just my body being quenched, it was my heart and soul.

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks thiswater will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13-14
And as I slowly started putting more and more of my confidence in Him, He SAVED MY LIFE. I was no longer weary, no longer bleak. No longer was I living from one drink of water to the next. I started making my way out of the desert, so I could plant myself by this stream. The process was not easy for me, because even though the desert was terrible, I was used to it. But I made it out of there, letting go of the things that I had been seeking for my happiness, and trusting in Him.

Nowadays, I can't say that I'm as chill as that tree by the water all the time.:-) It is still a process to remain by the stream, and I pray that it always will be. He is my strength, and I don't want to think I am above accidentally wandering back into the desert. But I fully know the difference now, the difference between living life for this world, and living life in Him. The joys of this world are bleak and dead, but being rooted in Him brings life. So, day by day, I will plant myself by the stream.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


"For freedom Christ set us free, do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

We are free from sin. Free. Once we are made new in Christ, we are no longer under sin's dominion. It has no precedence or power over us, only the power we choose to allow it if we put back on the chains.

But this verse means even more to me at this point in my walk. It also means that as a follower of Christ, I have free will. I am a free creature, free from any spiritual legalism. Free to follow Christ, not out of obligation, not with rules attached, not out of guilt or condemnation, but out of desire.

Free will is such an awesome gift from God. It allows for real love. Real love, genuine heartfelt love, requires choice, otherwise we would be like robots. We would have no active part of love, no heart behind it, if it was placed upon us. But God gives us freedom of choice to love or not. That is what allows for genuine love to be, and because He orchestrated it all, we can trust in His goodness.

He is so good, so good, and I have not been mindful of it lately. I don't know when it began, but a poison began seeping into my thinking recently. I have slowly been starting to act as if He were a tyrant, as though He required rules and obligations on my time with Him. I was making sure I closed every prayer, even the one-sentencers, with "In Jesus' name, Amen," that I blessed every meal with the same repetitive saying, that I prayed a certain way every time, that I fulfilled certain disciplines so as to have a "complete" quiet time with Him. I just slowly started doing this, not even really being conscious of it...never stopping and questioning if these rules were really from Him. And I was putting more focus on the rules I put upon Him instead of just Him.

It baffles me because I know Him better than that. I know Him better than to think He would attach all of those stipulations on our time together. Love relationships don't work that way. I'll say it again, real love is a choice that comes from desire, not obligation. Spending time with someone you love isn't subject to a bunch of rules, a checklist. It doesn't require certain things to happen. It isn't ritualistic, in fact, it's just the opposite. Part of the joy of relationships is not knowing what conversations will unfold, what surprises will blossom. And our God is the king of surprises...

Why was I putting Him in a box? I was more about what I thought He wanted me to say to Him instead of just talking to Him. I was praying how I thought I should pray instead of just letting loose my heart. All of my own rules were on my relationship with Him instead of His only rule--my absolute freedom in Him. Why did I think I had to do these things in order to spend time with Him, to be near Him? He is so much bigger than that!!! No wonder I was resistant to my quiet time; no wonder I was struggling to do it. I had forgotten such an important part of His goodness: my freedom. I am not under the law, but under grace.

And His grace is my freedom. Not only am I free from the chains of my sin, but I am free from any restrictions on going to Him. I do not need to prepare the floor to get on my knees, Jesus prepared it for me. I do not need to edit my prayers, God would rather have my authenticity. When Jesus made the way for me come to Him, His grace allowed me to come just as I am. I am free. I am free from obligatory rules, free from boundaries. Free to worship Him out of desire. It makes that desire burn so much brighter in my heart.