I am so exhausted....physically, mentally, emotionally - just drained. But I have such a vibrant, resonating, overwhelming flood of joy in my spirit. This morning on the train I was blasting Fred Hammond in my ears and I guess you can say I had my own internal hallelujah moment. I closed my eyes and those lyrics just washed over my heart...and everything was perfectly alright in that moment. That’s what keeps me going. Knowing that I’m blessed in my going and coming...in my downsitting and uprising...just blessed "from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet" as my pastor likes to say. When he says it I just imagine the hands of God literally waving over me head to toe, inside and out...touching and healing every part of me. I was listening to a part of a song this morning and it was truly my heart’s cry...."everything wrong in me - take it out right now....burn it out right now...Holy Spirit, you are welcome in this place". This PLACE being me...the temple that is me...my heart, my mind, my spirit, my body. Holy Spirit you are welcome in this place. Come inside and sit and be with me, like a friend I’ve invited into my home. God is all powerful, yet even though He could He’s not so pushy that He doesn’t know how to wait for an invitation....how to wait patiently to hear us ask, "Will you be my friend?"
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about friendship, and the people closest to me who I want to share in my wedding ceremony. Some stood out more than others, and when I thought of one in particular I had to praise this person for their integrity. It’s something very few people have, and it means the world to me to call such a person a friend. I joke and tell people all the time that I have no friends...but in a way it’s true. I use the term loosely about some people, but there are very few people whom I trust with my heart as you should trust a true "friend". The old people say that "every skin teet ain’t a laugh". So, so true. I guess this realization is part of what caused me to seek my Father’s face more fervently of late. He’s my inspiration - honestly I want that light, that joy, that fullness and abundance all the time in my life...it’s addictive! And I want to share it with those who I call friends. But as much as God loves and cares for and is wonderful to me He corrects me, and sometimes punishes me. To me that is what a friend should do. A friend should be able to "check" you when you are just plain acting the fool. And a friend should have the authority of character to check you. What I mean by that is that it’s not do as I say but not as I do...don’t come telling me don’t do what I know you do...come on now. Keep it real. That’s why I don’t want people around me who I don’t respect. Because like it or not, you become like the company you keep. So I have to guard my heart and my soul by guarding my associations. The Bible talks about being unequally yoked, and people use that verse all the time in reference to marriage, but it applies to every relationship. One of my very best friends is of a different religion, but because our core values are the same, the "yoke" we have is equal. We don’t see eye to eye on religion, but on family and marriage and friendship, love and loyalty, we speak the same language, and our friendship has been able to thrive. I respect her so much for her integrity, loyalty and honesty. Funny enough this same friend of another religion sent me a quote on faith from Hebrews the other day...she had been reading the Bible. Now ain’t that something...
And then there are the friends you just want to lose...the ones who cut you or burned you or turned their backs on you. But Fred said too that when we "should have been cut off".....ohhhhhhh here come the shivers because there are times when I was amazed at the forgiveness of God. Perfect and true...pure in all Your ways....I’m overwhelmed that You would call me "friend". Some people don’t understand the joy because they don’t know the place such praise is coming from...the place where God met and saved you and took you higher. When you come from that place to where you are now, and recognize that you are here through no effort or merit of your own but by the grace and mercy of a God who should have cut your trifling, lying, backsliding, selfish, unholy, messed up self off...well...you can’t help but praise like your life depended on it...and it does because every blessing, every victory, every circumstance overcome...it’s birthed in praise. When I think about all I’ve been forgiven for - I cannot hold a grudge. I cannot judge. I cannot hold back forgiveness. When I really stop and think about the "little" things we all do (and the big things too) that we think nothing of to do...sins we commit in the face of God....had we been faced with forgiving someone of the same wrong we have done...would we? Could we? Hmmmm.....when we should have been cut off...YET He had mercy. Can’t nobody in this world love me like that! Forgiveness is a balm of healing that covers any wound. But it has to be applied daily, religiously, until the wound is healed. It’s a gift not only to the friend you forgive, but to yourself. Forgiveness is freedom, untying the suffocating ropes of guilt and shame that bind us so often when there is an offense between friends. Sometimes we forgive and cling, but there are some friends who have to be forgiven and let go, fond memories stored away, goodbyes said, part ways.
I love the friend who tells me when I am going wrong. The Bible says that God chastens those he loves. I am thankful for people in my life who can stop me in my tracks and show me where I am messing up. I am thankful for people who challenge me, testing the limits of my faith and thus making me stronger. Even my "enemies". I am thankful for them, because they give me a reason to cling ever more closely to Jehovah Nissi - The Lord my banner - protecting and covering me from the evil that tries to ensnare and destroy me and all that is dear to me.
But back to the song and the piece that is talking about removing the bad stuff...the moment I started praying that prayer every negative thing was mirrored in front of me, and in trying to get my mind and heart wrestled free, I gave in for a moment to the feeling of what those negative thoughts brought. But I asked for it...and I have to face the things about myself and my life that He’s brought to mind...I asked Him to, so He can fix me and heal me. Sometimes I think too too too much so it takes me a while to get what God is showing me. But thank God I get it! Not everyone does. I am glad for friends who won’t steer me wrong. I am glad for the blessing of discernment to see and hear what is not outwardly shown and said...not always, but enough. God always reveals in His time and His way, whatever we need to know. Part of faith is understanding that we don’t need to know everything. All we need to know is God, and to love and trust Him. To praise Him for all He has done and will do in our lives, and to HONESTLY seek Him, and welcome Him into our hearts. He’s like a maid who comes to a messy house. Sometimes in the process of cleaning up He makes the mess seem bigger, but that’s only because He’s cleaning out the stuff from under the chair, over there, in the corner, on that top shelf, behind the bed, (you know - those places you never, ever swept, or where you hid the stuff you couldn’t quite bring yourself to throw out but didn’t want to look at any more)....but when he’s done...ahhhhh...you can eat off the floor!
I asked God for a revelation and for Him to really transform me into what He wants me to be, and He’s doing it. But man, I didn’t expect all this...I didn’t expect what I am feeling. But I am enjoying the journey, as I learn and grow in Him. I love the woman I am becoming.