Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Story I Once Heard in My Heart

I know the truth about who you are and who you’re meant to be. You’ve been sitting in a jail cell in this alien world your whole life. But the door is open. You could walk out at any time if only you could see. Others have told you but you laughed at them. And the jailer has convinced you the jail is really a paradise. It is the great lie. The Father of Lies has tainted your heart to where you believe you love your cell. He feeds you with delicacies and controls your mind with pleasures and you frolic about in your cell laughing & dancing all the while never realizing you are a slave and your life is wasting away.

In the next cell is another creature. You, sir, toil away digging and digging while scowling at the merriment going on around you. Don’t they see there’s work to be done. You aren’t happy here in the cell and you aren’t distracted by momentary fun. You are working for that something more you believe is outside. Others have told you the door is open but you laughed at them. Nothing good comes without discipline you say. So you work harder and harder convinced of your own ability to find a way out. If you want something done right you have to do it yourself. You bury yourself in your work and scoff at the incompetence of your inmates.

Suddenly a light shines into the cell deep into the darkness all around. Everyone is too distracted with themselves to notice. But the light persists. A quiet creature creeps out of the back of the cell not knowing if what they’re seeing is real. Drawn by the beauty & warmth of this glorious light he creeps closer, tentatively, sure he will ruin it by getting too close. But as he draws nearer and nearer the light only grows stronger. He realizes this light has led him to the door. He stands in amazement to see the light showing him that the door really is open! He struggles to believe it. He has tried all sorts of ways of managing his distaste for the jail feeling there must be something wrong with him. He doesn’t find fulfillment in the loves of this world or in the toiling and he’s felt he’s never quite belonged. He steps through surprised at how easily he walks out and how the darkness fades away.

Outside of this cell the glorious light has warmed his heart as the hardness melts. He has become a new creature. Now a new kind of love fills him and he feels safe, hopeful.. FREE. Basking in this warm light he can only barely hear the calling of his name as he continues to walk away. 

Once he has been filled with the light he remembers all the people he left behind. He must go tell them the good news! The door is open! You are FREE! He runs back into the darkness and tries to tell them and they laugh at him. “Yes of course the light, we all know about the light” they say and they turn away. “But have you seen it?! Have you followed it?!” You cry out again and again. You leave again in your discouragement and the jailer laughs and tells you you’re wasting your time. You decide maybe he’s right.

Back in the glorious glow of the light you feel you must try again. This time you take a little bit of that light into you to show the others. This gets some attention. Tell me more about the light some say. And so you hold it out to them and some take it and follow and some don’t. You go out and in. Taking the light with you each time. 

Sometimes you get so captivated in the light you forget about freeing the others. But now you start to see you’ve been surrounded by more people carrying the light, more escapees and they too venture in & out of the jail cell with you. The jailer starts to notice this and tries to put things in your way to prevent you from going in and out. He brings about temptations of things that you find hard to walk away from. Sometimes he wins. Sometimes you do. But you keep going back into the light. The light feeds you, it strengthens you. It shines out ahead of you to direct your steps. The light starts to spread through you so that now you can stay shining in the darkness for longer. And so you stay in the darkness so that others can see the light. And your life has been given up to follow the light for the sake of the others. 

Inspired by: “You Will Go Free”

You’ve been a prisoner, baby.
Been a prisoner all your life.
Held captive in an alien world where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife.
And they make you jump.
And they make you do tricks. 
They take what started off such an innocent heart, and they break it, and break it, and break it until it almost can’t be fixed.
Well I don’t know when and I don’t know how, 
I don’t know how long it’s gonna take,
I don’t know how hard it will be, but I know you will go free.

Now you can call it the devil, call it the big lie,
Call it a fallen world, whatever it is, it ruins almost everything we try.
It’s the sins of the fathers, yeah, and it’s the choices we make, 
It’s people screaming without making a sound, from prison cells in paradise where we’re chained to our mistakes. 
And I don’t know when and I don’t know how,
I don’t know how much it’s gonna cost you, probably everything.
I know you will go free.

You can’t see a jailer, you can’t see the bar,
You can’t turn your head around fast enough, but it’s everywhere you are,
It’s all around you,
Everywhere you walk, these prison walls surround you.
But in the midst of all his darkness, yeah, in the middle of the night.
I see the truth cut through this curtain like a laser, like a pure and holy light.
And I know I can’t touch you now, yeah, and I don’t want to speak too soon,
But when we get sprung from out these cages, baby, God knows what we might do.
But I don’t know when and I don’t know how, yeah,
I don’t know if you’ll be leaving alone or you’ll be leaving with me,
But I know you will go free.
I know the truth will set you free,
The truth about who you are 
The truth about who you were always meant to be,
Yeah, you will go free.

Tonio K

Exhortation

I notice everything. Things others don’t see stick out to me like a sore thumb. Sometimes I wish I didn’t because most of the time there’s nothing I can do. Most of the time the person who I’ve noticed things about doesn’t even notice it themselves. They can be in denial or are justifying it somehow. I’ve become aware this may be a gift, actually, and that maybe I just haven’t figured out how to properly use It yet. 

I’ve done some reading on spiritual gifts lately and it appears to be the gift of exhortation. I’m good with the lifting up and encouraging of friends because who doesn’t love to do that? But challenging or rebuking?

I’ve often had friends tell me before that I “just know” things. There’s times when a person is laid on my heart and praying for them isn’t enough for me to feel at peace over it. I seek them out and just tell them I love them but inevitably I end up giving advice. God has used me in people’s lives, sometimes even people I don't know very well. My pitfall is feeling I should be able to save them or fix it somehow in that moment. I have to learn to say I don't have all the answers but I know the one who does. I have finally learned that simply pointing them to their real Savior is my role here. He gets the glory, not me.

I want to be liked of course, everyone does, but I have to continually get over that. There’s many times I’ve tried to “speak the truth in love” and that person definitely did NOT want to hear it. It’s a practice of being honest when asked but shutting my mouth when not asked. If they don’t want to hear it they’ll stop asking I figure. But this is not always the case. I have said too much at times of this I am sure. It’s not that they thought I would lie to them (most people know that I won’t) it’s because they really hold tight to “their truth” and since I love them I must agree with them or I must not love them after all. People don’t always understand that as a believer it actually does make sense to love people you don’t agree with.

The other dilemma comes from believers that aren’t living in truth. Deep down they know and it’s making them miserable but they aren’t ready to receive it. This is a good time to practice that whole not being liked thing because they definitely aren’t going to like you. The most important thing to remember I think is that God’s timing is everything. He is not rushed or frantic because He has it all worked out already. Trust in Him and you don’t have to worry so much. Pray for them faithfully and trust Him to move. He can do more in their hearts in a second that you could do in a million perfectly written lectures.

A side note to that is that believers also don’t like to be reminded unless it is in the right time & context or say, you’re their pastor. And some, not even then. Again, more practice here. Reminding others of what they already know is a big part of exhortation. They may feel the need to interrupt, act irritated or say “I KNOW” but their response is not how my obedience is measured. Exhorting is. Am I prayerfully considering how to handle every opportunity God places in front of me and trusting Him to give me the words?

It goes back to being surrendered to Jesus and giving up my own life. Not what Shannon would say or what Shannon would do but learning to truly listen for God’s voice and leading. A beautiful God-fearing woman once said that Christians are just beggars telling other beggars where to find food. Yes, girl. Viewing ourselves rightly, with humility, is a must to being used by God. Pride & ego wreck everything.

It’s when we begin to recognize our pride and how great it is that we become even more surrendered. It takes a lot of dependance, time in the word, in prayer, in HIs presence to battle against it. This means “forfeiting our right to be offended by others.” I just so happen to be reading Unoffendable right now (I don’t believe in coincidences just FYI, but in His design.)
"When we do this, we’ll be making a sacrifice that’s very pleasing to God. It strikes at our very pride. It forces us not only to think about humility, but to actually be humble."
Oh that we would be humble, my friends. That we might hear His voice everywhere. That we might actually receive it, submit and follow. It is the answer we’re all looking for and it changes us..which changes everything.


Wonder if your spiritual gift might be exhortation? Find more here: 

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