New Wine Ever Flowing

We are each set apart unto Jesus and His unique purposes for our lives. Our individual purpose is inextricably woven together into the colorful threads of Christ’s Body. Each person’s unique destiny fits seamlessly into the whole: and not even one person can be subtracted, for each one is required to make the others fit, function and belong as they should. And these plans and purposes of God for each one of us are guaranteed by God’s oath of blood through the yielding work of His Son – the new covenant of perfect love – in us.

Ann Voskamp tells us in her new book WayMaker (p.44-45):

Every day you lose the person you once were and who everyone around you was because this is what it means to grow. You are becoming, and your person is becoming

Do you see what I see? The more we shed, the more we grow. The more we surrender, the more the true and real us – Christ in us, the hope of glory- becomes visible.

I was so touched today, listening to TD Jakes speak of the apostle Paul’s desire to know Christ in His suffering and he said: who would ask for that? And it made me remember standing in front of our dear family friend as an 11 year old. This beautiful follower of Jesus, who exuded the gentility of Jesus, had known physical, emotional and sexual abuse as a child and came to Christ in her 20s, not long before I stood before her that day.

I had come to help her with her young kids, but she gave me so much more that day, than I did her. She spoke aloud her longing for her kids to grow up “safe” in the church, as I had. But as I listened to her express this desire, I found myself yearning deeply to know Jesus and His grace, as she did. 

Little did I understand the cost that this calling of God upon my life would entail. But neither did I foresee the incredible gift Jesus would begin to harvest in me, for me and through me, in the repeated crushing that would come and is still coming today. The crushing that was sent and is still being sent, not to harm me, but rather to give me a hope and a future. 

Did you know in Jeremiah 29:11 to “give” us a hope and a future, also means “to yield, consecrate, dedicate” and a future also means a “remnant” and a hope also means “to bind together, to gather together” and “the tension of enduring”. And His “plans” for us can also mean His  “weaving, value, conception”. Isn’t that beautiful?

Yes, in that crushing He has been giving me the hope and a future I so longed for: the very grace I so yearned to taste and know as that little eleven year-old (exactly how old my own daughter is now). The same grace I saw reflected in that woman and the grace I knew I did not know, as that little sheltered church girl. 

But then if I had seen both the cost and the outcome of the crushing, would I have been able to receive it? For, the cost was everything I once held dear, and the outcome of this crushing would shatter so much of who I thought Jesus was. Now, I know it’s worth it. But then? 

The old Anna, who had built her house upon the shifting sands of her own goodness and strength and upon the goodness and strength of those she idolized is now dead. Oh there are days a phantom pain returns of what’s been destroyed, until I begin to feel Christ’s heavenly wholeness and peace filling me, as my God beckons me to come home, and empowers me to return and rest in His living Word to me. 

Yes, Christ has been teaching me to store up treasure for myself in heaven, to show sympathy to other prisoners of hope, and to accept joyfully the seizure of my earthly property, knowing that I have for myself a better possession and a lasting one. The more that is taken away from me, and from those I love, the more I am seeing Jesus arise and awake in me and in them, as He is shedding our fleshly desires to cling to what is fading away and is giving us His desire in return: a desire to run toward and enter into His love that is lasting and eternal. 

I am surrendering what I know and love, because Christ is giving me a longing to be known and loved, wholly and fully. Beautifully, I am discovering in His knowing and loving of me in suffering that I am coming to know and love others like I never have before in their suffering, and His suffering for them. He is humbling me daily, as He takes me deeper and deeper into His heart of love for us, His beloved Bride.

TD Jakes reminded me today, that our own suffering ends, the moment we let go of what we had in mind for ourselves and for others to receive what God had in mind for us and His Body all along. Isn’t that so true? But I firmly believe that this surrender can only happen through Christ’s perfect yielding at work in us.

It is Christ who enables us to release our self-centered and isolated suffering to enter His selfless and compassionate suffering, with and for His Body. And so how and when and in what stages that yielding occurs is also determined by our unique purpose in Him – and the harvest Christ intends to bring in us and through us. For, our yielding to the Father is not just for our sake, but also for others along our journey, who get to see Jesus lifting away our sin and our pain, as He awakens His heart of love and compassion (a suffering with Him and His Body) in us.

As George MacDonald once said:

“To love righteousness is to make it grow, not to avenge it . . . Throughout His life on earth, He resisted every impulse to work more rapidly for a lower good.” For, Jesus wants not just us and our own loved ones to return fully and wholly to Him, but all men (2 Peter 3:9, ESV):

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Have you ever noticed something strange about this verse? It’s about others being led to repentance and being saved and yet, the Lord is patient toward us – not toward the “lost”, but toward us. 

When Jesus carried me home in His arms, the year we buried my Mum, I began to meet more members of the local Body of Christ. At first I was welcomed into the fold, but as God began to compel me to confess my weakness and sins openly, I also began to meet the elder brothers. These brothers were none too pleased to see God pouring out His favor upon someone so rebellious and undeserving, especially as they began to see God’s Holy Spirit power move in me.

God kept me in their midst for a season, even as their rejection triggered horrific trauma in me, taking me back to my childhood turning away. But Jesus did so to uncover my wounds to heal me, as He kept bathing me in His love, causing me to stand firm and bending my knees in prayer, as He shed His tears for me and for them, through me. He showed me that yes, I cannot stand against the enemy’s schemes in my own strength, but that’s why I have Him to call upon in my time of need that I might resist the enemy, my accuser and the accuser of my brethren, so he must flee from me.

God took my desire to hate and accuse myself and these elder brothers and exchanged it for His heart of love and mercy toward myself and them. Until, He then led me back out the gate to graze with the lost sheep once again, the lost sheep He desires to now call into the fold.

But what I didn’t realize until recently, is that I was not just sent to the elder brother to uncover and heal my own wounds, but also to expose these elder brothers’ Prodigal hearts for healing too. And neither did I realize that I was sent into the midst of Prodigals and their families to expose my own elder brother’s heart for healing. 

You see, the more God awakens His love for the Prodigals and their families in my life, the more my own pride and self-righteousness is being exposed and stripped away. I am coming to recognize the face of Jesus in these men and women and children and God’s love and mercy for me through their love and mercy for me in my weakness and sin. And it is in this place that His generational Promises to us as a Body are coming alive for me. I am daily seeing proof that Christ has indeed sealed His own unto eternity and that no weapon formed against them shall prosper. For everything the enemy meant for evil, Christ is turning into good: into the saving of many more lives.

God is sanctifying me and humbling me. He has given me a growing heart of compassion for my own former Prodigal self and for those elder brothers I left behind, in whom I now recognize so much more of myself. I am no longer afraid of the elder brothers’ or the Prodigals’ rejection, mocking or accusations against me because God is lifting away my fears. 

Now, the love and mercy God already filled me with to overflowing for these elder brothers, during my time with them, is overflowing into a humble forgiveness, as I recognize my own need for their forgiveness. A forgiveness for having stood upon a pedestal of self-righteousness, believing myself not capable of the sin I saw in them, until that very sin of pride and self-righteousness was exposed in my own heart, as I have been learning to love the Prodigal and elder brothers not just in my midst, but in my own heart.

Luke 13:20-21 (ESV) tells us:

And again [Jesus] said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

Have you ever considered that that those three measures of flour could be the church and that the church is called, as the Body of Christ (in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost) to be cleansed by the sin of others against them, from their own sin of hypocrisy, so that the harvest might grow. Ever increasing in size, as more and more come to Christ, as each of us learns to lay down our fleshly weapons of sin (pride, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness), to pick up Christ’s weapon of love: His living and active Word. 

What if the Prodigal is given unto the elder brother to bring the elder brother home to Jesus, and what if the elder brother is given unto the Prodigal to bring the Prodigal home to Jesus? For, isn’t it as we learn to abide in Christ’s covenant of selfless and never-forsaking love, that the great burden He carries to see ALL come to Him, becomes our own greatest desire too, the more He brings our own hearts home to Him. 

Isn’t it then, we begin to feel Christ’s pain, through the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, and shed His tears and run toward the joy set before Him: His broken Body made whole? And isn’t it then we no longer pray what we desire in our flesh (our pain gone), but we pray for what Christ desires (all His children coming home, no matter how much it “costs” us and how much it “hurts” us), as His intercession, His new wine, flows out of us in each new crushing our hearts walk through. A new wine of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A new wine not we, but Christ has harvested and is harvesting in us.

2 Comments

  1. Oh, such grace–all grace–that He covers us with! I was just chatting with a loved one today about how I can see that truly, “iron sharpens iron,” as God has shown me places where I have so needed to let Him bring that stripping away so that more of HIS new life could come forth. His ways are so much higher than mine. But oh so merciful. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, and these beautiful Scriptures and thoughts, dear Anna. Love and hugs and prayers for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! HIS Ways are so much higher than ours. Praise You, Jesus!! Oh how good You are to us, blessed Papa, how great is Your love for us, Your beloved children and Bride. Continue to harvest Your new wine in us, oh LORD. Let Jesus be seen and known and loved in us more and more.

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