I am starting to see that the Holy Spirit works in such personal and unique ways with each of us to chisel, shape and fashion us into His image, depending on our strengths, weaknesses, past experiences etc. No one journey looks the same and I think that’s where we can get caught in judging others AND ourselves in condemnation (I know I do/have): because we expect God to work things out differently.
But then when things unfold in another way than we expected, it only shakes us awake, stripping our fleshly judgment, as God reveals His justice at the Cross for us, and for His whole Body. It’s at the Cross, He leads us to die to our will and live for His, as we follow in His footsteps of deep abiding trust in the Father’s will.
In that surrender the Holy Spirit works in us, we come to know more of Him and more of His Body. For, to “acknowledge” God in all our ways also means to come to intimately know Him as a wife knows her husband, to conceive a child together. So, each time we cannot understand His heart in fresh losses we walk through, as we surrender others into His hands (when we move away, or a loved one goes to heaven or a friendship breaks apart in our obedience to God’s call to honor His firm boundary lines for us), He invites us to come to know Him more intimately, as He calls us out of our comfort zone to get to know another part of His Body, and through that another part of His nature (that also births a deeper compassion for those we have laid into His hands).
It’s in His leading out into new places, into new friendships and into growing relationships with others, that He opens our eyes to our blind spots, leads us to repentance as our eyes open to new facets of His character (e.g. His deep abiding compassion), as He lifts our fear of punishment to restore and redeem our past in His grace. His perfect love is unveiled for us in that new place, as we begin to see how His setting apart is according to His good and perfect purposes for us and our loved ones, that we might all seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (justice).
It’s there, more souls awaken, through the Holy Spirit’s waking up of us and others in our midst, to the deep abiding love of Christ. For, where the Spirit of the LORD is there is liberty. And that is where God leads us to, to the place of His Spirit’s overflowing grace for all, where we are suddenly emboldened to pray from His heart like never before (even amongst unbelievers), to share hymns (even with unbelievers) more often, to boast in our weakness (even with unbelievers) again and again, to confess our sins (even with unbelievers) freely and unashamedly and to speak the truth in love to one another abiding in His courage for us (even with unbelievers) and in so doing declare the all-sufficiency of the Cross and God’s righteousness for all.
So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment — that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement — and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, 2 looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua — who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent.Hebrews 12:1-3 CJB
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.Colossians 3:16 HCSB
Every time God has stripped away more from me, more healing has come from past wounds that were keeping me bound in fear of punishment, as chained to my past, I disobeyed His promptings to me (calling my disobedience “being good”, “loving” others and “being full of grace”). In that stripping away He has revealed more of His compassion for me and for those I was idolizing. In shattering my pedestal and others’ pedestals, so much condemnation has lifted away. He has empowered me to repent of sin that has deeply wounded Him and His Body (including my body, which is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and belongs to Him). And He has uprooted pride and fear to reveal His pure love for me and my loved ones.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].2 Timothy 1:7 AMP
In His overflowing compassion within me, He has also led me to grieve deeply for His Body, as He has honored the wounds I too have borne in choosing to follow Him and honor His Presence in and His love for others. He has lifted away the shame of these past woundings to declare me healed by His stripes, showing me how these very wounds were gifted to me to join me with Him and His blessed Body, to birth hope and comfort in others also. He is emboldening me to share about the hope and comfort He has been giving me, stripping away fear and shame in the process, as I watch others be met by His compassion for them in my open sharing.
I have struggled with how messy my sanctification has been in comparison to what I see in others. But praise God for open and honest Grandmas of faith. If it weren’t for these Grandmas (around the world), especially a Finnish (former) missionary who was also an MK) and my spiritual Mama, Bettie, who readily boast in their weakness and confess their (past and present) sins so freely with me, I would get stuck in discouragement. But they strip away that shame and free me to come into the light of God’s love and grace for me and it is in that very place of open boasting in my weakness and the confession of my sin, I am seeing Him draw unbelievers and Prodigals around me into His arms, as they are beginning to recognize God’s love and grace for them through His love and grace for me.
His grace flows out of us like a river of life in that place. In that humble place we come to Jesus as little children with trusting hearts, a trust birthed by His Spirit within us becomes the trust (Jesus) that is birthed in others too.
This is the Spirit of Life that emboldens us and fills us with peace, hope and joy, no matter what we see physically because we are running by faith toward our Jesus and His Kingdom come.