Archive for the ‘Can i Or Can’t i?’ Category

i am accepted by God as I am–AS I AM… and not as I should be. To speak the latter would be to speak empty words because I never am as I should be.  I know that in reality I do not walk a straight path.  There are many curves, many wrong decisions which in the course of life have brought me to where I am now and the word tells me that “the place on which i stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5). 

i love the idea that God knows my name: “See I have branded you on the palms of my hands” (Is 49:16). God can never look at His hand without seeing my name. And my name–that’s me! St. Augustine said, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.”  Wouldn’t that be great? It’s a desire we all share, that one day I will meet the person to whom I can really talk, who understands me and the words I say–who can listen and even hear what is left unsaid, and then accept me. Ann Marie is all that, but God is the total fulfillment of this idea.  He loves me with my ideals and disappointments, my sacrifices and my joys, my successes and my failures. It is one thing to know I am accepted and quite another thing to experience it. Sometimes it takes great effort to believe that I am accepted by God as I am.

The night before Jesus died, He prayed to the Father:  “that you love them as you loved me…so that your love for me may live in them: (John 17:23, 26. NAB).  It seems incredible that God loves me just as much as he loves his son.  Yet that’s exactly what the word says.  

As human beings we are divided in many ways: 

1) in time–For us, one minute comes after the other and our time is spread out. Not so with God. God lives always in one ever-present now. There is no division.  Eternity means that the whole of time is condensed in this one moment which lasts forever.

2) in space–We have certain limited perimeters. Not so with God. God is completely unlimited.

3) in love–We are divided in our love. We like a person very much (90%) or in an ordinary way (50%) or very little (20%). God does not measure love. God cannot but love totally–100%.  If i think God is a person who can divide his love, then i am thinking not of God but of myself. God is perfectly one, the perfect unity.  i have love, but God is love.  His love is not an activity.  It is his whole self.  If i grasp some small idea of this, i understand that God could not possibly give 100% of his love to his Son and then 70% to us.  He would not be God if He could do that.  In the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, there is the impression that God has nothing to do but simply occupy Himself with Catherine.  And that is right!  The undivided attention of God is with me.

Courage is required and very often it is courage that is lacking. Why is it courageous to accept acceptance:  Firstly, when things happen to us which disappoint us, we are inclined to complain “How can God permit this?”  We begin to doubt the love of God.  It takes courage to believe in God’s acceptance no matter what happens to us.  Such an act of faith goes beyond my personal experience.  Faith is then an interpretation of life which I accept.  Secondly, God’s love is infinite. i can never grasp it, never get hold of it, much less control it.  The only thing i can do is jump into it. The Swedish convert Sven Stolpe said that faith means to climb a very high ladder, and there while standing on the very top of the ladder, to hear a voice which says, “Jump, and I’ll catch you.”  The one who jumps–he is the man of faith.  It is courageous to jump. It is fairly easy to believe in God’s love in general but it is very difficult to believe in God’s love for me personally.  Why me?  There are very few people who can really accept themselves, accept acceptance.  Indeed, it is rare to meet a person who can cope with the problem “Why me?”  Self-acceptance can never be based on my own self, my own qualities.  Such a foundation would collapse.  Self-acceptance is an act of faith.  When God loves me, i must accept myself as well.

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Paul shared, I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Through Christ… Jesus said, “Abide in Me…abide in My love” (John 15:7,9). Love is more than an adjective that describes God. The love of God is God Himself: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The love of God is His presence around me. These thoughts could make me afraid, but if i take courage: if i want to make God my refuge, if i wan to “Through Christ,” the path i must take will lead me to deal with my fears to the point of dropping my guardedness and learn to stay inside the presence of God’s love. i have to come to the place where i submit into believing, “The Lord loves His people” (2 Chron. 2:11).

Love between people often starts as a feeling. God has feelings for me too: “The Lord takes pleasure in me/His people” (Ps. 149:4). God demonstrated His love for me. Jesus died on my behalf (Rom. 5:8). Another way God demonstrates His love is in His drawing near to me and holding me in His arms.

Being in love with Ann Marie , i enjoy it when she holds me with her arms around me. It should be the same way with God, only better. my desire and longing to be held by Ann Marie is evidence of my need to be held by God. He longs to hold me. Jesus said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).

The more i let myself delight in His love, the more i “Through Christ,” the more i will find freedom to believe. The more i believe, the more i will let myself be open to experience His presence as He holds me close.

God can hold me because God’s love has substance. i am told “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21). The Bible isn’t saying here that i should make sure God keeps loving me. With people that might be true, but not with God. Not at all! Instead, i am to keep myself inside the substance of His love, “Through Christ.” Jesus said it this way: “Abide in My love” (John 15:9). That means i should live inside it, through it. The love of God is a substance that i can stay inside because the love of God is God Himself: “The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

Peter wrote about something similar: “The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet. 4:14). When you are “in love” “through Christ” with God, i draw near to Him because i want to be near Him. When i draw near to Him, His love, strength, spirit comes to rest on me, the closeness of His Holy Spirit becomes my delight.

It is right for me to depend on God for everything i need. Moment by moment, i need a source that constantly lavishes love and everything i need upon me. Only God can do that. i am to love the caress of God. To cling to His presence and hate trying to cling to anything else. i can trust God to lavish enough of His presence to quench my thirst.

i am to think about being in the throne room and close to God as a reality that is greater than the material world around me. i am not to be afraid when i become aware that He is pursuing me. Unlike many people i have known, God is good. God is not a predator with secrete intentions to hurt me: “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8).

i have often been told that it is important that i love God. And this is true. But is it far more important that God loves me! my love for God is secondary. God’s love for me is first: “This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us” (1 John 4:10). I can do all things is secondary to Through Christ.

i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things.

My computer is not stuck. These words were spoken by Ann Marie and i for us and our children. We spent purposed time drilling the idea into ourselves and more specifically into our children, that there was and is nothing we can’t do. When they were young and we were learning these words we had a can in our house so that when someone spoke words that said, “i can’t” they had to put a nickle in the can and later we used the “I Can’t” money for an “I Can” experience. As they became adults we continued to speak that they could do all things and that their lives did not have to be determined by circumstances but by the words written in Phillippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. It appears to have taken hold and for the most part worked well for them.

But… i have reservations as to how well it will work for all time. i think i put the emphasis on the wrong portion of the verse. In those days we were new to the word and many things were about what we could do, when in the natural, supposedly we couldn’t. Yes, i and they can do all things but there is more to the verse, in fact a more important portion of the verse. The first five words, “i can do all things” are followed by a condition for the success in living those first five words. These two words that follow bring about the sustainability for all time of the first five. They are what give me the strength to be able to overcome circumstances, to exceed what the things of this world may offer, the ability to have stability, an assurance that in the end, i can do all things. The two most important words in this verse are “Through Christ.” My reservation is that i did not impress these two words upon my children near as much as i did the “i can do all things.”

The “i can do all things” is incomplete in and of itself. Yet i see many who it still seems to work for and i have the same reservations for them as for my children. Mind you i am not making a judgement on my children nor anyone else, i am simply sharing a reservations. Both of my children have overcome many obsticles in their lives. Relationships that have left hurts, jobs that have been less than expected, children that challenge everyday life and the list goes on. i’m wondering today if i really have been challenged by anything that says “NO YOU CAN’T DO ALL THINGS! Yet in saying that, there are things that i am faced with that i know i cannot directly solve the problem. My daughter needs a new pancrease and… i cannot do all things, like getting her one. Yet the most important thing i can do is pray to the One who can, “Through Christ”. So with that in mind is it safe to say “i can do all things?”

i tend to leave the “Through Christ” words as understood. Yes, understood as in “everybody already knows that it’s “Through Christ.” i am today thinking i have been mistaken, not everybody knows that it’s “Through Christ.” And… not everybody who knows that it’s “Through Christ” understands what that means or looks like in everyday life. Let me use the example of marriage again to illustrate this. Ann Marie and i can do all things in marriage, not because we hang out together, not because we both want to, not because we believe we can and not because our parents drilled it into us, but we can do all things because we reallize that it is marriage as designed by God that we have the energy to do what marriage requires of us and to be able to do all things that marriage was intended to be.

The Amplified Bible says this well, “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”