I’m becoming convinced that humanity tends to be a little compartmentalized when it comes to recognizing the Lord.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that Jesus is the Person of Truth, and I believe accuracy to His nature and character defines right and wrong. I don’t think we get to determine who God is based on our perceptions, preferences and grievances. Frankly, I’m thankful that isn’t the case. I like knowing my Father is who He is. I love His steadfast, unimpeachable goodness.
But as I start to trust my own wings in exploring my Father, my experiences in His Presence sometimes run askew to the ideals of popular theology. And by that, I mean, I sometimes catch myself in a position where I am forced to choose whether I want to stay engrained in what I have been taught… or am I finally willing to trust the inner voice in my own holy heart?
I sometimes feel that theology doctrines paint with a concrete brush that disallows for the unique, unlimited ways that our sovereign Father delights in.
But frankly, I get concerned about even broaching this topic publicly, because I’ve seen how this train of thinking galvanizes the wounded decisions of unhealed, rebellious believers. I’ve watched people eschew the difficult processes of salvation and unity, happily picking up any thought that validates them as misunderstood, not impaired. Repentance has been grievously cast away as outdated and unnecessary. As a result, their form of wholeness carries belligerence and defensiveness, because their soul has forgotten that divine identity has no need, ever, to defend itself. That which is rooted in God is unshakeable; if it shakes, it is fake. But they are manipulated and isolated by their own thoughts, and live trapped by a thinly-veiled contempt for the vulnerable holiness of a broken, contrite, changeable heart.
Oh Father, first and always: straighten any crooked way in me!
Somehow, I come away from their presence pretty sure that privately, they disdain me and everything I live unto. But that part is OK. It’s the wall in their soul I mourn the most. They have gone to an untouchable place in which I am untrusted and forbidden to enter.
It is then that I realize how the Father feels, and I ache.
But back to the point: It is a heavy thing to be entirely sown into the Kingdom of God and then be invited out into the design and purpose of your own heart. I have received this invitation, as we all have,
and I am nervous.
Nervous, because I don’t always agree anymore. With my own budding perceptions comes the responsibility to carefully inspect, explore and develop these thoughts before the Spirit of the Lord. Everything a leader believes, does and doesn’t do has an impact on the people around them. That is a sobering reality that really challenges me to ask myself: Do I trust the Lord in me? Do I trust myself? Do I trust my community? Am I willing to undertake the burden of my purpose? (because I know mistrust is on me to correct, and cannot be blamed on others.)
Stepping in our destined purpose will always challenge our willingness to count, and pay, the cost.
I’m nervous because my own spirit and heart don’t immediately jump to join like they used to, though I’m always and forever going to give my yes, my unity, to the whole. But sometimes now, I’m with the Lord in a different moment, a different emphasis, a different priority. For a while, I disciplined my heart to change channel in solidarity, simply because the only way I have known to say yes! I’m with you! was to sideline and ignore the things I was seeing and hearing. I felt forced to check my voice like an unneeded jacket, in the name of unity. I never wanted to be the source or voice of discord or dissension. I overcorrected, because I have watched how arrogance, shallowness, or self-centeredness poisons the encounter of the Spirit for the whole.
My silence was an inner vow that had lost sight of God’s grace. In me is His unending divine influence that is always, actively working all things together for good. I forgot (or refused to trust) that when His holiness is the culture of my heart, the things I see and hear will add to, not steal from, His manifest Presence and impact among us.
If we all express the popular talking points, where is the diversity of the glory of the Lord? He is a multi-faceted diamond, with colors and brilliance in every millionth dimension. It is immature to assimilate in the name of the one mind and one purpose of Acts 1; rather, holy like-mindedness results when all our creative spirits express one common vision: Jesus, forever, without any celebrity, ego or manmade litmus test through which He must pass.
When this is our common starting point, we are one, even where there are differing points of view. Dissension has no surface upon which to attach. Our fellowship is too holy, too priceless, for such silliness.
But most of all, I’m nervous because of something I didn’t know had gone un-healed in me. In the past, when I’ve been told that I was not accurate in my perceptions of the Lord, I was unable to handle that feedback without becoming seriously paranoid. Suddenly, I mistrusted everything in me. I worried that all of me was wrong. I second-guessed every idea, every instinct, every conclusion. Every creative impulse went censored and silenced; expressing it was simply too risky.
Like many people, fear of man is a seriously difficult hurdle for me to overcome. In my imagination, I project what I assume the reception might be, and if there’s any risk of disagreement or dissension, I hold back (mostly so I can sleep at night.) Sometimes the burden of the opinions of others looks like a noose I just can’t convince myself to try on.
This fear, like all fear, has operated to my detriment, causing a wound that must be healed, and its roots re-sourced, if I am ever to walk the road I’ve been created for.
But while I’m nervous that this exploration of my very own facets of Jesus will come with conversations I don’t have energy for or interest in (not that I’ll get to opt out), this new year arrived with a voice crying out to me from the wilderness, at the end of a dirt road named Honesty.
Beloved, choose honesty.
Honesty, offered with a gentle spirit and a pure heart.
Honesty, even when I’d rather opt out.
Honesty, for the sake of my own soul.
Honesty, because it builds intimacy.
Honesty, because all growth springs from risk.
Honesty, for the revelation of Jesus in me.
Honesty, because Jesus was beautifully, wisely, powerfully open, without a single politically-calculated moment,
and I want to be like Him.