The Overflow of a Forgiven Soul

I was talking with someone recently about the “shoulds” and “ought to’s” of life.  We were kind of arguing about the place of these in our lives.

I mean, we SHOULD:
Keep the house clean
Tend to the sick
Feed the hungry
Clothe the naked
Have a devotional time
Go to church
Get up early
Read our Bible
Do the laundry
Be patient with the children
Make time for friends, even the annoying ones (I don’t have any annoying ones, of course.)
Tithe
Give to charity
Volunteer
Floss
Excercise
Eat our broccoli (Never going to happen.)
Have a bedtime routine

We SHOULD, right? These are things we are SUPPOSED to do.

I get frustrated with a life full of shoulds and this is what I was talking to my friend about.  Okay, he’s my therapist.  But anyway…this is what I was talking to my therapist about.

He said this crazy thing to me:  “Stop saying should.  Stop doing.  Just.  Stop.  Learn to be still in God.”

I didn’t even know what that meant.

I don’t even know what that means.

But okay, fine, Therapist.  I’ll try it.  And this was probably three months ago.

And so, I did.  I’m not doing shoulds anymore.  I’m just looking for Him in the every day.  In the counting of the joys, in the being thankful, in the music that plays around my house all the time, in the books I’m reading (Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, in particular), in the moments of sheer joy with the kiddos as we go about our routine.

I sing these words, “I let go, empty my soul…” over and over all day long.

And suddenly…I’m not saying should to myself.  But I am WANTING to do good things.  I want to love well because I am so loved.  I want to feed the hungry and serve the poor because I have been given so many good gifts.  I want to spend time with others because I am full.  I am better now.  I get better with each passing day.  And I’m not a better person, no, it’s not that.  I’m just better.  I have a sense of well being that I am unaccustomed to.

And it came when I  recognized how truly poor I am.

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And when I can see that clearly and see the redemption I’ve been given…I rejoice and live life fully.

She who has been forgiven much, loves much.  That’s poor in spirit.  When you can clearly see the state of your soul without Jesus and without the work of the cross.  And when you can finally say that all your should-ing and all your doing and all your striving and struggling towards purification are like filthy rags…when you can see that our redemption comes from the cross and only the cross and it has nothing to do with how we behave or what we do, that’s when you are poor in spirit.

Jesus died for all of our sins.  Past, present and future.  He died for them when we were sorry and when we weren’t.  He died for our pain and the sins committed against us.  We can’t earn what He gave.  We can only receive.

I’ve been forgiven much.  I am poor in spirit.

And so I think about this old song we sang at Hope and the words were:  “It’s the overflow of a forgiven soul…” and I realize that my therapist is right.  We stop doing shoulds and we start dwelling at the foot of the cross and all of those good things just flow out of our hearts and into our lives.  You can’t stay the same when you sit at His feet.

All the shoulds just disappear and instead is just an avalanche of love and service because we see with naked eyes what He has done for us.

Restore Us

Restore-Us

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Joel 2:25.  I’ve been thinking a lot about restoration and change and how we are redeemed, set free, saved.  How we can live because He died.

I’ve been thinking about His Church, our Church, the Church.  And I don’t meant the building you go to (or don’t go to) or the place down the street or where your kids went to Bible School this year or where you go for choir practice.  I mean The Church.  I mean us.  His people.  The ones He loves and died for.  The redeemed, set free and saved.

And I want restoration for us.

Not just restoration for each of us personally, because of course I want that.  But this is more, this is bigger.  This is restoration for His Church.

A return to loving God and loving people the way that the very early, brand new church did.  A Church who loves by feeding the hungry, speaking up for the silent.  A Church who empties herself out for the ones He loves.  The ones He died for.  A Church who wouldn’t rest if someone was still hungry or naked or alone.  A Church who adds the lonely and the weird and the quirky to its table.   Who beckons the lost and the solitary.  A Church who loves like Jesus loves.

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.   Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.   All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.    Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,   praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Isaiah 58:10

If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

James 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

Proverbs 31:20

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

This is the thing.

We don’t know how to do this.  We see the missionaries and the foster moms and the ones cooking in the soup kitchen as “Super Christians”.  We’ve admired our brothers and sisters as they’ve gone about loving well and feeding His sheep and we have wondered at how sacrificial they are.  Wondered at how they pour themselves out for others.  We’ve seen those faithful ones and we wonder how they have the time, the tolerance, the patience, the resources, the whatever it takes to love on the unlovable, to bless the broken, to demand justice for the downtrodden.

We don’t know how they do it.  We definitely don’t know how to do it ourselves.

But we can learn.  He can teach us.  He can restore our hearts to loving well and serving others and pouring out ourselves.  This is restoration.  Learning to love like Jesus.  Learning to serve like Jesus.  Living free because of the Blood of Jesus Christ, saved from the weight of our past, present and future sin and so in love that it oozes from our pores.  So in love with Jesus that we see His people through His eyes.

I so want that in my life.

More than I want freedom from anxiety, more than I want to buy my own house, more than I want to write a book, more than I want to lose fifty pounds, more than I want anything.

I want that deep restoration of soul.  Restore me to live a life of love.  Restored to love so well and so deep.  Restored so that action must follow.

My soul has not been stirred this deep in such a long time and it is cranky and unsure of where we’re going and what we’re doing.  It’s at war with itself and through the window you can see Poor Me and Discouragement and Worry with their noses pressed to the glass.  They are ready to steal this stirring from me.  Always so ready.

And so I press in to Him, sing a little louder, get cozy with Henri Nouwen in the book “The Inner Voice of Love”, open my Bible and read those beatitudes and read those Psalms and I sit at His feet and it is sometimes kind of hard.

It is sometimes really hard.

I’ll keep you posted…but I’m planning on my life changing.