Closed doors

It’s 2:32pm and my 2.5 year old son, Lazarus, should’ve taken a nap hours ago. I’m currently trying to get him to take one now, and it is a complete train wreck. 

He’s over-tired and he’s not happy about my inconveniencing him for his much needed rest. Here’s the kicker. I am bigger, I am wiser, I am his parent. I know what’s best.

 I know that he needs the rest.

 

But all my little Laz can see is a shut ‘door’ (baby gate). He thinks that he is alone even though I’m right on the other side. He thinks he is being punished even though it is really for his good. How many can relate?

So he cries and beats at the door. Or he plays with toys at the door, waiting for it to open.  I go in there periodically to lay him back down and tell him, “Everything is okay, but you have to go to sleep”. Within minutes he has forgotten my comfort and runs right back to that shut door, wanting out. It’s a constant cycle until he finally gives into the sleep that I knew he needed all along. 

The shut door.

How many of us have cried out to the Father, asking for something over and over and it just isn’t happening? That relationship you wanted to be restored. That opportunity you wanted so badly to work out. You cut and squeezed everything else in your life just to get it to fit..and then it still never truly did. Infact, you have to put your true identity aside, you have to sacrifice your peace, you have to pretend like it’s all good when it’s really not, all in order for this shut door to work in your life. 

The door was shut and still you beat on it, screaming for Daddy to open it. 

What if that restored relationship was hindering you from forward movement in Christ? What if that circumstance was stopping you from fulfilling your true purpose in building God’s kingdom? What if that opportunity would have pushed away the relationships and resources that God wanted for not only you to flourish but for others to come towards salvation through as well? We don’t know the details of why things don’t happen or why they do. All we know is what the truth is through God’s word.

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”- (‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Let’s dissect that. 

When we believe that Jesus is Lord, the spirit of bondage to fear and other dark emotions is no longer able to hold us captive. The door might be shut but we don’t have to be afraid about what that means. We don’t have to be anxious about the unknown waiting through that new door that just opened. We can cry out to God about our shut door but we don’t have to be afraid that we’ve been forgotten or neglected. And we can know that to be true because of the second part to verse 15: 

” but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.‘”-(Romans 8:15)

We are now children of God. He’s our parent. He’s our Daddy. He knows what’s best. He knows when we need rest. He knows when we have some things wearing us down and He knows what it will take for us to finally give them up. He’s on the other side of that door and it is shut for a reason. 

There is always another door open somewhere, and it’s the narrow doorway that we don’t necessarily want to go through.  Just like these conversations I have with my sleepy 2.5 year old.

The door is shut. Choose to obey and follow God’s voice through it. 

Obedience can be painful to the flesh. The answer may not be, “no” because whatever you’re asking for is harmful, but maybe there is something for you to learn through accepting the, “no”.

 Maybe the closed door will cause you to look within and see some things you need  God to work on. 

 Anger from not getting your way. Bitterness from not being in control. Doubt from having graven images whose expectations could never be met. There’s always a narrow road, a heart issue that can be revealed and healed through the acceptance of a closed door. Search for it. Repent for it, and let the Lord shine His healing light on it. 

Closed doors allow us to see the sins that have been wearing us down and we can finally allow Jesus to take them from us, giving us true rest!

Think about verse 15…If we are children of God then we are no longer bound to and led by fleshly emotions like fear, anger, or anxiety. If we choose to by guided by these feelings, then we find ourselves stuck, beating at a closed door, and walking in circles .

 Until we are wholly surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God we will not move forward. So what does that look like?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”-(‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Accept the shut door and look for the narrow pathway! You can do this! I only know because I am currently undergoing this learning process as well. He’s a good Dad, let Him be that for you. 

Lie down in Peace & Sleep

—Lord, my shalom

You sustain me—

My enemies surround me

Uphold me with 

Your righteous hand 

—Lord, my shalom

You sustain me—

I will lay in peace and sleep

You alone, oh Lord

Make me dwell in safety

—Lord, my shalom

You sustain me—

I will not worry

I will not be dismayed

You are my help

You are the way 

My shalom

Oh Lord

You sustain me

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Those are the lyrics to a song I’ve recently been writing. We all go through storms. We all experience times of chaos. But what if I told you that the chaos didn’t have to feel like chaos to you? 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”- (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

With all the present mess (for lack of better terms) going on around me, the spirit of division is clearly at work in my community of friends & family. But guess what? My God is peace, not confusion. 

The devil can try and shake us, but we are a city on a firm foundation that cannot be shaken. I know that His peace can transcend the mess.  I trust that not only will His peace be a bed that I can lie down in, but I can SLEEP in that comforting bed of peace!  

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”- (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

As a mommy to two little ones, I really get this scripture. Sleep is valuable. Sleep requires no distractions, no more tasks; sleep is a break for your consciousness. Which is why sleep is a precious rarity for me right now with a 6 month old baby who needs me and my consciousness throughout the night. Even though I don’t get much physical sleep these days, my spirit can curl up beneath the shadow of Elyon (the Most High) and truly rest. My consciousness, my awareness to all the surrounding chaos, can take a nap in God’s bed of peace and trust that He is working all things out for my good. Breathe in. Breath out. Woooh. You feel that? Peace.

 According to the Biblical Hebrew calendar, we are entering the Teshuvah season of turning back to God- a season of rejecting my flesh, rejecting the devil, repenting, and looking at God for my salvation & peace. This is so relevant for me! We can look horizontally and so quickly be overwhelmed by what is around us. We don’t know what to do, but God does. We don’t know the way, but Jesus tells us that He is the way. So all we must do is repent and refocus our eyes vertically to our good Father. He leads us on.  Our God is shalom (peace) and He sustains us.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”- (Isaiah 41:10)

In this World, Not of it

I once was lost, but now I am found. I once was dead, but now I’m alive. I’m neither Jew (bound by religion) nor gentile (secular & an illegitimate child of God), but now, I’m a new creation; grafted into the family of God. I’m a demon slayer. I’m a world-changer. I’m a peacemaker. I once was lost, but now I’m found.
So why can it be so tempting to wander off again? What about the darkness is so alluring? Why is fire so tempting to play with? I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I have chased all types of temporary happiness. And I have tapped into true, everlasting joy. So why do I even look at the things this world has to offer and wish I could go there again? Just typing these words out reveals to me how psychotic and demonic envy of the world is. Especially when you are envying the lifestyle that God just set you free from. 

“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.”- (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

As of last week, I am now 23 years OLD. No one  threw me a birthday party, even after my not-so-subtle hints. My reasoning was simply that I deserved it. HAH! How 22 years young does that sound? I was intensely loved on by my loved ones, but I didn’t get that party. 

Now, I’ll get back to that. 

Dedicating my life to following Jesus was never hard. It still isn’t. No matter what, God is the center of my life. What’s hard is looking away from God. It’s hard to tell myself that I’m not doing anything wrong when my spirit within is screaming for me to stop. It was hard to slowly destroy my own life, bad decision after bad decision. 

People say that it’s easy to spiral out of control. But it’s not. That’s a lie. Bad decisions are hard to make because they hurt you and you know they do even while you’re making them. You can ignore God’s voice and pretend like that’s easy-but it’s not, because your spirit is drawn to Him.. so it hurts. Of course after a time of having a calloused heart towards God, it can feel like it’s easy to reject what you know is right. But at that point, how can you trust your feelings when you know those same feelings are what drive you to make the decisions that are slowly killing you? No. It’s hard for me to reject God. But it is so easy to stop what I’m doing, look up, and lock eyes with my patient, steadfast Messiah. Then, everything, all that baggage, all the pain, all the darkness, just dissolves in His merciful, cleansing, healing light. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.

 There is stinky, old sin baggage that I have tried picking back up since I became sober and started walking with Jesus. And every time it has felt wrong.  Every time it has felt hard. I knew deep down that if I was doing those things, then I wasn’t looking at God. Instead, I was looking at the world and trying to make myself fit into that cookie-cutter image. Which by the way, I have completely outgrown. So it’s pretty hard and painful to make myself fit in to the world at this point. But time and time again I have found myself allowing the author of confusion (Satan) to slowly trick me into getting back on those dark pathways.  And the first attack seems to be my thought life which will slowly become twisted in these sin areas. This is what happens when I don’t hold every thought captive.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”-(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

It takes some time to actually act on the sinful thoughts that go rebelliously unchecked in our minds. Some of these sin issues are even socially acceptable which creates room for us to justify acting on them. Harmless! But it isn’t always. As Jesus showed us, the law goes further now. It’s not just a circumcise of the flesh but of the heart. We may not be physically acting out sins, but mentally we can be idolizing and coveting a sinful life that we are not created to live. 

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”- ‭(‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Think of something that might seem okay for you do to outwardly (in the world’s eyes or in your flesh’s eyes), but it just doesn’t quite line up with the Holy Spirit inside you.  So you’re allowed to ______________. But is it good for you? So it’s acceptable to _______________. But does it really benefit you? I know what you’re thinking. You have reasons for wanting to do those things. Whether it be for fun or because it’s something you’ve always done, because someone else whom you look up to does it, or maybe because being with that person feels safe, and so on. Locate those reasons and bring them to the center of your mind. Now force them to bow to the Holy Spirit with in you. Do they provide your life and your mind with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? If they are not coming directly from the Holy Spirit then they are just man-made attempts at obtaining something that only God can offer. Which is why you’ll need more and more of whatever it is to make those feelings last. These are sin issues that the world, Satan, and our flesh tell us are okay. These are things/relationships/activities/jobs that we desperately gather reasons to keep on doing though we hear God saying, “no” and that rebellion allows them to become idols attempting to exalt themselves over the name of Jesus Christ.

 Are you trying to hold on to something and it just keeps slipping like sand through the wisdom & descernment God has provided you with for decision making? Are you trying to make something happen that just isn’t meant to? Many permissible things can become idolatry or other sin issues once they are no longer beneficial for us. 

Make your intentions face the Holy Spirit and bow down before Christ. 

My birthday rolled around and I realized why I really wanted my friends and family to throw me that party-to save me from myself. Somewhere inside I knew that if the birthday planning was in my hands, I would test the protective boundaries that I have in God. I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t get “lit”. But I did find myself in a place that was all too familiar, surrounded by people enslaved by the things I was once bound to-and in all of that, I was appearing to be no different from the crowd. I wasn’t shining the light of Christ. If anything, I was trying to put a damper on it. To be “normal” for a moment. We all do this anytime we try to justify doing something that the Holy Spirit tells us not to.  It seems harmless, but by whose definition? 

“But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”-(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

See, a PG birthday party wasn’t going to save me. My friends and family can’t save me. My husband can’t save me. To even expect them to is placing them as false gods or saviors over my life. And they will fail me every time because only Jesus can save me. Only Jesus can be exalted in my life and succeed at overcoming my fleshly thoughts and sinful actions. I can pretend like I’m a good person, but I only truly am when it’s Jesus living life through me. So it’s not me; it’s Jesus in me. I have to surrender myself (body, mind, heart, and soul) to Christ. Every day. Every moment. Every intention. 

There is no lukewarm walking with Jesus. I’m all in or I’m not at all.

 So I repented the next morning. Not at first. But after my morning routine with the kiddos, I put on some worship music and quickly felt like I got punched in the gut. I knew why. Because when I was doing something that was seemingly ‘allowed’ but not necessarily beneficial for spreading the kingdom of God or beneficial for my personal growth with God, I stepped out of God’s presence. He was always present-but mentally/physically/spiritually, I had detached myself from Him, for a moment. And as that first worship song started playing, I sang with my toddler and I started to weep. Not because of the huge sins I committed but because I had just re-entered the Lord’s presence. There’s no greater/more humbling/more incredible feeling than being in the Father’s arms. Here I am. Safe and warm. Now it’s time to make my battle plan, because I really don’t want to leave this refuge again. I’m not normal and I don’t want to pretend to be. Even for just a moment. I obviously am still a work in progress, but I know where I need to progress and I am giving it to God. Work on me, Lord! 

Now make your battle plan. Can you think of people and situations that you may need to avoid right now because they allow you to entertain sins that take root in your mind? 

““Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”-(‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Now, I pray none of this feels like judgement for anyone reading. Don’t let the devil make you feel condemned by any part of my story. Remember a few absolute truths: 

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” ‭‭-(Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

You are set free. Remind yourself of that, every second of every day. Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” ‭‭-(Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬)