But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! Ephesians 1:18 (The Message)
My vision had become gradually hazy with less and less clarity. Cataracts invaded my lens, an unwelcome aliment that caught me by surprise.To have these cataracts removed required an amazingly quick procedure lasting 5 to 6 minutes. The old lens was removed, under local anesthesia, and replaced with a uniquely measured lens, suited to my vision needs.
The results were startling. The clarity of vision was better than I had ever experienced in my life! The new clarity seemed to give me energy as my visual world became more easily assessable.
This visual transformation from a lens replacement is like the heart replacement gained when we take off our old self and replace it with our renewed spiritual self as a child of God. This presence of God within my soul gives me an intensity of energy that is like “nothing and no one else” can give me.
When I trust the divine reality of God’s presence within me, my heart gains a clarity and strength and I am then able to extend the same love and grace to others. Unfortunately, my fear based heart often keeps me out of focus with the reality of God’s love and Spirit that is implanted in my soul. This becomes an obstacle, hampering my new heart from controlling my perceptions and responses.
Last week, I spent almost 2 hours, online, attempting to complete airline reservations. A “glitch” in the system, created much stress for me and was wasting my time. I felt powerless and disrespected by the endless technical dead ends and human errors. Ever felt that way?
I began to push back with irritable words. The person helping me with the reservation had to ask me to “be patient”. Those words penetrated my heart.She was patient with me as she tried to help my reservations become a reality. I had slipped back on my old heart of hazy distorted perceptions. The presence of my patience would have indicated that I was “seeing” clearly, through the eyes of my new heart. I would have realized the technical glitches were not her fault and they were not about me.
There were 4 evidences that my heart vision was out of focus. All exist as reactions from my old heart wounds. They became obstacles to living with the clarity of God’s love.
1. Overloaded schedule – I have a habit of regularly cramming too many activities into my daily schedule, giving no margin to tolerate any delay. The busier I am the better I am, has been my belief. I believed that my value was defined by what I do. That was the old identity, my old habits. Habits are hard to break!
If I consistently embrace and live out my new identity in Christ I will have more margin in my day. I will be confident in my value as a daughter of an unconditionally loving God. Nothing I can do would make Him love me more!
This heart change removes the haze of fearful doing, giving clarity on how to respond to my circumstances, rather than letting circumstances define me.
2. Unrealistic expectations – I had an expectation that it should take only 30 minutes, tops, to make these reservation. I expected that the technology would be perfect and there would be a perfect backup if things did not go well. Truth is, technical difficulties are a normal reality and humans are imperfect. These glitches had nothing to do with me. I believed that if things go wrong, I am powerless. Correct beliefs are; I am only in control of myself. God will never leave me and He strengthens me. AND What people say or do is more about them and not me.
I can choose how I will respond to life. I want choose the fruit of the Spirit because God choose me as His daughter. Sometimes I can not do what I want to do and I do the very thing I do not want to do…Paul had a similar problem, read Romans 7.
3. Pride – I selfishly thought I deserved better treatment. Impatience is the “fruit” of pride. Pride is the flip side of the coin of fear. When I begin to fear I am not valued or in control, I respond with a critical, irritable attitude because the circumstances are “making” me feel the fear. Correct beliefs are: I can not be made to feel a certain way, I can choose how to feel and how to act. God’s love will drive out my fear as I trust in Him.
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” C. S. Lewis
Pride is self focused, promoted by fear. Humility is God focused, promoted by love.
4. Negativity – Our brains have a negative bias. That means if we mindlessly allow our brains to react without a filter, the thinking will be negative. My reaction to the 2 hour experience took a very negative tone. Negative thoughts were dominating my brain, causing stress and unkind reactions.
A brain controlled with the filtered mindset of joy is less stressed, creating a forgiving, patient interaction.
“To live life you need a center of joy. ” Tim Keller
To have a “center of joy” is to have a joy frame of reference. To delight in the Lord and trust his love and know you are His delight will produce a centering of joy. This fuels my ability to recognize the negative thinking, releasing its power and allowing my focus to be on the joy of living in His love. Seeing the world through the eyes of joy can produce the joy of humor. Humor in this situation would have defused the stress…Laughter is wonderful for the heart, body and soul!
God, the lover of our souls, has chosen to give us His Spirit. We must choose to trust His love and lay down our fear driven agendas and humbly receive His gift. His love is glorified in us when we choose to receive His grace filled light. We are then free from the bondage of our shortsighted (hazy) fears and we receive a clarification of His love that is startling to our flesh. This clarification removes all obstacles to living a life growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
The Lord is God, Who has shown and given us light [He has illuminated us with grace, freedom, and joy]. Psalms 118:27a (AMPC)
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free… Galatians 5:1 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT)
Please listen: The song Simple Pursuit brings to light the reality that “nothing and no one else” comes close to the perfect love of God!