What profound truth is found in St. Irenaeus' words: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” This statement is pregnant with hope. Isn't it incredible to think that as we come fully alive, it gives God glory? He so longs to see us flourishing, thriving, truly living, that His own glory is connected to it. His Fatherly heart is so tender towards us.
We are His beloved children, and so when we trudge through life weighed down by negative thoughts, or race through our days with stress as our main fuel, or simply exist because we don't know what more is available to us, God grieves.
When He sent Jesus to offer the ultimate sacrifice to purchase our freedom, He didn't want us to simply replace slavery to sin with slavery to performance. Nor did He intend for us to spend our lives trying to clean ourselves up so we'd be worthy of love. Scripture tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Do you see yourself through that lens? Or are you consumed with thoughts of your inadequacies, limitations, and faults? That mindset train wrecks the heart and stands in the way of experiencing the life that Jesus died to give us.
It makes me think of Moses' words to the Israelites just before he died. He begged and pleaded with these words:
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life.
Oh…that you would choose life. This is the plea. This is the offer of Christianity. To fully live.
So then…why are so few of God's children really experiencing this?
I don't want to respond to that question with a pat answer. I want to wrestle with it. I want to explore it and spend time delving into why it is that so many of us are just surviving. There is a life of freedom on offer to us, and I want us to experience it in its fullness.
I don't have all the answers, but I have learned that sometimes this means allowing God to let some wounds come to the surface…to acknowledge that they need tending, and that the healing is going to take time. It means saying some hard no's so that we can say yes to the journey towards wholeness.
Sometimes it means believing that God places dreams into the hearts of His children, and He wants us to taste the rush of being used by Him. It's scary to step out of the comfort zone, and messy, and full of imperfections. But ignoring what we were made for means we become sterile, abbreviated versions of who we were created to be.
I know that being fully alive requires hands to hold. We weren't created to walk this journey alone. Sometimes we need the hands to pull us a little higher-to support us while challenging us to stretch and grow. Sometimes we need those hands to hold us back when our pace has become unhealthy. Sometimes we need those hands on our cheeks along with the words “you are never alone.” We need each other.
The whisper of shame will always try to lure us back into covering up our wounds (what would people think if they knew?). It will cause us to be self-conscious of our dreams (who do you think you are?). Shame tells us to stay silent and not reach out for help (you can talk about anything, but not this. If you speak these words, you will be misunderstood. It will be unbearable.)
Jesus wants to restore us to what man once had in the Garden of Eden - nakedness - vulnerability - without shame (Genesis 2:25). Jesus longs to break those chains that tether us to a life of existence instead of a life of abundance.
He does this for us, but it isn't just about us.
Writer Ashley Abramson expresses it well in her Tapestry magazine article, Naked and Unashamed, “God doesn't free us from shame merely for our own comfort, so we can relish in our newfound glory; He restores us to the way things were meant to be, that our confidence in Him and what He's done for us would woo His people back to Him.”
Sometimes has been stirring in my heart for a number of years, and it has everything to do with these musings. I have longed for us (that means you), to gather together in a setting that is relaxed (think jeans and yoga pants). I've dreamed of us having time to rest, laugh, grow, worship and experience the strength and encouragement of our community.
I've longed to delve into the theme of freedom-of what it means to be fully alive- and to explore what holds us back.
And God, in His goodness, has provided the space and time for us to do just that.
We have a year to pray and plan, because something truly special is on the horizon…
Walking with Purpose™ Women's Retreat
April 28-30, 2017
Please mark your calendars and plan to join us. We are throwing the doors wide open in hopes that you will come and bring your sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, neighbors. This women's event is open to all. Because don't we all long to truly live? We were never meant to live grey. We were created to soak in glorious beauty and fullness of life.
Jesus promised us, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) May we reach out- hands empty, arms outstretched, hearts open-and invite Him in.