Can’t this just be OVER! Where’s my JOY

“‘And a Redeemer wil come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,’” declares the Lord.” Isaiah 59:20

Have you ever been in a situation where you seemingly had no control over what would happen and in the middle of it, there was just a lot of hard stuff to deal with.  It could be a child who has problems, or a parent who is very ill. It may be a job you can’t seem to progress in and no new job is in sight. It could just be a feeling of solitude or isolation, an awareness that you are not where you could be, but you can’t get out of where you are. You can’t force the end of it and there seems to be no end date.

In prayer lately, as we’ve entered into strong worship, several people have said to me that they have seen a vision of a crack in the floor, a chasm. One said there was a wedge of sin, holding the crack open.

Last night I woke up around 2:00 a.m. and was bothered, unsettled. I’d spent the last evening leading a prayer session where we looked at Jesus and the cross and let him reveal our hearts and what was in them. I got up, took my Bible and journal and went to listen for God to show me the way out of it. I hear God speak scripture references to me as I pray and I follow them like a healthy rabbit trail.  I heard Psalm 43.

“For you are the God in whom I take refuge, why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning becuase of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and truth and let them lead me.; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy…”

Would God reject us? Didn’t Jesus pay for that? That seemed contrary to the message of “grace” as we often hear it. Like a child, I wanted to know the full picture and all the details. Verse 5 says, “Why are you downcast O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him…”  Yes, I could feel the downcast soul of his people. I prayed, “Help me understand why?” Don’t we always want to know this! If not, we SHOULD!

The Lord quickly directed me to “Isaiah 59” and it begins, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear, but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear….According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies..”

The GOOD NEWS is that the Lord himself, brought salvation. He saw no man who could fill the gap, the chasm that sin left, so his own arm brought salvation. (V. 16-17). Jesus came with a righteousness as a helmet that guarded his mind from the evil of this world, and put on vengeance and zeal. This is our Savior, our Redeemer! He did this for us. He came to be an offering to the LORD himself. Now, to be like him, we have to become an offering as well, a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1)

The question is HOW are we redeemed and how do we receive the FULL measure of what God has for us?

After we read of this glorious Redeemer, verse 18 shows what he actually still does,  “According to their deeds, so he will repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies…” 

Aren’t we all God’s children? Surely WE would not be his enemies anymore, right? ”But aren’t we in the New Covenant?” you may ask. Yes, the New Covenant exists and is available for us to enter into. Yet how do we enter into the Kingdom Jesus said is “at hand” or “near”. In the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus, in his blood, all sin is atoned for, paid for, but we have free will to choose to sin and that is where we actually become enemies of God, double minded.

Jesus had a really clear message. As soon as Jesus was led out of the wilderness, the first thing he preached was, “REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR.” To repent means to turn away from sin with remorse and not return to it. We have to FEEL the pain of repentance for it to come from the heart. We have to understand the depth of our sin and where and why we have made ourselves enemies of God. There is a lot of stuff we have as part of our “personality” that is really sin, judgement and bitterness. It’s just true. We empower it one action at a time until it a stronghold of the enemy in our soul. This is where the struggle comes from. What keeps us from repeating those sins is not our own fears, but fear of the LORD. He is to be feared. If we see how powerful he is, we will not only fear him but feel secure IN him.We will know the security of being children of a mighty God! A MIGHTY GOD.

It’s hard to admit that we could “love” Jesus and be enemies of God, but when we tolerate the work of his adversary in our lives, we are used to prosper evil in the world. The evil empowers the kingdom of darkness, and the devil is still the enemy of God, so which side are we on? Do we really love Him and how much? Enough to give up ANYTHING that is not part of God’s kingdom? Even our right to be right.

Can we be on two sides at the same time? Can a house divided against itself stand? Jesus said no. We are God’s house, in our own bodies, and in the church. Right now God is looking for every opportunity to “deliver us” from evil. Deliverance is literally a birthing of the evil and it takes help from God and sometimes prayer from others. But in these days, God is working so powerfully, showing us things about ourselves we haven’t been able to “see” before and freeing us as we yield. It feels yucky, like transition and sometimes in birth we feel stuck and it’s painful. The thing I learned after having several births is that birth doesn’t happen in resistance, it happens in yielding, in allowing ourselves to let go and to relax, even in the midst of pain.

I was asking God for understanding and saw this scene. There were two lenses, like the type you’d fix on the front of a camera. One was over each of my eyes. A hand was adjusting the opening, the shutter, and more light was coming in. I began to wince, to shudder, drawing back, perhaps as I would when you come out into the bright sunshine after being in the dark, but I wanted to run. I put my hands up to block it, but the light didn’t go away.

The eye is the window to the soul and God is urging us to let him shine light into the darkest recesses of our soul, and for a good purpose! Yet, he is patient. Most of us are pretty resistant to this process, so it can take a long time and repeated sessions. He opens the shutter and lets some light in, lets us see our ways and his kindness leads us to repentance. This makes room for more light, more wisdom, more capacity, for confidence. All the things that have been stollen from you by the enemy are defeated in this process. When you are ready to listen again, and ask, God opens the shutter on the lens and more light comes in. You wince less, because you’ve tasted the freedom that came from the process last time. As this process repeats, more and more light can flood your soul and there is room for joy, real joy! Depression flees, addiction flees, co-dependency finds another home and love fills your soul.

Because God wants us to walk in Isaiah 60, we have to go through Isaiah 59. Our Redeemer came preaching repentance. When he healed the sick, he said, “Go, sin no more lest something worse happen to you.” It is our choice to partner with sin and we still reap consequences.

If you want to be unstuck, be still and let some light shine in your soul. Jesus is coming for a spotless bride. That’s why we wear white at a wedding! Jesus gives us a robe of righteousness that he earned. Our only tasks are to love him with all of our heart. A bride in love is consumed with preparation for her wedding!  But remember the parable of  The Ten Virgins. Ten women were waiting for the Bridegroom to come. Five prepared ahead and had extra oil in case he was delayed. Five didn’t think ahead and thought that what they had was enough. When it got dark, they had to go find more oil. At that time, the door opened and shut and they could not get in. No exceptions. Will there be exceptions when the gates of heaven open?

I want to be a devoted bride, in love with my King. I want to see Isaiah 60 happen in my life. “…and nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising..” (Read more for yourself.) “Lift up your eyes and see, they come to you, your sons from afar. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall exult because of the abundance…”  After we go through this process of letting more and more light deep into the recesses of our soul, we are not only redeemed, healed spiritually and physically, but we are now able to STEWARD light and become light. We can look at the face of God without tears of repentance, but with tears of love and adoration because he has taken our shame. Miracles flow because in the process, we have TRULY become dependent of God.

BUT DIDN’T JESUS TAKE ALL OF OUR PAIN ON THE CROSS?

Why do we have to endure it?

Yes, he carried it away, but we have to hand it to him, we have to offer it to him and turn away from it. We have “crutches” that Jesus didn’t mean to remain in our lives, comfort crutches and places where we just are stubborn in our own way. Jesus had to give up everything and he asked that of his followers. He still does. He asks us to lose our life for him so we can gain the life we were meant to have. Most of us haven’t even BEGUN to know what that looks like, what we need to resign to follow Jesus. Most of it is in our heart.

It was at the cross was where Jesus became an offering. According to law, a portion, the first and best of what we produce was to be offered to the LORD. The New Covenant is summed up in this. God produced man. He created him. Yet man sinned. He became an enemy of God. No one could be a suitable sacrifice, or offering, to the Lord anymore. So, God himself sent Jesus, who was a “first fruit” of what would come, many brothers and sisters who would be like Him. He had nothing to repent of so there was no separation between Him and His Father. Yet, to access the blood of Jesus, we have to repent. Then, his blood covers all of our sin and builds a bridge to the living water he promises will flood our souls.

Yes, there is grace, and it empowers us to endure the process of death to self. If we don’t die, we can’t be raised with him and glory and we can’t carry the light we were meant to carry. We wonder why signs and wonders aren’t happening often in the church. It’s because we have a lot of vessels full of unbelief, apathy, denial, selfishness and more.. Oh what a dinghy people we are at times! Lord, have mercy and lead us to your feet so we can pour oil on them in thanksgiving for making a way for us. Thank you for loving us, even in this condition, and now, make our lives a living offering to you. Help us to let go of even the most resistant way to follow your way. 

Then the path will be laid for you to bring revival to our hearts. It only takes a spark in our hearts to see the darkness we’ve been tolerating.

Father, thank you for your recipe for salvation in the Bible. Thank you that all that is required is repentance and you offer us everything! Lead us down that path to the deeper place where you meet us with such sweetness and love that we can’t help but let go of what is destroying us anyway. God reveal our sin and open our eyes. Hold them open so we can tolerate the light in greater measure and call us to surrender in greater measure so you can move through us in greater measure.  In Jesus’s name, Amen.