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The Faceless Ones

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God’s Thought’s to Me

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, he has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” (Ps. 22;24, NLT)

“I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.” (Mat.25:43(b), NLT)

Introduction

imageToday I am so honored to introduce my friend, Joy Lenton. She is a very special lady who suffers from ME/CFS and arthritis.

Joy is a mother and wife to her husband, Phil. She used to work as a nurse before becoming chronically ill.

Joy and her husband live in Norfolk, United Kingdom. To visit her blog, just click on her picture. Thank you, dear friend, for blessing me by being a guest at my place. Over to you.

The Girl with Light in Her Eyes

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Sadly those who are too sick to work have to contend with issues of shame. In a society where we are “framed, boxed, categorised, sifted, found wanting in society’s eyes” as I wrote about in the poem here, we experience deep frustration at being pigeon-holed and stigmatized.

It all impacts our lives adversely, affecting our relationships and connections with others.

On the rare occasions when I am alone downstairs in the house and have to answer the door during a late morning/afternoon/evening period in my night-clothes, wearing  bed-head hair, a dazed, sleepy expression and a veneer of embarrassment, …

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…I either say nothing (for such a state is normal to those who know me) or mumble something like, “Please excuse me, I’m unwell today” to those I don’t.

Then I hasten to close the door as fast as possible to avoid curious stares from neighbours or passers-by who may wonder what they are seeing.

I just want them to understand I am sick rather than lazy. Does it always take a stick or wheelchair to convince people we are ill?

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As someone who used to be thought of as attractive, took a fair amount of time and trouble over her appearance, sought out clothes to enhance and suit my figure, it is a far cry from those days to be where I am now .

I am almost permanently pyjama-clad due to the time I spend resting in bed or too exhausted to make the effort required to get up and dressed,  and I’m far too weary to let it worry me as it would have done before.

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I have a body that doesn’t walk like it should, lists and comes to a halt after a very short distance, is riddled with and swollen-jointed by arthritis, sinks wearily under M.E fatigue.

I have a face marked by the effects of over 20 years of chronic illness, exhaustion, pain, medication-taking, as well as the natural ageing process. I feel ashamed of my appearance at times. It doesn’t reflect how I feel on the inside.

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Though I’m far busier these days trying to work on the inner beauty that endures and cannot be taken away. To feel ashamed just for being ill is an additional burden we don’t need. And, yes, there are other areas of shame that have a great impact on relationships.

One of those is having experienced childhood sexual abuse. To have precious innocence taken and adult things pressed on a mind and body too young to understand them is a horrible thing indeed.

Those of us who have experienced it feel that we not only carry a huge scarlet letter ‘S’ for shame hanging around our necks, but have it imprinted on our very souls.

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Many who carry this shame stigma also carry a burden of emotional trauma, often leading to mental and physical illness, whereby the acid accumulation seems to leach into our very frame causing deep emotional/physical pain and disorder.

It can take a great deal of time, wrestling, prayer, struggle, pain, counseling, and much Holy Spirit input and help to work through the devastating legacy it leaves us with.

Full emotional healing cannot be rushed. So why share these things? Aren’t they meant to be private? Well, yes, and no.

The minutiae of how people deal with these issues is something for them to work out individually and together as a couple. But the sadness and frustration they cause is something to make known if it will help even one other person to feel less isolated and alone.

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Actually, it’s the hiding, shaming and embarrassment that keeps us from feeling understood or getting the support we need.

When your daily life experience lacks most of the defining vestiges of normality, it tends to reduce life to a drive to appear normal in the midst of personal chaos. And to a drive to see lives changed, with health and wholeness restored….one day.

In our image-obsessed society and culture, all of us who fail to manifest the perceived ‘norm’ ideal can be left feeling totally inadequate and shamed. Much depends on where we place our worth and value and where others do too.

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“We are “normal” in God’s eyes when we demonstrate endurance and long-suffering, when we keep looking to the unseen things. This is the normal Christian life” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada ‘Daily Devotionals’.

Let me reassure you, my friend, we are ‘normal’ right now, even when our lives and bodies may feel anything but, no matter how well or badly we function, no matter our level of disability. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

If, in naming and discussing these issues I can bring a greater degree of clarity, understanding, empathy or practical solution-finding to the mix then it will have been worthwhile.

We need to speak out. To air our concerns. To make invisible illness visible. To open up a forum for discussion so that others who suffer like-wise (and those who may follow after) will be assisted to live as fully and freely as God intended.

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For God the Father is not ashamed to call us His children who are restored, whole, beloved, precious and beautiful in His sight as He looks at us through the lens of Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Much love and sweet blessings xx

Mia

Unlocking Mysteries

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God’s Thoughts to Me

And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19, NLT).

It is time we find the Resurrection Stone, and discover the “key” to these religious mysteries, to interpret the gospel as it was intended (Resurrection:  The key to understanding the gospel – James Fowler).

Priestly Prattle

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The word “hieroglyphics” is a Greek word that means “sacred” or “priestly carving”. For more than a millennium, from the year 500 BC to 1822 Egyptian hieroglyphics were considered to be a secret code of priests and the key to unlock these mysterious writings was feared to be forever lost.

Until 1799 when some of Napoleon’s soldiers found the Rosetta Stone near the mouth of the River Nile. The same inscription appeared on this stone in three different languages: Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic and Greek.

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The Rosetta Stone

But it took the Frenchman, Francois Champollion, 23 years to discover the key to unlock these mysterious writings. In 1822 he translated the symbols and the mystery of hieroglyphics was something of the past.

From as early as I can remember, I was a member of some or other Christian Church, but I was still lost in darkness and didn’t really understand what the gospel was truly about. I was well into my thirties when I first heard about our need to be born again through the sweet Holy Spirit.

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Not unlike most of my contemporaries, I knew an awful lot about the gospel. I paid lip service, celebrated and paid homage to the gospel instead of the God of the gospel without ever really knowing or understanding what it was all about.

To say that the Scriptures were a lot like prophetic-apostolic hieroglyphics to me, is nailing the truth right on the head. I used to read everything I could lay my hands on, trying to find the key to unlock the sweet mystery of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

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I was as blind as a bat and lent out my itching ears to a lot of priestly prattling of quite a few deceived teachers and blind guides.

But my ignorance proved to be no problem to our Pappa and in His usual gentle, patient way, He had to use nearly a full bucket of mud to open my spiritual eyes to the simple truth of Jesus. The simple truth we have made a monstrous complexity of!

Suffice to say that for a long time I was happily falling time and time again over the stumbling block, our dearest Lord Jesus, the Cornerstone of our salvation.

I valiantly got up again after every fall, nursing my wounded ego for a while, dusting off my behind and then tried again from scratch.

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Until the Rock of All Ages reminded me. “Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on (Matthew 21:44)”.

When enough was enough, this Stone kindly fell on me, broke me into many pieces and took my legs from right under me through my illness. Gone were the days of my “self” being able to get up again and again.

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This became extremely difficult and I had to hoist the white flag in surrender. I knew I needed to start building cautiously on the only Cornerstone through all the ages.

The Master Builder gathered all my broken pieces and glued them all together with His tender love and gentle discipline until I was just a fragile jar of clay with many cracks to allow His Light to shine through.

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When one is blessed with a disabling disease, your time of dancing when the religious folk played wedding songs and crying when they played funeral songs, has passed.

I realized that I was not able to carry this burden of Fm/CFS on my own and I was soon knocking earnestly on Heaven’s Door.

True to His wonderful promise, He soon opened the Door to His Kingdom and gave me a wonderful key. This key unlocks the secret of our Resurrected Lord living His Resurrection Life in and through us.

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Once we truly realize our need to decrease like John did and we fill up and straighten the roads of our hearts for our King of Glory to enter, we come to know the joy of denying ourselves daily to experience the life in our Pappa.

Through the above-mentioned article of James Fowler, I discovered the Resurrection key; the key to unlock the glorious gospel of Jesus.

Scales fell from my eyes and my heart soared like an eagle that has been released from years of captivity in the prison of religious jargon.

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Many Bible verses that used to scare the living daylights out of me, became beautiful flowers in the garden of my heart. The Gardener, none other than the Holy Spirit cultivating flowers with the sweetest nectar to feed my thirsty heart.

The will of our God is one example of the secrets He revealed to my stubborn heart. I used to go on many a wild goose chase trying to determine the specific will of our Pappa for everything pertaining to my life; totally ignoring the sacred gift of common sense that doesn’t seem to be common anymore!

This glorious key unlocked many mysteries of our Pappa’s Kingdom and opened the doors of many prison cells where I was a captive for many, many years; a prisoner of the cruel jailer called Fear!

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In my next post, I would love to invite you along a few of the roads to freedom our Pappa has led me and few mysteries He lovingly revealed to me.

Much love and sweet blessings.

Mia

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The Shepherd from Heaven

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God’s Thoughts to Me

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry His lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young (Isaiah 40:11, NLT).

He Feeds Us

Today is the beginning of the International Fibromyalgia/ME Awareness Week. Although research is only in its infancy, we look forward to progress and perhaps a breakthrough in the near future.

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Due to unbelief, many if not most sufferers, received very bad and hostile treatment from the medical profession.

But at least we are finally beginning to be acknowledged as human beings with a real and quite disabling disease.

Isaiah 40:11 reminds us so wonderfully of how well the good Shepherd from heaven takes care of mothers and their children.

He cares for the broken ones, the weak, the sick, the unimportant, the unwanted and the rejected of this world. They only need to come to Him.

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When my son, Simon, was in Grade 11, we had to buy text books for Grade 12 when the Grade 12 pupils were selling their old books second-hand at a much lower price than new books.

I recall the week when we had to pay about R600 (around $67) for two text books as well as payment for the initiation camp for the following year’s Grade 12 learners.

It was in the middle of the month and we were stone, cold broke with only a few pennies we had to rub together in any case. Yet, I knew I had a Pappa who promised to take care of all our needs.

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The morning the payment was due, we still had not received our Lord’s provision, but I assured my children that the money would be paid before the end of the day.

When they left for school, I had a serious talk with my God, reminding Him that today is D-day and we still were empty-handed (or rather empty pocketed).

He told me to go to the ATM, and of course I stubbornly had to argue a bit, for the previous day when I checked, I was taunted by a big, round zero. Oh, those trust issues!!!!

At the word of our Lord, in the famous Peter style with the fishing nets, reluctantly, off to the ATM I went.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found that double the amount we needed was paid back to us from the Receiver of Revenue. We were overjoyed and my children’s faith grew with leaps and bounds.

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One would think that I was now cured of my stubbornness. Oh no, not this one. As a Fm/CFS sufferer, I had my fair share of unbelief, rejection and neglect from doctors, church people and also family and friends.

To such an extent that I landed up in the proverbial pig pen; not because of my foolishness, but because I had no one to care for me when I couldn’t take care of myself. Nobody believed that I was really ill.

But I was never alone. I could hear my Pappa screaming in my pain and suffering. Faithfully He was working in His normal mysterious ways to perform His wonders in my life.

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The shepherds of ancient times would break the legs of the lambs that constantly wandered away.

Then he would set the leg and carry the lamb on his shoulder until the leg was healed. After that the lamb would remain by the shepherd’s side for the rest of its life.

Pappa knew of my stubborn propensities to be a master performer to earn everyone’s love and approval.

With my religious mindset, I just could not believe that I already was loved and accepted by our God.

Because of His amazing love, He did what the shepherds did with their stubborn, wandering lambs. Allowing Fm/ME in my life, He “broke” my legs.

With such tender care and love, He gently set it as well and carried me around His neck until I was healed of my stubbornness and insecurities.

I have learned how good it is when my Beloved Shepherd Himself feeds me with the milk of His love… His grace … His life and compassion.

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Fm/CFS has taught me how to always walk with our Lord and never ever to leave His side again.

Even though we suffer greatly at times, I am so grateful for the wonder and joy of walking daily with our God … for the privilege of living in His Loving Embrace.

Love and sweet blessings

Mia

We all have experienced how our Lord has provided in miraculous ways. Please, share His goodness with us!
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The Dance of Desires

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God’s Thoughts to Me

May He grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20:4, NLT).

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, NLT).

Sanctified Desires

I allow my mind to wander back down the avenues of time and desires … back to the time when I was living in a world of self-derivation. imageI was living a lie that man could be autonomous … the time when I was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I was trapped in the fowler’s snare, believing I was able to determine, on my own terms, what good and evil were.

The time when I was wandering outside the Garden of Love, separated from the presence of our Pappa and His Majesty, King Jesus. I was residing in the Land of Shame … being the captive of that cruel dictator. Nothing I did ever seemed to merit his approval!

Whenever I did something honorable, he would pierce my heart with arrows of condemnation for having a prideful heart. But this coin had another side … every time I did something wrong, my heart was shredded into pieces for being such a detestable creature, a shame to mankind, an excuse of a human being.

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An unworthy Christian, unworthy of receiving the slightest consideration or love from anyone … least of all from my Pappa or His elite corps of Christians, according to my estimation, in the church. Receiving tons and tons of rejection seemed like business as usual and definitely what I deserved.

This was not a comfortable place to be, for I honestly believe that Pappa made a big mistake in creating me and the way I was treated by important people in my life only confirmed my suspicions about myself.

I was even indoctrinated by religious blah-blah-blah into thinking that this view of myself was proof of an extremely selfish heart. And this made me wander further and further down the road of self-loathing.

image Looking at the human race, I realize that we were all created with a big empty, yearning heart that can only find peace and love from the source of all love … the God who is Love! No one or nothing else can ever serve as a substitute! Bur our obstinate hearts need to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death before we finally realise this truth and reach out to grab the waiting Heavenly Hand.

That was when I started to hear the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit whispering mysteries to my heart. His Wisdom was standing at the crossroads of my life, actually, my whole existence, calling me, urging me to enter into a Kingdom of Love … a Kingdom of Acceptance … a Kingdom of incredible beauty, with a King of Love, the Prince of Peace.

He was yearning for my return from my wanderings as I was searching, like the Shulamite, for my Beloved in the streets of Jerusalem … until I heard a voice calling from mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.

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Yes, she was calling me out of Egypt of organized religion, but the Pharao of my Egypt only allowed me a few excursions into the wilderness to worship my Father. The desires of my heart kept calling me back to the same-old, same-old familiarity of the world.

What a blessed day when I was finally delivered from the slavery to that cruel king; when his whole army of soldiers was drowned in the Red Sea as they tried to recapture me, to force me back into slavery to the world and its ways. The Pharao realized that my days of free labour came to an end and this enraged him for he was losing another forced labourer. imageBut … I was also carrying a lot of gold from Egypt into my wilderness wanderings and sooner rather than later, I had a few golden calves erected as I grew tired of waiting on our Lord to show me His glory. I was dancing to my hearts delight around the idols of morality, theology, bibliolatry and a lot of Nicolaitan teachings.

But thankfully Pappa sent a whole brood of poisonous snakes to bring me to my senses. As I was at the gates of death and hopelesness, I finally looked up to the cross and SAW … really SAW our Lord Jesus. That was the time when I was crying like the Israelites in the wilderness, when they were testing our Pappa and the poor Moses, longing for the pots of Egypt, filled with meat, watermelons and all the bread I thought my heart needed (Exodus 16:3). I had a heart of stone with many rules written on its tablets.

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These two Scripture verses were my ticket to everything my deceitful heart desired and I thought delighting myself in the Lord meant singing praise and worship songs Sundays at church. I know now that I was only delighting my flesh and this offer had to be repeated week after week after week, just like the altar system of the old covenant of law … a never-ending cycle.

Pappa, though, never seemed to keep His side of the bargain and I was frustrated with His lack of fulfilling His promise, for my soulish desires were as unfulfilled as ever … with me being convinced that it was the yearnings of my heart!

Yet, He was not procastinating … He was bringing me to the end of myself. He brought a debilitating illness into my life and just like Paul, I was overwhelmed beyond my ability to endure. Just like him, I stopped being my own source of strengh and trust (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). I started to draw my whole existence from the Life of our Lord Jesus … living from the Bread of Life … feasting and drinking from the Fountain of Love! I was finally able to cross the Jordan river into Canaan … into our Lord Jesus. The shadow of the Sabbath became flesh and reality in my life … Emmanuel … God with me … God in me.

image The cry of my heart changed dramatically from expecting Pappa to cater to my fleshly, carnal desires, to desiring only His will … needing to live in Him moment to moment. He gracefully changed my desires and plans as I learned to praise Him from the depths of my being, living where it is only Him and me … in a never-ending communion of love … a beautiful dance of being ( The Shack).

There in our secret place nothing could close the windows of heaven as He showered me with all His spiritual delights. Looking back at 2012, I fall to my knees and thank my Pappa for His wisdom and grace for allowing this illness and using what I thought of as evil, as an incredible good, to draw me into His life … into His love … into His heart … into His Loving Embrace.

Much love XX

Mia

FCB Member

I have the honor  today to be part of a new link-up at My Freshly Brewed Life. Thank you, Barbie, for your new Weekend Brew. Come join us at http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/.
I am also linking up with Mindy at http://www.newequus.com/author/mindybowman/. Thank you for the opportunity Mindy!
And the Extraordinary Ordinary.
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A Sweating, Striving Sweater

God’s Thoughts to Me

But as I looked at everything I had worked to accomplish, it was all so meaningless – like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NLT)

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, NLT)

The Futility of Striving

Solomon was a great man of divine wisdom. His words in Ecclesiastes show the depth of his wisdom when he acknowleded that all his striving and sweating caused him a severe case of burnout. A burnout caused by his relentless efforts in building his search for fulfillment, meaning and happiness on the wrong foundations: the shaky foundations of the world’s riches, values and ways.

Another foundation, much more subtle and dangerous, I have found myself building on, trying to find meaning in life, was religion. The etymology of the word “religion” shows that it is derived from the Latin word “religare”, a word aligned to the root word “religio”, meaning “to tie back” or “to bind up”.

During Paul’s visit to Athens, he noticed their numerous idols. Not to offend any god, they even had an idol to “an unknown god”. He told them,”Men of Athens, I notice that you are very RELIGIOUS in every way…” (Acts 17:22) The Greek word he used was “deisidaimon”, “deisi” meaning “to fear or respect” and “daimon”, demon!! Paul was actually likening religion to the worshipping of and paying respect to demons! To be totally honest, that frightened me to such a degree that I knew I was standing at the crossroads of my life and I knew I had to choose.

I realized I was swallowing all the lies the father of religion was feeding me, like Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Our Pappa gently showed me that my mind was veiled, darkened and wandering far from the abundant life our Lord Jesus longed to give me, free of charge! Before my Pappa gave sight to my blind spiritual eyes, I was striving and sweating, trying to cover my spiritual cold and nakedness with the fig leaves of religion.

I was knitting a sweater with a wide variety of religious knitting yarn: church attendance, giving to the poor, serving, Bible reading, praying and some more. My sweater closely resembled Joseph’s colorful coat. Instead of providing spiritual warmth and life, this sweater only birthed another sweater, me!! I was perspiring profusely trying to earn everything in life, especially love, worth and acceptance.

My late father once remarked that I always seemed to be chasing after love and he was spot-on with his words. I was completely baffled and left in the dark, for I had no idea why I acted this way. Was it because my earthly father’s love was the only love I had ever experienced without any strings attached or because my biological mother passed away when I was only 3 years old?

I suppose I will never know the answer, but I do know that from a young age the sweet Holy Spirit has been drawing me into the source of all love, compassion, grace, kindness and mercy, the abundant Life of our Lord Jesus.

What joy the day when our Lord Jesus started to free me from all the chains that were keeping me captive. He also revealed to me the true meaning of His words,”I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), because to me it meant something along these lines, “For I came that you might have religion and have it more abundantly, to practise it more faithfully and committedly, defending it with all your might and behaving more morally!”.

What joy when our Lord took me by the hand and showed me a better way, a long walk to freedom, freedom from all this striving, sweating; freedom from the dark, futile road of self-effort and fear. Our Pappa promises us that there is no fear in love for His perfect love casts out all fear. ( 1 John 4:18).

I want to pay tribute to all those dear saints from the past who in the face of extreme opposition and persecution  refused to accept another gospel which was not a gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). Saints like Paul and many others who preferred to be beaten with rods, to be shipwrecked, fed to lions, to go hungry, cold and without sleep, rather than to bow the knee before the idol of religion.

Thank you, Amber, and all you dear Ones for allowing me to share the freedom, love, joy and abundant life of our Lord Jesus with you for a short while along my journey of life.

Hugs and blessings

Mia

I’m linking up with Amber Haines again with gratitude and joy. Other  “abstracts on the sweater” can be found here http://therunamuck.com/2012/11/05/an-abstraction-on-the-sweater/.

The Candor of a Child

God’s Thoughts to Me

When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:13-15, NLT)

A Lesson from Lea, with Love

The real-life Lea

Last week I was blessed abundantly when I had the privilege of visiting my 1-year-and-5-month-old little niece in Port Elizabeth. I could let my hair down and just be little, small and childlike, getting dirty as we built sandcastles and playing in the mud. I was the builder and she, the demolisher

When I arrived, little Lea was overjoyed as she ran up to me on her chubby little legs. Shrieking with boundless delight, she jumped onto my lap and stole my heart all over again with those beautiful, blue, innocent eyes, sparkling with stars of anticipation, expecting a great time of fun and play.

What a precious moment it was when she wrapped her little arms around my neck with complete trust and surrender, not doubting my love for her even for a moment. Our Heavenly Father showed me the holiness of the moment as the Holy Spirit gave life to the words of the French author, Jacques Ellul. In his wonderful book, Anarchy and Christianity, he remarked with unusual wisdom,” No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of the Absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts Himself on our human level and limits Himself.”

I had the privilege of loving Lea the same way our Lord Jesus loved us when He did not consider His equality with God as something to hold on to, but He emptied Himself by becoming like one of us (Phillipians 2:7). I could love Lea by putting myself on her childlike level, without considering my adulthood and limiting myself. I listened to all her incomprehensible baby babble, pretending to understand every single word as she was wholeheartedly giving me an account of her little life. Needless to say, for a few hours we played to our heart’s delight.

The holiness of that moment wrapped its warm, loving arms around me like the first rays of the sun at daybreak after a cold, dark night. My heart sensed with anticipation that our Pappa was revealing an awesome side of His character to me.

During the third decade of the first century, the Jewish families from Palestine valued their children, especially boys, for their posterity. However, they were very low on on the social ladder of a religious society who highly valued education, wisdom and intelligence. They had no rights or status and were regarded as inferior, the least among family members, a nuisance only to be seen, but definitely not heard! It came as a shock to me that we need to become like these unimportant, inferior little ones to enter our Pappa’s Kingdom of love (Matthew 18:3). I needed to desire and value my Pappa’s love much more than my so-called rights or importance, the idols the world loves to pay homage to!

Our orphaned, broken world is trying to survive without a Father, but has robbed so many of our Pappa’s children of their innocent childlikeness, me included. Since as far as my mind was able to reach back in time to fetch memories from my past, I had been on a futile quest trying to impress my Pappa and all those I considered to be His representatives here on earth. Well, I know now it is just as impossible as trying to catch the wind or chasing my own shadow.

I was suffering from a severe case of, what I call, the Micah syndrome. Micah had the same mindset as me when he lamented so beautifully, “What can we bring to God? What kind of offering should we give Him? …. Should we sacrifice our first-born children?” (Micah 6:6-7, NLT).

This syndrome was rampant amongst the ancient Canaanite tribes. Seeking the favor of their gods, they tied their first-born sons to altars as sacrifices and offered their virgin daughters to fiery volcanoes. What an incentive to let go of chastity! I wondered if Abraham thought it was business-as-usual when Our Pappa asked him to offer up Isaac?

I was ignorant of the beautiful freedom our Lord Jesus gave me by being the only mediator between my Pappa and me. As I allowed the Holy Spirit of love to draw me closer and closer into our Father’s love and the resurrected life of our Lord Jesus, I was again able to recapture the holiness of childlike faith. I could once again hear our Lord’s invitation to just come to Him to experience His rest. (Mark 10:14). Just like little Lea, I ran up to my Pappa and hurried into His Loving Embrace. I told Him of all my brokeness, weaknesses, frustrations, hopes, fears and dreams without feeling that I was a nuisance. I started to experience the truth of our Lord’s words, “You have taught children and infants” (Psalm 8:2) and shared in His delight, “Oh Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” (Matthew 11:25).

One of my favorite authors, A W Tozer, once remarked with divine wisdom, “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others”. So true!

Dear Ones, your Pappa does not look at the limitations this illness forces on you, He looks at your childlike heart reaching out to Him through all your pain and exhaustion. He looks at your childlike faith that implicitly trusts His promise of love to be close to the suffering, listening to your cries for help. (Psalm 22:24).

The world might abandon their weak, but not our Pappa, for He has a special place in His heart for all the spiritually, emotionally and physically broken ones! May our Pappa bless you and keep you this week as you share your life with Him, knowing that you bring joy to His heart by just being the broken, beautiful you He loves. Allow Him to carry you as He wraps you close to His heart in His Loving Embrace.

Hugs and blessings until next time. Mia

The Emperor’s Image

God’s Thoughts to Me

But Jesus knew their evil motives, “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed Him a Roman coin, He asked,” Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Ceasar’s,” they replied. “Well, then give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, and give to God to what belongs to God.”(Matthew 22:18-21, NLT).

So God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NLT).

The Hurdles of Discipline

When my oldest son, Simon, was a secondary school learner, he was a provincial 400 meter hurdles athlete. At all the competitions his doting mother caused him endless embarrassment by, to put it mildly, proudly, yet noisily, jumping up and down, cheering him along and helping him to finish the race. Eventually he had to surrender, for he, for some strange reason, seemed unable to get his mother to behave more appropriately.

Then it happened! He stumbled and heartily greeted mother earth during a race he was about to win. My courageous, brave 18-year old baby got up and finished second…and then…collapsed! This mother hen quickly gathered her precious, bleeding chick under her wing, and that in front of an enormous crowd of spectators. So completely not cool at all!!

That was one of my favorite, precious God moments. Our Pappa taught me a most valuable lesson through this incident on His love and care towards us. Like the best parent ever, He lovingly disciplines us by allowing the hurdles of trials and tribulations during our race of life to teach us godliness and complete dependance upon Him. Every hurdle presents another opportunity to stretch those faith muscles to jump clear. When we fall, He lovingly picks us up and gathers us in His arms and wipes away all our tears while encouraging us not to lose heart, for He will always be there, right beside us, jumping up and down with joy as He cheers us on, rejoicing over us with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17).

As I was reading the above Scripture, the Lord opened my eyes to a big, bad insurmountable hurdle of misconception and wrong perception l had allowed to develop in my life, hindering my relationship with my Pappa to grow, to bloom and to blossom. My frame of reference told me that all our Lord Jesus’ anger towards the Pharisees and Scribes was also directed towards me. Our Pappa was, as far as I was concerned, a very angry, abusive God, expecting me to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and polish up my poor excuse of a life.

Our God patiently taught me through one of my favorite Bible teachers, James Fowler, my perception of His character was totally wrong. My frame of reference needed to include some “zits im leben” (setting in life). It needed to be based on the truth of  whom our Lord really was referring to, as well as the culture and traditions of that specific time. When I read the text in that context, scales fell from my eyes and I looked at this Scripture with new understanding.

Allow me to give a little background information. At the time our Lord Jesus walked the earth, the Roman authorities issued a silver coin, the denarius, stamped with the image of the Emperor. It was used as the standard payment for taxes. The Romans were well aware of the Jews’ scruples about “graven images” and out of respect for their religious traditions, they issued a bronze coin without any image for the use of those devout Palestinian Jews, without having to defile themselves when paying their taxes.

I have wondered why politicians and religious leaders often seem to be bosom buddies until I saw the truth of Solomon’s words, there truly is nothing new under the sun! (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The Pharisees and Scribes were hand in glove with the Herodians, inviting them along when they tried to soft-soap our Lord Jesus by commending His integrity. As if they were qualified to be judges of integrity! They tried to force Him into a Catch 22 situation by asking Him the famous question about taxes. These highly religious and righteous Jews, as they considered themselves to be, had no reason to defile themselves by touching a denarius, but when Jesus requested one, they provided the denarius from their own pockets!! I wonder if all the bronze ones went to the poor!

Our Lord saw right through their evil intent into their greed for religous power, position, prestige and money. They were unwilling to give it all up and to give themselves wholeheartedly to our Pappa. We are all familiar with the outcome of this story.

A question started to form in my mind, “As humans, whose image do we bear?” Our Pappa revelaled to my heart the precious truth that we are all created in His image!! He created us as spiritual beings to lavishly love us and enabled us to love Him in return. That privilege was forfeited in Eden and bought back on the cross at Golgotha. If only I could rid myself of that brood of “Pharisees” joyfully lodging in my heart, suffocating the loving relationship between my Pappa and me. Our Lord’s words became crystal clear to me, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this eternal life” (John 5:39-40, NLT).

I rejoiced when we together chased the slave woman and her son from my heart as Paul instructed us to do. (Galatians 4:30). Good riddance indeed! But little did know of  all the son’s siblings, cousins and cousins-twice-removed still stealing and feasting on the delicious fruit our Lord was producing in my heart, keeping me imprisoned and chained to the system of religious performance. I had cordially invited them in when I had gobbled up many false teachings in the past. The stone tablets of my heart had many laws, over and above the Ten Commandments. As the years passed by, I kept adding more and more, as well as erasing a few outdated, old ones.

The slave woman and her son

I never was certain what the current religous modus operandi would be and was horrified of being rejected one more time, so I kept my list up to date, I never knew our Pappa could be so finicky for He seemed to change His mind from day to day, from denomination to denomination and even from congregation to congregation! Just to name a few of the silver denari, stamped with the image of religion, I was carrying in my pocket:

1. Only the Psalms and organ music are suitable for our Lord’s ears.
2. Communion must be served around a big table where everyone drinks from a humongous silver communion cup.
3. Tithe your gross income if you want to ensure God’s gross blessings.
4. As proof of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues.
5. Serve, serve, serve and then serve some more; give, give, give and then give some more.
6. You have to be under the church’s covering, submitting to their authority. Failing to do that is proof of habouring a Jezebel spirit.
7. Wives submit to your husbands even if it kills you or be warned of the danger that you might turn into Jezebel herself.
8. Never mention someone’s name while praying for them in church for that borders on idolatry.
9. Do not disagree with your pastor, or if you do; zip the lip!
10. Do not always be the one suffering from an illness, for that shows your lack of faith and without faith you are not pleasing God. So rather suffer in silence and pretend to be well.
11. Spread the Gospel. Failure to do so will hinder the growth of your fruit supply and if you are empty handed when you meet the Fruit Inspector one day, you might be in BIG trouble!

And so the list went on and on and on!! Keeping them caused me endless spiritual pride and I could teach the Pharisees and Scribes a lesson or two about hypocrisy. Today I realize that it was all due to my extremely poor and shame-based self-esteem for I always used to measure love, anyone’s love, especially God’s, as something earned through my performance, yet mine always seemed to miss the mark!

Although some of these practices are not wrong in and of themselves, they do become law the moment they become rules and therefore replace grace, bearing the emperor’s image. I realize now that the Great Deceiver, the Father of Religion, played dirty tricks on my mind.  Our Lord Jesus did not mince His words when He told the Pharisees, “For you are the children of your father, the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth.” (John 8:44a, NLT).

Dear Ones, even though Fm/CFS takes us through deep, deep valleys of suffering, I can now see and appreciate our Pappa’s hand of love and wisdom in my life, providing the hurdles of suffering to draw me away from the law-based road to destruction and steering me gently into His kingdom of light of love, of freedom and peace. He will personally carry you over all the many hurdles this illness and life in general bring into your life, looking forward to the beautiful butterfly that will eventually emerge from your cocoon of suffering.

May our Lord bless you and keep you secure this coming week, snuggled warmly in the safety of His Loving Embrace!

Hugs and blessings

Mia