Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Mirror, Mirror"

I try not to take for granted the gifts God gives to me in my counseling ministry. Although I am technically considered the"expert" in the eyes of my clients as they stare at the degrees on my wall, I learn a great deal from their lives. I consider each client's journey a sacred trust that I have been given as I enter into their life's story. Recently, a client was sharing with me how she had found new life in studying dance. This woman had just emerged from some difficult situations that she is still in the process of grieving. However, she found dance to have freed her from bondage and released the creative gifts with which God has blessed her. One of the issues she expressed struck me on a deeper level. She reported how in studying dance one has to use a mirror to make sure your body is in the appropriate position to execute the required dance moves. Similarly when entering a competition, a mirror was necessary to put on one's make-up. The woman confessed that mirrors were a challenge for her in that she never wore make-up or had the need to really look at herself in the mirror. I responded to the woman and noted that we as believers all have a "growing edge." It is a place or situation we want to avoid or hide from so we don't have to face the realities that need to be unmasked. In other words we don't have to embrace the things that God wants us to see so we can grow closer to Him. I suggested to this woman that this avoidance of looking into a mirror was perhaps one of her growing edges. Maybe God wants her to look at herself and see the beautiful woman He has created and then express that beauty through the joy of her dancing. Through the creativity of her dancing, she can rejoice in the Lord as the psalmist declares, "For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:13-14) I was challenged to think about my own growing edges. Can I look into that "mirror" at those situations and circumstances that I want to avoid and be sensitive to what the Spirit is trying to teach me about myself and my relationship with God? When I face those challenges can I express my gratitude to the Lord in some creative way? Do I truly embrace the fact that God's works are wonderful and know that full well because I am one of those works? The growing edges in our lives are not meant to shame or embarrass us but rather help us to understand just how much God wants to transform us closer to the image of His Son so like my client we can freely express all that God created us to be. So what is your growing edge? What bondage is holding you back from being truly free in Christ? Ask the Lord to reveal these growing edges to you so you can with heartfelt praise declare, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!"
Blessings In Christ!
Pastor Sheree

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Knowing me, knowing You

For those of you who are frequent travelers, you are aware of having to pass through the TSA inspections prior to boarding a flight. These inspections are primarily searches through your luggage and other items. In many cases a physical pat down may be involved. Why are these precautions necessary? The quick answer is a response to the threat of terrorism  since September 11. It is an attempt to prevent future terrorists attacks, although as we saw with the Boston Marathon our protection can only extend to a certain point. However, on a very personal level these searches highlight the fact that the TSA personnel don't know you. They do not have an intimate relationship with you. They don't know the deepest parts of you, what you think, what you feel, how you experience life. The agents want to determine that you are "clean" and nothing is hidden. Recently I was meditating on Psalm 139:1, "Oh Lord, You have searched me and You know me." I was particularly drawn to the words "search" and "know." In Hebrew the word "search" suggests the idea of an investigation. When the authorities conduct an investigation, they examine every facet of an individual's life. When our Lord, the Supreme Authority "investigates" us, He knows every aspect of who we are, our strengths, our struggles and challenges, our joys and our sorrows. His investigation is not limited in its detail for He knows how every cell functions in our bodies as well as our DNA make up. Before Him, nothing is hidden. The word "know" in Hebrew carries several definitions but in general it conveys the idea of noticing or observing, to find out how it is with someone. God wants to find out how it is with me. He is looking for the "real me" to show up not the "false self" or the "obligated self" that I present to others. And because He knows me so well, He wants me to pay attention to the person He has uniquely created. The impression the Lord left on my heart was, "I know daughter what breaks you and what brings you life, trust that." It is very easy to engage in activities or make choices based on what we think others expect from us or even in trying to discern how God is leading us. However, to ignore who we are at the core, often leads us to experience feelings of frustration and lack of joy. I confess I am guilty of ignoring my real self and often giving into the expectations of others. Currently I am at a crossroads of discerning the Lord's leading for ministry in the future. However, in the process I need to be reminded that part of that discernment is knowing how God has created me. The Lord wants to know that we are "clean" and not trying to hide anything from Him, ourselves, or others. I am not suggesting that we don't have boundaries but rather that we are aware of what brings us life and what is burdensome, in other words knowing our limits. The great theologian Saint Augustine put it this way, "Grant Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee." Similarly, theologian Thomas Merton states, "There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him." Knowing myself can draw me closer to knowing the Lord. I encourage you to allow the Lord to search you and help you discover who you are so you can begin to live authentically as He intended.
Pastor Sheree