Most Important Lesson

Biography of a Soul…notes to a seeker.

Like St. Teresa of Avila, whose Abbess instructed her to write her Autobiography of a Soul, creating a map to follow toward the heart of God, I offer a Biography of a Soul, notes to encourage and equip your heart to seek God’s heart.

Like Screwtape to Wormwood, I make practical suggestions about how to continue toward God’s good will. Read on, won’t you?

Mary Cassatt, The Two Sisters, Public Domain

My dear Seeker,

Pay attention because I’m about to share with you the most important lesson you’ll learn in your life of discipleship. This truth is the foundation upon which you must build your life. Are you ready? Here you go – This life is a gift. A gift. Do not pass over this lesson quickly, thinking you already know it or thinking it is too simple to give much attention. I know you, you desire a life radically different from the one you have previously lived, you long for a mind made new, more readily thinking God’s thoughts; you yearn for a heart shaped by mercy and justice; that offers kind and trustworthy actions that bring glory to your Lord. The life of a faithful follower of Jesus is possible only because God gives it to you. You cannot “white knuckle” yourself into transformation. The Jesus-likeness you desire happens when you make yourself available to receive God’s grace.


Think of your heart like a balloon, empty of any ego or drive for perfection, ready to receive a breath that will fill it and give it shape. God’s love is the breath that will inflate your soul. As God’s love and character are poured into your heart, your life will take the form for which you were created. Your life will become like Jesus. Your part in this process is to remain receptive to this inpouring.


This life is a gift—what a profound thought. You cannot earn this life, you do not merit it. You receive it. All gifts proceed from the resources of the giver. Your God is rich in mercy and kindness and gives life to you in abundance. You need only want it and then be willing to set aside your pride and your belief that you need to do something to deserve it. This belief forces you to perform in order to be worthy of God’s love or to protect God’s reputation. It’s outcome is the opposite of what you desire. It separates you from God. Duty performed, not fueled by affection, displeases God. Nothing but love and desire for God and an awareness of your need of God are required of you.

Any duty you perform, not fueled by affection for God, displeases God.

DB


I’m not saying there is no effort on your part. There is, it is not easy to receive this gift. The hard work you must do is to slay your pride and deny yourself as a god in your life. This work requires vigilance and a great faith; even these, though, are gifts of God’s grace if you are willing to receive them. Your effort is to remain receptive out of your love response to God and to realize that apart from God’s grace, you can do nothing.


You are saved by grace, yes. But you also live by grace. Your every breath is God’s gift to you. You remain alive because God is continuing to prepare you for eternity, training you in worship and equipping you for reigning with him. Each day you live in dependence on God’s gifts of life and love for you, you are being shaped into the likeness of Jesus; day by day, changed in character and actions until the day comes when you shall see him and when you see him, you will be like him.


Remember your childhood and the intense longing you had for that special toy you wanted for Christmas? Remember how you were convinced that without it under the Christmas tree your life would be empty and miserable. Remember how that desire caused you to beg your parents for it? Caused you to attempt to modify your behavior so that you’d more likely be in a position to receive it? (“He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice…”)


Even now, desire the life of a faithful disciple as much as you wanted that toy; beg your heavenly parent for it, dispose yourself to receive it, and trust that it will be yours. God is waiting for you to ask and is eager to respond.


With you on the journey,
Debby

Learning Life

Biography of a Soul…notes to a seeker.

Like St. Teresa of Avila, whose Abbess instructed her to write her Autobiography of a Soul, creating a map to follow toward the heart of God, I offer a Biography of a Soul, notes to encourage and equip your heart to seek God’s heart.

Like Screwtape to Wormwood, I make practical suggestions about how to continue toward God’s good will. Read on, won’t you?

Mary Cassatt, The Two Sisters, Public Domain

My dear Seeker,

You’ve decided that Jesus is the one you from whom you want to learn life. Good choice! Like any other skill or object you’ve determined to master, life must be learned. Life learned? This may seem contrary, but it is true. Life, ultimate life, must be studied and practiced. You were given biological life by the grace of God, and you were taught how to handle this gift by the influence of your parents and culture. Of course, your own temperament played a part in how these lessons were incorporated and interpreted, but for the most part, you were passive in this process, you received and responded.


But now you are becoming your own agent of choice. You are wise enough to go to the source. You asked the creator of life to teach you how to live. You have much to unlearn and much to learn about this life you are seeking. God will be a faithful teacher. Jesus is your model, your instructor, and your friend.


In the past, you looked to tutors who were less faithful and true. Parents who, although they loved you the best they were able, did not love you perfectly and placed expectations on you that squelched your spirit. You learned to hide your true life. The church, intended to train you in the love and freedom that is yours as a beloved child of God, instead taught you the life of a slave, filled with shame and rules that must be obeyed out of fear, you learned to hate your true life. Relationships, meant to provide the experience of intimacy, acceptance, and mutual respect, instead convinced you that only perfection in body and personality could be desired and honored. Knowing your own imperfection and finding flaws in the other, fostered the fear of rejection, you learned to wear a mask to conceal your true life.

Parents who, although they loved you the best they were able, did not love you perfectly and placed expectations on you that squelched your spirit. You learned to hide your true life.

DB

You looked to these teachers to give you life, but they delivered death. Each death-dealing “lesson” you learned, each disappointment you suffered created a wall that surrounded your true self and separated you from the source of life, God’s love. But God’s love was not content with this divide, so the trinity conspired to break down this wall of separation.


The flesh and blood of Jesus eliminated this barrier and you have been brought near to the God of life. God’s grace has returned you to the place of a student, ready and eager to learn. And now Jesus will teach you. Forget what lies behind and attempt to maintain the posture of a little child who is learning things for the first time…

With you on the journey,

Debby

Intention

Biography of a Soul…notes to a seeker.

Like St. Teresa of Avila, whose Abbess instructed her to write her Autobiography of a Soul, creating a map to follow toward the heart of God, I offer a Biography of a Soul, notes to encourage and equip your heart to seek God’s heart.

Like Screwtape to Wormwood, I make practical suggestions about how to continue toward God’s good will. Read on, won’t you?

Mary Cassatt, The Two Sisters, Public Domain

My dear Seeker,

You have asked me to give you some guidance about your walk with Jesus. I think your intention is to be better able, as it has been said, to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, follow him more nearly, with each passing day.

First of all, let me remind you of how this desire brings your Lord the greatest delight. When God looks out over the world God created God’s eyes take in innumerable sights and activities that must grieve God’s heart – war, greed, death, loneliness – sadnesses beyond our measure. But imagine how the Father heart of God must rejoice when he looks at you and sees his daughter wanting nothing better than to love and obey him to the best of her ability. And what she lacks in ability, she trusts that God’s Spirit will supply. You and your desire to love God and love God’s world is a bright spot in the cosmos now. Do not minimize the impact of your desire. It is a big deal.

Do you find it hard to imagine that you, little you, can bring delight to God? The reason for this is that you forget who you are. I remind you that you are God’s beloved child. You’re a parent, think back and remember the joy that filled your heart when your son would take comfort from no one but you? When your daughter would follow you around the kitchen imitating your actions? When your company alone was their preferred companion? Remember this joy and magnify it at least by 1000 to get a glimpse of how your God feels toward you. Dear one, try to remain God’s beloved child.

Also, please remember that your desire to know God on a more intimate level is not your idea! It originated in God’s own heart. You are just responding. When you were created, God planted a kind of homing device in your soul. You know yourself well enough to know that there has always been an urge for a greater and grander life. This urge is God’s strategy to drive you to seek God. Nothing else will satisfy. Only God can settle you and convince you that your life is important. You have been “hooked” by the great fisherman and you are being reeled in. The difference is that you have been caught in order to provide you a feast, not to be a feast! God is so eager to share God’s life with you. Let yourself be grateful that the magnet heart of God is calling you home.

Notice thus far, how frequently you are called to remember or are reminded of some truth about God and about you. Remembering is essential for your faithful walk with Jesus. Remembering brings to mind something from your past, allowing yourself to reexperience the event, the thought, or the emotion. To remember is to keep truth alive. To remember causes you to once again own reality. Take time in your regular prayer to recall truths you learned from the heart of God; take them from the shelf of your mind and sit with them, feel their import, let them hydrate the dry places of your soul. Few things in life are as enjoyable and bonding as friends sitting together remembering their common history. God wants to do this with you. If you faithfully remember such truths as God’s tenderness toward you, or the joy of obedience, or the comfort of Jesus, or the available power of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to live faithfully in the present. Remembering will wake your soul to the very presence of the Trinity. And in the presence of the Holy God of absolute Love, you will say yes to the life of a disciple of Jesus. If you remember well and often, you will live well and delight God.

I am quite honored to share with you the thoughts the Holy Spirit gives me about walking with Jesus. I am not an expert on the topic. In fact, I am a feeble guide. And yet you have asked, so I trust that somehow our Lord will use my life and my words to lead you into the Kingdom. Join me now in prayer. 

Holy Spirit, you who bring to our mind all that Jesus taught, you who bring illumination to our hearts, come now with your power and your testimony. Reveal through these printed words the vision of a life of a disciple who is learning to live and love like Jesus. Make these words alive, may they teach, encourage and equip. We engage with them as one of your tools to transform us into the likeness of Jesus, for the glory of God.  in whose name we pray.  Amen.

With you on the journey,

Debby