Good morning, This is #2 in uncovering our root/core sin. Go with God as you sit with your emotions. What keeps us off track on our journey toward God’s heart, is not the wrong turns we make (sins), but the map we’re using (Sin). Love, D<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/108702815″>MM 10/12/14 sin and digging deeper</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/debbybellingham”>Debby Bellingham</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
The Israelites found themselves at the edge of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army closing in, certain death approaching, and no escape possible. Their fear birthed blame; first toward Moses, “Why didn’t you leave us in Egypt to die?” Then toward themselves, “Why did we agree to follow him?”
Can you relate to the fear that arises when an enemy is at your heels and there is no way out? God, through Moses, gives aid to the rightfully frightened Israelites, and by extension to you and me.
DO NOT BE AFRAID – When panic arises, get in touch with the fear you are experiencing. Of what are you afraid? What’s the worse thing that could happen? Follow this thread until you arrive at the core, existential fear that your situation touches. God will meet you at that place with a truth that addresses your fear.
My marriage is over. And? My children will suffer. And? I can’t protect them. And? I should have been able to. And? I’ve failed as a parent. (hear the blame) And? My greatest desire is for their well-being and it is impossible for me to keep them safe. And? I’ll need to trust them to God’s care.
This makes it sound much easier than it is, you might need someone to help you through this process. Once you’ve hit bottom, gotten in touch with your greatest fear and God’s truth in response to that fear, the next word of aid God’s offers is: STAND FIRM.
When the enemy taunts and fear and doubt arise in the form of regrets, should-haves, why did I’s? and I’m doomeds, your work is to return to the truth, “God will care for my children.” The hardest thing to do will be to KEEP STILL. But in so doing, you will “see the deliverance the Lord will accomplish and your enemies no longer. The Lord will fight for you.”
The Israelites waited and walked through on dry land, the Red Sea closed upon the Egyptians and their threat was eliminated. God will make a way for your impossible situation.
What enemy presses in on you? Financial debt, serious health issues, relational crises? When doubt and blame reign in your heart, keep still and let the Lord address your fear. Hide from the enemy behind the truth God promises.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I?”
God had a plan to deliver his chosen people from the Egyptian political machine that held them captive.
God is the same today as he was then, he observes our misery, hears our cries, knows our suffering and comes down to deliver us, bringing us to a good place, a broad place; a place of freedom.
Moses is the man God assigned to implement this deliverance plan. Moses, though, was a man who lived in bondage. Although not enslaved by the Egyptian taskmasters, as was his Jewish brothers and sisters, an even worse oppressor, one that lived within him held him captive. Fear.
Like Moses, “Pharaoh Fear” and his taskmasters hold you and me hostage. Our personal prisons, created by fear, look different in each of our experience. But what is the same for all of us, Moses included, is that God’s promise, realized in Jesus Christ, releases us from every captivity. This includes the prisons that fear and its various taskmasters create.
God had a plan to set his people free and it required Moses to return to the place he’d fled, challenge the most powerful man in the world, and go back to an environment where he felt insecure and inadequate. No wonder he resisted God’s request. “Who am I…?” was his gut reaction. He had come to know himself as his fears had defined him and speaks from this sense of identity. “I’m not enough for this task.”
In setting us free, God begins with the basics. We’ve come to believe lies about our true identity. Our past may have taught us that we are powerless, without a voice, unnecessary and perhaps even the reason for trouble. Such beliefs keep us from experiencing the liberty that God intends. These statements are not what God says about us.
Pause for a moment and consider the beliefs you hold about yourself that keep you captive and living in fear…
The interesting way God has of correcting these wrong beliefs is not through words or cognition. “I will be with you” is the antidote offered for Moses’ fears. The presence of God is the healing and restorative means of addressing our inaccurate self-assessments.
Words or arguments will not convince you of the truth. You do not need to know more correct and proper information. When these lies bully you, and you cringe in fear because of them, it is only in clinging to the presence of the God who promises to be there that will give you the power to act in freedom.
It is not a mind game, it is not positive self-talk that empowers you to operate from a sense of freedom. “I am capable, I am enough…” It is bringing these imprisoning lies before the God of love that causes them to melt away and be replaced with God’s truth spoken over you.
Your heart must be convinced, not just your mind.
This is when freedom is experienced.
It’s obvious we are not living anywhere near the Garden of Eden and God’s intention for our lives and relationships. What went wrong? Genesis 3 gives us a clue.
After the ‘fall’ Adam and Eve “clothed themselves in fig leaves.”
Previous to the fall, they enjoyed unadulterated fellowship with God, each other and all of creation; they were “naked and not ashamed.” In perfect partnership and according to God’s direction, they tended the garden and cared for the animals. They knew only freedom and joy. After the fall, Adam and Eve were afraid. They hid themselves and made fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Heeding the serpent’s voice and choosing to do the one thing God has asked them not to do changed their outlook; suddenly they became self conscious, for the first time they noticed their own nakedness. Their attention and focus shifted to themselves. Their gaze moved from God, each other and the garden to their own naked bodies. They became aware of their vulnerable state and knew they had disappointed God. Out of this shame, they attempted to hide behind self-made fig leaves.
We’ve inherited this pattern. We are very self-aware, in many ways we cast ourselves as the primary character in the play of life; it’s all about us, we are the center of the universe. And sadly, because we are afraid who we are will disappoint God or others we hide and cover up. Our fear and shame causes us to use emotional/relational styles of fig leaves to cover ourselves and hide our nakedness. Fear and pretense kills the spiritual and ideal community God wants to us experience.
We can no longer enter relationships without fear and shame being present to some degree. You must earn my trust. I must grow to believe that you are a safe person with whom I can be my vulnerable self. Until then, I’ll keep myself protected and guard against the pain of disappointment by hiding behind my own version of a fig leaf.
Does this sound familiar? Visit www.thementoredlife.com/2011/06/13/keeping-the-love see examples of various emotional/relational fig leaves. Take a risk, find a few trusted friends in your spiritual community with whom you can dare to be ‘naked and not ashamed.’ As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
God desires our communities to be safe places where one can live in intimate relationship with God, with self and with others. Genesis 2:25 describes the quality of such a fellowship beautifully and poetically, “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
A gathering of God’s beloved children should be characterized by people who are “naked and not ashamed.” Wow! Of course I am speaking metaphorically and spiritually, but consider with me the definitions and implications of what it means to be naked and not experience any shame in the context of community.
Although Adam and Eve were literally naked, the Hebrew word translated naked also means a person without pretense or uniform. Police officers wear uniforms so they can easily be identified. A police uniform tells you how to relate to the person wearing it and what you can expect from them. The uniform defines the role they’ll play in your life and how you should interact with them. You don’t know the person behind the uniform, you don’t even care about the person behind the uniform, your relationship with them is defined by the role they play.
When physically naked, there is nothing covering your body, your beauty and your flaws are seen by all. To be naked spiritually and relationally is to be yourself, without pretending to be someone you are not, or hiding within the safety of a role you play. It’s “what you see is what you get”, no pretense, no hiding, just guileless authenticity.
And (here’s the kicker) this person, in their absolute nakedness feels no sense of shame. Shame is the feeling that follows disappointment of opinion, hope or expectation. They are purely themselves and have complete confidence that who they are will not disappoint in any way. There is no shadow of doubt cast on their personhood, they live from a place of sufficiency, value and acceptance.
I think of my grandkids when I think about this type of unashamed nakedness. Eliza and Jack both jump out of the bath and run around in naked exuberance, unaware of their bodies, conscious only of joy and life. This is the experience God desires for us in our communities. To live with one another in the freedom that unselfconscious nakedness would allow. Imagine outposts of Eden where God’s kingdom is realized, where brothers and sisters can live together Naked and Not Ashamed. This is paradise!
What are your thoughts about this concept? Do you have any place where you experience the type of community described in Genesis 2:25?
The returned Israelites set up the altar on its foundation, because they were in dread of the neighboring peoples, and they offered burnt-offerings upon it to the Lord, morning and evening. Ezra 3:3
King Cyrus allowed 50,000 Israelites to return from exile in Persia. They were given freedom and fortune with the assignment of “rebuilding the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.” While captive, they were far from the holy place where God was worshipped. They were marked by sorrow and lament, wondering if they would ever again worship in the temple. “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” They longed for the joyful worship they knew in Jerusalem. (Ps 137)
Upon returning to their homeland, their first act was to build an altar upon the site where the original altar had stood, so that they could begin to offer worship and sacrifices as Moses had commanded. God’s people were always building altars, a holy place to give thanks to God and to remind themselves of what God had done for them.
Like the Israelites, do you feel far from God? Have you doubted you’ll ever reconnect with God? Then, do as the Israelites did; return to an earlier moment of your life with God, recall the nature of God’s actions for you, create a holy place where you can willfully offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. And sometimes, when your life doesn’t feel joyful, saying no to the negative emotions that oppress and yes to the truth of God’s goodness does feel like a sacrifice. This is where joy begins.
I imagine the Israelite’s were excited about their return to Jerusalem; I know they were afraid of the people they would encounter (Ez 3:3). So what did they do? They began to worship God, twice a day, offering sacrifices that reminded them of God’s protection and provision.
Like the Israelites, do you live in the midst of fear? Then, do as the Israelites did; come to God regularly. Do not let fear keep the nearness of God from your heart. Imagine your heart as an altar dedicated to God. Every time fear threatens: pause, be still for a moment, turn your attention away from the source of your fear and focus on God’s face of love. When you are in the presence of the Lord of life, fear fades away.
Are you plagued by perfectionism? Then do as the Israelites did. They didn’t wait until the proper temple was built to begin their worship. They started where they were with what they had. Now is the time to worship, here is the place you meet the Holy. Jesus gladly receives you and shares his joy.
What worries you? What anxieties run through your mind at night? What fear keeps you awake, rehearsing a way to avoid it? What unknown do you dread? You long for sleep as an escape from your anxious thoughts, yet it evades you. Your mind will not quiet. You toss, you turn, you fear, you worry, you doubt, you cry to God for relief, you don’t know what to do, you wonder if God even cares.
Well, pay attention. In the midst of all you don’t know, know this: God is for you. God is cheering you on toward a good finish. The many fears and worries that threaten your peace and security will not interfere with God’s power and desire to bring good to your life. These fretful unknowns are your enemy, they bind you with anxiety. King David, held captive by a literal enemy, said, “This I know, that God is for me, in God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me.” Psalm 56:9,11
God is for you, trust God’s good intention and ability to cause all your enemies to retreat. Let this truth settle your mind. …and the peace of God, which passes all understanding shall rule your heart and your mind. Philippians 4:7
With you on the journey,