Dear Friend, :)
I hope you are well...
Me, I feel great. I am aware life isn't wrapped up in how we 'feel' - at least, it shouldn't be controlled by mood, but, gee, doesn't being at peace help you handle life more easily.
Actually, the way I feel at present is pretty much how I felt on giving my life to God 20 years ago. I feel free. The weight seems to be lifted off my shoulders. Faith and hope have returned to walk with me. I'm no longer plagued with what I knew was sin in my life, or the guilt and heaviness that comes with it. I feel grateful... and in that there is peace.
The peace came after the crying out to God. After repenting AND turning from my ways. After getting my heart right with God again...
I was telling Tim (my hubby) yesterday, that as I ponder the peace filling me now, I am reminded of a prayer I offered to God a little while ago. I prayed that I wouldn't forget where I came from; that I wouldn't forget what it is to be grateful for what He's done in my life; that I wouldn't forget what I was like without Him, and what life is with Him.
It's as though I've been through that moment of salvation again, where I see God forgives, forgets, helps one start anew, and loves with all that He is. And if feels great! It's a feeling of being 'born again' - again; like starting life over with a fresh slate.
On repenting and returning to God wholeheartedly, I found, and find, life to be much more delightful than what it was while my heart was drawing further and further away from Him.
I know I shouldn't have to explain the ways of God - and He knows I don't know all His ways :) - but we both know that anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Christianity folk, movies, and the proclaimed Christian who knows not love, have painted an ugly picture of Him, so, where I can, I do: He wasn't angry on my return. He didn't say "I told you so..." Neither was He angry while I was drifting away from Him - sad, maybe... but not angry.
I wasn't being punished for slipping away from Him. He wasn't poking and prodding me with a honed tongue or anything else in order to get me back. Rather, He waited patiently, using love, mercy and grace to draw me back into His arms. What I suffered out of His arms was simply the consequences of my actions.
I liken being in God's presence to being in the warmth of Spring's or a gentle Summer sun. Imagine finding yourself in your favoured "sunny" place - the countryside, by a stream, in a field, on a mountain, at the beach, in a garden... or wherever you would find the great sense of peace, joy and contentment. Can you see yourself there? Can you feel the gentle warmth of the sun on your skin; warming you with its soft touch, breathing peace into your soul...? Imagine the contentment of your heart in such a moment.
Now see yourself walking slowly away from that place, still happy and content, but being drawn away by something in the distance. Something that intrigues you... You don't leave your place of peace at first, as you want to stay and soak it in a little longer, but curiosity gets the better of you and you give in to it, and, using only one small step at a time, you eventually walk away from your favourite place and that wonderful sunshine.
As time goes on, you find more things to intrigue you and you soon forget your favoured place, and, eventually, when that which lured you away starts to appear somewhat dull, or you touch it and find it causes pain in someway, something wakes you up to the fact that you have wandered so far from the sun that you're now standing in the dark, and its pretty darn cold and uncomfortable as well - if not scary, as well.
You know the sun is back there somewhere... Sometimes you feel you don't deserve to return to that place of peace. Sometimes you feel lost and you're not sure you could find your way back if you wanted to. Other times that which drew you away from the light in the first place will see you're thinking of leaving and somehow send out a new glow to draw you back to it again, and the temptation to be with any 'light' no matter how small, holds you to it, as the thought, such as "Well, this is all I'm worth anyway," holds you there and starts to hold you as the bars of a prison would.
But, eventually, you become very uncomfortable in the dark place, and your heart remembers the sun, the peace, the contentment - all that it possessed once - and with an aching deep in your soul, you yearn to be back there. Eventually, you soon see that which drew you away from the sun and its magnificence is little more than an empty, ugly item, that has tried to pass itself off as something worthy of you - but isn't.
At this point, some will run back to their favourite place in the sun, instantly regretting what they had allowed to happen, and breathing easier on being able to return to the sunlight with ease - as though they realise they have just been saved from death - and gratitude floods them.
Others will hide in the darkness, feeling unworthy of the light... and they will stay there until misery and depression, and even thoughts of suicide come to plague them... and they will stay this way until they break, drop to their knees, and cry out for God to return them to their "favoured place" and He hears their cry and sends help.
Others will stay in the darkness, fearing the light, or denying it... and God allows them to, because He gave them free will... and He knows the heart won't go where it does not desire to go, so He does not force, but waits, patiently, with love, mercy and grace in hand, prepared to give it to any who desire them.
But He never moves from that 'favoured place.' We do, but He doesn't. Nor does He create the heartache we find when we stray from that perfect place of peace. But neither does He stop us from wandering, if that's what our heart desires - even though He knows heartache awaits us... because He knows, that somewhere, at sometime, our hearts will yearn for that peace again, for that favoured place, for His presence, and when it does, there He will be, with arms open wide, drawing us back in, breathing a sigh of relief as He welcomes us back into the light and warmth of His incredible love.
God doesn't bring bad upon us when we walk away from Him. Rather, we walk out of the light and into the darkness, and we suffer the consequences of our actions - by the hands of darkness! We give darkness free reign in our life, and bind the hands of God. It's that simple. God doesn't cause that which comes against us in the darkness. Rather, we walk out of His care.
God gives us the heads up, saying, "If you do 'this' that will happen..." as any loving parent would. He's simply warning us. He warns us because He desires to protect us. Don't forget, God is not male nor female - He is ALL; He has the loving instincts of both mum and dad, and He uses them with intense passion. In love, God highlights the consequences of our actions, before we head in that direction. He is not threatening us with those consequences!
God loves. He holds us, but lets us go if we want to go. And when we return, He is there, waiting with arms open wide, and the power to heal all the wounds we pick up when we walk out of the light and stumble in the darkness.
And that's what happened to me recently. I walked away from the perfect place of peace. I walked away from the light. I found myself playing with shiny trinkets that tried to pass themselves off as 'good,' which left me on my knees convinced that I was no good. But then repentance opened a door for God to send His light through, in order to light the path that leads me back to Him. And there He was, trying to convince me yet again, that He loves me... And it's soooooo good to be Home again! :D I love this place of warm sunshine. :)
As soon as I can, I'll highlight the last few days, sharing what God's doing in my life and the peace that comes with it... but, for now, I think we both need a coffee break, huh? ;)
I hope to see you soon...
Love and respect