The Bridge of Faith

We’ve all heard the phrase, “riding coattails” and in some form or fashion we’ve all been there…relying on someone to bridge the gap in a relationship – a very common scenario is between a parent and child…the mom (or dad) is consistently the one to bridge the gap in communication.

While the Mom/Dad may initially have the best motives to bond the two parties, ultimately she/he is in the way and no true bond ever forms – there is no “bridge” – only a barrier.

Now let’s take this example and apply it to our relationship with our Heavenly Father…have you found yourself using another person as a go-between in your relationship with Him?  Perhaps you don’t even realize it – I certainly didn’t.

Yes, we all need teachers, coaches, mentors, and the like to share perspectives – but there is a very fine line between facilitating from the side line and getting in the middle.  There is only ONE bridge in our relationship with God – and that bridge is the cross.

One of the studies my group went through last summer was the Bridge Illustration – I’m sure there are many studies using this method for presenting the gospel – the one we studied was Bearing Fruit in God’s Family (Session 7).  When we went through the study the principles all made sense, but like so much of our walk, there are phases of revelation.   In a performance oriented world, I struggled for some time to accept there was NOTHING I could do to earn salvation or God’s love – in a You Can Do It! culture, it’s difficult to accept we can’t get there on our own – salvation is God’s gift to us!  Once we embrace His love and grace, it opens the door to so much more…

 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved,   through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works,   so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Receiving God’s gift of salvation is our open invitation into a personal one-on-one relationship with Him.  Christ’s death on the cross is the bridge!

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross tore the veil inviting us into a direct relationship with God.  I recently read a deovotional on John 14:6 that wove the pieces together – it was definitely one of those ah-ha moments and fits so perfectly into this message.  Author Susy Medeski discusses the meaning behind John 14:6:

“There are 3 gates or doorways in the tabernacle. The first was on the east side of the compound, the only way in, and took people and priests alike into the courtyard where the brazen altar was located. This entrance was called “deherej – Way.” The second doorway was the entrance to the Holy Place, which could only be entered by the priests, and was called “emet – Truth.” Finally, there was a veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place and could only be entered once a year by the high priest and it was called “chayah – Life.” Boy, doesn’t that shed some light on Yeshua’s words!”

How wonderful is that?  Like I said, an ah-ha moment…  As we progress in our walk, we have to earnestly ask God to search our heart and reveal any roadblocks in our relationship with Him.  Like any new and undeveloped relationship, conversation at first can seem a bit awkward.  Take these words of encouragement and press on! Unlike other relationships, this is one where you will never be disappointed.

Advertisements

Passive Restraint

God is the divine conductor – the way He orchestrates events so perfectly leaves me speechless! I attended a service that began with the pastor saying something like “This morning God said, ‘Don’t restrain Me’” – of course it makes sense he was saying not to hold back on the message, but how often do we restrain God in our daily lives? How often do we hold Him back?

The pastor began the message with headlines about a scandal at Penn State – I don’t have the details, but it was centered around charges of sexual abuse – shock waves of horror spread across the media as the story unfolded. Why does it seem at times it takes national headlines for us to take a closer or different look at issues in our own back yard?

Although the message initially centered around physical abuse, it quickly expanded to all types of abuse…physical – verbal – emotional – neglect – abandonment – the works…

For me, the real message wasn’t about a specific event – it was about spiritual fallout – what happens when you hold on so tightly to past hurts – what happens when you restrain God.
20130721-075407.jpg

At first, as I was listening to the message, I thought to myself, “wow – I know a lot of people who should be hearing this message” – little did I realize, God was speaking directly to me – He’d been clever though – He disguised the message in such a way as to not let me be fully aware He was speaking to me – He’d been giving me time to lower my defenses (yes, even from God).

I began to open my heart to the words as the pastor talked about neglect and abandonment as forms of abuse – that it wasn’t something I did or didn’t do to cause the seemingly unfortunate events to occur in my life. Now granted, I’d heard and spoken these very words numerous times before…but they never pierced through my carefully constructed armor of defense.

It was a message trying to sink in for several months – perhaps years… “If God allowed it, then there HAS to be a bigger purpose” – after all, if I truly believe His Word, then I know He causes ALL things – not some things – not certain things – not just the warm and fuzzy things, but ALL things to work together for good

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? – Romans 8:28-32 (KJV)

The emotional baggage I carried around for most of my childhood and my entire adult life was the idea of not being enough – if I were only better, then event a, b, c, etc. wouldn’t have happened – and the enemy capitalized on my crippling feelings resurfacing over and over again. Just a couple of days before, I was in the pit again – the enemy used the same crack in my armor he’s used so many times before “well…you must not be good enough…”

You see, the enemy uses negative events in my life because in some form or fashion unconsciously I believe I deserve the hurts. At the end of the day, I’m unwilling to allow God to heal me – in other words, I RESTRAIN God! Even though I thought I’d given it – surrendered those hurts to God, I still hold on – I attach strings to my own surrender and it’s clear God doesn’t heal that way.

At the end of the message, there was an altar call – that day I was eager – I was one of the first to go down – I was sick and tired of holding on to the past – even as I was at the altar, the pastor kept digging – he brought up every situation/event when I was cut the deepest in life – it was as if God had a megaphone and was saying, “Celeta Carr! Celeta Carr! I need ALL of you down here!”

Hard as it may be to believe, even at that point I was still holding on – through praise – through individual prayers for others – there was a part of me still checking off a list and ready to move on to the next item….then a couple came to me and started praying – I have no idea what they said – what I heard was God saying,

“You can give it to me, Celeta – I AM ENOUGH”

The healing power I received in that moment buckled my knees and emptied my heart of the poison festering for so many years. There was no checklist – there was no control – there was only an overwhelming sense of love, relief, and peace I can’t adequately express with words.

As I left the church that day and got into the car, I put on my seat belt – when I heard the “click” of the buckle, it clicked in my head – I had a distinct visual: Don’t put a seatbelt on God – don’t restrain Him. Each time I attach a seatbelt to God and put on the brakes of life – of surrender – of trust, I’m holding Him back in ways I can’t possibly imagine.

That day God had to get me to the end of myself – like Elijah – to get me to the place where I said, “Here – take it – fight the battle for me Lord” – and allow His unfailing love to heal. The challenge ahead is whether I rest in His healing – or whether I scramble to find something else to hold onto… other than Him.

As hard as we may try, we can’t heal ourselves – no 12-step program will complete the healing process – the best it can do is lead us to the cross – lead us to the one true healer.

 

 

interested in the original message? http://www.icathedral.org/media/player/media/the-secret-crime/video/