An awakening happened a few months ago when the same lady who has cut my hair each month for years, asked with a straight face after my latest shearing: "Would you like me to trim your eyebrows?"
Her question was like a thunder clap. I didn't know whether to be insulted or submit to the sudden realization my body is getting old. No one had ever asked to trim my eyebrows. Not even Barb. Trim a few ear and nose hairs maybe, ok, after all I am 16 years past 40.
How far I've come down the path of hair maturity! When Barb and I were dating she asked if I thought I'd have sideburns and more than 3 chest hairs by the time we were married! Not only have I sideburns, I have a forest on my chest and the 'leaves' are starting to turn with the season too - gray.
The worst thing was, I had no idea they needed trimmed!
And this is like the body of Christ, how???
Proof that we are eternal is that inside we feel the same as we did when we were teenagers. Our body changes around us but inside we feel the same, proving we don't need these bodies to live eternally, making the issue merely one of destination. When I look in the mirror I feel like I'm looking at the same 17 year old I've always been, but the reflection has changed these last many years. Eternally we live forever, but we can choose how mature we are when we enter the next life.
Babies are focused on self and easily distracted. If they are fussy we dangle shiny and noisy car keys just out of reach, and they focus on that for a few minutes. But that gets old and more than one parent has resisted better judgement and for lack of something else safe to give them, given them the whole key ring to keep them entertained, figuring they'll take care of the germs later. And when that gets old and nothing else works, sticking a Binky* in their mouth might do it. (*Brand name of what my generation called a pacifier)
I shared last week from Ephesians 4:14, a characteristic of spiritual babyhood is running here and there to the latest 'wind of teaching', making the comparison between babyhood and spiritual growth. Many Christians reach for the spiritual keys dangling before them for a season, and then they finally get that key ring and slobber all over it for a time, then they move on to something else to pacify them for a season.
Sadly, the Lord then becomes their servant, having to provide something else for them to become distracted with until they reach a point they desire maturity, then He can begin to help them grow.
Babies can't help but grow into toddlers, who can't help but grow into children, who can't help but grow into teens, who can't help but grow into adults. Not so spiritually. We choose to grow, it isn't a process that takes over and we have to deal with the changes as they happen. We choose the changes. We choose to grow. We choose to make right decisions. We choose to be Christ like, or not.
If a person decides what Jesus is asking them to do is too difficult - forgive a person for instance, or refrain from spreading gossip, or stop defiling themselves with the world, and so forth - if all that is just too hard, then Jesus will do what He can to meet them where they are, but will be limited by what He can do in them.
During a visitation years ago the Lord said He wanted to teach me how He teaches people. I was a young pastor and had been seeking the Father for wisdom. A pastor friend told me he didn't do any 'counseling' to members of his congregation. He said he would listen to them, show them the Word and what it said, and tell them to come back after they'd obeyed the Word. He said he rarely saw them again after that.
But another pastor spent hours and hours with people, confiding in me he was worn out because more often than not people merely wanted to vent or have a shoulder to cry on, or build their case on why they did what they did, rather than wanting serious answers to their questions.
One day when I was worshipping, the Lord came and told me He wanted to teach me how He teaches people, and it would answer many of the questions I'd asked the Father. The whole teaching lasted about 30 minutes as He talked of spiritual growth, but here are a couple main parts.
He opened by telling me the events of John 3 & 4
"Remember when John was baptizing people and the Pharisees heard I was baptizing many more than he was? When I learned the Pharisees heard that about me I left Judea and went into Samaria on my way to Galilee. Do you know why I did that?"
I said, "The text says you needed to go through Samaria to get to Galilee, but why did you choose that particular route?" He responded: "Because I knew they (the Pharisees) would not follow me into Samaria. I used their prejudice as a filter, for if their hearts had truly been repentant they would not have had a problem following me into Samaria. But they had refused to submit to John's baptism of repentance and wanted to skip repentance to 'jump ahead' to my baptism, and I couldn't allow that, so I left. Learn this: I won't let people grow in deeper things until and unless they have first grown in what is before them."
"I often bring the secrets of a person's heart before them that they might deal with those things, and like the filter of Samaria, they cannot follow Me into deeper things until and unless they deal with what I am asking right then, as the Pharisees had to accept John's baptism of repentance before they could go on in Me. And like most of them, not everyone makes the choice to grow in me by dealing with their heart."
He elaborated a bit and then said: "For instance. Often I will talk to a person something that is meant to be just between us. What you would call 'pillow talk', which isn't intended to go outside the bedroom. I will tell them something I intended to be just between us, but they will call their friend and tell them what I said, or maybe over lunch share with a friend what I considered intimate and between us. Thus they have demonstrated they are not worthy of that level of intimacy, and I will stop talking to them (in that way) for a season...giving them an opportunity to seek out why their spirit was grieved when they shared it, which confuses them because they knew it came from me, yet not knowing why their spirit was grieved. That is why."
"And they will wonder for a time why I have stopped talking to them intimately, though I will of course still share with them on other things. But few seek it out, which shows how they value Me and intimacy with Me, or lack thereof. Remember I said the value that you place on what you hear is how it is measured back to you*. If a person does not value what we have together, but cheapens it by sharing it with others, they show me the low value they place on Me and our time together." (At this point, tears welled up in His eyes reflecting the passion with which He spoke.) *Mark 4:24-25
I was stunned. Up until then I had never considered He truly is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That He used difficult parables and brought prejudices of our heart before us, making us go back to cover old ground when we didn't learn the first time - it often isn't the devil bringing up issues we think are being brought up to harass us, it is sometimes the Lord trying to get us to deal with our heart and to go on in Him, and He won't move us on until we have learned our lesson. I sat speechless.
He had just opened up His heart to me and demonstrated an emotion that caught me totally off guard. I didn't expect Him to be so...human. The fact He could be speak intimate things between me and Him, and then do that with everyone else in the body of Christ as well, and then be so disappointed when we share what was intended to be just between Him and us, AND knowing that must happen all the time...was overwhelming.
There was silence between us for what seemed to be minutes, as I just stared at Him and He at me. Part of me wanted to hug Him, part of me wanted to fall at His feet and repent. Even today as I tell this visitation, which I've never told of it anywhere start to finish with all the details (and won't so don't ask), and even now am just telling a part of it, the weight of it sits upon me.
He loves us so much and is in this relationship for the long haul. Ephesians 2:7 says the Father will use the ages to come to show us the riches of His love for us. Isn't it time we focused on Him? More on the above visitation next week. Blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org