Secretly Dying

Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

Among the things I inherited from my dad’s side of the family is a strange inability to tell when I’m thirsty. Up until pretty recently though, I had no idea. I’d be going about my day and then get terribly sick and scared and have no idea why. By the grace of God I would inevitably force myself to get up and sip on water, assuming that would be helpful. After bouncing back quickly a number of times I began to see the connection.

Yesterday I was reading in Revelation what Jesus wrote to the church at Sardis and saw an eye opening parallel:

“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.” Rev 3:1-2

Sardis apparently had been cruising along through their days, doing the things that outwardly were spiritual (reputation for being alive) but inside they lacked the work of the Spirit in them and were drying up. They were headed for death but didn’t feel it!

In John chapter 4, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well that God desires those who worship Him “in Spirit and in truth.” (The Spirit who He referred to as the Living Water, by the way!) He also told his disciples to abide in Him for “apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Wait – Nothing?

Outwardly everything may look good in our lives, but God gave us His Spirit to live through us, to fill our hearts with His love and guide us into His will – we partner with Him and let Him bring life in us till it overflows to others. If that isn’t our inner reality and the driving force of our lives, our work amounts to nothing in the Kingdom.

“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3

If we choose to live and act apart from Him, we’re just acting from our flesh and not the Living Water.

We’re drying up.

How are you doing today? Are you living life by God’s Spirit – standing in the fountain of His love and grace and pouring it out to others? Ask Him to show you!

And Who Exactly Are You?

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A couple weeks ago I talked about knowing God as He is. This week He’s been talking to me about who I am. How do I see myself?

I tend to describe myself as a list of qualities and skills and biological data: an artist, a storyteller, a mom; a straight white female extrovert, thrill seeker, lover of dark chocolate and ice cream and pastries. Some might describe me in terms of things I’ve accomplished or want to.

It’s a pretty decent description, but it’s not who I am.

We tend to define ourselves in a unique set of traits and skills, our accomplishments, values, or by our life stories. The diversity is wonderful, but it can become divisive quickly if we define ourselves by it – what church mission statement or service style or ministry options could encompass EVERY one of our core traits and skills and loves? And when it doesn’t line up, we want to leave. Find a place that plays the drumbeat we march to. Until it doesn’t. We will never be united if we look at our identity this way. We will always see what divides us.

But when I prayed and asked God who we are – who I am and who you, fellow Christian are, the answer in my heart was resounding…

I am beloved of God.

You are beloved of God.

That is your identity and mine. What unites us and drives our lives is the same. Weird to think of sharing an identity, but its like sharing a last name. My sister and I are both beloved of our parents. And that love drives our relationships and the function of our family. We reflect and return that love to each other and also share it with those outside our family because love defines our family. Even if that wasn’t your experience in your family of origin (and God’s love and comfort to you if not), I hope you can see the picture of how true identity shapes our sense of self and guides our actions. Our identity is in this belonging to God. All else are peripherals.

Take some time today to sit with this truth: “I am beloved by God.” Let the teabag of that truth steep in your mind and heart – dwell on it. Ask the Lord to reveal it to you in the depth of your being. If you’ve got a few minutes, read the book of 1 John!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1a