Have you ever had that feeling that you are being pulled feet first into a box? You know, the kind of box where the walls keep closing in and you can't find God? Because I have! I've had that feeling almost every day for months.
The box seems to always lurk around me, just waiting to trap me the second I do, well, basically anything. No matter how much I try to do the right things, I don't ever attain to the ideal life with God that I have imagined for myself. Why is it so hard, when I'm just trying to do what God wants? The amount of times lately I've said "It's not fair!" or "I am so frustrated!" (I know I said this blog would be fun but bear with me! 🤪) I used to think I was just high-strung, or maybe that deep down there was something wrong with me. But now I see that the devil has been trying to destroy my life with a lie called "religion." Yes, religion sounds like a good thing... and I think that that is the sneaky point. The enemy (through religion) tells us "just do this good thing and everything will be right and you will have a great relationship with God." Sounds right, yeah? WRONG! Trust me, I'm learning the hard way. I've heard it said (thank you Melissa Helser) that religion is like a treadmill- you work really hard and get nowhere.
Why does the enemy spend so much time convincing us to work hard and clean up our acts just enough in order to receive God's goodness? I believe it's because the enemy knows that God is actually Family personified. In perfect family as God designed it, there is no striving, just radical, unconditional love. We are enough because Jesus died to bring us back into His family, NOT because we found the right method to win God over and fix our lives. We do good things from our place in the family of God, not to earn or keep our place. Where the enemy's plan is to keep us trapped in the box of religion, God's plan for our lives is to rest in the wide open space called family, forever. None of our own actions can ever be the starting place for our relationship with God, and God is not waiting on us to figure it out so that He can give us the abundant life. Michael Miller, pastor of the UPPERROOM church, said that "you will never approach the Lord based on how you're doing with Him... The only thing that gives you confidence to stand before the Lord is the blood." (Here is a link to the [great] message where he said that, titled "The Power of The Blood" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB5JNwOkySo. I also highly recommend Jonathan David and Melissa Helser's podcast on Spotify. You can start with the episodes called "The Humanity of Jesus," "The Voice That Defines You," "Friendship with the Holy Spirit..." I'll stop there but they're all fantastic.)
I have been desperate for God to get me out of the box that I hate so much. The box that keeps me from truly living. Right after I moved back into my dorm this semester, I was staring at the center of the room when I "saw" flowers begin to grow out of the floor. I knew that God was saying that He was going to redeem last semester and bring beauty where there have been so many ugly things. Since then God has been showing me that these flowers will grow, in time, but that they only grow if seeds are buried and die first. Guess what the seeds represent? Me! My ways, my opinions, my ideas of what God wants from me, all of it. John 12:24 says: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” If I don't let my opinions about what is good and what God wants from me die, I will live my whole life in a box. I will be distant from God, wondering why my checklist isn't drawing me near to Him. I've tried to do all of the right things and let me tell ya, it doesn't EVER work. Jesus died because He knew we could never do enough good things to get back to Him... that's not how it works. He has won the victory and brought us perfectly close to Him, and He just asks us to agree with Him even when religion feels more familiar. Here’s what I’m learning. The kingdom of God is not one of lines and rules and organizational structures that keep the colors from bleeding together. God is not a counting, analytical, scorekeeping, eyebrow furling kind of God. He’s a radical love, jump in heart first, lay it all on the table, eat dessert first and smell the roses kind of crazy, wild, loving God. SO any voice that sounds like the all too familiar box is a l i a r (regardless of how I feel). God is better than I think. Even when it feels like He demands a nicely organized, guilt-ridden, treadmill-running life, I choose to believe what I know to be true: He has already set me in the wide open space that is family and I am free.
Thanks for reading my process 💛