“Oh, how we as His children need to realize and rest in His Presence, knowing at the end of the day our relationship with Him as our First Love and how it pours out into the lives of others is the only lasting thing.” ~ Tina Marie
It all started in the beginning. God created. On the seventh day He rested; all was good. I’d like to think that the same is true of our temperaments. He created them, desiring that they be used for good. But that’s not always the case.
By nature I seek excellence. That’s how God designed me. However, I realized that this positive trait (as early as I can remember) had been perverted by fear–fear of rejection because of my glaring imperfections. This same fear seeped into my relationship with God. Though I was saved by God’s grace, I began to strive to earn it…
…as if I could.
Subconsciously, Good Friday was no longer…good enough.
But in Christ, His original intent in us can be restored. In fact, Jesus took on flesh to restore what was lost in the Garden!
Below I share what began my journey out of my fear-induced joyfolly. (Joyfolly is a word I’ve coined, meaning anything that gets in one’s way of experiencing joy in his or her Christian walk. I detailed one particular “joyfolly” in a post titled “Good Friday…just not good enough“. I was bound by fear of rejection, which led me to strive for perfection. )
Oh, how I longed to be free of my fear-induced perfectionism, which robbed me of joy.
In Galatians 2 & 3, Paul read my mail.
In it he addresses the error of Peter the Apostle for requiring believers to obey the law of circumcision in order to be right with God. Though his letter was addressing Peter’s error, 2000 years later they would address my own. Paul’s words would prompt me to ask the question:
“Marissa, why is the grace and truth of Good Friday no longer good enough for you?:
“But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law–I stopped trying to meet all its requirements–so that I might live for God.
And this part melted my soul:
“20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
Galatians 3:1 “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
“5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard from Christ.” (Galatians 2:17-3:1-5)
I translated his question to say: “Does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles, Marissa, because you are mutilating your soul by striving for perfection or because you believe the message heard from Christ?”
A pastor once tweeted, “There is only one lasting strategy to overcome wrong desires: awaken the right ones.” ~ Michael Patz
Oh, how I longed to not merely echo Paul’s words but have their reality awakened within my very soul: “My old self had been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
Christ in me, through Holy Spirit, needed to be awakened to the forefront of my soul more than the reality of my old nature in the flesh–the crucified nature controlled by fear of rejection and not resting in Jesus’ love.
As my pastor, Tony Crib put it once, we should “reckon ourselves dead” to our old nature. For many of us, this “reckoning” is a much needed awakening. I would eventually be reawakened to the One Thing that would help me to do precisely that…daily!
Romans 8:12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
In sharing my journey, it is my hope to encourage you towards liberation in the area(s) of your specific joyfolly. (We all have them, and we all can experience freedom.)
I’ll get to that, but first, make no mistake about it: Mine is a journey that’s come with several fits and starts–the first leg, which I detail below, was the most pivotal.
Nine years after my good confession, on April 14, 2007, God awakened me to how I would eventually overcome! On the inside cover of a new journal I began that day, I wrote what He impressed on my heart:
“Today I embark on another leg of this journey called my ‘walk with Christ.’ I’m excited to know what He will teach me. He’s already revealed to me an important principle, which I’m sure needs to carry with me through the rest of my natural life here on earth. Living “Mary-ly” is that principle, inspired by Luke 10:38-42:
“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
“This Scripture has spoken volumes to me as of late. I am so encouraged by it because I know that there is hope yet! My longing is to live the life of a Mary–choosing to focus on the ONE THING that is needed, which is to share intimate communion with my Lord!
“I want to sit and listen. I want to be a woman of the Secret Place who “dwells in the shelter of the Most High…” Psalms 91:1-16. Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the Desert before He began His public ministry at 30. Am I much better than my Lord in that I need not spend time in the Secret Place before my God in order to be prepared in every way to live this life He has called and commissioned me to live?
“I CAN’T DO THIS ON MY OWN, and I WON’T continue to try. Lord help!” “I CAN’T DO THIS ON MY OWN, and I WON’T continue to try. Lord help!”
“I CAN’T DO THIS ON MY OWN, and I WON’T continue to try. Lord help!”
I wrote the above essentially dedicating my life to living “Mary-ly” at the feet of my Savior. His Love would be the one thing that would never be taken away from me. It would be the key to the liberation of my soul that once placed approval–my strive towards perfection– above valuing the acceptance I already had from the ONLY Perfect One.
You see, I knew how to use my hands like a “Martha”. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.“
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.“
“To the Jew who have believed in him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciple. Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.'” John 8:32
I am experiencing the Truth and His love is setting me free.
More than me giving my proverbial hands in service, partly out of fear, I began to realize on that 14th day of April, Jesus longed to take my hands and wrap them around His heart. There I would feel how His heart beats for me. There I would learn to dance this life in joy, by the tambour of His loving voice, encouraging me with His grace and truth–His heartbeat of love is the “ONE thing” that would never be silenced even when the applause of man are stilled.
Abiding in His Love as I listened to Him–my One Thing–would be my one and only answer.
I contend that a major part of experiencing breakthroughs from our “joyfolly” come when we respond to His invitation to fellowship with Him. He invites us to abide in His love and in His Word. Jesus says it best:
John 15: “7 ‘But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
“9 ‘I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!“
There is joy in experiencing Good Friday as enough to transform us from the inside out. It will always be enough to overcome the proverbial grave of our joyfolly, all because of Resurrection Sunday!
We must remain in the Truth of His love displayed on the cruel tree and His glorious victory!
He overcame the grave, so I can overcome the grave of my soul, submitting unredeemed portions of my personality to the personality of Christ–Holy Spirit.
The same Holy Spirit that resurrected my Savior lives in me! It’s His grace within that would help me to overcome and live joyfullyalive in Him. And so, I desire to fellowship with Him daily so that the following words of Paul will be the continual reality of my soul.
“Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
What does fellowship look like for me? It means my “roots going down deep in His love.” It means, responding with a resounding, “YES!” to God’s invitation to KNOW HIM MORE INTIMATELY, as Mary did at His feet. I choose to meditate on the Word, worship, pray, obey by yielding to Holy Spirit within, in essence, VALUING HIS PRESENCE in my daily life.
I’m not perfect and I will never be. And any spiritual gains will not puff me up because I choose to remember that God’s grace is my perfection.
I long for my life to point to the ONE who is perfect! A load is lifted and I gain strength when my gaze is shifted from me and rested on Him–the Excellent One. The psalmist understood this:
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In short, abiding in MY ONE THING–His loving presence–awakens LOVE and silences fear!
1 John 4: 18 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because He first loved us.
We’ve all heard it. “Perfect love drives out fear”! In other words, perfect love drives out my joyfolly. I now know this to be Truth! Abiding in God’s Love and Word can do the same for your joyfolly, whatever it may be!
As we value His Presence in our lives, may we agree in our hearts with Tina Marie that “…at the end of the day our relationship with Him as our First Love and how it pours out into the lives of others is the only lasting thing“–our ONE THING.
Lord Jesus, may You ignite in us an ever-deepening passion for the Secret Place–for communion with You. Help us to give you the “first fruits” of our day as we sit at Your feet, dear Savior. Grant us eyes to see and ears to hear what You long to share with our souls.
In this life where there are many distractions vying for our affections, awaken our souls to the ONE THING that is needed. And as we seek You, fill us with the confidence that You are not far off and we will certainly find You. As we embark further along the journey of abiding in your Love and in Your Word, let us be all the more convinced that You have more on Your heart for us than we have for ourselves, because of who You are: You are grace. You are truth. You are life. You are Savior. You are Lord. Jesus, you are Love.
In the Secret Place help us to KNOW and EXPERIENCE who You Are! What’s remarkable is that intertwined with the ever-increasing revelations of who You are, You open us to the reality of who we are created to be–FREE to live joyfullyalive in Your Presence, fulfilling our destiny as the light and salt of the Earth–those who love as we have been so loved by You! May Your Presence forever be our One Thing both now into eternity, because You are worthy of nothing short of our ALL. May your name be glorified above every other name…above every other thing!