Guilt Free

Sounds like a snack food label, doesn’t it?  Sort of like Gluten Free or Fat Free.  I suppose if it’s Gluten Free, Fat Free, Lactose Free and Low Sodium that might qualify as a Guilt Free snack.  But then again it’s probably Taste Free as well.

Speaking of guilt free snack foods and abundant life…the other day I was in Costco with my husband picking up just one thing.  Have you ever tried to go to Costco and get just one thing?  Well, that’s why I try to limit myself to one trip per week so I get everything at once because getting just one thing DOES NOT happen (can I get an amen?).  Last week I managed to forget the one thing I couldn’t get through this week without.

One thing I love about Costco is that they often have interesting products that you can’t find other places, so as I go through the isles I see new things that I would like to try.  The key phrase is that I would like to try them, but I have absolutely no sense of adventure, ESPECIALLY when it comes to food.  I know what I like and I am perfectly willing to eat it every single day of my life.

So there I am on a Monday in Costco with my husband, who is NEVER off work on a week day and NEVER gets to go to Costco with me and whose sense of adventure extends well into the culinary realm.  In other words, he is willing to try just about anything at least once and sometimes two or three times to determine if he does or does not like it.

Well, several weeks ago I spotted a snack that boasted pistachios, pomegranate seeds, dried cherries and black pepper.  I have walked past that bag of snacks every week since and every week I pick it up, read the ingredients, check the weight and then check the price…15-ounces for $10.89.  And every week I think, “That’s ridiculous,” and put it back, secretly dying to try it.

So as my hubby and I were cruising the snack isles I pointed out my fantasy snack and he grabs it and says, “Why don’t you get some and try it?”  My jaw just about hit the floor and I heard myself say, “Do you know how guilty I would feel paying $10.89 for something I’m not sure I would even like?  And it’s such a small bag?”  Sometimes he just gets the craziest ideas in his head.  And then he said, “Well, I’ll get it, we’ll pretend it’s for me and I’ll let you try some.”

And yes after knowing me and my version of crazy for over 26 years now, he knew that somehow that logic would work in my mind.  And it did.

So…why in the world would I feel guilty about buying a snack food? (Just erase food issues from your mind, I wasn’t even going there ladies.  This was all about how much it cost and how little product I felt I was getting for my money.  I’ll get to food-issue-crazy another day.)   Then I started thinking about other things I feel guilty about spending money on and why.  Yes, I did just write a post a couple of weeks ago that included a message about there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  I am slow.

What was there to feel guilty about?  Absolutely nothing.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been times in my adult life when $10.89 would have blown my weekly food budget and I remember it well.  Back when my husband ran his own business and we had to pray in every single dollar and every assignment that came in…well, it makes me hyperventilate just to think back on it.  The cost of that bag of snacks would have bought a week’s worth of diapers back then and it was a big deal to indiscriminately spend that much money.  But not now.

Somehow though, in those LEAN years instead of seeing them as temporary struggles to count as joy, knowing that my faith was being tested and perfected to produce endurance (see James 1:2-3), I believed a lie that I didn’t deserve good things.  I equated Christian living as doing without any and all forms of pleasure and fun.  I resigned myself to the idea that doing without somehow made one more holy and God required it.  With that mind-set, even when good things happened I couldn’t enjoy them because the guilt was too overwhelming (think everything from snacks to vacations to Christmas gifts).

Back to snack foods, abundant living and reigning in life, when Jesus said He came that we may have life and have it abundantly, I believe He truly intended for us to enjoy the good things He brings into our lives.  Whether it’s a bag of our favorite snack, a nap, a vacation, our job, our relationships, our ministries, He intends for us to enter fully into each moment with Him free from guilt.  Because as His children that is what we are, FREE FROM GUILT.

And now one more time let’s all say it together, out loud, just for me (the slow kid in the group):

Romans 8:1 (NASB) – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!”

And Now, This Important Message from Our Sponsor

Actually there are several important messages, not just one, from Our Sponsor (Father God) I would like to share in this post.  If you have been following along in this series that I now affectionately refer to as ‘Tiara Tilters and Abundance Drainers’ (and even if you haven’t, all of the following is still true for you too because God is awesome like that), I have been focusing on what reigning in life and abundant life DO NOT look like according to God’s Word and how it has played out in my personal experience.

So the first message from Our Sponsor is:

Romans 8:1 (NASB) “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

If you have personally identified with any of the ways I have lived a less than abundant life or recognize anyone that you know in my experience, know this, God is not here to condemn you about all the ways you’ve lived this Christian life wrong.  If that were true I wouldn’t make it out of bed each day…oh wait, I’ve done that.  But it was only a couple of times :), or three.  Please don’t judge me.

Know this too, I am not sharing any of this from a position of self-condemnation.  I am sharing as a woman on a journey.  I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I was either.  I used to live in that place of trying harder, fear, and self-sufficiency (and a hundred other things I will never have time to share and you would never want to read), but now I visit there less often.  I still battle my flesh daily, but my automatic, go-to responses for dealing with life are not the same.  So please don’t read this and think, “Poor Kim.”  While I would prefer to have done this all right the first time around, I realize that our experiences, even the horrendous-don’t-want-to-even-talk-about-try-hard-to-forget ones are all part of the process.

The second message from Our Sponsor is (and I would highly recommend you memorize this because it is life changing):

YOUR FLESH IS NOT WHO YOU ARE!!!

Galatians 2:20 (HCSB) “…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. “

Just in case I haven’t been clear about this, when I (or anyone else) function in the ways I described above and in previous posts, I am living out of my flesh, as opposed to being led by the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.  Trying harder, fear, and self-sufficiency and all of their manifestations were simply coping mechanisms for dealing with the difficult things in life.  And just to make it even more clear, EVERYONE does this to some extent.  Life is hard.  We are frail.

Our coping mechanisms or flesh patterns are what we do, they are not WHO WE ARE.  It is very important that we get this distinction.  It’s the difference between behavior and identity.  As believers in Jesus Christ our identity is in Him.

As a funny/sad side note, about a year ago I really started getting a clear picture of my flesh and the scope of how it has impacted my life.  I realized that if someone asked most of the people I knew to describe me that they would do so based on my coping mechanisms.  I laughed and cried.  I began asking God to show me who I am apart from my coping mechanisms because the truth is I didn’t know.  I’ll let you know when I find out because He and I are still peeling that onion together.

The third and final message from Our Sponsor for this post iiiiiissssssss (can you hear the drum roll in the background, a big crescendo and a clash of cymbals?):

OUR FLESH WAS NEVER DESIGNED TO WORK, TO SUCCEED OR GET US THROUGH LIFE!

You know how I know this is true?

Romans 7:5(NASB)  “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”

Romans 8:6 (NASB)  “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” 

John 6:63 (NASB)  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

The Father is all about giving us life.  The efforts of our flesh (good flesh or bad flesh, it doesn’t matter) bear the fruit of death.  And that my friends was one of the many ways I knew something was seriously wrong…I could smell the stench of rot in my life.  Everything I was busy doing or not doing was yielding a whole lot of what I like to call Death Fruit.  I dressed that fruit up, I made it look good, but I could never cover up the smell of rotting flesh.

So if you are confused, frustrated, noticing a bad smell following you around, asking God why you ever started reading this series or wondering where you go from here if it’s not supposed to work anyway, STAY TUNED!  It gets so much better!

Father, thank You that because of Jesus Christ we don’t live under condemnation, even when we fail or live in ways less abundant than You designed.  Thank You that we are not defined by what we do, but who we are in Christ.  And thank You that You love us so much that You desire us to live in intimacy with You.  I humbly ask that any area of my life where my flesh is propping me up that it would fail so that I can walk in deeper relationship with You.

And Then There Is Fear

Since this turned into something of a series on abundant life and reigning in life (see The Day After and Abundant Life?), it probably would have been helpful to title them consistently and add numbers.  I guess hindsight really is 20/20.  Thank you for your patience, I am learning as I go and really enjoying the process.

The process, I use that term loosely, but what I mean by that is sitting down and talking to the Lord about the things He is doing and has done in my life and asking Him to help me articulate them…as much for me as for anyone else.  So if it ever seems as if I am thinking out loud on the computer screen, I probably am.

My thoughts turned to abundant life and reigning in life as I reflected on the importance not only on the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, but celebration of the Resurrected life.  The truth is, as believers the cross represents the crucifixion of our old self (our human spirit that was dead to God), our burial, and our resurrection (us made alive together with Christ).  Shouldn’t our lives be different?  If ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is true, well…that’s a total game changer, if we let it be.

Thinking about this it seemed the obvious place to start was with what abundant life is not, since that really is the part I am most familiar with :).  I think I made a good case in my last post for the idea that TRYING HARDER IS NOT ABUNDANT LIVING (is it true that when you use all caps it’s like raising your voice to your reader?  Please let me know because I want to scream that from the mountain tops)!  My life is an honest example of the truth in that statement.

Another honest example from my own life is that FEAR is not reigning in life.  The fact that I had so many of these to choose from (fear examples) made this post hard to write.  Fear based living could become a series within a series…or a book.  The easiest one to see is in how I mothered my girls.

Every decision I agonized over was based on the fear that if I made the wrong one their lives would be forever off-track, the perfect track, God’s track.  School was a big one for me.  I knew early on that homeschooling was not for us, but I didn’t feel public school was ‘safe’, so at great financial cost I insisted my kids go to Christian school for several years.  That way they would be in the right environment, with the right friends, learning the right Christian things to keep their lives on the right track.

It finally became financially obvious that we could no longer continue in Christian school, so we enrolled them in public school.  You know what?  In the beginning I felt very defeated by this, like I had failed and because of that the enemy had really gotten a victory.  However, it turned out to be the best thing we could have done for them (one more instance of lacking perspective).  Has it been perfect? No, but honestly the things we’ve faced in public school were not really any different from Christian school.  People are people wherever you go.

I am not advocating thoughtless, careless parenting, but at some point don’t you just have to trust that God is bigger than your mistakes?  I can’t protect them from every possible danger that can potentially come their way, but I can place my trust in the One who can.

While mothering has been a very pronounced example of how I’ve lived in fear, the truth is I’ve lived afraid of a lot of things.  Afraid that if I didn’t pray and read my Bible every day that I wouldn’t have God’s favor.  Afraid that if I made a mistake God wouldn’t love me, bless me, use me (fill in the blank).  Afraid that as a Christian I wasn’t representing God very well if my life wasn’t perfect (talk about carrying a huge weight – it’s a miracle I can even stand up straight any more).  Afraid that if I wasn’t doing enough for the Lord He might get angry.

What was I afraid would happen?  The absolute worst, whatever that was.

The apostle John had this to say about fear:

1 John 4:18 (NASB) – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

John was exactly right.  I had met Perfect Love, but I didn’t really trust Him to be Lord.  I walked around waiting for the other shoe to drop, expecting the punishment I was sure I deserved for all the mistakes I was sure I was making.

But you know how the Lord handles our mistakes?  He confronts them with His love, not His wrath.  Two of the biggest mistake makers in the New Testament, Paul and Peter, prove this.  Paul was actually murdering followers of Christ and was on his way to kill even more when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and you know what Jesus said to him?

Acts 9:4-6 (NASB) – “… and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am
Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the
city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

Paul wasn’t even a believer at that point, but Jesus simply confronted him with a question.  A question that immediately revealed to Paul (then Saul) what was in his own heart and who Jesus was.  And then He told Paul what to do.

Then there is Peter.  The disciple who swore his willingness to die for Jesus (John 13) and then turned around and denied even knowing Him that same night (John 18).  Talk about a mistake!  How did Jesus handle it?

John 21:15-17 (NASB)“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Jesus dealt with his mistake by asking him questions that caused Peter to think and then He gave him instructions.  Just like He did with Paul.  Their mistakes were confronted by Perfect Love, not punishment.

So, all that to say, living in fear is NOT reigning in life, but apparently living loved IS.

Abundant Life?

In my last post I talked a little bit about what the Lord has to say about living as resurrected believers in Jesus Christ.  Specifically, I asked what does it look like to live the abundant life Jesus gave us and what does it mean to reign in life?

I certainly don’t believe at this point in my life that I have figured this out, but I think I have exhausted myself finding ways NOT to live abundantly or to reign in life.  So I think that is a starting point, what is it NOT?

Over a year ago, through a series of what I believed at the time to be random mouse clicks (now I know for certain it was God’s divine plan), I stumbled across the most profound, uncomplicated, bondage breaking teaching on grace I have ever heard from a man I had never heard of, Terry VirgoThe three-part series I heard was called, “God’s Lavish Grace.”  I could never do his message justice, but one particular point stopped me in my tracks:  the sufficiency of the sacrifice.

He shared how in the Old Testament people would bring their perfect, spotless lambs for sacrifice to the Temple.  When they arrived the priest would inspect the animal they had brought to see if it was good enough.  The interesting thing is the priest never inspected the person who brought the offering.  It didn’t matter what their job was, what clothes they wore or how they did their hair.  The sacrifice is what made the person acceptable to God by atoning for their sin.

His point (and mine)?  Jesus was our perfect sacrifice.  In fact, His sacrifice was so sufficient that it covered all sin for all time (past, present and future) for all who believe.  So why do we (or maybe I should just say ‘I’ in case I am the only one) keep living like we have to measure up to some standard we can never meet?  Why do I keep inspecting myself, so to speak, to determine what I am doing right and wrong?  Why do I keep trying to make myself acceptable to God? Why do I keep TRYING HARDER?

I spent a lot of years doing a lot of things, particularly Christian service, trying to prove to God that I was good enough for Him.  I tried to be Superwoman for Jesus.  I mean He did give His life for me, right?  Shouldn’t the least I do be to kill myself for Him?  I was in church every time the doors were open. I volunteered for anything Jesus needed me for, or at least anything with a sign-up sheet. I read my Bible diligently.  I prayed for everything and everyone I could think of.  And you know what?  It NEVER felt like enough.

You know why it wasn’t enough?  Because I couldn’t repay a debt that I was unable to pay in the first place!  In hind sight it sounds ridiculous…I was trying to repay Christ for my salvation, for the GIFT of righteousness.  Gifts and debts are not the same thing.  The gift of salvation was exactly that, a gift to be received, unwrapped, treasured and enjoyed.  Debts are bondage, plain and simple.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB):  “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Bottom line? The sacrifice of Jesus, and believing in Him, was all it took to make me right with God.  Abundant life, reigning in life IS NOT trying harder.

The Day After (And Every One After That)

Yesterday (as I write) we celebrated the Resurrection of Christ, our Risen Savior.  God, who squeezed Himself into an earth suit and came to earth to dwell with those whom He created to fellowship with to share Himself with.  We couldn’t come to Him, so He came to us.

But His God-ness was too big for us, so He became small.  So small in fact that He surrendered His bodily care into our hands as an infant.

He lived an earthly life sacrificing part of who He really was for the sake us – living as if He was just one of us, not living fully as God.   He chose not to access His divinity while here, for our sakes.

He lived life just like the rest of us.  He lived in community and fellowship with others.  He ate, drank, worked, went to weddings, went to the Feasts.  There was however one significant difference – He did it in perfect obedience to the Father in heaven.

It was the first time God Himself had truly lived with man since the garden, since Adam and Eve, the lie and the fruit.

How did we handle God with man?  We accused Him.  We blamed Him.  We tried Him.  We convicted Him.  We nailed Him to a tree.  Our sin – my sin – nailed Him to that cross.

Not only did all sin for all time nail Him to that cross, but He actually BECAME all sin for all time for all men ON that cross.  There is not one sin unaccounted for, unatoned for.  He became the curse that God promised would come to His people if they did not obey (see Deuteronomy 28) Him.  In Himself, God fulfilled that Old Covenant of bulls and goats.  He satisfied it, He completed it.  What we could not do for ourselves God did for us.  He became one of us and sacrificed Himself, Jesus, for us.

When God the Father resurrected Him, He approved the sacrifice.  He proclaimed it sufficient to satisfy His wrath.  The blood sacrifice was so sufficient that no other sacrifice would EVER again be necessary.  In Christ, God is satisfied and for those who receive Jesus – the way, the truth and the life – the covenant of sin and death is finished.

We are children of God, we are complete in Him.  He has given us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness.  We are righteous, loved and 100% accepted by God.

So this is really the point of my post today, as believers in Jesus Christ, how are we to live this day and every day after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Jesus had some things to say about why He came:

John 3:16-17 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 10:10b (NASB) “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

So according to Jesus, He came that the world might be saved and that ‘they’ (those who are saved – see earlier in John 10) may have abundant life.

So I have to ask myself, as a believer, am I living the abundant life?  Ok, maybe I also have to ask myself, what does abundant life mean or what does it look like?

Does it depend on my circumstances?  Does it depend on my health?  Does it depend on my finances?  Does it depend on my job?  Does it depend on my wallet?  How much does it actually depend on me?  How does it happen?

Am I living the life Jesus came to give me?  If not, why?

Here’s a bit of what Paul has to say about the life Jesus came to give me:

Romans 5:17 (NASB) “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

So according to Paul, those of us who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, or in other words those of us who are saved, will reign in life through Christ.

Now I have another question for myself.  Am I reigning in life?

I’ve been running into these verses for years and honestly, I haven’t known what to do with them because the truth is abundance and reigning are probably the last two words I would ever have chosen to describe most of my life.  They almost sound extravagant and regal.  But given how sometimes well-meaning church folk can throw them around when we are facing very real, very difficult life situations, they can also sound trite, convenient, and dismissive.

But this side of the Resurrection of Christ they should characterize the life of the believer.

So, if you are being 100% honest with yourself and God, would you say you are reigning in life?  Would you say your life is abundant?  It is ok to be honest with God, He knows anyway.

If you are willing, I would love it if you would share some of your thoughts, feelings, or questions about this.  If not, just begin talking to the Lord about it.

My desire is to chew on the ideas of abundant life and reigning in life for a bit.  I have no agenda here and I confess upfront not to have all of the answers.  But if God says in His word these are what He came to give us, and we just celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of the One who made it possible, maybe we need to think about it a little and ask God to shed some Light for us.

Father, You promise in Your Word that if we will ask for wisdom You will give it liberally and without reproach.  We are asking Father. 

The Simple Truth

I have been thinking a lot lately about God’s Big Plan for my life.  I even wrote some of my thoughts in Surrendering ‘The Plan’.  The more I think about it the more convinced I am that ‘The Plan’ has less to do with outcomes and accomplishments FOR Him and more to do with being in intimate relationship WITH Him.  Simply knowing Him, believing Him, abiding in Him.

So I woke up this morning with this verse on my heart:

Genesis 5:24 (NASB) “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Enoch lived 365 years (which was a short life by pre-Flood standards) and this is how the Bible records his life.  A simple sentence about the life of a man whom God took Home.  The only other Biblical reference to Enoch is in the book of Jude (Jesus’ own earthly brother) verses 14 – 15:

Jude 1:14-15 (NASB) “14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.'”

How did Enoch know what to say?  Enoch walked with God, he communicated with Him, he spent time with Him, and from that relationship he spoke for God.

The book of Micah describes ‘The Plan’ this way:

Micah 6:8 (NASB)  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

There are some ‘to do’s’ in this verse that God requires, but they seem pretty simple and straightforward – do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.  Three bullet points on ‘The Plan’.  Seems simple, I can really get onboard with those.

When the crowd followed Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand and asked Him what they were to do in order that they may ‘work the works of God’ (see John 6), Jesus replies:

John 6:29b (NASB) “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Wow!  That sounds really simple too.  It also sounds a lot like Abraham in Genesis:

Genesis 15:6 (NASB) “Then he (Abram) believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

Abraham was made right with God by simply believing Him. Amazing!

Then there is Jesus again, with Mary and Martha:

Luke 10:38-42 (NASB) “38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'”

According to Jesus, only one thing is necessary, spending time with Him, enjoying fellowship with Him, being with Him.

My point is simply this, I have exhausted myself with all of my ‘doings’ for God.  It seems to me, I am the one who has made serving God so difficult and so complicated.

‘The Plan’ God has for me (and dare I say all of us), from a Biblical perspective, appears to be a lot more simple and a lot less exhausting than I have made it out to be.  According to Jesus only one thing (not 500 things) is necessary and out of that the eternal fruit Jesus describes in John 15 will come.  The fruit of simply abiding in Him.

If it’s enough for God, why isn’t it enough for me?

Father, thank You for the simple truth that You desire relationship with me and out of that relationship You will accomplish Your purposes in my life.  Thank You for the freedom to let go of trying to figure it all out.  Thank You for rest.

Giving Up the Pit

Literally every day on this journey of unraveling grace, God reveals something to me He’s been trying to say for a long time.  The question I hear myself ask Him over and over again is, “Why didn’t I get this before?”  I mean really, I know some things take time, but 44 years (Yes, I should go read my own post about John the Beloved’s transformation…what can I say? I am slow!)?

So the other day I was cutting up an avocado.  A friend introduced me to them a year or so ago and I love them.  I love dicing them up in the skin, scooping them out, adding a little onion and salt and devouring them.  As I chose mine the other day, I made sure that it was the color I associate with ripeness and that when I squeezed it my finger and thumb sank into the skin a little bit without it feeling mushy.  From the outside it appeared good, ripe, ready to eat.

I took my knife and sliced all the way around the outside in a circle to make two halves.  I noticed it felt a little hard, but at that point I was undeterred.  Then I began to pull the two halves apart, but nothing happened.  I pulled harder and harder, still nothing.  The skin actually started coming off around the outside of the fruit (I did in fact verify it is a fruit since I usually don’t know these kinds of things), but the two halves were not separating.  They were clinging together like their lives depended on it.

Finally, I had to work my knife to pry them apart.  What I could see then was that the two halves that seemed so resistant to separation were not really clinging to each other, but the pit.  An avocado will practically give up the pit when it is fully ripe.  The pit will come out fairly easy and fairly clean, with little of the flesh stuck to it.

My not-yet-ripe avocado was a complete mess.  I practically had to use a hammer and chisel to get the pit out of the middle of that thing.  Almost half of the flesh of the avocado stuck to the pit when I finally got it out and by then I was thinking, I am kind of scared to eat this.  Anything that puts up this much of a fight has to be dangerous!

Well that message is true for me as well.  All these years that God has been whispering the love and truth of His grace to my spirit, my flesh has been clinging to my own “pit”.  I wasn’t ripe to receive the message.  He was speaking, loving, pursuing and I was unwilling to open myself up and allow my pit and my flesh to be exposed.  I was clinging to them as if my life depended on it!

In His time, however, when I was ripe, releasing that pit and exposing my true self has just seemed to happen.  There’s been no forcing, no chiseling, no hacking away.  It’s simply been a work of God and the natural response, because of who I am – a redeemed child of God – is to hand over that pit.