“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:4-7
I live where I live. But, like the exiles in Babylon, I’m not not meant to be a permanent part of my current culture even though God has said that I lay down roots here. My life here is temporary.
My life experiences have influenced my life to degrees that are so deep that I cannot always see the lies they have produced. I have been living in captivity to a world that has, if truth be told, shaped my view of myself and of the nature of God.
And I profess to know God. Yet, still, so many of my life choices and thoughts are driven by cultural norms and expectations.
I know my only real way to freedom and permanent transformation will come as a result of my utter devotion to God and through the teachings of and the example of the life lived by Jesus … and through my constant companionship with the Holy Spirit.
But that is not the way you learned Christ — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph. 4:20-24
I must not place restrictions, rules, pious thinking and religious works of obedience in my seeking to know God … but I must surrender my life … sincerely, simply and fully … in faith and in hope that my Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will do the work in me they intend.
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:24-27
I must be continually aware of unholy spiritual opposition and of my own selfish instincts — both of which constantly challenge and attempt to derail my desire to know God fully, simply and sincerely.
I must constantly be on guard, check my motives and not run with my rash thinking. Bowing to these will take me to places I never thought of going — with consequences that will spiral me off course … and … cause me to have to work all that much harder just to get back to the place where I went off track.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Simply, Jesus, I want to know you. I don’t want to know about you or just read about you. I want to know you intimately. I want to think about you like I would about someone I deeply love and care for. I want to have that heartfelt and mysterious understanding and experience of what it feels like to be known and loved deeply by you.
Help me to discover you, simply, in a way that is not prescribed or ordered by rules and religious thinking.
Help me to be constantly on guard against my own foolishness and against the captivity of my own culture which can be so deceiving and controlling.
Help me to live me life in a way that is a consequence of my relationship with you.
Thank you for loving me, waiting for me and showing me your constant mercy.
* * * * *
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my faithful love promised to Erica (David)