A Clogged Soul…

This past week I had to spend a considerable part of an evening unclogging my kitchen sink. Joy. There’s not much I like more than squeezing my hand into a stanky, dark hole filled with sludge and sharp blades.

And what clogs my garbage disposal anyway? It seems there’s some mystical combination of melon rinds and veggie skins that do the trick every time — but we keep shoving them in nonetheless. You’d think we’d learn!

But when the disposal is clogged, at least I get immediate feedback. The sink backs up and would overflow if not attended to.

When my soul gets clogged, the feedback is not always so immediate. Or maybe I’m just not as attuned to it. And yet it happens — my inner life slows to a crawl, my responsiveness to God becomes resistant, my relationships become a drudgery, and joy is absent.

While there are hundreds of potential soul-clogging behaviors, attitudes or beliefs, the ones that I seem to struggle with most frequently, the ones that most often obstruct the flow of my inner life are the misperceptions I hold about God.

My misperceptions about God clog my soul.

This thought emerged in a dialog with a friend as we discussed the reality that not all theology is helpful. In fact, some of what we come to believe about God can be a harmful hindrance to the life He called us to live.

Jesus was the one who stated, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” It’s his full intent: that the flow of our lives would be uninhibited and clog-free.

Are there some common misperceptions about God that end up clogging the life from our souls? Probably. Here’s a few that show up with some frequency:

  1. God isn’t good.
  2. God really doesn’t like/accept/love me.
  3. The junk of my life disqualifies me for relationship with God.

If only there was a soul-Drano that would help address these misperceptions.

Actually, there is. Scripture is the most potent clog-clearing, life-restoring, soul-freeing, spirit-resource that God has provided.

2 Timothy 3:16 says that…”All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

And like Drano, we don’t have to wait for a full clog before we get God’s Word into us. By regularly drinking in God’s Word, our soul is kept clog-free.

What Scriptures have meant the most to you about the three misperceptions mentioned above?

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Accepted…

Recently, in early morning hours, my dreams turned dark. Hell-fueled thoughts sank deeply into my restless mind as I slept – all pummeling me with blows of rejection. In those dreams I experienced the most severe sense of rejection I’d ever felt, yet my waking did nothing to alleviate this life-sapping pain. For some time I lay in the dark, wrestling with this evil, unsuccessfully trying to work my way back to some semblance of self-worth; fighting in vain to regain hope.

At the end of myself, I feebly whispered my plight to Jesus. It wasn’t a prayer, but a half-hearted affirmation of what I believed to be true: that I am simply accepted by Him.

What took place over the next hours was life altering. The light of God invaded my soul, not only chasing away the dark lies of the enemy, but replacing them with a flood of His truth. I grabbed a notepad and began to document this truth encounter.

May what follows restore hope to you as it did to me.

* * * * * * * * * * *

God’s love is manifested in His complete acceptance of me.

His acceptance of me is not based on my ability, my perfection, my good looks, my success, my righteousness, my history or pedigree, my wittiness or humor, my keeping-up-appearances, my status, my intellect, my anything.

This is why He tells us that NOTHING can separate us from His love.

I spend so much of my life working to earn my way into acceptance, when all He wants to do is throw His arms open and WELCOME me into the most precious, deep and intimate of relationships – where I am my beloved’s and He is mine. He is the bridegroom waiting for His bride. His banner over me – the one He is longing to wave over ME – is love.

This perfect place of acceptance was seen in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. Nothing hidden. Nothing to prove before God or each other. Only knowing complete acceptance at every turn. No fear. No wondering. No striving. Just complete and utter acceptance.

Sin shattered acceptance. Fear came. Feelings of rejection came. The need to hide, both from God and each other, came. And it was the corruptness of pride that led to this travesty. Lucifer’s sin had been evidenced by his unwillingness to simply be accepted by God; he wanted to BE God. And this same pride-fueled brokenness now oozed into the soul of man. Truth was overshadowed by want. Wholeness was overshadowed by separation. And when the “apple” was eaten, taken in, swallowed, worshiped, idol-made (for hope was placed in that which was inanimate; hope for more; hope for a deeper, better existence; hope for a heightened identity apart from God), sin entered man’s story. And sin shatters acceptance.

The remainder of history – from the Garden until now – is the story of God’s restorative work. His mission is to reclaim all that has been lost, not only redeeming humanity to Himself, but man’s relationship to man as well. His mission is nothing short of the full restoration of acceptance, where nothing stands between us and God; where fig leaves (our feeble attempts to mask our gross inadequacies) are not needed; where shame and fear, separateness and rejection are eclipsed by the fullness of forgiveness, love and acceptance.

History culminated in the person of Jesus. The incarnation: God as one of us. Immanuel: God is with us. Jesus was, and is, the full and perfect representation of God Himself, fully manifesting His heart and His mission: to complete the possibility of restoration. Jesus came to audaciously proclaim, “YOU ARE ACCEPTED. I have not come to condemn you, but to redeem you, to save you, to make a way for you to experience the forever-freedom that comes from knowing HE WHO ACCEPTS.” Jesus, the perfect One, the accepting One, sacrificed Himself to take our brokenness, our shame and our sin, so that true relationship might be restored.

This is Jesus…

  • who invited Himself to a thieving tax collector’s home, and ate with this man who was marginalized and rejected by society due to his occupation and corruption.
  • who sat and talked with a woman of a “lesser” ethnic origin, giving hope to this person rejected by others due to her gender, race and personal impropriety.
  • who touched and healed the leper, someone completely put out of society due to disease and fear.
  • who verbally ripped apart religious leaders, who by word and deed, claimed superior status with God, yet heaped burdens on others that kept them from experiencing His grace.

The apple – that symbol of prideful and idolatrous brokenness; that object of shame that resulted in distance and fractured relationship – has been replaced by bread and wine. That which is animate, made alive in Jesus Himself, has replaced that which was inanimate. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” It is the meal of acceptance – “real food and real drink,” as opposed to all other vain pursuits of acceptance and relationship. Bread and wine stand opposed to the apple.

And now, “…because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” The acceptance we have found in Christ, we are now required to freely give to all others. We are to contend for unity: that place of full and unfettered acceptance, that place where even truth is spoken in gentleness, humility and love.

Jesus still assaults all word and deed that leads to relational brokenness and spiritual distance. Jesus stands opposed to rejection. And the table – that place where bread and wine are freely shared – must never be a place of greed, lust, pride or humiliation. All are welcome. All are accepted.

I am accepted.