Regret & Resolve

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”  ~Paul of Tarsus

 

Sitting at the crowded food court, my family and I were exchanging humorous banter. By “humorous” I mean the everyday discussions that ensue between three siblings, aged 5 through 8. It was a nice change of pace. I was rather worn, and made sure to avoid eye contact with others. I wanted to be left alone. I was basking in the joy and healing that comes through my own family. Father uses them to water my soul when it’s dry and hot.

In the midst of the carefree and frenzied dialogue, my middle son, Daniel, suddenly grew quiet. His eyes had locked onto an approaching passerby. Looking over, I too, begrudgingly I must confess, felt the stranger’s heart, as well as a portion of my son’s.

“Daddy. That man needs us to pray for him. Daddy, look. Daddy, that man over there….”

I stared at the man walking away, and allowed the Lord to open up to me a piece of his story. Interactions, faces and pains swirled about my heart. Daniel’s words, however, were sounding like far away echos. My mind was drifting elsewhere.

My son was pleading with me now, but I was already beginning to tear up from another site and another memory. A memory of long ago. One I wish I could forget and yet am ever grateful I never will. One that grew in intensity as I allowed the Holy Spirit to bring it back into full vision. Perhaps just this one… last… time.

————–

I had sold my small landscaping business and moved into the personal training profession while still single and in my late twenties.

I had been seeking Father about my desire to be more like Him. The problem was, I was still a mess in many ways. I knew I was unfit for marriage, let alone children. I wanted to teach and demonstrate His love and power. I wanted to be a good dad. One that would raise and instruct children the way Jesus did. I knew I needed more, though. So much more…of Him.  

It was several weeks now that I waited upon Him. Waited for some response that would change the mettle of my thinking. An encounter with His heart that would forever mark a part of my being. I waited for… something. I needed a breakthrough.

All day I strained hard to focus with my clients while I pondered on the kingdom. I felt something was coming. Anticipation was building in my spirit. It was as palpable as a coming thunderstorm just after all of creation grows quiet. Today was the day.

Yep. It came. Though it arrived in a manner I was not anticipating, and in the end, through a most easily overlooked vehicle. A simple act of obedience.

It had been a tiring day. Not so much physically, even though I had been up since 4 am. Rather, it was my soul that was weary.  It was past midday when I finally pulled into my driveway after a rather taxing session with a client, and I was eager to get back into some intense prayer and fasting. It was then that I noticed my elderly neighbor across the road who had just begun trimming the hedges that extended the entire length of his  corner-site property. We were in the teeth of a July heat wave and I estimated it would take my neighbor several hours to finish the task. I felt a tinge of compassion for the man… only a tinge. He was a rather miserable fellow. Sentiment was soon replaced with the relief that I was no longer gainfully employed by such undesirables, and I turned away.

Anticipation of deep communion grew, and I closed my car door. As it shut, I heard the Lord speak to me.

“David. I want you to go to your mom and dad’s house, get your landscaping equipment, trim his hedges and cut his lawn.”

“What?! Lord, he will criticize the work I do, tell me he could have done a much better job, and be thankless.”

The Lord continued,  “After you have finished, his wife will come outside and invite you to eat dinner with them. You will accept. After dinner, she will offer you coffee and dessert. Then you will share with them the gospel and he and his wife will accept me as their Savior.”

I turned and stared. My view toggled from the long, uninterrupted hedge row, to the man… and then back to the hedges.  I looked up at the horizon and noted the time until sunset. The back of my neck tightened under the heat, and I could already feel the itch of arduous work giving me a rash. What’s more, I had to go grab my pickup and equipment that was almoooosst a full 5 minutes away. In fact, I was so disinclined with the entire conversation I failed to even recognize it was the most clear and concise word of knowledge I had ever received up to that point in my life.

“Nah… I need that breakthrough, Lord. OK?”  

Silence.

And so it goes, that, oft times the most consequential decisions we make, the ones that leave the most lasting and indelible marks on our soul, are decided with the least amount of contemplation. It had taken me longer to choose what shirt I was going to wear that morning.

I changed, showered, grabbed my bible and water and entered into several hours of prayer with Father-God. It was wonderful. He shared with me areas that were blocking greater intimacy and Holy Spirit illuminated scriptures. I enjoyed the reality of His love for several more hours until I fell asleep, fully confident He would continue speaking to my heart during the night watch.

He did.

I dreamed of fire and torment. I saw a place of agony and felt a disconsolate futility emanating from those who died having rejected the gift of reconciliation. I saw things I shall never care to describe. Underneath it all, mingled with the wretchedness of what I was experiencing, was Father’s heart. Though I could not see Him, I understood in this dream that Jesus was weeping. My Lord was crying. He was crying over His lost children. Perhaps, most unusual to me, though, was that woven in the background, throughout the entire experience, the distant shrill of some sort of sirens could be heard. Very, very odd.

I awoke, not at all refreshed. A heaviness  filled all my being and a nausea tugged at my stomach as I prepared to leave for work once again long before sunrise.

I opened my apartment door and walked right into the upstairs tenant who was now staring across the street. Several ambulance and police cars lined both sides of the road.

“Mr Johnson had a heart attack late last night. He’s gone. Didn’t you hear all the noise?”

Without replying, I stepped back inside. My knees gave way and I fell prostrate, sobbing, inconsolable and destitute. I experienced a sense of loss that I am now certain was a much more diluted emotion than what my Savior felt. I cancelled all my appointments for the rest of the week.

Ah, but some of you may have recalled I mentioned a “breakthrough” resulting from an act of obedience, not rebellion, right? I’ll explain.

I could share what the following hours, days and weeks were like for me, but it really is outside the scope of this story. However, when His loving hand of discipline relented, I at long last, felt some relief.

Jesus lifted up my countenance one morning. I felt His sovereign Hand grab all the shame and guilt and condemnation that was wrapped around my head and heart. The barrenness was torn away. I felt the glow of His embrace. The reality of His love and unconditional acceptance pierced through all the darkness that had almost engulfed me.

And then He spoke.

“David, I can only share with you what you are willing to steward. Turn your regret into resolve. Never look back unless it is with the eyes of resolve. You must always turn regret into resolve. You are forgiven. Now… resolve to never do this again.”

And so I did. I made two decisions. One. I would allow the desires of His heart to rule above whatever may be out of alignment in my own. Two. That any time I mess this all up, I will use it to push me deeper into Him. No condenmnation. No Shame. Only resolve.

I felt something click inside my soul as the hammer of His heart beat my forehead into iron. The tears flowed more. Hot streaks that burned at cheeks and stung my nose from within. They flowed alright. But from a different source now. One that came from His throne-room. His mind. His heart.

My breakthrough had finally come…

————–

Daddy…? He is walking away. Daddy..??

“What do you feel, Daniel? What is Jesus speaking to your heart?” I asked, trying to re-engage the present.

“He is sad, Daddy. We need to go pray for him.”

How I long for my children to walk the road less traveled; to grasp for themselves the truths I learned only by fire and anvil, and by hammer and hand.

Wiping my eyes, I took Daniel’s chin between my thumb and index finger. My beloved son. My Daniel…

“Let’s roll, buddy.”

For many of us, the worries, personal agendas and fears of this life choke the love of God that has been shed abroad in our heart. We refrain. We distract ourselves. We hide beneath the very things He longs to set us free from. Then we self destruct on our regrets and failures. To top it off, we carry the burden of our accuser’s allegations, thinking it is “our cross” to bear.

All lies…

Turn your regrets into resolve, my family. There is no incrimination that stands against us when we are covered in His robe of righteousness. He asks only that we allow Him to come through the door of our innermost being. Let Him deliver us from the things that keep us from experiencing the reality of His fierce love.

Then, such as you have….

Resolve to give.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”’

Numb 6:24-26

 

Deeper Communion: Part 4- Yielding Our Soul

(How to get your soul to stop contending with your spirit)

A good friend and I were discussing some of the ways she interacts with the Holy Spirit. We got to talking about what some might call “word of knowledge, wisdom and prophecy” ( I call it “feeling what is on Father’s heart”)  and how we often can make a mess of things.  Still, Father is so unconditionally loving and patient with His children.

One of the topics was the confusion over how at times we can recall what He shared with us, and at other times, hardly have any recollection of what He spoke to our hearts about. Also, we may sense the Spirit is speaking through others, but the words seem what I would call compromised or “muddy.”

Much (but not all) of what post-modern Christianity calls the “prophetic office” is merely glorified motivational speaking on one end, or Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone on the other. Yet, our spirits’ may still bear witness that the Holy Spirit is truly attempting to share something from the Father’s heart through the person doing the talking.  So, what is going on?  

Recalling a specific event I shared, my friend then asked:

“One of the things that I got out of your responses.., which I thought was intriguing is that you still can pull up in your heart what you were feeling when you first interacted with the gentleman.

Most people who give a word of knowledge sometimes cannot recall what they said… or it does not feel “clean.”  

Can you elaborate on that a little?”

This really is a great question.  Let’s talk about this.

When the Lord shares something, the purpose is to bring an area of darkness into reconciliation with His heart. All manners in which the Holy Spirit wishes to flow through us are meant to impart an aspect of His Love and goodness to another child who needs His touch.

When our spirit is getting insight through the Holy Spirit within us (our spirit-man), it gets passed along to our soul (mind, will & emotions). The more we sit and practice time in His presence the more our soul perceives and picks up on the things the Holy Spirit is speaking to us (spirit-man) about.

So… let’s discuss one reason why we then either mis-convey His heart, or overlay the meaning of something, or share His words but do not reflect His heart. These reasons also happen to be the same reason we may forget what we even share.

Here is a primary reason:

When our soul is believing something different than what the Word of God has declared, we are not fully yielded.

This effects all areas of our walk. Not merely the topic in question.

To the degree our soul is not actively yielded to our spirit-man (remember it is our spirit-man that is “born-again) we will not be so tuned into the Holy Spirit and the things of the kingdom.

There have been times I have shared a “word” and then a month later had no recollection of the event. This is often because I was yielded only enough to pick up on what the Lord wanted to share, but not centered enough in my soul to really be dialed in to what was on His heart. Said another way, my soul, at that moment, was exalting  the things of this realm, more than the things that my Father has declared. Again.. at that moment in time. This includes our belief-system.

So, the next most logical question is: “How do I do this? How do I learn to be more sensitive to His heart ? How do I yield?”

Yielding our soul to the Holy Spirit:

When you accepted Jesus as your atonement and confessed Him as your Lord, something happened on the inside of your spirit. The Holy Spirit came to live inside of your spirit-man.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.Rom 8:16

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” Eph 1:13

“Yielding the soul” means to agree that what the Lord stated in His word is… well… actually true.

Now none of us are quick to suggest we argue with His word. Unless that is… we are going through a crisis. Then all the latent lies we have chosen to ignore come raging to the surface. Instead of rivers of life flowing from within our belly, its rivers of pain, confusion, anger, depression and outright thoughts that contradict His nature.

Why is this?

The healing that needs to take place in each one of us, is within our mind, will and emotions. Whatever we choose to believe and accept as our own truth… this is what governs our life.  We are either yielded to the truth flowing from the Holy Spirit who speaks the will of the Father to us, or… we yield to the wounds, lies and deceptions that we have been taught since infancy (or earlier) are true.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Rom 8:6

We often deliberately choose to think of  this verse only in terms of actions… and for good reason. That short-sighted and legalistic viewpoint allows us to sidestep our pain-filled emotions which stem from past wounds and interactions that were anything but a demonstration of God’s unconditional love toward us.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Prov 23:7  (cf Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 10:5, 2 Pet 1:19)

Bottom line, whether we are willing to admit it or not, the truth is, family, that it is our beliefs that govern our actions. Consider even our most “noble” attempts to reflect His image or interact with His kingdom… what are the motives?

  • Will God love me more?
  • Does spiritual interaction validate His love for me?
  • Will I be more pleasing to certain others? Why do I need validation?
  • Do I feel I have the unspoken right to judge others, even if it’s ever sooooo slightly?

“Walking by the spirit” starts with agreeing with who the word says He is, and who He declared us to be through the gift of the Cross.  The core of His gift to us was righteousness and an unconditional acceptance in His eyes.

Right now, our programmed and auto-pilot minds are saying “yes and amen.” After all, what kind of child of God would that make me if I did not believe my worth and value comes only from God and is already forever settled??

For all the social media gatherers, I would be willing to say there was something that you had to work through within the past 30 minutes on one of your sites… and you only watched or read something.

Maybe? Why is this? What are we truly believing deep down? What drives our soul? Do we seriously think there is no deeper rumbling going on here? I did not even mention strangers we meet at the gas-station or our place of employment.

Application:

Our self-worth is never changing in the eyes of our Lord. He gifted us with HIS righteousness. This needs to be our foundation from which we believe, think and interact with both the kingdom of God and the natural realm. (2 Cor 5:21,  1 Col 19-22,  John 4:24)

NOTE: Wherever our soul is yielded to our born-again nature,  we will touch His heart, because we are submitting to, and flowing with our spirit that is in constant contact with the HS.

This means we will also walk more deeply after the Lord’s own passions because we are accessing the Love that was shed abroad in ours. We only need to yield to His truth.  Still… this takes courage.

The more we actively give Him permission, He will speak to us about where we are attempting to find a counterfeit worth and value system. As we repent of the area of thinking He reveals, the easier it becomes to flow in, and retain the things that are on His heart and mind.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Rom 5:5

Knowing and feeling His heart creates what I call “fingerprints” on our soul… and they don’t easily come off.

If… we allow Him to touch our souls.

I hope this ministered to some of you.

God bless you all, family.

David