What are you longing for? (When you feel lonely during quarantine)

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Many people during this time don’t feel so much afraid as they feel alone. With more time to think and less opportunities to socialize, it can be easy to fall into depression or loneliness.

The other day I was taken up by a raw, aching loneliness inside me. It was so strong I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus on my online schoolwork.

So I went on a long walk with my dog and breathed in the fresh air. Then I read a chapter in the novel, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. Throughout all of this, I poured out my longings to Jesus. I laid it all before Him. I ached with Him. I cried with Him. I shared the pain of my restless and lonely heart with Him.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:8

Jesus met me there with peace. So much, pure and perfect peace. And comfort. He understands what it’s like to feel alone. The people of his hometown rejected him. His disciples deserted him. Even God the Father left him alone, hanging on the cross to bear the sins of billions of people throughout history, in order to set humanity free from the power of sin and death.

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).” Mark 15:34

Can you hear Jesus’ aching heart, crying out to the Father, ringing out into the still, empty air? Even Jesus felt completely, utterly alone. It is not a sin to feel lonely. It is only human. And Jesus felt that part of humanity for us, so He could be with us when we ourselves feel alone.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Search your heart. Do you feel lonely? If so, what are you longing for? When you feel lonely, you can always be sure that it’s because you are longing for something. Are you longing for companionship? Are you longing for acceptance? Belonging? Intimacy? Affection? Love?

Ask yourself, my dear friend: What are you longing for…?

It’s okay to acknowledge your deepest desires. I know I have been guilty of hiding what’s really going on deep inside me. As long as my mind enforces the truth, it doesn’t matter how my heart feels. At least that’s what I’ve told myself.

“You have everything you need in Jesus.” “Jesus is enough.”

Yes, those are true. But how can I believe it if I don’t experience His all-sufficiency? How can I believe it if I don’t let Him into the deepest parts of my being and nourish and satisfy me with His love in those areas? Do I actually live like Jesus is enough for me or do I just say that He is? The only way to live like it’s true is to experience it yourself.

Your longings are too strong to ignore. I’m not saying that the truth you tell yourself isn’t true, but that you have to acknowledge your own weakness in order for the truth to get from your head to your heart. You have to lay yourself honestly and brokenly before God in order for Him to meet you where you’re at. You have to let Him fulfill your desires with Himself, no matter how intimate and vulnerable that may seem.

Because the truth is, you need Him! You need Him involved in every area of your life. If you pretend like a part of you doesn’t exist, you are going nowhere. You’re stuck trying to pretend like everything’s all right when it’s really not. You’re being proud. I know when I do this, I feel distant from God, just as I would feel distant from a friend if I withheld the truth from her. It’s the humble thing to do to acknowledge how needy you are for the Savior’s affection.

I have tried guarding my heart with mind games. “You aren’t ready for a relationship.” “This will never work out with this person because…”

While those might be helpful at some capacity, they don’t address what’s really going on. What’s really going on?

You need to be loved! And the truth is, you are refusing to go to Jesus with that need. Go to Him, Beloved! Bring it all before Him. He is tender, compassionate, and has deep affection for you. He died for you, to woo your heart to Himself. He longs for you more than you long for Himself!

The other day as I poured my longings out on Jesus, I experienced His “enoughness”. I truly felt like He was enough for me. I didn’t hide or ignore what was really going on. I laid it all before Him, and I felt His presence so near me, soothing me.

Yes, believing the truth in your head is important. But not if it never goes to your heart. Acknowledging the truth about your longings in your heart is what will really set you free.

It’s okay to feel lonely during this season of quarantining. The key is, it’s what you do with the loneliness that will either make you feel like God doesn’t care or make you see that Jesus is truly able to satisfy your deep longings.

And even then, the whole world is groaning for the day when Jesus will completely reveal His love to the Church with the fullest revelation. Let Jesus satisfy your desires for today; and be encouraged that even then, we are allowed to feel restless and look forward to more, because we have not received all that our souls were created for yet—the richness of God in heaven.

Cry out to Him, today, Beloved. Invite Him into the pain of your aching longings, and find hope and rest in His love.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Intimacy with God, part 3: How to Abide in Jesus (Even When the World is Going Crazy)

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How do you abide in Jesus? Some people, I’ve realized, when they hear this word, they get an unsettling feeling of, “Ugh, yeah, I’m not doing that. That’s another thing on the list of things I need to work on.”

Work on? Wait a minute, what are you talking about? Recently, I remember telling my friend jokingly, “You don’t need to work on abiding; you just need to abide.”

You just do it. You just rest. In truth and in love, friend, God is with you; there is nothing you need to work on using your own human effort! In Christ, you are complete. In Christ, He provides everything you need. There is nothing you need to muster out of yourself to complete the work of abiding. Through your trust in Him, Christ completes you and makes you in a constant state of abiding in Him.

“…and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)

You are already with Christ and in Christ! You are already dead to sin and alive in Christ, so now let’s live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit in an intimate, abiding relationship with God (Gal. 5:25).

Not that I have never been guilty of striving, rather than abiding in the Lord–because this has been such a consistent struggle of mine! But I am so blessed that Jesus is teaching me I can find my home in Him and let Him be my Living Water in this dry and weary land.

This is something that is true NO MATTER the circumstances–at work, at school, with friends, or with family at home during the COVID-19 epidemic. You can find your home in Jesus wherever you go and whatever you do. You don’t have to be ruled by fear or pride or guilt or shame. You can be ruled by the Holy Spirit in a restful, life-giving relationship with God. Really!

Last month, I talked about what barriers you might have in your relationship with God that could prohibit you from having full intimacy with Him. (Click here to see that post.)

Now that we know what keeps us from abiding, today, I want to talk about what exactly abiding is. So, what is abiding? Here are three things Jesus says about it in John chapter 15:

1. Abide in Me – Prayerfully Depend on Jesus

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5 (ESV)

You enter an abiding relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ. You remain—or abide—in Him by faith. (Not by human effort!) The Greek word for “abide” is meinete which means to “remain, persevere, stay, continue, or abide.”

Do you want to stay with Jesus? There’s certainly no other place I’d rather go! Without Him I can do nothing! Absolutely nothing of eternal value. It’s all meaningless and unfruitful without persevering by faith to stick with Jesus Christ.

Let’s keep going with Jesus! Let’s continue on. Let’s stay connected with Him.

Abiding in Jesus means a persistent stance of humility in letting Him take control of your life as you rest in the safety of His presence. As my Navigator leader put it, abiding in Christ is “prayerful dependence” on Him.

Thus, sticking with Jesus is to “pray continually” as Paul exhorts us to (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is being connected to God in your spirt. You cannot always be focusing your attention onto Him in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, or supplication, but you can always be connected to Him in your spirit, depending on Him fully in all things, and walking by the Spirit.

When we prayerfully depend on Christ—something new begins to happen. Joy comes, Life comes, and our branches bear fruit!

There is a drastic difference between a Christian who is dependent on themselves and a Christian who is prayerfully dependent on God. A Christian whose mind is formed by the pattern of this world and a Christian who is transformed by the renewing of his mind. A Christian who drives themselves crazy with trying to do everything perfectly and a Christian who abides in Christ and takes each step of faith exactly as it is—one step at a time.

In fact, if a Christian consistently shows he isn’t prayerfully depending on Christ, you begin to wonder if he is any Christian at all.

Abide in Him. Seek Jesus with all your heart. Stop trying to modify your behavior and let Jesus transform your heart by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). This is all about the Lord leading your life in ways that are for your good, and you resting that He’s doing that and He’s got you covered from head to foot with His grace. Surrender your own plans and trust that His are so much better. Keep looking to Jesus and enjoying His presence with you wherever you go–and you’ll be amazed at the fruit that comes up in the process, flowing from, not human effort, but a life dependent on Him.

2. Let His Words Abide in You – Meditatively Rest in Truth

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7

Jesus asks us to let His words abide in us. Not my words. Not yours. Not the medias. Not your friends. Not your uncles. Not your grandmas. His words and His words alone!

And guess what? God’s Word has a lot to say about you. In the book I am currently reading, Victory Over the Darkness, author Neil Anderson lists many “Who am I?” statements throughout the book that affirm our identities in Christ. He talks about how believing who we are in Christ and the acceptance we have in Him enables us to be who God means us to be. Below are just a few of the statements in the Bible that reveal the new identity God offers you. Let His Word sink deep into your heart…

“Since I am in Christ…
I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19,20)
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come (2 Cor. 1:21,22; Eph. 1:13,14)
Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)
I have been made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21)
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (Gal. 2:20)
I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3)…”

These are true statements about yourself! Do you believe them? Abiding in the truth of the identity God has given you in Jesus Christ will free you to live your life according to who you already are, not according to who you want to be.

Because of who you are in Christ, you can draw your strength from Him and be empowered by your union with Him. Fleshly efforts mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. They don’t work! Our only hope is to surrender our human efforts and depend fully on God.

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” – Galatians 3:2

Believe what you have heard Jesus tell you! That is the only way to true life. Depending on our futile works of the flesh don’t bear fruit. Only believing what Jesus tells us and abiding in that truth produces anything of eternal worth. Believe Him, Beloved!

The truths about your identity in Christ, and many more, are so important to meditate on and rest in throughout your day. If our minds are not filled with truth, then what are they filled with? Yes, lies. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and fill your mind with the truth about who you are in Christ, and who God is in every circumstance you face (Hint: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! – Heb. 13:8). His truth will set you free to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirt and connected to Jesus, the true source of life!

3. Abide in His Love – Eagerly Delight In His Favor

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9

Looking through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), anyone can see how deeply God the Father loves His Son, Jesus. The Father calls Him “My Beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).

Take another look at the above passage. Read it slowly. Can you believe it—Jesus loves us the same way the Father loves Him? We, the Church, are the Beloved bride of Jesus, the Lamb of God! Jesus calls you His Beloved.

Abide in the love Jesus has for you. When I enjoy sweet fellowship with Jesus, soaking in the riches of His love, my connection with the vine grows stronger and my love for God grows deeper. Slow down and rest in His love for you. He really means every word He says.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long; and the one the Lord loves rest between His shoulders.” – Deuteronomy 33:12

Rest secure in Him, because He is protecting you, His beloved child! Marvel at His acceptance of you. Take a load off and relax with Him. Wait on Him. Stop and just…

Breathe.

In the presence of God, there can be no doubts or fears. Only peace. Trust in Him! In Him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).

If we’re going to stick with Jesus, let’s abide in His perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)! There is more love in Him than in any person in the world. More hope. More life. More freedom. Confess to Him your lack of belief and plead with Him to show you how much He loves you. He has rescued you from sin and death and raised you up and seated you with Christ in heaven, securing you a place in the Father’s family for all eternity (Eph. 2:6)! He loves you. Believe me. Well, don’t believe me. Believe Him! The riches of His Word provide us with so much confidence in His love for us.

Abide in His love, Beloved. Let it wash over you and break down your defenses. Melt in His loving embrace. And never, ever hold anything back from Him, the Lover of your soul.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:8

 

So, this is the gist of what abiding is. This is a picture of what intimacy with the Creator of Heaven and Earth looks like. This is only a shadow of the far more wonderful relationship with Him that is to come in heaven, but even now it is like a taste of heaven and brings satisfaction and life to the soul here on earth. God is so good to us!

Abide in Jesus. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

Keep asking, seeking, knocking to see what His good, pleasing and perfect will is. Keep wanting Him more than anything.  Keep believing who you are in Christ and believing who He is—holy and perfect and loving. Keep basking in His sheer delight and favor towards you. Keep trusting in Him with all your heart and leaning not on your own understanding; keep acknowledging Him in all of your ways, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Persevere. Stick with Jesus. Cling tightly to Him, to your only source of life in this desolate, fear-driven world. He will always always be there for you; and you can always run back to Him no matter what junk you have hoarded up in yourself for a time. The way to purify yourself not by trying to feel clean and erase the sin from your memory, but rather to confess your sins, and let Him forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Receive His forgiveness and invite Him to lovingly rule your life again!

Keep believing, dear friend. Keep trusting Jesus and keep loving Him. Abide in Him. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

He really loves you so much.

And from this abiding, deep fellowship with the Lord, fruit will emerge, fruit that points the world back to God.

Let’s Stop and Listen

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Wow! It’s already been a month since I last posted. This break was, honestly, not really planned. And it’s not really over yet. School and my personal struggles have been consuming my life lately.

I just wanted to stop in and say that I still need a break. I can’t really tell you how to abide in Christ (my next planned post), if I am struggling to do so myself. Even more than that, I am taking time off to spend more time with God, seeking Him and what He wants for me at a particularly rough point in my life.

Please pray for me. Pray that God would guide me to the truth as I seek Him. I know that He is so near to me, and I’ve only to sit at His feet and wait on Him before He speaks to me. He has already revealed to me so many things, and I know there is much more to come. More I need to hear. More truth. More love. More wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.

Last Saturday He told me: Forget about people’s expectations; Make room for the Holy Spirit.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Let’s listen together, to that gentle whisper. He’s speaking. He’s there.

I’ll come back with the post about “Abiding in Him” when I hear Him say it’s time.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27

“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.” Psalm 85:8