Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: precious

Coffee with Jesus?

‘God loves you.’
I taught it every week.
But did I really know it?
Sure, He forgave me;
was He just being kind?

I thought the Father didn’t like me.
That Jesus and I could never have coffee together.
And the Spirit lived in me under protest.

But then.

The day the Father came into the room
His eyes fixed on mine,
as if I were the most precious thing He’d ever seen.
He scooped me up
and tossed me into the air.
Arms and legs flailing,
a toddler’s happy laughter:
‘Do it again Daddy, do it again!’

Have coffee with Jesus?
Oh yes.
Anyone can be friends.
Wandering in the woods together,
chilling on the patio,
enjoying a good book,
living the life He’s called me to.
He was once a man who cooked breakfast for mates –
He hasn’t changed.

And the Spirit?
Even when I hit the pearly gates
He’ll stay with me.
He won’t sigh with relief and go off to find someone more interesting.
Not dump me in eternity,
lonely and alone.
He sees me, He knows me.
He tells me truth and makes the unseen real.

God doesn’t just love me.
He likes me.

Decide

Oh son, I love you so much!
You delight my heart and bring me joy.

Being with you dad, is just the best thing ever.
You’re awesome!

Let’s create more, just like you son.

Fantastic idea dad!
You’ve given me so much, can I share with them?

Not even conceived, yet I see each one…
and how I love them.
But son, I don’t want little robots.
I’m giving them the choice,
they can decide to love me or not.
I’ll make it easy:
I’ll create a fabulous world for them to live in
with trees, mountains and flowers,
and a sky full of stars.
Every evening I’ll paint the sky with orange, pink and gold.
Each morning will be greeted with blazes of silver and choral trilling.

I see dad….
The choice to decide is dangerous.
They’ll want to please themselves and rebel against you, won’t they?

Yes son, they will and they will be separated from me.
But I want to show them my love.
They are precious –
I want them to understand what love looks like, what it is.

How can we show them?

Dad, they will deserve death for rebelling against you.
I will die in their place and become the Way to you.
The greatest love is to die for a friend –
I will die for my enemies.

Son, I will accept your sacrifice on their behalf.
You take their place, and
I will lavish the love I have for you on them.
I will make them co-heirs with you of all that I have.
They cannot even imagine the wonders and pleasures in store for them!
I will pursue them with my goodness and love at every turn.

We have made our decision.
Now it is time for them to choose.
Today is the day of acceptance, now is the time of salvation.

An imaginary conversation between God the Father and God the Son before the dawn of time.

Look

Day three’s word prompt for blogging through Lent is:  LOOK.

I’m one of those people who can’t see for looking, who frequently misses the obvious. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve embarrassed myself in shops by asking an assistant, ‘Can you tell me where whatever is please?’ only for them to point it out on the shelf directly in front of me.

A couple of years ago I went to an ACW writers’ day in Bath. I planned to get there nice and early to get the registration table set up before all the delegates arrived. I drove round and round the one-way system. My written directions and Sat-Nav both confirmed that the church was just off the one-way road I was on but I couldn’t see it. Then I spotted a church with a steeple on a hill so I exited left and drove up to it. Wrong church. Oh well. I got myself back into the one-way system and drove round for another go. Again, the only church I could see was the one with a steeple on the hill. Maybe I’d misread the name on the sign outside last time. I exited left and drove up the hill. Same name, still the wrong church.

Would you believe I spent almost an hour doing the same thing over and over again? (Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting to this so freely in public….)

CatOn the seventh or eighth attempt, I sat in my car with the church-with-a-steeple behind me and gazed out over Bath. ‘Lord, open my eyes.’ And He did. The church I needed (without a steeple) was almost opposite me, slap-bang in the middle of the one-way road I’d wasted an hour driving round and round.

Sometimes my looking is so skewed I can’t see straight. This is also true spiritually. There are all sorts of unhelpful things I believe about myself because I’m not seeing straight.

‘I’m stupid.’

‘No one ever listens to me.’ = I’m worthless.

‘I can’t…. because….’

The great thing is that God is waiting to open my eyes spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well as physically so that I can see straight. I think there are two things that run side-by-side for this to happen: I need to ask, and I need to look at Jesus. Because the more time I spend getting to know God and being with Him – gazing at Him – the more I am changed. God is the one who changes me from glory to glory, making me more like Jesus every time I look at Him.

When I look at Jesus, I see clearly because I see things from His perspective.

‘I am loved.’

‘God waits to hear me and bless me.’ = I am precious and my life has worth.

‘I can, because all things are possible for one who believes.’

Linking up with:

Missional Women

God’s Nice and He Likes Me

Last year I felt like a building that was being taken apart for renovation. Everything I thought I believed was challenged; it was as though God was stripping me right back to basics. As I said in my previous post, I had no real idea of who I was, or what God thought of me. Was I even a Christian?

God’s way of dealing with that was to remind me of the time when Moses asked God to show him His glory. God agreed, and He walked in front of Moses, saying:

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but who will by no means clear the guilty…

God wanted me to understand something important. He started with that small phrase: slow to anger.

For two weeks, the Holy Spirit kept repeating those words to me: God is slow to anger. SLOW to anger. SLOW to ANGER. SLOW TO ANGER. Then one day I realised: God isn’t angry with me.

As soon as I had got the hang of that, the Holy Spirit moved on to the phrase: abounding in steadfast love.

I struggled to accept that God loved me. I felt so worthless and unlovable that it was almost repulsive to even hint that He might love me. But He persistently repeated those words to me: ABOUNDING in STEADFAST LOVE.

Coming from a background of believing that although I was saved, I still had to earn God’s favour with an endless list of dos and don’ts, it was a monumental task to turn my thinking and accept that God loved me just because He wanted to. Nothing I could do would ever make Him love me more. Nothing I neglected to do would ever make Him love me less. As Adrian Plass is fond of saying: God is nice, and He likes me.

It was hard to take in and accept that God the Father sent Jesus to die for me because He delights in me and chose to adopt me long before creation.

ButterflyFor weeks, the truth that God loved me unconditionally – or to put it another way, He is nice and He likes me – was uncomfortable. It seemed to flitter near me, occasionally alighting for a few seconds before taking off again, rather like a butterfly briefly landing on a flower before fluttering away.

At the same time as God was using those phrases to rebuild the foundation of my life, I was devouring other passages from the New Testament. For years, I had arrogantly glossed over chapters like Romans 8, believing they had nothing to teach me. But now, my eyes were being opened and I was desperate to comprehend their powerful meaning.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received  the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

The verses told me that I am a child of God. That He has adopted me. That is why I can call Him Dad (Abba). But they were just words. Although I have been a Christian since the age of ten, I had never really accepted that God is my Father and those words weren’t real for me.

In sheer desperation, I cried out: ‘Holy Spirit, it says here that You tell my spirit that I am a child of God. Please do that!’

And He did. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful Teacher. The best in fact. Ever since that desperate day last summer, He has been telling me daily that I am a child of God. Jesus’ Dad has adopted me! Jesus made it possible for His Dad to adopt me when He died so that I could be forgiven for rebelling against God and choosing to please myself instead of pleasing Him. Jesus is my Hero!

Knowing who I am – a child of God who is secure in Christ and that God has completely accepted me – has revolutionised my life. I no longer have to strive and put on a front with people. I can be myself, knowing that it doesn’t matter what they think. That is not to say that I don’t have my wobbles, but to know that I am accepted by God and that He truly loves me is more precious than anything else.

I think that calls for a bit of WOOOO HOOOO HOOOOO!!

Image used courtesy of tharkul at freedigitalphotos.net.

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