I stumbled upon a verse in the book of Jeremiah that stopped me in my tracks:
Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord – ‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine.’ (Jeremiah 34:17)
Those words described what I’d experienced as I took hold of my life and shook my fist at God. I’d no understanding of what freedom meant.
“How did that work for me?”
Through the bitter experience of getting what I wanted I lost everything I needed. It was the revelation and process of ‘being born again’, re-sensitized to God’s Spirit that awakened my spirit and began the most profound healing and transformation of my life. It wasn’t spirituality or a higher power in abstraction based upon ‘as I understand it/him’; it was a revelation of love in the person of Jesus. God breaking in and whispering, “What are you doing here? You’ve forgotten your identity.”
We only know what we’re made of inside when every tangible buffer is stripped away. That’s why many turn to God in the midst of suffering and sickness when money can’t buy me love or healing. Money enables Egyptians escape on cruises and pampered holidays but even for them the body eventually wears out. After the funeral and cremation there’s an urn of dust on the mantelpiece and God knows what’s happened to the spirit? What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose your soul/spirit?
CS Lewis describes the challenge of diverse world views impacting how we see the world when he speaks of an open or closed universe. A closed universe is when we try to make sense of the world around us by placing ourselves at the center and giving meaning to everything from our subjective perspective. There is no God, truth is relative, and meaning depends upon how you or I comprehend what we observe and experience.
The open universe worldview sees life and ‘us/me’ as part of a greater world with its origins outside of us and beyond our comprehension. In order to make sense of ‘our world’ we absolutely need the one outside of us to be revealed in order that we perceive what otherwise we’d never comprehend. Jesus invites us to step into a greater truth – where the universe is open, God is alive, and I’m part of something greater than myself began a transformation I regard as quite miraculous. The key was perception, paradigm shift; identity, attitude, and revelation…
…God loves ugly,
He doesn’t see the way I see
Oh God takes ugly
And turns it into to something that is beautiful…..
The tall attractive girl plucks the strings of an acoustic guitar and sings her song… her voice feathers softly into silence. She wipes tears from her eyes confessing that it was the first time the words were deeply and authentically true for her – “At last, I’m living it as I sang.”
Christa Black’s a singer-songwriter from Nashville; her song is ‘God loves Ugly’. She described how she’d grown up with a crippling negative self-image and of her battle to silence those inner voices even though she’s an outstanding musician and very accomplished in her field. She was recounting a portion of her journey, the transformation from lies and slavery into the truth of an identity where ‘I am beautiful and believe it’.
She’s the same person with a transformed outlook. From an ‘Egyptian’ perspective she measures herself by airbrushed images; expectations that are unattainable and entirely based upon exterior pressures concerning value and worth. From a ‘Promised Land’ perspective beauty and value bubble up from the inside out and release from within to impact the environment with power and freedom. Truth is a person – Jesus – and he does set prisoners free!