I am blessed! I realize that it often seems rather unfair that I live such a charmed life! Now - don't get me wrong... my life is not perfect... things go wrong... there are things I would like to change... not everything is easy or successful or 'charmed' - however I have learned to keep a spirit of thankfulness and I have come in direct contact with God's Furious Love. This translates in my life to mean that any issue or circumstance or problem or 'less than' that I come in contact with - I know that my God's LOVE will sweep in and overwhelm it!
I have this amazing group of women who gather in my living room every Monday... we've been meeting for over a decade and while some have moved away, some have joined in later, and we have had a few seasons where we took a break - we have created an atmosphere where we join together and live life out loud with each other.
We have gone through ups and downs and all the while - pressed in to more of what God has for us. We started as an intercessory group, moved in to worship, have gone through various books, and are right now digging in to the gospel of John.
I love that we flow from one focus to another and continue to press in and make room for others. I also love that every one of these ladies are leaders... they have read (and read and studied and read) the book of John several times and yet the excitement we all had to dig in to a book in the Bible and just see what God would show us was tangible.
It's been great... powerful... the call for the season we have found is "Come and See!" Jesus says this literally and figuratively often through out the gospel of John and He is still saying it today!
This week we went over Chapter 8... which begins with the woman caught 'in the very act' of adultery and handed (or shoved) over at Jesus' feet. I have always loved this passage for all the obvious reasons! Who doesn't love a Knight in shining armor; someone who has the ability to pass judgement but offers Mercy instead? To give just a little background on this passage - let's remember that in Ch 7, Jesus taught in the Temple that He is the Living Water. He said this quite possibly during the festivities where they pour out barrels of water that run out into the streets. Who can know if he is ankle deep, knee deep, ...and quite possibly - His listeners are picturing in their minds Ezekiel 47 as He is talking... powerful revelation unfolding there and the scripture says that many believed in Him that day. So - now - this is the next day... and He goes right back to the temple and is teaching in the area where the women gather. We don't know what He was talking with them about - but we do know that He is not surprised with the disruption. There is a commotion and all of the sudden in the midst of the women, is a crowd of Pharisees - angry, loud, threatening... and they toss this woman... (you can almost here their disdain here) she was caught 'in the very act' of adultery. They point out the obvious: according to Moses and the Law - this woman must be stoned. Now - in reality - they didn't want to stone her, they wanted to stone HIM! I love that he knew this... He knew the Law as well and knew that they were wanting to trap Him. But He is ALWAYS about bringing freedom. So He bends down and begins to write in the dirt... who can know for sure what he was doing... but Jeremiah 17:13 comes to mind! "O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.” (Remember - he JUST told them yesterday that He IS the fountain of living waters!) Maybe He was writing their names... or their sins that they thought no one else knew about... whatever He was doing - we know was not for nothing! He always had purpose and I believe that when He basically said, 'OK - whoever among you who is without sin, throw the first stone' He was writing out the very sins that they knew they had done... listen - God is gracious when He calls you out of sin... He was gracious to them in keeping it personal and quiet and not making a show of it, and He was gracious to her as well!
As we were discussing this in our small group - all of the sudden the Lord gave me this picture of the spiritual realm that was happening on that day! The Pharisees entered the arena full of anger, rage, blood-thirst... they were releasing into the atmosphere judgement, shame, & death. This woman KNEW she was being set up... she was well aware of the Law and that the man should be taken with her... injustice was rising in her and yet she knew... she deserved this. Whether the man got away or was part of the set up - it didn't matter. Either way she knew today was her end. I picture her on the ground... in the dirt... covered in judgement and shame... head down - eyes closed in self-protection, attempting with all her might to block out the world around her and trying to prepare to meet her Maker. Little did she know that as she looked up, He was peering directly into her eyes! While the spiritual realm charged the atmosphere with darkness... with shame and hate and injustice... Jesus - as always, in all that He did - is releasing Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, and a chance at New Life! All the while, the war in the heavenlies was charging the air and God's Furious passionate Love was overcoming and overwhelming every 'less than' thought or emotion... there was a chance being offered to everyone present... a chance at a new life - to have a new heart... a clean slate! I see a glorious covering over the woman, protecting her from the warring in the spirit and releasing into her the hope for More instead of Less.
The silence she felt all around her was real, the only sound she heard was that of shuffling feet moving off in a distance, and rocks gently falling to the ground. Even the women there were silent - waiting and watching to see what would happen. And when she dared to peer up through her tangled hair, I can see her dirt and tear stained face, expecting to find an angry mob, but it was His eyes of Love that she found herself falling into instead! "“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)
He - being the only sinless one - had the authority to throw the first stone, and yet He is all about releasing Freedom and offering something INSTEAD... Instead of judgement, wounding, shame, and death - His grace reaches out and he pours out Mercy, Healing, Acceptance, and Life... He offers her, this adulterous woman, Love that she has never had. He offers the same to you! His Furious Love longs to overwhelm every 'less than' that you have settled for or have been thrown at the feet of. Dare to look up and see His pierced hands and feet - reaching out to you... taking your place so that you can stand tall, start over, and walk in the Love that He so freely pours out to you!
What do you want to trade in... what has the enemy of your soul told you is 'less than' that God desires His furious love to flood in and give you an Instead in place of? Reach out... His heart is FOR you!
(I am SO not an artist... but I am stepping out in creativity and when I 'saw' this Scripture acted out - I knew I wanted to paint it!)
March 21, 2012
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