I Am a Keeper!

I am a kept woman!

That is a pretty bold statement for a woman of the sixties who was hip deep in the women’s liberation movement. I got liberated all right. I found the best place to be a woman and not be controlled. No. Jesus is not a controller. He is a lover. And I am kept by Him.

Let’s define the idea of being kept as the world sees it. Generally we are referring to a woman (or man) who is being financially supported by a man (or a woman) who is not their spouse (often married to another) in exchange for guaranteed on demand sexual favors. Basically it is an illegal covenant relationship.

In the movie “Pretty Woman,” Edward offers Vivian just such a proposal. A high income place to live, classy clothes, a princess life style. And Vivian turns it down. Why? Even having lived the life of a hooker, her response is “I want the whole fairy tale.” She didn’t want to be a kept woman, she wanted to be THE woman of his life, the bride. And she got what she wanted. I love the last lines of the movie. “What happens after the prince saves her?” “She saves him right back.” Prophetic words indeed!

Being kept is a desire of the heart of every woman. But being kept illegally, not important enough to be THE kept woman, is a slap in the face of God’s plan. He created woman to be a helpmate, not a sex slave. The role of a helpmate is to be the keeper of the man as he is the keeper of his wife.

So how is it I call myself a kept woman? Yes I am fortunate to have no need to work, though I do for my own health. But that is not how I feel kept.

The word kept or keep in the bible is interchanged in various translations with guarded, protected, secured.

Jesus is the great Keeper, and when we are kept  by Him, we are safe, guarded, untouchable, protected and secure. How do I know?

John’s gospel gives us a prayer that Jesus prayed for his followers in which He included us who would come after the death of Jesus. Jesus prays:

Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one; While I was with them, I kept them in your name that that you have given me. I guarded them…. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to keep them from the evil one. (paraphrase Chapter 17 vs 11-16)

It is impossible to imagine that His Father in heaven would ignore the prayer of His Son who was about to die on the cross for us. So it is pretty spanking true that we are kept by the Trinity and kept from the evil one. Because Jesus asked and He wanted us to know that He asked or it wouldn’t be in the Bible. And if He asked, it is a done deal. A solid AMEN.

What does this mean for me today? Being kept means I walk free of fear and doubt as I did before Jesus ruled my life. The old man was always fearful and anxious. Now i am kept, safe and secure, in Jesus. And being kept means that Father Son and Holy Spirit are surrounding me along with a host of heaven’s angels, determined to keep me secure in who I am. “He will command His angels concerning you, to keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11.

Being kept means I have guards all around me, as does any person of royalty, to be sure that no harm befalls me. That includes disease and illness and strife and wars and….. death. “His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting (keeping) you. You can run under His covering of majesty and hide. ..For God will keep you safe and secure, they (evildoers) won’t lay a hand on you!” Psalm 91:4-6

Being kept also means your financial needs of food, clothing and shelter are supplied. He is the great Provider of ALL things. We lack nothing as children of the King. And everything is first class. He always wants the best for us. You are His best, and His desire is  for you to be the best version of who He saw when He first conceived of you before you were in your mother’s womb.

The bride prepares for herself to be kept by the bridegroom. She does that by beautifying herself, making sure that she is pure and spotless and ready to abandon herself into the arms of Her true lover. We are called to be without spot or blemish and the only way for that to happen is to abandon ourselves to the One who is our Keeper.

Now is the hour to step into the bridal chamber and allow yourself to be purified and dressed for the great wedding that is soon to take place. All pain and wounding and brokenness must be submitted to the one who knows our every need. Allow Him into your inner chamber for healing and blessing.

Keep Us Jesus, in You, as we keep You, in us.

Make me a keeper!

 

 

Don’t Look Back

I have this sign on my war room wall that reads “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”  I love that reminder especially since we just transcended into a new year on the calendar.

I am entering my 70th year of life. This is going to be my best year yet. How do I know? Because I am not looking back. Today is after all the first day of the rest of my life. Cliche, yes, but so true.

A new year is a new opportunity to align myself with my priorities once again. It is an opportunity to correct the path if needed, and reset goals for the days ahead. The only reason to look back is to rejoice in what promises were fulfilled in the last year, and then turn around and go forward. Onward. It is a form of repentance. Change your view to the future.

The Bible says it best. “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) and “A man cannot serve two masters. ” (Luke 26:13) Each day is a new beginning in making a choice for where I will put my attention and who I serve.

It is easy to rest on past accomplishments. How hard it must be for people who have won Pulitzer prizes or academy awards to continue to find a higher level. Do you just keep doing the same thing? Is there a higher honor? Imagine how bored past Presidents are! President of the United States is pretty up there as an accomplishment.

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Pretty tough words! Lawlessness is also interpreted as works of evil, iniquity, you who act wickedly disobeying my commands. This is a hard saying. And more so because it is directed at Christians who believe they are doing the good works of God.

So how do we blow it. Jesus says, “I never knew you.” The word interpreted “knew” here is the same one used in “Adam knew Eve and conceived.” No, it doesn’t mean physical intercourse, but it does mean intimacy. Without going into Hebrew and Greek word study, the knowing has to do with covenant knowledge. I know who you are, I believe I want to enter into covenant relationship with you, a mutual eternal agreement of a relationship that surpasses time and space. When I know you, I am confident in the covenant growing as knowledge increases. In fact, I want to know you more because of what I discover, not get rid of you because I find out I don’t like what I see. And I definitely don’t try to win you over with my good works and impressive accomplishments.

Relationship that prospers us is based on a commitment and a desire for intimate knowing one to another. You want to be invested in someone who is fully invested in you. Marriage works best that way. And more so does our relationship with God.

Looking forward, I need to focus on that relationship and none other. If I have any fear it is that He would say, “I never knew you” because I was too focused on my accomplishments, my gifts, my miracles, seeing signs and wonders.

The beautiful thing about knowing God, through Jesus, is that I get to know myself as He sees me, because He shows me who I am through His eyes. Jesus prayed, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. ” John 17:21-24

Jesus is praying for us exactly that. “that they also may be in us.” Us! The Holy Trinity! We have full access to the fullness of God in the Trinity. I am convinced I have barely touched the surface of that oneness so I will go after the prize and believe that next year at this time I am closer to experiencing that oneness as much as possible this side of heaven.

In this intimacy, my gifts will flow; miracles and healings will happen; but not because of anything I earned or accomplished. Rather in my intimacy with and through the trinity, the presence dwells more fully in me. Where I go Jesus goes. And it is that part of me that carries Jesus that reaches out and touches the one who needs healing, or a miracle, nor a word of encouragement. And Jesus manifests Himself to the world.

My identity offers me intimacy and intimacy offers me a more complete identity. I come full circle into a place reserved for those who choose this day to follow Jesus. And that circle is constantly forward moving. I am not looking back. The future has me captured!

Love is a Choice

Sometimes love hurts. You love with no return. You love and the results are not what you expected. You love and it turns to disinterest. Love is tricky on all levels.

There is a love that is permanent and perfect. Only one. That is the love I found in God, because of Jesus Christ. I knew from the beginning that loving the way He does would be a very long and trying process. Being loved was a very rare thing in my life, so giving it would seemingly be impossible. If you haven’t experienced it, how do you know what it looks like?

But I did it anyway because when God puts His DNA into us and we receive His spirit in us by accepting Jesus into our lives, you get this inkling that the love you have received should be given away.

I have given my love away… a LOT! Love comes with choice and I chose to love some real  difficult characters and my love didn’t always make a big difference. I got hurt.

The love I had for my children, however, was completely different. Mother love is unique and profound. It can put you through experiences and circumstances you would have never chosen but for the fact that these were your children and your love was sacrificial.

Then they get to choose to love you back. Love is pretty simple when they are young and need you to survive. It is very complicated when they get old enough to decide. Even children have to choose to love their parents. Some don’t. And they leave.

I have a two year relationship with a cat I named Amber. (yes, I will connect the dots.)Amber has been a challenge for the whole two years. She is skittish, and probably a bit bipolar. She claws more than any cat ever, and my furniture reflects the results. She has a hard time finding the potty and in the last few months decided she would rather pee on the floor. Sprays, cleaners, lavender cat collars, room purifiers… nothing has helped. I hit the end yesterday. Right next to two litter boxes on the floor, with two different kinds of litters for the little princess, she started to squat to pee on the carpet…again. I shooed her out, and she ran. Only to find a carpet in the laundry room to pee on instead.

I lost it. I realized two years of trying to do the right thing for this cat to feel comfortable in this home and simply pee in the proper place had given me nothing but heartache. Her occasional lap visits were not enough of a reward for putting up with the way she was ruining my home.  The living room furniture is covered in blankets to keep her from clawing the new slipcovers I bought to protect the couch. Black tufts of fur are all over the place, as are pieces of carpet from the constant knitting she did. I couldn’t have visitors anymore. I was done.

In my anger, I opened the front door, making it easy for her to leave. She had a taste of the outdoors a year ago and has been punishing me ever since for wanting her to be an indoor cat. (We have coyotes in the back yard… it was for her own good.)

An hour later I went out and closed the door, as I remembered her last bout with outside had brought her home covered in fleas. But I was too late. Apparently she was gone, and I have not heard a meow since. It is peacefully quiet here, and a bit daunting. Was this cat’s identity always to be an outdoor cat and I had tried to make her live by my desires for her to be an indoor cat when it was against her personality?

I have just finished my book about identity, so I was getting a clear picture of what it looks like to try to make someone be who you need them to be, when it is nothing like they want to be, no matter how great the perks.

That is what happened with my daughter. She claims, and possibly rightly so, that I tried to get her to be what I wanted and never let her be herself. She resisted, rejected and ran. There is more to the story, but suffice it to say, she is still running and demanding that i let her be who she is, on her terms. She is now thirty-five years old, and has a real hard time committing to relationships, any of them. And definitely to me.

I have made endless attempts to woo her back. I have done everything to heal myself from controlling anything and want some semblance of a relationship with her. But she wants to be free. Like Amber, she wants relationship on her terms. And my job is to seemingly just be there when she needs a lapsit, and otherwise, just let her be free.

It is easier with a cat, I can tell you. I was not emotionally attached to Amber, there was no way to be when she was constantly causing my life to be in disarray. Before I opened that door, I was planning to call the N.O.A.H shelter and give her back. I was truly done.

This is my daughter. I don’t want to release her to her freedom, with the realization that she may NEVER choose to come back home. It reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Son. I had always seen her as my prodigal. But the prodigal son came home because he realized he had left something far more precious than what the world offered. He was willing to be a field worker if it meant returning to home.

I will welcome her with open arms should that ever happen. In the meantime, how do you let go ever seeing your youngest daughter again? How do you navigate giving someone freedom that you love and want a relationship with, an authentic mutual relationship?

I am not interested in tolerable recovery for this relationship. Like those family gatherings where she won’t look at me and I have to pull more than a few words of discourse from her mouth. Do you just stay in the corner and ignore her presence, when you so want to just go up and give her a big hug and love on her,  even though uninvited and unrequited?

Love is a choice. I choose to keep loving her. I may or may not show up at those family gatherings should she be there. I get to choose also whether I want to endure the pain of rejection that occurs every time I see her. So love for now may look like NO, even if my heart is hoping… maybe this time it will be different. 

I will wait for the prodigal to return home, really return, with open arms and a contrite, repentant heart. In the waiting, I will pray, pray that I will remain soft-hearted; that I can keep my heart from turning to stone towards her. Yes, love hurts. And only with a heart in a constant state of forgiveness can it stay soft.

And Amber, unrepentant, remains free.