40 Days Receiving Joy

17 Apr

At the beginning of the 40 days of Lent I shared openly that my spirit was feeling sluggish and the enemy was whispering in my ear all manner of lies about the Holy One leaving me behind. I shared just as openly that I wasn’t going to give in to the voice of deception or surrender my God-given joy without a fight and I gave my battle plan a name . . . Lessons from Lent.

Lessons from Lent was the challenge to read through the New Testament in those 40 days leading to Resurrection Sunday and blog each day about whatever lesson God pointed out. Now we’re on the other side of that season and I can tell you that God met me in ways I had never dreamed. Every single day as I read through the Scriptures He spoke to me through His Word and unveiled a treasure I’d not previously seen. I never found myself grasping for something to share or apply in my daily life—the struggle was usually narrowing it down to just one thing. Imagine that . . . I had a lot to say!

It was so wonderful to have the exclamation point of praise put on the first verse I remember totally capturing my heart: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know” and for the shouts and accolades to reach the ears of what I would say is my life verse in Malachi . . . “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Is there anything quite as beautiful as Scripture colliding head on with Scripture?

The same God, the One who does not change, who filled my heart with His truth in those first days of faith and thrilled me to no end with Jeremiah 33:3 revelations of His goodness and personal applications to my life was still with me. He still peeled back the curtain to display the riches of His word and He still enthralled me with every syllable. And just like in the early days of running my fingers over the pages and asking Him to let me know Him . . . He showed Himself to be absolute Love to me. And just the same as way back then, I heard myself whisper . . .”Why?—Why do You let me see the Much of You?” It’s the closest I come to joining heart-to-heart with the Psalmist who asked “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and in my imagination, he whispers that phrase with a catch in his voice just like I do.

And I fully believe God has used this trek across the calendar pages to introduce me to the Biblical truth of John 16:24 in a way I could not ignore or pass over quickly. It’s a concept I think He’s had me practicing but hadn’t begun to define for me or given me the unction to begin comprehending until this particular Kairos moment in life. His timing is always perfect . . .

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

God-given joy—complete, filled to individual capacity, secure . . . joy in the Name of Jesus—wasn’t that what I was fighting to keep a hold of? Wasn’t it the joy of my faith, the joy of being in His Presence, the joy of an attentive soul all to the glory of my Covenant Partner that I was considering when I posted the introductory paragraphs that preceded every Lenten blog entry . .

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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I don’t know about you but when I read those lines that introduced the Scripture for the each post as we marched toward the Empty Tomb, they sound a lot like asking . . . Asking God to do the new thing, to rouse my heart, to draw me near . . . no matter what my circumstances might be. So unbeknownst to me, the entire journey was aimed at teaching me the word that lingers in the middle of the verse. The word that lives between the invitation to ask and the gift of joy to the full . . . receive.

Help Word Studies 2983 defines receive this way— lambánō (from the primitive root, lab-, meaning “actively lay hold of to take or receive,” see NAS dictionary) – properly, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available (offered). 2983 /lambánō (“accept with initiative“) emphasizes the volition (assertiveness) of the receiver.

So to receive as God intended it to be understood in this verse is to aggressively and actively lay hold to that which is offered. To make the volitional choice to accept what is available.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

The “receiving” we find here is far from a passive activity.  There’s some work to be done to really possess it—to live in it.  Much different I think than the gift of salvation we believe on Christ for and receive in His Name.

I’ve been as candid as will serve you well about the depth of my sin and I hope I have made it clear –in a no-holds-barred, full out, give Him all the Glory every time kind of way—that my salvation and my rescue was . . . my righteousness and my life are—all because of Him. He swooped down from heaven and pulled me from the depths. He brought me up out of the pit and planted my feet firmly in His freedom. He and He alone lifted me to the spacious place of Grace. The place where Light and Life are abundant.

And with a grateful heart I testify that He has increased my territory just as He has increased my faith and He has shown me the beauty of the land He has given me—the place where boundary and blessing meet. He lifted me up and brought me again to the spacious place, but praise to the Hope of Glory– the scenery on the way out of the cavern I found myself in was so much different. See my God is still God and my unchanging Messiah was ever present as the steadfast Spirit spurred me on but unlike the work of my salvation, this time . . . my participation was required.

I’m praying for God to give me the exact right words as I try to explain this and I remind you before your eyes land on a single syllable, I am not a theologian, a pastor or any kind of formal scholar. I’m a woman who sits at the foot of the Cross and asks to know her Savior better— who enters the Throne room of God and stands in awe that she is welcome there.

The pit I found myself in when I began the Lent journey wasn’t the same one God pulled me from when I began my faith walk. At the time of my salvation the Lion of Judah roared to my rescue and gave me the gift of eternal reconciliation with my Father in heaven. He scaled those smooth walls and carried me out of darkness into the Light. I could add nothing to His grace nor take a thing away from it. I could only repent and admit my need of the perfect salvation He had purchased for me.   He did it all. He never swerved to the left or to the right. He kept His eyes fixed firmly on the will of the Father . . . His Love poured out on the Cross, His Mercy buried in the Tomb, and His Victory secured in His Risen Life – Jesus did it all! He met me in the pit and He carried me to new life . . . life abundant.

The place I found myself in this time didn’t have walls smoothed by premeditated sin and unholy actions. No, this one had walls jagged with circumstance and life issues that pressed in from every side.   And unlike that first pit, this cavern had pieces of Rock jutting out all around me and He had prepared me to follow Him out—to keep in step with the Spirit, to do all things through Christ who strengthens me—and emerge victoriously into the Light.

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He had given me toeholds and lifelines in His Word so that even though the enemy was actively hissing in my ear I could shout the praise of Jesus and silence my foe. I could put my combat boots on and go about the business of working out my salvation with fear and trembling. At His prompting I could put one foot firmly on the foundation of my Eternal Rock, grab hold of the Scripture with my right hand, and strain my eyes toward the Face of my Messiah. By His grace, I could wrap my fingers tightly around the Word, find the foothold of His truth, and move forward by faith, believing that He rewards those who seek Him.

Was God faithful in bringing me up out of the pit – He absolutely was but this was not the salvation swoop from heaven the work-is-done liberation – it was much more a build your faith muscles, stretch your heart, dig in and climb type of a rescue.

And right in the middle of it all, between the asking and the blessing was aggressive, active, volitional receiving.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

If I, if you, desire to hold tight to, to cling to, to live, move, and find our being in joy to the full, then you and I must be willing to go after the thing—to actively and aggressively grab hold of what our Father rescued us to possess.

A passive faith serves no one well.

We must be intentional in laying hold of the holy opportunities to fight the good fight, to train for the race, so that when the day of Christ Jesus comes we will get the prize for which we have been called heavenward. We have to be willing to put our feet in the toeholds of the temporal cavern walls we may find ourselves surrounded by and wrap our fingers around the lifelines of Truth He so graciously provides if we want the spacious place of freedom to be our daily reality.

Our days here on planet earth are all about developing the muscles we’re going to need to hold our heads high when the Good Shepherd places that jewel-laden, faith encrusted crown of glory on our heads. The active process of transformation from one degree of glory to another requires our active participation in combat drills—trials, tough stuff, messy life. Muscles unused never develop. Faith unexercised atrophies. Receiving His All is not for the faint of spirit and aggressive cardio work will be required because Girlfriend, He loves us to much to let us arrive in Glory with a heart that’s out of shape!

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7 Responses to “40 Days Receiving Joy”

  1. cazusa April 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    Amen

  2. Carol April 18, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    What a spirit filled writing and practical word picture! Blessings to you Bunny

    • Marilyn (Bunny) Biddinger April 18, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      Thank you so much my Friend! We serve such a Beautiful God who is so unafraid of our messiness. Isn’t He amazing?!? Blessings to you!

  3. Kim Higbie April 20, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    I read this a little later than I usually do but I read it at just the right time. God is so gracious to us! Thank you for the words I needed to hear.

  4. Marilyn (Bunny) Biddinger April 18, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to find Faith Like Her linking arms with Glimpsed Glory for the cause of the Kingdom! What a wonderful treat you have given me and Oh how I pray He encourages the souls of each woman who reads of His goodness!! Thank you for sharing!

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