Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Permission Granted

The Wizard of Oz
One of the biggest changes for someone coming out of the spectrum is a newfound ability to choose. The paralyzing, inflexible I'll stick to my routine and follow every rule at all costs thinking fades over time. Choices turn the sepia world of Kansas into the colorful, glorious land of Oz.

But while the ability to choose did ultimately present itself in my life, I ran into another unexpected snag and that is, I didn't feel like I had any internal permission to make any of these new choices. 

Internal Permission? Yes. I realized that as we journey along in life, we need people to inspire us, embolden us, encourage us, and to push us forward. Externally we need to hear the voices of others tell us, "You can do it. It's okay." Eventually, their voices become internalized and finally they become your own, so in any new situation you might want to try but of which you are unsure you can say, "Hey girl, you've got this."

And honestly, I have no idea why we have this need...but...we do.

I realize it when I get up in the morning and the weather is awful, but I want to be healthy. I don't get in gear until I hear my friend's voice in my mind say, "Go for your walk! You can do it." Permission to be healthy, granted. Or when I'm faced with meeting a new person, "She might be the most interesting person you'll ever meet. So go have lunch with her." Permission to make a friend, granted.

In the end, choices are the pieces that create the mosaic of our lives. Choices, even wrong ones at times, lead to emotional and even cognitive freedom (our brains heal and grow when we choose to do something over nothing). They create opportunities to explore life, help us to live in wonder, and cut down on our ability to presume that we will know the outcome of any given situation. Really, we don't know what will happen until we try, so...just try. Permission to be uncertain, granted.

This is a total aside but here's some permission to color in your Bible.  This post/idea looks awesome! Now, for some people in this world, to do such a thing is blasphemous. But I say grab those highlighters and make some art magic out of scripture. And while you're at it, put the radio on, sing at the top of your lungs, and even if, like me, you look like a drowning victim while doing it, just dance. It's fun.

Permission to live. Granted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Water Into Wine: The Miracle of Transformation

I must confess, I never thought much of the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. It just didn't make sense when you consider just about everything else He did either saved or restored lives. So, if He did all of that, why bother to make some alcohol just to make drunk people more drunk at a party? 

Over the years, I have searched high and low for answers to my questions regarding Christ's first miracle, and I've read numerous commentaries about this particular work, but no one's thoughts have really satisfied me. 

One day a few months back, while my mind was wandering, a thought came to me. What if this miracle did not foreshadow the Lord's death on the cross as many have supposed (with the wine representing Jesus' shed blood), but rather the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost (where the wine would be symbolic of the Holy Spirit)? What if the miracle is about the transformation that God causes to happen in us after we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? 

Here's where I'm going with this:

The miracle was not about the wine. The miracle was about turning water into wine. Think about it--about the symbolism of water. Water has no properties. It has no taste. No color. No scent. What we see in this story is the change, by the hand and word of Jesus of this particular substance without property into an entirely different one--a substance with robust taste, fragrance, and color--and potentially so alluring that a proverb warns people not to look at it for too long.

In other words, the water was transformed and changed into something beautiful by an external source. It did not change itself. It had no power to change itself.

So, we see here that Jesus is the transformer of the water, but why did He say to Mary, "Woman, my time has not yet come?" If memory serves, Jesus generally referred to "my time" as the time He would die on the Cross. Maybe that is why so many people believe the wine refers to His blood here. However, if this incident is looking ahead to Pentecost and He's referring to the Holy Spirit, then what He could have meant was, "My Spirit cannot be poured out on all people until after I die, am resurrected, and ascend to the Father. So why are you troubling me with this request now?" 

There are so many interesting little details in this story that parallel with Pentecost. Jesus was at a wedding feast. Pentecost was a celebratory feast. At the wedding in Cana, there were 6 stone jars that each held 20 gallons of water. At Pentecost, 120 people were present. In order to serve people wine, it must be poured out. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out. At Cana, people were already drunk by the time Jesus performed this first miracle. At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell, people were perceived as being drunk as they received the Spirit. At Cana, the wedding host was commended for saving the best wine for last. Throughout the Gospels, the disciples are told over and over again by Jesus that He has to leave them because something better after Him was coming. In this respect, He again, saved the best (the Holy Spirit) for last. 

Friends, can you see that we are the water in this story? Every believer is water in the story. On our own, whether we like it or not when we start out on our faith journey (in Jesus), we are nothing. It is not until the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, is invited into our hearts to dwell with us, that He begins His transforming work in us. Like wine, He begins to flow through our being within, when He indwells us, but then at the same time His Spirit is poured out over us externally, which causes us to change. It's God--an external source of power that causes us to change. And when He does, we become palatable to people. We become fragrant, giving off the aroma of Jesus. And He makes us beautiful. Our faces become radiant. In other words, we now, because of Christ, have substance in us. What was once nothing becomes something. We are meant to become alluring to an unbelieving world.

When we see these things, then we understand the magnitude of this miracle--of the water being turned into wine. Transformation is the Lord's most amazing enduring healing work. It is the ongoing change of a human being from the time of conversion until the time of death. Yes, it's awesome a tumor disappears or the blind see, but when you get down to it, to see the Lord always at work over the lifetime of His children, the hope this establishes, at least in me, takes my breath away. I pray the same can happen to you.

Blessings today! May the Lord heal you and show you His unrelenting love toward you today.