“Ancient words, ever true, changing me, and changing you, we have come with open hearts, oh, let the ancient words impart”…. ~ Michael W. Smith ~
So often throughout my life, I will rise up early in the morning and immediately upon rising, a sentence or phrase will just pop into my head as though someone audibly spoke it to me out of the blue. Sometimes it would be the line of a song, or a passage of the Bible, or something else profound. Each time it happens it’s pretty amazing to me and I’m overjoyed that my Source finds me attune to hearing. This a.m.I awoke while still dark and the phrase: ” Now you are clean because of what I have told you.” HUH…now that’s odd, I thought. I know that Bible verse so well and today, it is my message. Now, mind you, I don’t ever consider myself “dirty. tainted, or soiled in some way. I live a life of grace that isn’t hung up on thinking about “sin”, or how I’ve failed God or others, EVER. I use to, but not anymore since my journey has led me out of that mentality and into the mindset that God created me and saw that it was GOOD. I don’t dwell on mistakes I’ve made over the years. I know longer think about how I could “do better” for God or how I’m failing my Lord. That is just no longer any part of my thinking. But, I found it a delight and interesting that God would speak to me on this very passage, out of the blue today.
I know enough about the way God speaks to me to take it to heart, so I looked up the passage in its context and the whole context is about abiding in Jesus. The word, “ABIDE has many meanings that people don’t think about much. It means to tolerate, to stand without resistance, to bear something challenging etc. But, in relationship to the Bible verse, Jesus is asking his followers to stay constant in their relationship to him. He is telling his disciples to be like a branch connected to a tree. When a branch is cut off from a tree, it begins to die, but when connected, it continues to bear fruit that it was made to bear.
Now, I spent YEARS in Churches that sang songs about the blood of Jesus being the thing that “cleansed” us, but Jesus isn’t saying that here. This was said to his disciples before the cross. He is telling them that the words he has spoken to them are what has made them clean, and that they should continue in HIM, who is speaking those words. This is what is so cool to me about God. You can’t just pin God down with one thing, one statement, ONE dogmatic doctrine. The Source of all life transcends all of that. God wouldn’t allow mankind to “take hold of Him” as Mary was warned in the garden after the resurrection. ” Don’t hold onto me,” Jesus said to her. WHY? Because he didn’t want her to grip on to some earthy image of God that would be some kind of good luck charm. It’s also noted that it was once said, ” He didn’t give himself to man because he knew what was IN man.” Exactly what Jesus was alluding to with Mary.
This is what my Bible looks like after it’s been read over and over for 48 years. I love my Bible. I indulge it and enjoy it, pouring through hours upon hours because of that love. BUT, I also love even more, the still, small voice of God that transcends the words of a book. Jesus said, ” My sheep hear my voice and won’t listen to another.” I believe that. I believe that God still speaks today and it isn’t always what we THINK. Sometimes, the Source speaks something we aren’t use to hearing because our filters have been corroded by mans interpretations. We instantly think that our God is angry at us rather than just waking us up with a loving word in the morning. And a smile…
l could have felt something like guilt this a.m. because my “filter” use to pick that up all the time when something spoke out of the blue and many might think that is what I should be in-tune to today as well, when I received that phrase upon awakening, but instead I felt interest, imagination, delight, and inquisitive musings. I thought about the passages surrounding it, the ones before and after, the context within a Jewish culture of disciples expecting one thing of their Messiah but an altogether thing happening to him in the end. I could FEEL what Jesus was saying to them. He was telling them that they were going to feel very lost, scattered, disappointed, angry, disillusioned at the coming events that surrounded him, but if they would continue on and think back to the words that he had spoken to them, they would understand that they were STILL clean because of them.
Like Peter, I’ve often spoke out of my own rage, defensiveness, and fear. I’ve often had my foot in my mouth replies and quick to cut off someone’s ear who was transgressing on what I gripped tightly in order to feel safe and secure. I haven’t been the model of a meek and quiet woman as others thought I should be.
But, even in all that, that still small voice upon awakening sees me exactly like he always did. Clean. It’s where the WORD made FLESH isn’t something that can ever be leather-bound and boxed in. That’s what man has attempted, and I’m glad we have it in a leather-bound version, but it isn’t God. God still speaks today within it and outside of it. The SPOKEN word moves beyond all barriers and dogmas. It’s fresh and alive and if we are open to hearing, we will hear.
So …thinking deeply about this word, I think of all the words I’ve heard and even the ones I have spoken that immediately “cleansed” someone of something in particular that held them bound. It was like something I’ve said that released them from a turmoil, law, a negative lifestyle, anything that didn’t keep them connected to freedom. That’s what words can do. Free us. Cleanse us. Draw us to life. OR, they can have the opposite reaction too.
Love will always cleanse us when we feel like we haven’t “made the grade.”
” Now, You are clean because of what I have told you.” It’s time to tear the wall down and if it can’t be torn down, at least get over it. Don’t let it hold you back from knowing freedom, cleansing, and life itself. ” You who have ears to hear….HEAR..”
Love will never fail to include us and help us over each thing that keeps us from experiencing it.
IF It is for freedom that we were set free, we don’t need to enter back into slavery, whether it’s someone elses’ words or those we have imputed towards guilt for ourselves.
This journey of saying “YES” to inhabiting my own life with intensity has me listening a bit more and judging it a lot less. I see the areas I am getting free from and TO. It’s such a sacred journey ……