Random Blog Clay Feet: October 11, 2008
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Biggest Lightening Rod

The following are insights that came to me in the middle of the night that I want to unwrap here further. Bear with me while I quickly jot them down and then unpack them further so that I can understand them more clearly myself.

Praise is the medium of conveyance by which pain and fear can be effectively transferred to Jesus.

So I thought about what praise really is and why I am subtly resistant to it still. I discovered that I have a residual gut-level belief that praise is something that has to be earned and if my feelings don't believe someone deserves it then I am resistant to doing it. It is partly for me an issue of honesty. (These are feeling-based beliefs, not conscious beliefs that I subscribe to. For another perspective read this post from last November.)

So my heart is really saying that if I don't feel blessed right now then God doesn't really deserve praise right now. That is likely because praise and affirmation toward me was always predicated on my performance and so I of course assumed the same principle applied to God. I felt that there were certainly times to praise God but that was generally when things were going well, I was feeling blessed and prayers were being answered etc. But when circumstances seemed very much against me it seemed much more real that God was likely upset with me and so praise simply did not make sense at those times except as a duty to be fulfilled.

After recently revisiting and reigniting the truth about God's unconditional forgiveness – that seems so hard to keep firmly in my mind and heart – I am more in a position to put these other pieces together properly so that they make more sense in the bigger picture. When one piece of the picture is misunderstood or misplaced it has a distorting effect on how I view many other pieces of the puzzle.

Pain is almost always very closely associated with fear. Nearly everyone is afraid of pain which is why it is so easy to manipulate everyone with fear. This is the grand strategy of Satan to control the whole world through fear. If he can use the threat of pain to frighten us into submission or motivate us in a certain direction then he can control our thoughts and actions. So the plan of salvation must somehow effectively address this problem of fear and pain.

Pain is also in essence closely linked with death. This is what is referred to in the plan that Jesus came to put into place described in these verses.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

But this is only part of the answer as to how the death of Jesus effected the liberation of our hearts from all fear. I have puzzled for years over what Jesus' death had to do with my problems and my daily experience. The way that it was presented was so convoluted religiously that it simply made very little real sense. This was largely because most religions believe in very dark views of God and most of Christianity pits Jesus and the Father against each other in counterfeit versions of the plan of salvation. Again, if one part of the puzzle is false it seriously affects many other pieces and makes them have a lot of tension when trying to put them together. Often typical solution that people have used is to simply force the pieces together illogically and then declare that the tension created is simply the mystery of God and dismiss all further questions about it.

But add to the above text the passage from Isaiah and it begins to make even more sense.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Even as I just considered these two texts together right now I noticed this phrase for our well-being and realized that it is directly linked to the slavery in the previous passage. Our well-being from God's perspective is to be freed from our slavery which is our fear of death and all the things associated with death and that includes pain. It is significant that this passage in Isaiah is full of descriptions of pain that Jesus took upon Himself for the sole purpose of creating a way for us to become free from that very pain in our own lives.

So how does this work in practicality? What does the real plan of salvation look like with more of the pieces in proper position and understood more clearly? And just how, in very practical and useful terms, do I get my pain, guilt, shame etc. out of my own heart and where it belongs, on the cross of Jesus Christ?

I certainly am not going to make any claim as to having a complete understanding of the plan of salvation since it has been said that we will be trying to more clearly understand it throughout all of eternity. But on the other hand, it is definitely our privilege to have a much clearer perception of it and experience in it than what we have had up to this point. That is God's will and deep desire for us, and the more clearly we perceive the real truth about God's character and feelings toward us the easier it is going to be to get a clearer grasp of the true outline of the real plan of salvation as it is in Jesus.

As I lay awake around 1 AM this morning not being able to sleep, I listened to whatever God might want to have me think about. This issue of fear was one of the first things that came to my attention since it is often fear that wakes me up at odd times during the night and robs me too much of my sleep. So I have a vested interest in learning how to become free from all my fears. I also have a longstanding question as to what is really meant by the passage in Hebrews 3 about entering into His rest.

I chose to simply follow this thread of thought and slowly put together things that I have been learning recently from various sources and see where it might take me. As I did so I was praying for God to deliver me from all my fears. But I think part of God's answer to prayers like this involves also teaching me the process that He uses to deliver me from my fears so that I can more fully cooperate with the effective way He has in place to accomplish that.

I remembered previous lessons that I have learned about my need to transfer all my fears and emotional pain to Jesus since He already suffered all of of that very pain and fear on the cross. His death by this means qualified Him to bear it for me and receive it from me. I no longer believe that He died to appease a justice-hungry God full of wrath toward me, but He did it instead to reveal the heart of the Godhead that has been obscured by the myriads of lies produced and promoted by Satan about how He feels about me. It was for our sense of justice that He suffered all of the emotional consequences of our sins, not for God's satisfaction. It was to appease the wrath of all created beings who misinterpret the truth about God's heart that Jesus made Himself the lightening rod for our vengeance and wrath.

And furthermore, He has become the permanent lightening rod firmly in place onto which we must continue to unload our pain, fear, anger and negative emotions or we will not be able to be freed from our slavery to fear. And as I look back again at the verse from Hebrews I suddenly realize that this lightening rod was the secret resource that God unveiled to neutralize all the power that Satan had unleashed to keep us bound firmly in the slavery of fear. A lightening rod acts to “ground” electricity directed toward another object thus neutralizing its destructive potential. It does so by absorbing all of the powerful energy into itself that would otherwise cause fire and ruin if it were to reach its original target. But in our case, even though Jesus has already absorbed the full force of the evil that we experience we have to choose to transact with Him in order to enjoy the freedom of the sons of God.

Satan's power of slavery has always been based on force, intimidation and fear as well as deception. This evil control is even more real than the surging, destructive power of powerful lightening bolts that can wreak so much havoc in the natural world. Satan's emotional lightening has been used with impunity for centuries to tear apart relationships, to ignite fires of hatred, inflame evil passions and incite bloodshed throughout the history of this world. Satan's lightening represents his demonic passion that is actually the great counterfeit of God's pure passion. And this false passion has been at work to keep all humanity in slavery through the fear of pain and death since the days of Adam and Eve.

So how can we become free from this overwhelming fire of false passion that is rooted in fear and pain? How can we use the lightening rod of Jesus' death to become free of the slavery that has controlled us all of our lives? And what is the process of allowing Jesus to take all of this out of the heart?

These are questions I will not attempt to tender simple answers to at this time. I can only explore small aspects of the answers as my mind is simply not of large enough capacity to contain such enormous concepts all at once. But the more I learn about the true nature of the salvation brought to light in the life and death of Jesus and the real truths about the nature of God, the more excited I get and the more attracted I am to engaging more fully in my participation with it.

But something that is starting to emerge to my consciousness is the idea that praise itself is actually the vehicle by which we are to transfer our sins and the internal results of it onto the lightening rod of Jesus who earned the right to accept it from us. But as I thought more about this I noticed a subtle sense of resistance to this idea of unconditional praise. So I decided to focus on that emotion and find out why it is there to start with.

The epiphany that shocked me early this morning was the discovery of a lie deeply entrenched in my psyche about praise needing to be linked to someone earning it. It is simply not enough to insist that God deserves all of our praise. That may certainly be true, but for me it little effect except to irritate me to some extent. It is such a left-brain lopsided assertion that it fails to address the real underlying issue. And it also usually contains subtle false assumptions along this idea of needing to earn praise just like the assumptions behind all other performance-based religion. The reason I believe I have so much resistance to worshiping God is because my concepts of God are reflections of my false assumptions about what He expects from us.

If we believe we have to earn God's favor, beg for His forgiveness or earn anything in any way from Him when it comes to His love and salvation for us, those same root assumptions are going to poison and hinder our own ability to spontaneously worship and praise Him as we need to. And because praise is the very carrier that is needed to transfer our sins, our fears, our pain, guilt, shame and everything else into the death of Jesus – our lightening rod – in exchange for His life and everything opposite to what we are giving Him; because we do not know how to understand, use or relate to praise properly, we may remain stuck for years with little way to effectively unload all of this accumulating garbage that continues to poison our spirit and soul.