The bible says in Psalms 66 that we are burdened and squeezed through a thin place to eventually be delivered through into a spacious one.
I was meditating about this the other day with all that is going on and began to think about the way a child is born and how it needs to go through a tiny channel where much pain and pressure is experienced. The amazing thing is that it is this passage through the narrow path that is actually responsible for stimulating and activating in the newborn, all that they will require in order to thrive in this new and spacious place they come into called life.
This then led me to wonder about how many times I have chosen instead of staying present and continuing to go through this natural and organic process within the narrow path, to bypass it altogether and opt for something that looked more like a cesarean section. I also wondered if this is why so few of us manage to find our way into our hearts instead choosing to live primarily from our minds where we are given the false feeling of being in control like a C-section does. Yet like this artificial way of delivery we then need the help of others to be stimulated every time life seems to take what we perceive as a wrong turn.
The reality is that today we are all once again traveling through one of these thin and narrow places whether we like it or not. Each time we pass through this valley of the shadow of death we need to realize that the purpose of this space is not to hold us back. Instead it is designed to hold back, as a filter does, everything that is responsible for holding our lives captive and preventing us from waking up and seeing the truth.
If we are honest much of the trouble with what we are facing is that we are being prevented from being able to do what we normally do. This inability is then leading us into a space where we are losing the false security that all of our doing normally gives us. Mainly because it is what we look to in order to figure out who we think we are. Not to mention keep us occupied and distracted from all that we are suddenly beginning to notice these days as if it had never been there before...
As I take a closer look at Jesus and the way he was tempted in the desert while he traveled through a personal valley I see the same scenario showing up. Here he is in the middle of nowhere with no one watching him nor what is going on. Suddenly he is approached and asked three questions that revolve in him proving who he is. To do this he is invited to do three things which if they are done he will successfully pass the identity test. As we all know what was asked of him was clearly well within his abilities to get it done. Yet, he declines the opportunity as he realizes that what is tempting him to prove himself is not the truth, but the same voice of shame that tempted Adam and Eve all those years ago in the Garden.
You see Jesus knew that shame’s appetite is never satisfied. It will continue to dare us to do something in order to prove our value. In our case, most of us spend our lives in this repetitive cycle and so when we are unable to fulfill the cycle we feel incomplete and somehow worthless. Jesus showed us that our identity and value must never come from what we do or how successful we are in responding to the dares of shame. This precious part of us is found within us and it is given to us by God and not earned through our success. This is because unlike our faith, our true identity is not meant to be developed as much as it is meant to be revealed.
When we are trapped in this never-ending cycle of "dareful shame", we are blinded from understanding the identity and nature of the one who sent us into this planet. The inability to see this clearly from within us is because we fail to see and understand our true identity. If we could see it then we would know that the one who sent us also knows that unless he takes care of us we will not be able to make it through this life of ours - regardless of the circumstances.
Read that again.
Jesus told us that if we wanted to find our true life in Him we would have to first be willing to lose the one we work so hard to build and maintain each day. This is because a branch can’t understand what type it is by looking at the leaves that cover it. This can only be done by understanding which vine it is connected to which is responsible for giving and sustaining its life.
Therefore consider with me today the possibility that the reason we are all being shaken through this narrow place is so that the false and lifeless leaves that we work so hard to maintain can be shed. Not so that something bad or unhealthy can appear as we think is meant to happen when we are shaken. But instead something good and true which often remains under the wraps of survival.
I know in my own life every time I have allowed this process to run its course I have been able to better understand that in life it is not so much what happens to us or how successful or not we are, but instead from where we choose to respond and live our lives from.
I dare you to give this approach a try :-)
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