Ok, I am starting to blog about this before I even got very far into the chapter because I am just SO AMAZED at the wisdom of God. I had not read in this book for quite some time, and I was feeling pretty bad about it, especially since I was supposed to be done with it by now. However, I didn’t feel led to continue reading yet until today, when God would not let me go to sleep until I had read it. I realized that His timing is PERFECT, as just this morning and all that He has spoken to me about had literally launched me into this mansion (the fifth mansion) of longing for oneness with Him and living in response to His love.
So much about Abigail’s story really spoke to me. I highlighted so much of that section. When Mary talked about listening with both ears, one ear to the person and the other to the love of Jesus for that person, I may not have understood that yesterday. I love this quote: “As I’ve learned to let God love me, and give myself totally to that Love, I find I can recognize the longing for Him in others and sense Jesus’ heart of love for that person.”
As she talked about being present with Christ everywhere, I understood that. I have sensed a growing realization of His presence with me everywhere, especially at work and even cleaning my apartment. I sense His strength and Spirit inside of me. This part has been great, but there is another side to the coin.
I feel like in a way I have taken a step backward for the very reason that was mentioned in this chapter: “experiencing more of God’s holiness brought with it a greater realization of [my own] sin.” I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what was holding me back until I read it, and it clicked. I see the depth of my need for God more, and there is a spiritually visible barrier between Him and myself that somehow, in the near future, will need to come down.
Also, something else that was brought up was that Abigail started to see “how trivial her ministry seemed.” I am totally experiencing that right now. I love my job, much deeper than I ever have and I put my all into working. However, my heart longs to give so much more to God, because I see how extravagantly He has loved me. It is so hard to be content where I am right now, when I wish to give my life and my everything to something “greater.” She talks about a “awareness of a subtle resistance in her heart to letting God get closer.” Yeah, that is totally where I am at right now. Interesting how this is closer to God than the last mansion, when I felt like I was in such incredible communion with Him.
I totally understand when the author says, “The fifth mansion can be a time filled with frustrations, actually caused by our spiritual growth.” That is the main feeling I have right now in my relationship with God: frustration. I am literally angry with myself for standing in the way. It seems like the love that I want to give to God eludes me the more I want to give it and live in it. “Work has become prayer and prayer has become work.” Thanks, Tom. Exactly.
It is interesting how the author uses the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” to describe this mansion. I never in my life thought I would compare my relationship with God to that. However, I find that my frustration is deep. Not too long ago, I felt like every day I was being drawn and romanced, and it seems like now I can go for a week and not feel led or “talked to” about anything. It seems like the concept of daily life has become so…daily and routine. It was kind of scaring me actually. I didn’t want my life to be routine. I wanted to live every day like I did in the last mansion. However, as I am reading this chapter, I’m starting to realize the purpose in going through this mansion.
The author says about this mansion: “We desperately need intentional, consistent, and extended times of solitude and silence, where God can both minister and heal our heart, times when we can become aware of the infinite Love surrounding us.” I was just thinking this morning at how frustrated I am that I am not “doing” very much in my life right now. However, I know that I am right where God wants me, and it seems like I am going through a period of “resting.” I feel like a battery that is being charged up (although it is taking a really long time to do so). Sometimes it seems like I am sleeping or just lying in bed for extended periods of time. It is not because I am depressed, but something inside of me (not physically, but spiritually) is very tired and needs to just rest in God’s presence. When the author says that God is healing our hearts, that is what I feel like He is doing, although it is a much longer and more extended process than I ever thought it would be. It is comforting to know that this is spiritual growth, and not digression.
And now we come to the questions. First, what seems to motivate your service to others?
I would say right now, more and more the love I have for God. That seems like something I always wanted to say earlier in life, but now I truly know what that is like. It used to be because I wanted others to respect and admire me, but that is fading away more into my understanding of how great a love I have received and how that flows through me to others. It is not even a sense that I “owe” God something; rather that I am blessed.
When you pray, do you spend more time talking or listening?
I would have to say listening, but I listen differently than some do. A lot of times, my writing is listening. I don’t generally start writing something with the end in mind. I feel that God speaks to my heart and I write as He speaks. I have felt this for quite some time. In the mornings I do feel that I speak more, because I come to God asking that He would use each day for His glory and allow me the strength to do my best at every task I must complete that day. However, in that I try to open my heart to listen from that point forward. My speaking is a way of turning my focus to Him.
What do you long for in your relationship with God?
I would have to say that His love would be so obvious in my life that every moment I can see His fingerprints. I want for my heart to be open to every person I meet, that God may speak into their lives and that I might truly love them too. I want to be sensitive to the pain of those around me, and to God’s voice in what He might be asking me to do to encourage them. The author put it best in describing listening “with both ears.” I want to listen truly to others, and at the same time be hearing God’s voice and what He would like to say to those I speak to.
What strategy does the enemy seem to be using to cause you discouragement?
That is a good question. I guess maybe rubbing my failures in my face. He’s always been pretty good at that. God’s been helping with all of this with the constant voice when I want to give up on a project or something that I am doing by saying to me, “See it through.” Then I know that although it is painful and I don’t want to do it, I need to finish what has been started, no matter what the enemy is saying to my heart. The enemy likes to remind me about how good I am at being passionate about something and then losing interest halfway through. God has been teaching me that I am not defined by my past, but by how I choose to live today. This is a constant battle in my life.