Return To Me

Zechariah 1:3 
Return to Me, and I will return to you, declares the Lord...

Going into 2020, I had made a complete mess of my life. I was neglecting myself and my spiritual health, which gradually trickled and then flooded over into neglecting my marriage and my son. Prior to the covid-19 shelter-in-place, my pastor had decreed a word for the year: TRANSFORMATION. He referenced multiple scriptures but this one stood out most to me: “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord (Zechariah 1:3). For me, there was great conviction with those words. You see, I was a person who was proclaiming to be a Christian, but living another life. I was checking the Sunday box and being the “good mom” by taking my son to church every week, but there was no real evidence of living the life of a follower of Jesus. I was drinking, medicating depression and anxiety, and on the literal verge of a nervous breakdown.

I would pray prayers at night before bed. Sometimes I would read my Bible. If things were really bad. I would often cry on the way to work– why wasn’t God doing anything? Why wasn’t he coming through for me? Couldn’t he see that I was miserable? I was blinded by my lack of participation in going to God, and genuinely pouring out my heart to him, laying down my way, my plans, my mess. I continued to carry them, all while playing the victim of God’s lack of movement in my life.

A friend of mine gave me a journal for my 40th birthday and encouraged me to begin to write the things that God was speaking to me and showing me. I wrote a prayer in it, and the words that my pastor spoke, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” Then I put the journal away in a basket with some other books and went back to chaos.

Fast forward to shelter-in-place in March of 2020. Mandatory work from home. Mandatory homeschooling. Mandatory time away from the things that kept me distracted from dealing with me. I remembered the journal and the word, and I started to write. Everything. All of my feelings, beliefs, prayers, hopes, and complaints. Everything. I asked God to heal me. I asked God to forgive me. I asked him to help me break my habits of alcohol and medication. It’s a long story, but He started a work in me. A transformation. It all started with a return.

I heard a pastor once say, “If you can’t hear God anymore, it’s not because He moved.” And while I do believe that there are seasons that he lowers his volume so we’ll press in closer and go up higher to where he is, in my story, I’m more like the prodigal son. We are all prodigals at some point. When we accept Jesus, we get to enjoy the benefits of an heir, including a fully restored relationship with him. But we take our benefits for granted, or we expect God to do something amazing for us and when it happens, we forget God. That’s what I did. Thank God for second chances, and thirds, and fourths, etc.

“While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

“Return to me, and I will return to you.”

It only takes changing your mind to change your direction. Then, if you’ll truly surrender the reins, He’ll change everything in your life. Today I’m on the other side. I don’t abuse alcohol. I don’t take medication to numb my anxiety. Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. Am I doing life alone? Never again. In the 30 years that I have professed Jesus as my personal Savior, He is more real to me now than he has ever been. He’s still in the business of second chances, restoration, and miracles. My life is proof.

Do you need to make a return? Have you been living life with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom? God’s word says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).

On the outside, you might be the complete package, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you could be hanging on by a thread on the inside. Just go to Him. I promise you, He’ll run to meet you too. Lay your pieces down at the feet of the Prince of Peace. He’ll transform your reality too.

The Secret Place

Word: You have a thousand tasks to complete this week, and while your mind rushes to the details of your day, I gently whisper to you, inviting you to be with me. The energy and strength you need for this season will only come from time spent in the secret place. Time spent in my presence. I’m here to fortify you for the purposes I have for you. You cannot accomplish all that I have set before you without me. I am your ever-present help in times of trouble. I am your strong tower. I am your mighty fortress. Run to and abide in my shadow to find rest. I’m revealing each step you need to take. I love you. I desire to fill you with my supernatural strength for such a time as this.

Psalm 91: 1-16 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Stop Picking

There are some of you out there who God is trying to heal, and while you’re asking him for healing, you’re continuing to self-sabotage the process. I think about the man at the Pool of Bethesda who Jesus approached and said, “Do you want to be made well?” That’s such a powerful question. So, I’m asking you: do you want to be made well today?

If you want to be healed, ask God for your healing, and connect your faith with receiving his healing. Walk like you’re healed, talk like you’re healed. I suppose I kind of mean “faith it till you make it”, but I think so many times we blame God for our lack of healing, yet the things we say and walk out day-by-day testify against the healing that God so freely gives. I mean, he loves us SO much!

His word says, “Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat and mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? […] don’t you think God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matthew 7:11, The Message translation) God longs to give us good gifts, and that includes complete healing for whatever it is that YOU keep picking at.

Stop looking back.

Maybe for some of you, you’ve received a measure of your healing but you haven’t fully forgiven yourself for the part you played in your past. It’s time to forgive yourself.

This is what I heard the Lord say in my quiet time, and at one point in my life, this was for me. Today, I believe it’s for someone else, and I need to announce what I heard:

I’m trying to heal you, but it’s you that keeps picking at your own scabs, revisiting that old thing that you’ve prayed and asked me to take care of. But your picking at it keeps me from doing what I need to do in your life so you can move forward.

Stop revisiting old pain.

“Forget about what has happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:19 (The Message translation)

Here’s your promise- He’s ready to bring you out. Are you ready to start walking?

Glory Bearer

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. -Isaiah 60:1

“I am sending a fresh rain of anointing for my people for such a time as this.

Be holy, as I am holy.

The time is coming when my true disciples will worship me in Spirit and Truth, and the world will know that you are mine because you pursue righteousness.

Allow me to fill you with the gifts I have so that those who I have ordained will come and follow me.

Do not ask when the gifts will come or where they’ll come from. Connect your faith to this promise, and be bold in your faith. Boldness is not finger-wagging. Boldness does not bring condemnation. Holy Spirit boldness is being brave to say the words I have given you. When the time is right, you’ll know.

Ask my Holy Spirit to lead you, and you’ll know when to speak, when to pray, when to be silent, and when to bring my truths to correct.

I love you, and because you are a willing vessel… because you seek me… because you seek to bring ME glory, my glory will fill this place.

You are my glory bearer.”

Focus

I don’t know about you but I don’t recognize this world anymore. Some say we’re getting better. Some say it’s worse. I was watching the 80’s Top Tens on Disney+ last night and began to travel back in my mind to my personal memories of growing up in the eighties. As I watched, tears filled my eyes. It was like another lifetime. A time where I was naive about a lot of things. A world where things were simple and people were kind.

Like the picture, we live in a world where things are upside down. Evil is called good, and good is called evil. Focus is so important. Terri Savelle Foy says, “What you think about, you bring about.” It’s why you have to make a valiant effort to focus on the promises of God. To believe God for the impossible. To use your gifts and abilities to change spheres of influence. The Bible encourages us to, “fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Does this mean we should ignore the problems? Bury your head in the sand and pretend that since it’s not in your backyard that it doesn’t affect you? No- It means we charge into the culture and take a stand. We change it by our presence. We change it with our actions. We change it with our voices. Together, as believers in Jesus.

When you’re looking through the right lens, the things that are out of focus are made clear. Sharp. The path is made visible. And straight. There’s greater clarity, and with that clarity comes peace. On the outside of the lens, there’s still confusion, cloudiness, chaos, uncertainty. This may seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Our lens for clear living, peaceful living, and purposeful living is the Bible. I’m praying that you will make a habit this year to renew your mind in the word of God every day, so that you can maintain your peace, grow in wisdom, and experience a greater revelation of who Jesus is and who he’s calling you to be.

A word from the Lord:

To stay in the flow of my spirit, it’s vital that you do not allow distractions to hinder your time with me. What I have to say to you is important for this time. I need you to focus.

Scripture

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12