Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities – Suitors

Suitors

I’m monitoring the points of entry to my heart. I field invitations from those who wish to access it. I think of them as suitors, because they woo. That is their nature. They present a proposal that would cause me to open the door allowing them to enter and occupy the place in my deepest heart.

Some of my suitors are well meaning. They seek to meet my desires and offer the temporary gratification of the moment. They offer what they have, which is confined to the here and now. They do not offer anything eternal because it is not theirs to offer. They are “lesser-loves,” all of them. But what they propose has a powerful lure, tapping into the thing in my soul that wants wholeness and the experience of it now. I sometimes acquiesce to these invitations, paying little or no attention to the price tag attached.

Some of my suitors are staunch foes. They mean only harm. They use deception to woo and they do NOT love me. In fact, their heart would reveal hatred… for me and for my Maker. They mean to keep me, by whatever means, from the best I could experience. My destruction is the goal, but “good” is an acceptable concession as long as I don’t reach for “best.” I am especially careful and guarded against them, because they are often breathtakingly beautiful.

~

I am my beloved’s
and his desire is for me.
~ Song of Songs 7:10 ~

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door,
I will come in.
~ Revelation 3:20 ~

God stands at the door of my heart and knocks. He asks to enter. That merits a long pause.  ~  His wooing is quiet, unassuming; He does not clamor to be first in line. He does not raise His voice above other suitors. He waits, hoping I will decipher that unique quality in His still small voice. He hopes that I will hear, that my heart will quicken; will waken to the possibility that He might be the one… the one I long for…  the one I’m made for.

A thousand things go through my mind as I consider Him at my door, all of which cause me to question the validity of His proposal. I fear betrayal. I fear abandonment. I fear that IF He loves me He will stop loving me. I fear He will change His heart toward me WHEN I don’t respond to Him in the way that He deserves. I weigh all of those fears against what He says, which is that He loves me altogether, just as I am, and that it’s safe to let Him in (the other suitor’s say that too). I find no familiar framework to adequately couch His proposal… Except there actually is one.

Jesus took the form of man; the incarnation of God. He entered the confines of time and He showed me what it looks like to be pursued, with no POSSIBLE motivation other than LOVE. He loves humanity. He loves me. It is the singular reason He pursues. He promises “the moon,” which He can actually deliver.

That I would thrive is His intent. I am designed to thrive, to experience a level of intimacy beyond my most prolific dreams. He means to complete me in every way. There is no other path to that completion; no substitute for Him. NONE.

Imagine then, His steadfast pursuit. He is trying to save me, to literally save my life. Beyond that, He is about the business of drawing me to Himself and keeping me in that place of internal rest and safety, conforming and transforming my inner person that I might live in the fullness of the way I was designed to live.

He competes with no one. He asks me to love Him with the whole of who I am. He makes no apologies for that. He is asking me to live the way I was  designed to live; to love the One I was intended to love.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand
are pleasures forevermore.
~ Psalm 16:11 ~

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
~ Psalm 24:9 ~

For God alone
my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
~ Psalm 62:1 ~

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Vulnerabilities – Occupancy

The conversation started in the last post has three arms to it. Under the umbrella of Vulnerabilities are Points of Entry, Occupancy and Suitors. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

I have certain points of entry (vulnerabilities) that all have as their end-point, my heart.
There are suitors that vie for entrance through those points of entry.
I am the doorkeeper.
I attentively monitor activity at my points of entry.
I always choose who it is I allow to enter.
I understand that the suitors’ objective is to make their way to the throne of my heart. Whomever occupies that throne is the focus of my worship.
I make it my earnest business to identify and know the suitors, stewarding my task as doorkeeper wisely.

~

The Lord sits enthroned
as King forever.
~ Psalm 29:10 ~

Occupancy

The throne of my heart is never vacant. Someone is seated there, even at this moment. I choose… I ALWAYS choose its occupant. Each of us can recall a time when we have had to de-throne an idol from occupying that sacred place at the center of our hearts. And if we love Jesus, we can also attest to the experience of having Him in that vital position.

Looking at Occupancy is nothing more than acknowledging who it is that resides within me. Find the occupant and you know who you worship. Find the occupant and you know who receives your devotion, energy and attention.

The most reliable way I know to honestly own who I worship is to stop and think: Am I willfully striving to push through some aspect of life, to get to a place I want to be. Conversely, I pay attention to whether I am inwardly peaceful, sure or secure. Paramount is this: is the truth of The Word of God playing out in my decisions, and is it informing my emotions?

Doesn’t matter if I’m in a storm or not, the litmus-test is the same. If I’m able to offer praise and can recite those things for which I’m grateful (even and especially if I do not FEEL it); if I’m conscious of Jesus’ nearness and open to His pervasive influence, I know He occupies the Throne.

Absolutely EVERYTHING contrary to that litmus-test; every thing or person or desire that would cause me to release my grip on Jesus and grab hold of something else, gives me pause so that I might ask the Lord: Am I about to open the door to someone other than You?

Who occupies the throne of my heart? Who has my hearts devotion? As much as I am responsible for the occupancy, I am capable of un-seating a lesser love, and inviting Jesus to take His rightful place.

Then certain of the elders of Israel
came to me and sat before me.
And the word of the Lord came to me:
“Son of man, these men have taken
their idols into their hearts,
and set the stumbling block of their iniquity
before their faces.
Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?
Therefore speak to them and say to them,
Thus says the Lord God:
Any one of the house of Israel
who takes his idols into his heart
and sets the stumbling block
of his iniquity before his face,
and yet comes to the prophet,
I the Lord will answer him as he comes
with the multitude of his idols,
that I may lay hold of the hearts
of the house of Israel,
who are all estranged from me through their idols.
~ Ezekiel 14:1-5 ~

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Vulnerabilities – Points of Entry

Points of Entry

Whoever listens to me
will dwell secure
and will be at ease,
without dread of disaster.
~ Proverbs 1 ~

I am discovering that vulnerabilities are not the looming detriment I used to believe they were. I think they are instead something quite neutral. They are very simply points of entry, much like the front door of your house. They are weaknesses to the degree that something harmful accesses them. They are advantageous when accessed by someone safe.

Those points of entry, whether a door to my mind, or body or emotions have one common thread. They are all ultimately gateways to my heart, that aspect of my being housing my love and devotion. My enemy wishes to occupy that space. God wishes to occupy that space.

It’s vital to consider the issue of heart-occupancy because I worship whomever lives there; whomever I have allowed to reside on the throne of my heart. I can place myself upon that throne, which is self-worship as I pursue my own gratification. That ends up being a win for my adversary, satisfied that I would choose anyone other than God.

I used to expend great energy trying to eliminate vulnerabilities. To me they were signs of weakness and something to be rid of, or at a minimum, contained. But that doesn’t make much more sense than boarding up your front door on the off chance someone might come to rob you. You monitor the activity at the front door. You don’t seal it up. In any case, God began to teach me that the battle to be won lay beyond the vulnerability itself.

He began to speak to me about invitations I was constantly fielding from my adversary and from Him. He began to waken me to the activity taking place in my subconscious where the wooing of my heart was playing out. That wooing needed to be present in my consciousness so that God could re-train me to pause, consider and discern. Why? Because I am nearly always wooed through my vulnerabilities; through those points of entry.

The fact that I might be predisposed to something is not, in and of itself, negative. If I have an addictive personality and God has access to that predisposition, then I may display and enjoy a level of connectedness to Jesus that someone more passive would not. But if that addictive bent in me is accessed by a substance or other source, I should expect to be consumed, even ruled by it. Who accesses my addictive bent is the important consideration.

I have to allow God to show me the places I am vulnerable. I also have to understand that those vulnerabilities may shift over time and that new ones may surface as life plays out, which means I have to pay attention and receive any illumination God would give (bible, pen, journal, mouth shut, occupying the fourth chair).

Where am I vulnerable? Who is accessing those vulnerabilities? There may be far more than I imagine at stake if I choose to turn a deaf ear.

My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
Do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
Such are the ways
of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
~ Proverbs 1 ~

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Vulnerabilities & Strongholds

images-1

And David remained
in the strongholds
in the wilderness,
in the hill country
of the wilderness of Ziph.
And Saul sought him every day,
but God did not give him
into his hand.
~ 1 Samuel 23:14 ~

~

Vulnerability
Susceptible to harm,
moral attack or open assault.

Within the spectrum of who I am lie strengths and weaknesses, places where I have some level of competency and areas where I recognize I am susceptible to harm. Between those two “bookends” are a plethora of tendencies that stay off the radar most of the time even though they quietly contribute to my everyday life.

I’ve been thinking about vulnerabilities, about how my enemy invites me, via those points of entry, to move toward him to strongholds he has prepared for me. I think less often about God doing the very same thing, while having a dramatically different objective for doing so (the reference above is an example). Truthfully, both strengths and weaknesses lay within my vulnerabilities.

I pay attention to my strengths and weaknesses (as much as I’m aware). I like the former to grow and the latter to diminish. The apostle Paul asked three times that a weakness be removed, (I would have asked ten times minimum. Just saying). I have had a general view that vulnerabilities are liabilities. But it’s occurring to me that I am thinking too narrowly; that God might think very differently about my vulnerabilities than I do.

There is a constant, polar-opposite appeal for my hearts devotion, and it comes via my vulnerabilities. That being the case, I would like to be increasingly sensitive to these invitations, aware that I choose where I place my affections. My vulnerabilities are a point of entry, a doorway to gain access to my heart. But listen, without question, my heart is the target. The vulnerability is simply a means to access it.

Here’s how this sets up for me: The enemy woos my heart, desiring its devotion. God commands my hearts devotion (He understands it is the only safe place for it to live. And not incidentally, there is evidence of His wooing nature as well, tenderly calling us to come to Him). I want my heart to be attached where love lives and safety protects. The agenda on both sides is very serious.

My vulnerabilities become cause for concern when I accept the invitations of my enemy. But as God appeals to me thru those same entrances, they can become treasured and invaluable assets. The difference hinges on my response.

And I, when I came to you, brothers,
did not come proclaiming to you
the testimony of God
with lofty speech or wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness
and in fear and much trembling,
and my speech and my message
were not in plausible words of wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men
but in the power of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ~

I have NEVER felt more vulnerable, more fragile, more capable of running aground were I to come out from under the care of my Shepherd. At the same time, I value more than I ever imagined possible, an awareness of vulnerabilities that keep me clinging to Him. They remind me of the impenetrable stronghold God has built to house the whole of who I am, strengths and weaknesses alike. Within the walls of that stronghold lie freedom and life. His command for my hearts devotion reveals great kindness and His abiding love.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
~ Romans 8:26 ~

But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 ~

If I must boast, I will boast of the things
that show my weakness.
~ 2 Corinthians 11:30 ~

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