Recently I was away at the team conference. Early on the first morning I faced an interesting predicament, which spoke something of God’s truth into my life. I made a large mug of coffee and took it to my room to enjoy whilst I read my bible. My coffee was in a tall mug and the only thing I found to stir it with was one of those plastic sticks you get in a coffee shop. But when I added the water the stirrer disappeared into the coffee. I could have fished around in the hot coffee to retrieve it, but decided to leave it.
However, as I sat reading and drinking my coffee, the stirrer ended up in my mouth along with a mouthful of coffee. As you can imagine I immediately tried to work out what to do without making a mess or causing myself an injury. My instinct was to swallow the coffee, but my head said the stirrer might also get swallowed. I could have pulled it out, but that would have meant I dribbled coffee down my front. In the end I decided to spit all the coffee back into the cup along with the stick. Not very pleasant, but it was the only way out of the predicament.
As I sat wiping my chin I reflected on my predicament and realised I’ve often been in the same situation. So often when I’m reading the word of God or listening to some teaching God speaks to me. It’s as if He puts a stick in my mouth. It may be about a place of wounding, an attitude, a behaviour, or a hidden sin, but it stops me in my tracks. And, as with the stirrer, I have to make decisions and decide what to do.
Have you noticed that when issues come up in our lives we want to swallow them and pretend that everything’s OK? But, as with the stirrer, it would cause us even more pain and wounding. In those moments we get caught up in a struggle. The place of self-condemnation prevents us being really honest with Jesus. All the words and voices of the past crowd in on us. Out of that place of feeling silly, ashamed and condemned we want to swallow, but God says “No. Spit it out.” It might be messy and seem unpleasant, but it’s the only way to be rid of the things which get in the way of receiving God’s love for us.
It’s far better to real and honest. In John 15:12 it says ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’. We may say we know God loves us, but, if we’re holding on to things which prevent that love filtering into all of our being, then how can we truly know His love.
In Romans 13:8-10 Paul talks about loving our neighbour, our brothers and sisters, those who we rub shoulders with. In verse 9 he points out the harsh reality that we can only love as we love ourselves. I can think of many relationships and situations in my life that have gone horribly wrong because I wasn’t able to accept, let alone love, myself. And although I could say the words “God loves me” I actually didn’t know that deep inside. It’s taken much truth and reality, and spitting out many stirrers, to allow His love into every part of who I am.
I was very glad I was on my own in my rather embarrassing predicament. But, even if I’d been with others, I would have had to face it and spit the stick out. I encourage you to allow God to speak to you about any area in your life getting in the way of receiving and living out of His love for you. Don’t be condemned by the past, because He is, as today’s verse says ‘greater than our heart and knows all things’. Don’t be afraid of the messiness, just spit it out to Him, and He’ll bring healing.
Prayer: Father, I recognise that there are things in my life which get in the way of me truly knowing You. My heart longs to be closer with You, and I desire to love all those around me as You’ve loved me. Today I choose to get messy in Your presence and be real about the issues I try to hide in my life. I ask You now to bring anything that’s hidden in the darkness into the light. Thank You, Jesus, that You see my innermost places, and still love me. I ask that You help me to love myself and others, as You love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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