Saturday, March 26, 2016

Prescription Lenses

When I was 40, I was having daily headaches, and the headlights of approaching vehicles hurt my eyes, and my husband (who has worn glasses since he was 8 years old) suggested that I get my eyes checked. To my surprise, I needed prescription lenses ... and as I have gotten older, I have moved to bifocals.  It is natural for me now to reach for my glasses as soon as I get up in the morning.

It took me longer to realize that I needed spiritual glasses.  I grew up in the church, became a Christian at age 11, and I didn't realize that the constant sense of pressure and pain I was feeling was from all of the imposed expectations of everyone around me to conform to some code of behaviour in order for me to be accepted by them.  I just thought it was part of my "cross to bear" or "vale of tears"... and carried on.  I traded what was really important to me for whatever the fad was in worship style or [what was preached as] doctrine.  I touted all the buzz words, acted the part, and attended every event.  But inside, I was hurting.  I began to wonder if this was all there was, because if it was, then I was getting more and more unhappy.  

I got a glimpse - in late 1982 - of a different kind of life, a life of adventure and purpose and joy. This lasted a few years, and I consider it one of the best times in my life.  However, the divine unconditional love I experienced during that time eventually got crowded out by others' expectations ... again.  Once more, I was back on the road of ever-increasing misery.  For a long while I blamed myself - and even my kids - for what I thought was the culprit: being too busy.  It wasn't being busy. It wasn't my kids.  And it wasn't me.

It took a long time to connect the dots, some thirty plus years, in fact.  All I knew for sure was that when I was engaging in pure worship, nothing and nobody existed except God and His love for me. I literally lived for those times, thinking that they were rare and they were what kept me going.  And I thought that it was because of the worship (translation: music, atmosphere, harmonies, etc.) when really, it was because of the Love. It was the Love. 

I eventually learned that the "worship" changed depending on who was leading it, and more and more I experienced the Love less and less as those ever-present expectations flooded in and knocked intimacy with Him sideways, like a flood pushing aside a load-bearing wall.  As more people started spreading alarmist doctrines and motivating people with shame, guilt and fear, I began to experience more than just discomfort ... the Love-seeker in me began to detect a disconnect between what I really needed and what was available to me in that kind of atmosphere.  Increasingly, I saw that atmosphere as toxic to my spirit.  For a time, I thought that perhaps it was just the location that was doing this - the need to keep up a building - and that small groups might be the way to go.  And then the church I was attending started having small groups - and I saw that their structure was exactly the same as the large group that met on Sunday mornings.  It was all the same, all based on fear and shame and control, all regimented and rules-based.  No, I figured, that wasn't the answer. I began to lose hope.  Despair started to sink in.  And the whole time, I kept doing ministry, going through the motions, and feeling just awful.

Photo "Young Beautiful Woman Shopping
In A Marke
" courtesy of nenetus at
Then, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine put on a new set of spiritual prescription lenses.  She ditched the expectations and cloistered herself in with God and sincerely asked Him to reveal who He really was to her.  And God did.  And she was so blown away ... surprised by what she found and delighted, because it was what she had always been searching for but never found ... and barely would have believed.  

Her life literally transformed.  She had found the secret, which had been waiting the whole time for her to just ask, to go and ask God to check her spiritual eyes.  And He did - and gave her His prescription: His unconditional, supreme, passionate, all-pervasive and pure Love.  I watched and listened as she explored more and more facets, getting closer and closer to His heart.  She even began re-reading the Bible - as she put it - through the lens of His Love.  And she was surprised and amazed at how this new prescription changed how she had always interpreted certain passages with which she always had had issues.  The lens of God's love was just what she had been looking for.  She lost her fear.  She lost shame.  She began to experience God's over-the-top, no-holds-barred Love.  And she couldn't help herself ... she was happy!

And you know, happiness is incredibly attractive! 
I saw how joyful she was now - and how free!  And I remembered those days in the early 1980s ... and thought a lot about what it was that made those days special ...  It was Love!  All those buzz words and platitudes I kept spouting, all the speaking in faith, the pronouncing of blessings, the victory marches and the spiritual warfare sessions, all the exorcisms of empty rooms and the hours spent at the altar "seeking" or "birthing" ... they only served as smokescreens obscuring the Main Thing:  God's unconditional Love. 

The more I concentrated on that Love, the more out of place I felt in any regular gathering-place that SAID it was about His Love and yet focused on all those other things (like surrender, being Spirit-filled, and being obedient) as if they were the ultimate goals.  More and more I began to see that - as usual - the cart was in front of the horse and impeding the horse's path.  And as I looked back over my life and all the places I had attended church, I understood that every single assembly I had gone to had put that stupid cart out in front of the horse.  To one degree or another, they all laid burdens (of duty, obligation, and fear) on people's backs and didn't lift one finger to help them, unless they were grieving a loss - and even then, the break from those guilt-based and fear-based burdens was short-lived. 

They had the wrong lenses on - those God's-out-to-get-you lenses - and I was so sick of being surrounded by that.  It got so that I would typically arrive home after church literally exhausted and drained from the constant avalanche of duty-this and fear-that, of do-this and shun-that.  My stress level multiplied by a factor of ten when I was at church.  I did not consider it to be a safe place where I could be myself. 

My husband was feeling the same things.  Eventually (like the elephant in the room) we talked about it ... and after much prayer, soul-searching, and wrestling with all the what-ifs (which took a whole year), we decided to unplug.  Not from God, you understand, but from the organized church.  We had church-surfed before; they were all the same.  We needed - pardon the expression - to "go into detox" from religion: all those extra trappings that most people equate with Christianity but which really are NOT, nor do they bear any resemblance to the joy-filled, love-infused connections He originally designed for His people. Why? for no other reason than this simple truth: He Loves us. No conditions, no formulas, no jumping through hoops, and no limits.

Since that time, our stress level has vastly reduced, and God- because I know you are curious - has set up wonderful times (on His timetable) where we get together with other believers (as He chooses) and feel lifted up and strengthened rather than worn out and weary.  We are able to pray without feeling obligated to pray, to give or to pour into people's lives without being manipulated by shame, and to enjoy little blessings as from Him without the need to say, 'Praise God' after every sentence.  (He knows we are grateful - and His knowledge of our hearts is all that matters.)  Our family is far closer.  And we are growing in the knowledge that He loves us no matter what!! 

We are slowly learning to use our new Love-lenses, and everything seems so much more natural that way.  We don't have to strain and strive to live the Christian life; it just naturally flows out of realizing more and more His overwhelming Love for us. We are learning to see the Love shining through the pages of scripture.  We are less afraid to feel what we feel without apology, knowing that He is real and expresses what He feels, so it is okay for us to do the same.  There are no regrets.  There is only an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being completely and totally accepted and loved to the uttermost.  

I like these new Love-glasses.  I can see much better with them.


  1. You have nailed our discontent and our heart-felt longing and searching for Gods REALtruth- His matter what we do, say or think. And no Christian life of "Jesus AND..." -fill in the blank. I love the idea of man not being made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man; I love not interpreting the verse in Hebrews about not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as being just limited to Church, but in any gathering of like-minded believers whether it is a a friends house, the beach, a park, a tourist attraction....anything. I am in God, Jesus is in me and I am supernaturally caught up in the intimate dance of Father, Son and Spirit that existed before time began. I was made for this.

    1. This lens re-interprets all kinds of Scriptures. WE are the pearl of great price. WE were the joy set before Him. HE is above all, and IN US ALL. HE chose us IN HIM, BEFORE the world was even created, declared us holy and without blame before Him, BACK THEN. Jesus, then, only came to prove what God already declared about us but which we (in our blindness) could not dare to imagine: HE LOVES US!!