Category: My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey
Book 1 of Faith Journey series by LaShawnda Jones. The set-up for Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace (2018).
Becoming Whole and Holy
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David G. Brenner was one of the first books I came across during my Holy Spirit directed program on spirituality a few years ago. It was uncovered in a library during a search for books to walk me through understanding my relationships. Every time I read this excerpt I get something even more powerful and new from it. I hope it provides seed for your walk.
Spirituality Grounded in Humanness
The reason I like to describe the goal of the Christian spiritual journey as becoming both whole and holy is that it reminds us that the focus of God’s love and salvation is not some part of us but our whole person. Jesus does not love some immaterial or eternal part of me. He loves me. And Jesus did not die so that some part of me would be saved; He died so that in my whole being I would be made anew. Anything less than this trivializes salvation and fractures human personhood in ways God never intended.
Too often the Christian journey is understood simply in terms of becoming like God. While this is an essential component, if we only emphasize this aspect of it, we are likely to develop a spirituality that deemphasizes our humanity. The goal of the Christian spiritual journey is not to become less human and more divine; it is to become more fully human. Salvation is not to rescue us from our humanity; it is to redeem our humanity.
Tragically, some visions of the Christian spiritual journey have led people to deny entire aspects of their humanity. Some people have rejected their sexuality, others their intellect, emotions or playfulness. All who do so limp along the path to wholeness and holiness. But rather than bring their lameness to God for healing, they tend to wear it as a badge of spiritual honor.
Spirituality not grounded in humanness is no earthly good. Worse, it can actually be dangerous. Spirituality that apparently makes us more like God but fails to make us more genuinely human actually destroys our personhood. If embracing humanness was good enough for Jesus, how can we despise it? To become like Jesus and take on his character, we must – like Him – embrace our humanity and work out our spirituality within it. The authentic journey of Christian spirituality must always involve redemption of our humanity, never its denial or attempted crucifixion.
This draws our attention to the importance and interdependence of knowing both God and self. As argued by John Calvin, there is no deep knowing of God apart from a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self apart from a deep knowing of God. Knowing God and knowing self are both necessary for wholeness and holiness.
How tragic it is when a person invests all his or her energy in knowing God and none in genuinely knowing him or herself. And how terrifying when such a person is in a position of leadership or influence. Christian maturity demands that we know God and ourselves, recognizing that deep knowing of each supports deeper knowing of the other.
While holiness emphasizes taking on the character of God, wholeness reminds us that doing so does not make us gods or even angels – it makes us more completely human. St. Irenaeus reminds us that the glory of God is a fully alive human being. God is in the business of making us fully human and fully alive. This is the abundant life promised by Jesus (John 10:10). Our vitality, our genuine fullness of life, points back to God, the author of life. In so doing it gives God glory.
The purpose of salvation is to make whole that which is broken. The Christian spiritual journey settles for nothing less than such wholeness. But genuine wholeness cannot occur apart from holiness. R.C. Sproul noted that the pattern of God’s transforming encounters with humans is always the same. God appears; humans respond with fear because of their sin; God forgives our sins and heals us (holiness and wholeness); God then sends us out to serve him. This means that holiness and wholeness are the interrelated goals of the Christian spiritual journey. Holiness is the goal of the spiritual journey because God is holy and commands that we be holy (Leviticus11:44).
Holiness involves taking on the life and character of a holy God by means of a restored relationship to him. This relationship heals our most fundamental disease – our separation from our Source, our redeemer, the Great Lover of our soul. This relationship is therefore simultaneously the source of our holiness and of our wholeness.
Human beings were designed for intimate relationship with God and cannot find fulfillment of their true and deepest self apart from that relationship. Holiness does not involve the annihilation of our identity with a simple transplant of Gods’ identity. Rather, it involves the transformation of our self, made possible by the work of God’s Spirit within us. Holiness is becoming like the God with whom we live in intimate relationship. It is acquiring his Spirit and allowing spirit to be transformed by Spirit. It is finding and living our life in Christ, and then discovering that Christ’s life and Spirit are our life and spirit. This is the journey of Christian spiritual transformation. This is the process of becoming whole and holy.
Meditation Verse: Leviticus 11:44
I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground.
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Do you know the day and time you first believed? Perhaps you know people who claim they’ve been walking with Christ for eight years, nine months and ten days or some detailed variation? I am not one of those people. I cannot pinpoint the moment I first believed. Nor do I recall a time of non-belief. However, most of my life, I resisted practicing my beliefs. I resisted obeying God. I resisted His call. Though I have always felt God’s presence in my life, I used to hope He would let me roam wild and carefree before taming me with His Word. I never quite got wild, nor was I ever free of cares, but I did get a lot of bumps on my head and many bruises to my ego. All have been lessons to grow on.
Prior to my move to New York City in the fall of 2005, God was someone I had great ideals about but not someone I knew personally. I had heard of His wonderful works and had actually experienced His works in my own life but I didn’t think He was really paying attention to me. There were so many other people for Him to be concerned with. During those years, God was like a wardrobe accessory I put on most days then promptly forgot I was wearing.
Ecclesiastes tells us repeatedly there is nothing new under the sun. As I have studied the Bible, grown more confident in God’s Word and more knowledgeable of his methods, I’ve come to see that even the way He deals with His people today is similar to the model of Biblical relationships we have been given. I’ve been able to identify parallels between my life and Biblical stories. The parallel that most influences My God and Me is God’s instruction to Abram to leave his country and his kindred. Abram did as instructed and had terrible difficulties from the outset. However, those difficulties did not deter him in his faith or his belief that God would do as He said He would do.
Meditation Verse: Genesis 12:1-3
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
I believe I have been called away from my family and the community of my youth in order for God to better prepare me for His work. I have gone through many difficulties that have strengthened my faith and deepened my fellowship with my God. I know I will have many more tests and trials before my journey is complete, but I am so much better prepared now than I was a few years ago.
I used to tell people I grew up in the church; I knew about God and Jesus. My declaration has changed. Now, I know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! I live in them as they live in me. Awesome! What wondrous power the Trinity gives me from day to day! Yes, I am in love; a deep abiding love that has nothing to do with this world. I am awed and humbled by the way my God takes care of me, I am amazed by the examples my savior provided me and I am continually enlightened by the awareness and revelations the Holy Spirit allows me. I desire nothing more than to be obedient to the instructions God speaks to me. I sincerely seek to be in His presence and to please Him. I didn’t experience any of this until my isolation triggered my personal evolution. Or rather, my isolation allowed me time and space to focus on my evolution, as well as my relationship with God.
This collection of previously posted blogs is a record of the transformation my spirituality and life focus has undergone over the last four years. In the beginning, I railed against being set apart from everyone and everything familiar to me; I didn’t like being by myself. However, I am grateful for the process He put me through for I have learned to depend on and commune with my Father God. The time I’ve spent talking to Him exclusively has taught me to hear Him better. Even as I weaned myself off the false dependency of family and friends, I had to also wean myself off of my “self” dependency. I learned quickly that nothing outside the will of God is going to take place in my life. He is my protector, guide and provider. When I began to recognize, accept and trust His care and provisions, I was able to let go of my issues bit by bit and rely more and more on Him.
When I began blogging, my only intent was to entertain and promote. However, as I have reread and edited this collection, I am truly humbled by the message God is giving you through me. I am blessed by the amount of cleansing and lifting He has done within me. This book is a synopsis of my life. Some stories may seem very un-Christian, in fact maybe the whole collection may cause you to question my “Christianity”. That’s fine – I’m not concerned with being judged by anyone. This is a record of my honest thoughts, opinions and experiences at the time I chronicled them. I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that aspiring to a Christ-like character and existence is easy or without lapses and outward desires. Some words are mine, but most, I believe are simply delivered through me. I pray you find some words within these pages to help you and contribute to your continued growth.
May God continue to bless and keep you.
On your mark… get set… GO!
Thanks for stopping by my page! This is the portion of the ride where I begin to share My God and Me with everyone. Stepping out a bit at a time… please keep me and my journey in your prayers.
About My God and Me
My God and Me is about a journey. My spiritual journey – my bonding with God. It takes you all over – the country, North America, some of Europe and my complete emotional map.
Though most times we don’t know what the end will be, My God and Me begins with knowledge of the result of my seeking. I found God. I found me. Read about how I worked on deepening my connection with my Source through the people He placed in my life.
May God also bless you and keep you!
Can I Love You?
This year, I realized I’ve been on a love-quest; searching hungrily for people to love. The search has been more difficult and labor-intensive than anything else in my life. Why? Because I’ve tried to love everyone and not everyone knows how to be loved.
Meditation Verse: Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
~ Mark 12:28-31
The following passage, from Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer, resonated with me because it illustrated behavioral traits I’ve observed in people who have rejected me and my habits of love. When I first read it, it struck me that I seem to search out and embrace people who reject others for fear of being rejected themselves.
Fear of Being Rejected Causes Rejection of Others
If you cannot believe that you are basically a lovable, valuable person, you will be unable to trust others who claim they love you. If you believe that you must be perfect to be worthy of love and acceptance, then you are a candidate for a miserable life, because you will never be perfect as long as you are in an earthly body.
You may have a perfect heart, in that your desire is to please God in all things, but your performance will not match your heart’s desire until you get to heaven. You can improve all the time and keep pressing toward the mark of perfection, but you will always need Jesus as long as you are here on this earth. There will never come a time when you will not need His forgiveness and His cleansing blood.
Unless you accept your value and worth by faith through Christ, you will always be insecure and unable to trust those who want to love you. People who have no capacity to trust suspect the motives of others. I know this is true because I had a real problem in this area. Even when other people told me they loved me, I was always waiting for them to hurt me, disappoint me, fail me, or abuse me. I figured that they must be after something; otherwise, they would not be nice to me. I just could not believe that anyone would want me just for myself. There had to be some other reason!
I felt so bad about myself, was so full of shame, condemnation, self-hatred, and self-rejection, that whenever anyone tried to show me love and acceptance, I thought to myself, “Well, if this person likes me now, he won’t when he gets to know the real me.” Therefore I would not receive love from other people, or from God. I deflected it by my behavior, which became more and more obnoxious as I set out to prove to everyone that I was as unlovable as I believed myself to be.
Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside. If you feel unlovely and unlovable, that is how you will behave. In my case, I believed that I was not lovable, so that is how I acted. I was very difficult to get along with. I believed that other people would eventually reject me, and so they usually did. Because my attitude was manifested in my actions, I could not sustain healthy, loving, lasting relationships.
Reading that passage brought one question to mind, a question I imagined God asking me – asking us all: Can I love you?
Reading that passage brought one question to mind, a question I imagined God asking me – asking us all: Can I love you?
I am a beggar. Are you?
Some people beg for love. Others beg for the opportunity to love in hope of reaping such devotion. I used to beg for love by offering love. Have you ever found yourself begging someone to let you love them? “Can I love you” seems to be the common unspoken question in all my relationships. My way of loving is giving. Giving of myself, my time, my resources. I open my heart, my home, my life to people. I focus on their needs, their comfort, their situation. Can I love you is the hidden question when I ask What can I do for you? What will make your day better? What do you need in your life? Can I love you is what I’m asking when I open my ears and my heart to your troubles. When I embrace you in greeting and farewell. When I offer to fill a need you haven’t even recognized yet.
Can I love you sounds so pathetic, I think, when heard with ears not filtered by the love of God. Some of my beggar years were painful because I didn’t want to appear pathetic, I didn’t want to appear needy. I didn’t want to appear ridiculous begging someone to allow me to love them. Those shameful days of hiding my need to love are over. I’m open and unapologetic with my loving now. I’m okay if you don’t want to receive it. I won’t break down if you don’t know how to reciprocate it. I no longer expect an answer to my question. Like any other beggar, I’ve learned that many will cross my path, a few will stop and make a deposit into my life, some will pause to share a kind word. Others will glance my way while continuing on theirs, but throngs will never notice me at all. The life of a beggar is hard; it’s thankless. But we still give thanks for each person we touch and double thanks for each person who reach out to touch us back.
Can I love you? I want to love you. I want to share the light and grace God has blessed my life with. His love is so wonderfully magnificent I can’t contain it. Neither can you. You can’t hoard it. You can’t wrap your mind or your heart around it. But you can channel it. You can pass it on. You can share it. You can give it. There are no requirements, no rules, no standards. You can bestow your gift of love on family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers – anybody and everybody. That’s the beauty of it – it multiplies with use. You loose nothing by living in love but you gain so much with each interaction.
Don’t be too proud to beg, it’ll do your spirit good!