Already Included # – New New

By Sarah Nyhan

The house down the street is being demolished. The house served a lot of purposes in it’s time. The new owner wasn’t just satisfied with remodeling. No, the new owner is building a completely new house. They are even pulling up the old concrete foundation. The only thing remaining is a big beautiful tree.

This was a physical picture that represented well for me what I have been living spiritually for the past few years. Everything that was not of love’s kind has been being stripped away.

By Sarah Nyhan

I am proud of myself. Finally, progress.

If you were working with a physical trainer, what would they do? They wouldn’t leave you to keep lifting the same weight forever. Instead, they would push you to add more weight as they could see you could handle it. Athletes lift weights to failure. To destroy themselves? No, all the build more muscle. For their benefit.

In the same way, I am convinced God possibly allows us to encounter run into the same brick walls in our development. Not to break us, but rather not to let us be complacent and settle for less than what is absolutely best for us.

I now see Jesus doing this over and over in the New Testament. Meeting people wherever they are and working within their logic. Pushing their thinking to the end in order to help them see the real issues. I don’t want to go into detail on that right now, but the Rich Young Ruler is my favorite example.

I have my own healing that needs to be done. Where wrong interpretations of Scripture and wrong direction has been pounded into my mind over and over for decades. Quite frankly, it’s messed me and my life up quite a bit. I’vd also made some major mistakes in relationships in part due to wrong thinking.

I keep thinking I am over it. But intellectual understanding and acceptance is only a part of the healing. Deeper surgery is needed. In the heart and soul. The wounded areas that even allowed the wrong thinking in the first place. The parts of the heart that were damaged and then walled off. God cares about every nook and cranny, every part of us.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my most pervasive problems has been decades of practice of making decisions based on “signs”. This was taught to me overtly and also just caught by associating with like-minded people. I have a blazing inferno of destruction licking at my heels due to that thinking. Layer upon layer upon layer is saturated in me. Like a full-blown cancer. Everytime I think I have a handle on it, I’ll see it pop up somewhere else.

Again recently. All the “signs” seemed to be pointing a certain way. In big ways. I felt “led” to take an action with significant consequences. But ironically due to the pain of past failures to correctly interpret “signs”, I at least didn’t act quickly.

Looking back, I can see a major missing factor was peace. I had no peace. So instead of rushing into implementing what seemed like the overwhelmingly obvious course of action to take, I finally stopped and sat with God, basically. Not trying to jump inside my intellectual cocoon and ruminate in analysis paralysis. But instead, just pour my heart out to God. Trusting God would bring clarity and peace. Because I now believe I have NOTHING to fear with God.

Already Included #33 – Surprise!

By Sarah Nyhan

Had some interesting experiences lately. I love when Holy Spirit teaches lessons just through regular life. Much easier not to doubt or let others take them from you. When you have lived it yourself for real versus determining the validity of what someone else is telling you.

So the first example is that I have been wrestling for some time with the concepts of determining how much of life depends on me basically. Specifically I have been wrestling with whether or not I am “hearing God” at all or correctly. I am farther along but not as settled as I’d like to be on this issue. What follows are some thoughts I’ve had lately.

First, I was formerly involved in a church where people talked about hearing from God ALL the time. There were some that I believed heard their own agendas more than Holy Spirit. But for the most part, I personally whole-heartedly believed I was also hearing from God at the time. Not audibly. But “in my spirit”. Whatever that means? How can you distinguish that from your own thoughts? I’m not doubting it. I’m just asking, how can you really tell for sure?

Even as wary as I am about assigning thoughts to God these days, let me share a few things that happened recently. One was that I was playing a game of Freecell. It is how I deal with anxiety and stress sometimes. I am always trying to beat my time. Despite 1,514 attempts, my best time was 41 seconds. Hundreds of games went by and I wasn’t able to get any less than 41 seconds.

So I am playing as I usually do and I was talking with God in my spirit about this whole hearing from Him thing along with the freewill issue. I’m not even really paying attention at all to what I am doing in the game. I’m more in my thoughts than the task at hand and I look down and see that I won the game in 23 seconds!!!!! Almost half of my personal best time without even trying or being engaged!!!

I felt like God was encouraging me through that experience to just do the regular things in life and let Him surprise me. Don’t be so concerned about figuring Him or the future out. Let Him surprise me.

My insistence on knowing what He is saying to me is about control. It is the absence of child-like trust. In some ways, all I can get is what my little mind can dream of if I insist on my way. But if I stop trying to control everything, and instead surrender to trusting God’s super-big heart for me, then the universe and beyond is possible. There is no limit.

But some of us are slow learners. The problem is I’ve been doing it so long, and been around people who talk that way for so long, that most of the time I’m not even aware when I am falling back on my usual habits. I can know “the grace of just this day, this moment” in my mind, but that might as well be a world away from my heart.

So the opportunities present themselves repeatedly. As all that is not love’s kind gets burned away. Not tests. God isn’t tricky. He is always FOR me.

Fear took the wheel as usual. I was soooo sure that I knew what this week was going to look like. A big meeting. I was so sure I was reading all the “signs” correctly. Yet again. I mean they were so “obvious”. Everything was adding up. Or so I thought.

The time came and it was exactly opposite of what I was so sure was going to happen. Afterward – a little chat in my spirit with God; what gives? Again, the lesson: to let it go; embrace mystery. Trust only in God’s heart versus trying to figure out the future.

This is so difficult for me to navigate. And yet over and over I see Him pick me up when I fall down and make a mess. Maybe THE most freeing thing about this already included knowledge is that I now think that the point of this life isn’t to get everything “right”. Mind blown! That was my ENTIRE existence before! Again I feel like a person who has lived in a cave for 30+ years and is rejoining the human race. What do you do with your time if you aren’t trying to get everything “right”?

I keep asking God what the purpose of this life and our existence is. I don’t have the answer yet. Maybe I never will. Or maybe it is not that complicated. Doesn’t even the Westminster Catechism include the line that always confused me before: man’s chief end is to enjoy God forever?

The only way I ever saw that before I understood perichoresis, was something like I had to listen to Christian music all the time and work really hard to convince myself that I never wanted to listen to anything else. Good grief! To reduce God’s magnificent absolutely stunning Creation of human relationship with The Divine down to religious rituals!?!?

So I trip along. I am more at peace than ever. I am learning to let go of everything; every idea of what the future holds. And YET, go forward.

There is a paralysis that occurs when you are wrestling with this transition. How do you live? You just do the next thing. Trusting God’s heart. That this life is more than getting things right. That our God is not tricky. That He loves us so much. He is not the least bit intimidated by us or surprised by our mistakes. Even our anger. I feel like life is more like a dance. Like God is always looking us in the eyes. No matter which way we turn.

What if we are made for so much more? Than just getting right answers. What are the seeds of greatness inside of you? What is the Sarahness of God that the world or even one person needs from me? What about you?

I like to think of all of us as tiny painters. Contributing our part to this wonderful masterpiece of life. God giving us all a unique color or a unique brush. So binary in my thinking, but you get the point.

Look at the ocean or a jungle. How many different species and iterations are there in the plant and animal kingdoms? And we reduce our human existence down to falling in line with rules given by an angry God!?!? Maybe we should put the man-made echo chamber of technology down step back outside again. Get down to our roots and remember where we come from.

I hear laughter! Loads of laughter from Creation. Crying out in celebration. We are meant for so much more. We have the God who created galaxies inside us. And we are inside Him. I don’t know how it works, but I believe it. I think I experience it.

We have not because we ask not. Even greater things than these. Remembering that this life is not the end. And love is the greatest commandment.

This is not a condemning sermon. This is a whisper to the dream inside of you. A dare to ask God for the next step. To reignite inside you what used to feel free to imagine. Let’s stop dress-rehearsing tragedy.

This world cannot be all there is. What if we felt completely secure in God? How far would we reach? How much higher would we jump? Not just for the sake of. But really releasing all that is not of trust and rather relishing in Whose we are and the freedom we have to BE! Abundantly!

Amen? Selah.

Did you know that you can have a life outside of going to an incorporated church? It may sound silly, but this is where I am in my journey.

I literally subtly fell into a way of thinking for so many years where almost my entire life revolved around the incorporated church. It worked for awhile I guess. But it eventually developed into an echo chamber of sorts. Where the same words were regurgitated over and over from one person to the next and there was no countering balance, no outside perspective.

As well-meaning as they can be, I think a truly humble attitude says God’s thoughts and ways are much higher than any one person and no one has the market cornered on complete truth. As much as I feel I have come in the last few years, I feel like I’ve only begun. Because I don’t think collecting head-knowledge is the end game here. Living all of this out is the point. Hence the realization that I am basically learning how to he human again. I feel like I’ve escaped a cult almost.

The verse comes to mind of those that tie heavy burdens on others without lifting a finger of their own. Or the verse about women loaded down by feelings of guilt who are then led astray by predatory wolves in the pulpits. I wouldn’t be so direct if I didn’t think it was such a serious issue. I speak for those who don’t yet feel the freedom to speak. Who have spent years and years in these institutions. Who have lost meaningful contact with people they used to know outside of the incorporated church.

It pains me still, years later, to think of all the people I pushed away in my misguided religious zeal. I made such a mess of things, raining condemnation down on people, that I feel to reach out now to many of them would be more hurtful than helpful. I have to depend on God alone to work that out – if it ever will be worked out during our time in these bodies on this planet.

In the meantime, I can honor them by changing the way I see and treat people now. Chiefly, making decisions based on love and God’s heart versus whatever loophole or legalism I seek out to justify my pride and platform. I am not there yet with this. I am still working on even being aware when I’m going there – to the good/bad tree; blinders on versus operating out of Christ IN us.

Ego is such a huge problem. The created self we prop up and masquerade around in front of others and sometimes defend until the death. Even as it is plain for everyone else to see that everything is crumbling down around us. The solution is to trust in God versus trusting in ourselves. Again, I have not arrived. But I’m not where I used to be. And I never want to go back to the states I used to be in. Even as this season of chaff being burnt away feels like it will never end.

Fully trusting in God looks like more freedom. It is for this freedom in fact that Christ came to set all of us free. Stand therefore and refuse to be burdened by men as if by God.

I realize religion has robbed my brothers and sisters of some rational logical reasoning. They will jump all the way from freedom to anarchy and utter lawlessness. Maybe those escaping overwhelming oppression of all sorts (mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical), will temporarily run as far away as they can get from what has been killing them. But in general and over time, I believe the “license to sin” argument doesn’t hold very much water. In fact, God’s love give abundant life in my experience. As people discover stepping fully into who they were UNIQUELY created to be.

Real love doesn’t need to shame or control people. Real love casts out fear. Versus terrorizing people into subjecting themselves to others ostensibly in the name of Jesus. Jesus who led by example. He will meet us on whatever path we choose to take.

I frankly am done with Egypt, per se. And I am done with wondering in my wilderness of self-sufficiency. I now find real rest in my Creator.

I don’t know yet what this new life looks like played out in regards to the big picture. My initial reaction was to jump from one incorporated church to another and fall in line again. But I have been frustrated and surprised by that not working out so far. What do people do when their lives don’t revolve around going to religious gatherings? I find this overwhelming but also interesting. Discovering how to be with and among people again.

I think the key is to destroy all your boxes. The in/out boxes. The good/bad boxes. Those require no engagement of your heart; the lazy, “easy” way out. What if you actually approached everyone and treated them as they are already loved completely by God? As the child they are in our Father’s eyes?

Now this is where theology can prove more usefell than just self-centered belly-gazing. This is where truth is so important. If your theology believes that God’s love looks like throwing children who have reached an age of accountability into a burning pit of torture, then I’m sure your actions will mimic that as you sit on the throne of judgement in your own life.

But Jesus said He and the Father are one. They go get that last little lost lamb – no matter how religiously indignant; even chasing down the man who is hell-bent on murdering those with who dare to agree with God being our Father versus Zues. The Trinity picks up and invests in the care of the full healing of the bleeding broken dirty poor man versus stepping over and around him in self-righteous arrogance. They restore the woman who sees her value only in being defined by others as a sexual object. Or a slave, or a maid.

This God loves for us to participate with Him no matter where we find ourselves. Some people write. Some people care for animals. Some love tech. Some even work at bars. Some are Rahabs. I believe it; no doubt stretching the minds of those who still are where I was.