Many know of my love of the Chronicles of Narnia - I think my great new friend Jon Sidnell referred to it last year. I adore the books (and have done since I was a child) and also love the two films that have been brought out. Me being me - I must buck the trend - I don't like the favourite evangelical phrase that is over-used ("He's not a tame lion" ... yawn - yes we know!). I do indeed love the quote from the Silver Chair that Jon mentioned ("There is no other stream"). Time for another. This one is from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Here it is;
"This is no thaw' said the dwarf stopping suddenly. 'This is SPRING. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan's doing'".
I was struggling to find a way to convey the emotions of my heart over the past few days. I've been absolutely blown away by the kindness and the compassion of the comments in response to my post; "Grace Demands Radical Change ... !". I was fearing the worst. But through you I encountered the passion and the kindness and the love of God and I can't thank you all enough. Depression is quite frequently described as "the winter of the soul" and having experienced depression it's something I can identify with. So why do I take a step of faith to suggest that this is no thaw but spring has broken, not only in my heart and life but also in the world?
Firstly I am thrilled to be able to say that I've finally left my place of work at Acorns Childrens Hospice. I will always be grateful for the experience I had working there for a year. To see children facing death with the bravery they do is a life-changing experience. What is tragic is when they do not receive the care and the love that they are entitled to because there is more of an obsession with rules, policies and outward appearance. I handed in my notice on Tuesday and I cannot describe the feeling of relief that swept over me when it was done! Truly a cloud of darkness was lifting!
I then went out to town and indulged in some retail therapy to celebrate. Now for some people their idea of retail therapy may involve couture and labels! Mine tends to involve Christian books (I confess I did indulge in some underwear - but hey saves washing!) I brought three - one was called "A Radical Encounter with God" by Greg Haslam (a hero of mine). The second was called "The Gift of Prophetic Preaching" by Michael Eaton and the last was by Joseph Prince and was called; "Destined to Reign". I haven't read any of Joseph Prince before but I can tell he's going to become a hero - a true grace preacher in the shape of Rob Rufus. I haven't read Eaton's book yet but both Greg Haslam and Joseph Prince brought resounding messages into my life that I need to hear right NOW!! (I've posted a selection of quotes over on the "Post-it Notes" blog).
The second "event" was the sharing of a prophetic word from another really amazing individual I am proud to call friend - Ursula from Sydney. She read my post and had a prophetic insight into exactly how wonderful (NOT!) "fear" is! Here essentially is what fear is and what it does to the believer;
"During worship, one Sunday morning, I looked around and on about half of the church were these black demons. I'm going to try to describe it here. They were almost tar like, sticky, and they held onto the upper half of the peoples bodies. They clung with their legs around the bodies of their victims, their faces plastered over thier victims faces, covering their faces with black tar like goo, and their hands were plastered over their ears. I was so confused, and really concerned. I cried out to Jesus, "Jesus, what is this!!" I closed my eyes and tried to block it out, it was so disturbing, and spiritually the entire atmosphere was killing me! Everytime I opened my eyes I was confronted with these creatures.
Then the Holy Spirit answered me, in His beautiful voice of rushing waters He said to me, "Ursula, that is fear". I was like, "WHAT?". He explained to me that the demon I was seeing was fear. It clung like sticky tar, and stuck to everything that touched it. It was contagious. Transferable and imprisoning His people. He showed me that fear covered the faces of the people for various reasons. It covered their mouths and shut them. It covered their nose's and suffocated them. It covered their eyes, and closed them to things of the spirit, as well as ensuring that the people could not see past their fear. And it covered their ears, shutting them from hearing the truth and His voice. People that touched these people, were infected by this same fear, because it was so sticky, it just stuck to them! It was terrible, but showed me the truth of fear".
But she ends so biblically by reminding us that we are told simply not to fear! Simply this;
"The Holy Spirit reminded me, there is a reason He tells us not to fear. This demon imprisons people, and they can't see past the lie of fear itself. They can't see truth".
And the truth of the matter? Well let Joseph Prince answer what the TRUTH really is!
"Did Jesus die on the Cross to free us from committing sinful actions or harbouring sinful thoughts? If He did then allow me to conclude with reverence that He failed ... When David described the blessed man as one to whom the Lord will not impute sin, he meant that even when this man sins, God will not count his sin against him nor punish him for his iniquity. Too good to be true? That is why David defined this man as a blessed man! And this blessed man is you and me!".
And if "God is for us then WHO ... WHO .... WHO ... WHO ... WHO can be against us!?!?". No one! Not any man - not any church pastor or elder - not any work boss - not any demon of fear - not even Satan himself. God is for us! And He never will be against us because His Son died to ensure that we are adopted into the royal family of heaven! And once we are adopted - what cruel parent would "disfellowship" their child? It just wouldn't happen!
So back to why spring has brought an eternal, permament end to the winter of depression in my life! The third reason is that many of you may have noticed that my transcribing of Rob Rufus's sermons has slowed in the last few months. I couldn't explain why - other than my levels of concentration had totally gone. It was all I could do to sit and focus on the sermon for more than 5 minutes - and that is bearing in mind how utterly glorious Rob's sermons are! Since I handed in my notice at Acorns Hospice - it is like that dark cloud has vanished and my concentration is back and with a vengance! I spent the last couple of evenings glued to my IPOD and just soaking in the wonderful teaching of grace!
The sermon in particular that I've got to thank for this acceleration of spring's arrival is the first sermon that Rob preached in 2009 - "Being Established In The Gift Of Righteousness". This sermon is just ... incredible! Here's a quote that is so similar in theme and glory to Joseph Prince's book;
"If the main reason for Jesus dying on the Cross was to stop us sinning then He failed but if the main reason for Him dying on the Cross was so that your sins will never be imputed to you again because they have already been charged to Him - if the main reason He died was so that your sinning and sin can never again seperate you from the love of God then Jesus utterly succeeded in what He did".
I just love it. I can't hear it enough. "Who shall seperate us from the love of God?". No-one! It can't be done! Calvary was sufficient! God the Just was satisfied to look on Him and pardon me! I just have to re-post the clip of the most beautiful rendition of "Before the Throne of God" at Stoneleigh Bible Week - and the verse in particular that says;
"When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within upward I look and see Him there who made an END to ALL my sin!".
The question is - son or daughter (I did write "Christian" and then I had to come back and change it!) - do we really believe that "ALL" means all? Or are we content to almost blaspheme the Cross and suggest that Jesus gave us a good head-start but then we have to contribute and help finish off His mighty work with our works? That Paul by the way calls; "Dung!" or as Rob Rufus rather politely translates it; "POO!".
Let me finish - because I am finding I could really talk all day! Why has Spring come and brought an end to the eternal 1000 year winter of depression in my life, and in your life if you know something of what I am going through? Because of where we can look! "Upward". That heavenly song finishes with the verse;
"Behold Him there the risen Lamb - MY perfect SPOTLESS RIGHTEOUSNESS!
The great unchangable I AM - the King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself I cannot die! My soul is purchased with His blood!
My life is hid with Christ on high! With Christ my Saviour and my God!".
I have to say it's amazing - once you start to "get" the true gospel of grace it is like everything just "adjusts" into focus. I've sung and loved that song since 1998 when I first heard it on a Stoneleigh CD (and I didn't even know what Stoneleigh was or who Lou Fellingham was at that point!). But I am seeing these words clearly only just recently! My perfect spotless righteousness! Purchased with His blood! I know that while in heaven He stands - no tongue - no tongue - no tongue - no tongue - NO TONGUE (No one! Not any man - not any church pastor or elder - not any work boss - not any demon of fear - not even Satan himself) can bid me thence depart! Safe forever! NO FEAR!! With all of these glorious truths - what chance does winter have? I know it's not going to be long before I go to my G.P and he says there is no need for me to be on anti-depressants anymore. And I know once I am off them - I won't ever need to go back on them again!