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Obedience - It Is...All About Mary

posted Aug 10, 2008, 8:20 PM by Web Master   [ updated Aug 12, 2008, 10:04 AM ]

By Micky M. Wolf         

 

“Women - Go to Mary, go to Mary, go to Mary”…

 

As I awoke one recent morning, those words “…Go to Mary, go to Mary, go to Mary…” kept moving through my spirit. In going before the Lord in prayer, He led me to two places in the Word – Matthew 1:1-25 and Luke 1:26-38.  In various conversations and in sharing with other women over the past weeks, it seems a “flood” of insights are coming forth to help us more clearly see in our hearts of His call to obedience and submission.  We desire as women of God to be obedient to Him.  We desire to submit to our earthly spouses.  We also “desire to obedience and submitting” in the order God calls us to. 

 

What is that order?  In the very familiar story of Jesus’ birth, Mary and her obedience, [Luke 1] and Joseph and his obedience [Matthew 1], give us a richness of revelation to lead and guide us.  Important Note:  As I continued to listen to the Holy Spirit, it was clear the Lord was “directing me to Mary”; He was also making it clear she was to “show the way”, not “be the way” in understanding obedience and submission.

 

A bit of background.  According to Jewish law and practice in those days, “betrothal” was as significant to the rite of marriage as the actual marriage ceremony.  For all intent and purpose, “being in a state of betrothal” for the one year of time prior to the ceremony held the same import and reality of “being married”, apart from the actual consummation of the marriage.  Why, then, is it so important we understand this aspect of Jewish custom?  So that we may more clearly understand our Lord’s Truth of obedience.

 

Obedience and submission, lived to the fullness and modeled by Mary unfolds as such; Mary to God, Mary to Joseph. And for Joseph; Joseph to God, Joseph to Mary. It seems the Lord has taken great measure to show us in His Word, through the choices of Mary and Joseph, that the “vertical” – with God, is to precede the “horizontal” – with man [or woman].  Walking the Lord’s obedience in all relationships, whether with spouse, children or friends, is first revealed in the “vertical submission to His will”.

 

MARY – HEARING AND OBEDIENCE

 

While the orderedness of Scripture has Matthew before Luke, revelation through the Word clearly gives us many insights about Mary and Joseph. ALL that involved the conception and eventual birthing of Jesus BEGAN with Mary. 

 

Announcement of His presence, affirmation…[Luke 1: 26-55]

The Angel of the Lord first spoke to Mary, and then later to Joseph.   His first words were to affirm her in the presence of the Lord’s favor. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."  Remember - neither Mary nor Joseph had benefit of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; this would be available to believers after Pentecost. 

 

Her first response and action – the first “but”But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  Hearing, being troubled…and then pondering. The Lord allows us time to ponder His presence.

 

Assurance, and further affirmation Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. In her humanness Mary was understandably frightened. Again, His word of affirmation. How many times are we initially “afraid” when the Lord makes His presence known to us?

 

“Statement” of His willBehold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” The Lord “spells out” His will for her.  You will conceive, you shall name”; these are our Lord’s direction to her. The verses that follow are revelation of Jesus’ mission, not hers. 

 

Another “but”But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"  We, like Mary, begin to speak our “buts”.  “But”, how can this be, Lord?  “But”, how can this happen, Lord?  “But”, why me, Lord? 

 

The “How”And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."  The Holy Spirit is in us; the “how” of the Lord’s call to be and do is through His indwelling Holy Spirit.  In our call to obedience, the Most High over shadows us.  Nothing will be impossible for God!  Knowing our Shepherd’s voice, hearing Him speak to our hearts through the presence of His indwelling Holy Spirit, we are prepared, and equipped to say “yes” as Mary said “yes”.

 

Yes, Lord…Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.  Where were her doubts now?  Why was she not concerned with how Joseph would respond when she gave him this news?  Her obedience moved out of her believing and her will and choice to be obedient.  She heard her Shepherd’s voice, was affirmed in His word to her, received of His presence and the clarity of His direction, spoke out her human questioning, and then accepted that He would provide all that was needed.  Her “yes” was immediately made manifest in the midst of her choosing to believe and be obedient – to God first. 

 

He waits…until He hears her speakThen the angel departed from her.  The angel of the Lord did not move until He heard her “speak out” her “yes”.  The Lord always waits patiently with us as we learn in our struggle to be obedient to His will in our life.  He understands our doubts, our unbelief, all the questions we could ask of Him.  He listens to our hearts; He holds these things of our humanness and our spirit next to His heart of love and protection.  And when He does depart, it is not to “leave us”, but only to allow us to move along the path in the working out of that obedience. 

 

JOSEPH AND MARY TOGETHER - HEARING AND OBEDIENCE  [MATTHEW 1:1-25]

 

Mary’s Obedience “Manifested”Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Done.  Finished.  For whatever else might be revealed through the fulfillment of this obedience, there was no turning back at this point for Mary.  She gave the Lord all that she could give Him.  She was with child, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. How willing are we to “be with child” in whatever manner and form the Lord is calling us to in obedience? 

 

The “seed” is implanted by the Holy Spirit, received, and made manifest in our obedience. What “seed” of obedience is the Lord desiring to implant in you?  How are you different from Mary in your “accessibility and availability” as His chosen vessel?  What keeps you from “receiving” this “seed”?  Fear?  Unbelief?  Needing to know how someone else will respond?  Or be affected by your obedience?  Mary knew not of Joseph and how he would receive her with child.  She had no assurance beforehand in the reality of his written or stated declaration to stand with her in her Virgin Mother-ness. 

 

Now…Her Husband knows of her “yes”…Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Now Joseph knows the outcome of her choice to be obedient.  What next?  At this point he seems more than willing to do the honorable thing and quietly divorce her.  His desire is to do “the right thing” in the eyes of man; however, the Lord has something else in order for Joseph.

 

The “right thing” – or “the Lord’s way?”…Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Again, but now with Joseph, an angel of the Lord speaks; the Lord makes known His presence to Joseph, affirms him, assures Him, states His will for him, and describes the “how”.

 

Affirmation in anticipation…All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us." We know through the next verses that follow that the Lord has come to Joseph in a dream to speak of His will for him.  It is as if He anticipates the questions Joseph could ask so He speaks the words of the prophet Isaiah to Joseph’s spirit.  The Lord speaks out to Joseph the affirmation, preparation and equipping he needs to respond to Mary, but most importantly to respond, in obedience, to His will, which is Joseph’s true desire.

 

Joseph’s Obedience “Manifested”When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. In “awaking to the Lord’s call to obedience”, we too can “do as the Lord commands us”.  He will not call and send us, apart from His preparation of all provision for this obedience to be worked out in our lives.

 

Mary chose obedience to God first, trusting all to Him, in preparing all circumstances in His plan for her, for Joseph, and for their son, Jesus.  Did she “know all” ahead of time? No. She knew of only “the next step” on the journey.  Why did the Lord come to Mary first?  Could it be the Lord “knew” her heart so intimately that he knew He could choose her for this obedience, knowing of her willingness to trust Him, to believe in His keeping?

 

Women, what hinders us in walking this kind of obedience?

Why Women?

posted Aug 10, 2008, 8:17 PM by Web Master   [ updated Aug 12, 2008, 10:04 AM ]

The Invitation to Healing, Restoration and Renewing

By Micky M. Wolf             

 

Identifying Our Need for Healing

 

          Look around you.  Our nearby world is comfortable…on the outside.  Many of us have the obvious rewards of hard work and a good education.  While a number of us are members of long-term marriages, many more of us are joined in blended families and an increasing number of us are choosing alternative lifestyles either as single women raising children or as women in same gender relationships. We strive to enjoy the fruits of our labors, whether we have homes filled with lovely comforts, or more modest means.  Likely for the majority of us, it is our children upon whom we lavish almost anything and everything they desire.  And yet, a persistent, lingering sense; are we really fulfilled as women? 

          It is out of the personal experience of being healed and for some, being sent forth in ministry, that we may find ourselves in one of two “heart places”: women seeking healing and women whose restoration has prepared us to minister, one to another.  At the same time, it would be from an ugly place of pride-fullness if we thought this process ever ends.  It does not, unless we choose to say no to the Lord continuing His work in us. In submitting ourselves to Jesus’ healing and restoration, this journey continues for a lifetime.  The hope set before us, however, is that as we submit the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves to Him for healing, we become more at peace, more joy-filled, more accepting, grateful, and grace-filled, and yes even more satisfied and delighted – in being who He has created us to be as unique, individual women, part of a biological as well as a social and cultural family.

 

The Call to Healing…

 

How would you answer these questions?

 

  • Am I an adult woman [or know of someone] who experienced woundedness as a child? [Abuse, abandonment, isolation, separation, divorce, substance abuse, abortion, infidelity]
  •  Am I an adult woman [or know of someone] who experienced woundedness as an adult? [Similar to the above]
  •  Am I an adult woman who is experiencing woundedness at this time?
  •  Am I an adult woman who has had or would like to have a relationship with God?
  •  Am I an adult woman who would like to be in intimate relationship with God?
  •  Am I an adult woman who seeks healing and restoration
  •  Am I an adult woman who has received healing and restoration, seeking to serve Him?

Everything about who we are in Christ today, what He calls us to be and to whom and for what we are responsible and accountable is directly associated with healing.  Without healing, we will remain naively calm, emotionally lukewarm, and of greater consequence, indifferent to Christ and His plan for each of us as women.  We will never receive or give “Jesus Love” in its fullness, or become whole-heartedly involved and committed to being “in love with God” and “in love with our spouses, our children and our sisters and brothers in Christ” without His healing, loving touch. We may be walking in His presence, but we will not be moving toward becoming wholly equipped, His light aflame in us, to be all that He calls us to be.  To enter into healing takes courage, it takes faith, and it takes a heart willing to face the unknown, knowing only that our loving Father will reach through the smallest, tiniest opening we give Him.

The first step is listening to the Holy Spirit and discerning His presence as He gently touches our wounds.  This is not always easy, particularly in our busy lives, and with the continual bombardment of sounds, activities and demands of daily routine.  He may speak to us in a number of different ways, but speaking to us through the shared experiences of another person is one way that frequently reaches into our heart. Maybe we will hear a person share a story, their testimony, of childhood abuse and their healing on a television news program and immediately “winch” on the inside, not fully realizing at that moment that their pain is our pain.  Or, maybe someone will say something over the lunch table or at a study group about being neglected or abandoned by a spouse and we will cringe, vaguely aware of a similar pain within. When people share their stories and witness to the healing power of Jesus in their lives, the Holy Spirit uses them to reach others. 

God may also speak to us through scripture, music, even the daily newspaper, but it is the voice of human experience in the presence of the Holy Spirit and usually in community that will convict us of the woundedness we carry. As women, we know how we intuitively reach out to other women, in our joys, and in our uncertainties, albeit we dismiss the opportunity to do so much more often than we ever have as a society and culture. It seems so many other things require our time, our attention, our resources, materially and otherwise.  Sadly, “being women” with one another gets lost in the shuffle of schedules and calendars.

The second step is listening to the Holy Spirit as He helps us understand the source of our wounds, e.g., childhood abuse, spousal neglect, personal promiscuity, divorce, financial irresponsibility, addiction.  This is very important, not for the sake of intellectualizing the whole matter, but for the purpose of recognizing what it is we are dealing with.  Understanding the “root cause” of the wound helps us understand the way in which we were wounded, not for the purpose of pointing fingers and blaming either others or ourselves. Any wounding we may experience has the potential, shoved aside, to become buried under layers of behaviors to avoid the hurt, slowly becoming “infected” over a period of days, weeks, months, and maybe even years of our lives.  Understanding the nature of the wound helps us discern the kind of “treatment” we may need to aid in the healing process. If we have experienced deep wounds associated with rejection and abandonment due to incidents of abuse, addiction, suicide, or other life experiences, the Holy Spirit will help us begin to see and associate the “red flags of our feelings and the consequent behaviors” associated with the deep pain; perhaps notice even a “feeling” which we may not recognize initially as being painful. Initially, we may only being able to name it as “something that does not seem to be quite right.  Oh, well, it will go away, especially if I keep busy”. 

Similarly, if we have experienced deep wounds through relationships of co-dependency, the Holy Spirit will begin to show us the red flags associated with the behaviors we are choosing “to deal” with the out-of-orderedness of the such relationships.  As we become more aware of “cause and effect”, we will then be able “to act, not react” in a consistently more healthy manner.  It is through the prompting of the Spirit, spending time in the scriptures and in prayer that we will begin a “renewing of our mind that leads to healing and restoration. Medical or psychological interventions may also be necessary, as we give ourselves the gift of time and attention to become healthier, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

The third step in this process is to own the presence of the wounding, again not for the purpose of placing blame on ourselves or others, but for the purpose of reconciliation with that person, God and ourselves.  It does not matter that the source of the wounding may have come from someone who is deceased.  Our God is much bigger than any box we try to put Him into with regard to His desire and willingness to heal us beyond our “ideas of the possible”.  While any one of these three steps may be more difficult than the other, this step is frequently a real challenge.  There are many explanations for why “owning the pain” may be difficult; our intellect/mind does not want to take responsibility; our flesh does not like to be denied of pleasure through selfish choices; we may also be dealing with the reality of needing to do spiritual warfare in “owning” that we are wounded.  In our understanding of the healing power of reconciliation, it only seems to follow that there will be many opportunities for us to be distracted for in taking these steps of “owning our woundedness and pain” we are truly set on the path to a fullness of healing – with God, ourselves, or anyone who has touched our life and in some way wounded us. 

Reconciling oneself with our Father in heaven and with our earthly companions brings upon us the peace that surpasses understanding.  It is the authentic culmination of  “Jesus love”, the fullness of Truth and Love as our God ordains for us.  Is it any wonder that as we “work through” – and this action of healing is truly “God’s work in us” – that we will encounter an enemy in Satan who would just as soon we not participate in our own healing, let alone embrace the process of the releasing the pain that will bring us true joy?  Again, often times through the word of our testimony, “Jesus in us” speaks to those who are hurting and wounded.

As we began to accept the need for healing, we slowly became aware of our woundedness, the places of pain and darkness we try to put away on a shelf, far from our heart and our thoughts. Entering into prayer and sharing our heart with a trusted person, professional, family member, or friend is another big step, however, we need to take the first small steps, allowing God to slowly begin to reveal the lies we are living that keep us in the darkness.  It is not unusual that every pore and cell on the inside of us wants to cut and run from this process, especially if we have had little experience in relationships where we “could trust” without being hurt. Somewhere, deep inside our souls, our spirit longs for true peace and joy. Somewhere deep inside, we know the only way we can ever have any sense of being whole, even holy, is dependent upon our willingness to be purged of  “our infections”. If we can submit to exposing our wounds to His light, healing can begin and new life can be birthed.  We know others are walking in a freedom we cannot clearly identify – but we also know that as frightened as we are of what we might encounter, His call to us is irresistible. 

 

The Sweet Pain of Purging and Healing…

It would be no surprise that the wounds we receive as children are buried the deepest. These are often the most painful to recognize and own, after all, to acknowledge our being wounded as children is to acknowledge the existence of the “one who wounded us”; maybe a parent, primary caregiver, family member, neighbor, member of our community.  Though, once we accept the presence of the wounds, we can then lean upon Jesus as He shows us how individual people in our lives may have been acting out of the consequence of their own woundedness in which ways which hurt us. 

In confronting memories and our “inside places of woundedness”, we will eventually be able to confront our independent, rebellious nature that we so unconsciously use as a coping mechanism.  As we begin to allow the Lord, often through someone he sets near to us on our path, “see” our wounds, we can then begin to dismantle the behaviors we have developed to live with the pain. Exposing these behaviors or “reactions to woundedness” as “the lies they are” is “a spiritually healthy beginning” for us, even though in some situations there may remain “tender spots” which will be fully healed only over a long period of time. This process of acknowledging our “hurts”, “identifying the source” and being willing to be healed, however painful that may be, is not the time to place blame for the consequence of others’ actions or of our own. It is a great opportunity, through healing, to “recognize” and “own” our behaviors and acknowledge the behaviors of others in our lives.  We cannot change others. For it will be in “recognizing” or “owning” our own “actions and reactions” that we can purposely begin to “choose differently” and enter into a fullness of healing. This “recognizing” and “owning” then, becomes the “submission” of our will to God’s will, through which He can help us step into a restored, renewed life with Him and with ourselves, our families and our community. 

Along with the wounds of our childhood come the wounds of our young adulthood. For some women, it may be the pain and brokenness of divorce, or the results of impulsive lifestyle choices – alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, over-eating, self-mutilation, self-starvation, reckless spending, internet pornography or any of a plentiful buffet of “socially acceptable anesthetics”.  Carrying the wounds of abuse, anger, frustration and fear, we realize we have made these choices believing they will protect us in some way, even bring us into the presence of true love and real peace.  These wounds continue to disguise the lies of the superficiality of individual lives, as well as those of our relationships, whether with spouse, family members or friends.

However, in entrusting ourselves to this process, we begin to

understand how we have become enmeshed in situations and circumstances based on our “authentic, God-given” need to find nurturing, tenderness, gentleness, and unconditional love. Entering into any relationship, we often continue the process of being wounded, and of wounding.  We are literally “looking for love with, and amidst, all of the unhealthy behaviors”.  Not only are the men and women we come in contact with incapable of fully responding to our needs - only God can completely fulfill our needs - we are so deceived we do know what our needs are.  We do not know how to tell anyone what we need – and should we be able to describe the pain of the wounds that are creating a need, we discover a determination not to share this part of ourselves.  Talking about needs is taboo – as independent, self-made women we will not fall prey to that deception!  Lie upon lie, wound upon wound, the layers grow thicker, the walls build higher, brick by brick.

Every time we look to some one or some thing to satisfy the needs we only vaguely understand and oftentimes cannot describe, the wounds became more profuse; the infection spreads like a silent killer through the lifeblood of our relationship with God and with people around us.  For every attempt we make to become intimate with someone in our life, the spirit of abandonment, rejection, fear, pride, jealousy, envy, greed, or anger or other unhealthy, certainly unloving behavior manifests, rearing its’ head to throw fiery darts, or in counterpoint, bow to receive them, leaving us reeling inwardly, in confusion and pain.  For every attempt we make to hide from the pain of rejection, addiction, or any other manifestation of ours or another’s sin nature, we throw hurtful darts, only to realize they will likely come flying back at us.  We may well then retreat, again, into the anesthetic induced numbness of “great busyness”, “social or spiritual well-doing”, alcohol, drugs, compulsive eating or starving, or endless hours of sitting in front of a television or computer screen. Every attempt we get us to hide from the pain of our loneliness, fear or anger, what we might call “the spirit of spiritual abortion” will harass us, prodding us to choose the path of isolation, maybe with the presence of bitterness or resentment. As was the case in my own situation, we may eventually retreat further and further from the possibility of true intimacy with any one. Everything about us looks wonderful on the outside; everything about us on the inside is slowing dissolving as it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the perfect exterior.  But it will be in that brokenness and allowing of our woundedness to be exposed that the Lord can work His awesome wonders of lasting healing.

 

His Boundless, Healing Grace…

 

As logical and practical as we think we can be as women in justifying, rationalizing, or even ignoring our need for healing, our loving Father will continue to offer us the opportunity. Through His grace and in His faithfulness, He welcomes us with open arms. At the time of our

Baptism and later ongoing conversions, we many know little of these spirits and of our woundedness.  All we may know is that we are unhappy, unfulfilled; that what we are doing is accomplishing little to eliminate or lessen our interior dissatisfaction with our life. But none of this makes any difference to Jesus.  We are neither too far away from Him, or covered too deeply in lies and deceptions.  He will reach down and pull us out of our pain and the mire, and do so even as we have no sense, in the beginning, of why or what is happening to us.  The tiniest, tiniest, glimmer of hope within us that cries out for freedom is all He needs to come into our heart and begin to heal us.

          As we begin to allow Him to cleanse these wounds, we begin to see, by the light of revelation, the reality, the beauty and joy of restoration, as His healing touch cuts through the infection with the clean strokes of His mighty sword.  With each cut of the sword of His Truth in Love, the old is sliced away and healthy, wonderfully alive heart, spirit and soul are birthed anew into our being.  We take ownership of every feeling and emotion and thought that has been encased in every lie and deception that has penetrated our being.  We sit at His feet with each and every feeling and emotion and thought as He teaches us how to separate the lie from His Truth and Love.

          His presence is manifested through His Love in His healing word, in His healing touch, and in His healing Holy Spirit of gentle guidance and leading.  His healing is a gentle as a whisper in our ears as we kneel in prayer, not knowing the words to speak.  His healing is as literal as the embrace of a friend who utters not a sound but whose comforting touch resounds with His goodness and tenderness.  His healing is awesomely enveloping as He invites us to return to the sacraments of His church in repentance and forgiveness. 

          Accepting His invitation into this healing is a breathtaking experience at times.  You may discover you are totally depleted of yourself, nearly exhausted with the pace of this “spiritual cleansing and healing”.  But, even as you beg on occasion for a moment to catch your breath, He is faithful in Truth and Love, comforting you in prayer, touching you with the compassionate embrace of a spouse, sending a sister to your door or to your phone to speak His words of encouragement to “stay the course”.  Slowly, but surely, we acknowledge that to be wholly restored, we must die to all that is ourselves and not of Him.  This is not a journey we walk alone.  He is with us always, as are those He places on the path with us.

          The healing we are called to in the beginning of our restoration and renewing lays beneath layers of woundedness, but as He cleanses these wounds, we feel and experience authentic healing. We know we will never be in a place as dark as this again.  We begin to realize that in restoring us, He is equipping us to see “through the eyes of our heart”, to know the difference between the truth and lies.  We begin to sense His implanted love setting us in true peace, not the passing fancy of momentary happiness we experience of the world.  This is the hope set before you as we invite you to embrace this journey, persevering through the desert, the valleys, and on to the mountaintops of new birth and new life!  

 

Copyright 2000  Micky M. Wolf

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