Mirrors II – Broken Mirrors by Jeannine Fogwell

Mirrors #2 – Broken Mirrors by Jeannine Fogwell

Seeing In the Mirror

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, writes that when God is given lordship over our lives, He does indeed direct what happens. We think He plans to make us into a charming little cottage, maybe a little paint here, a hedge there, and a few flowers to make us look cheerful. But as we live our lives, we begin to feel major discomfort! What is happening to us? Let’s look at Lewis’s words:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

 . …If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a …dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

While we had thought we’d be a little scrubbed-fresh dwelling, He planned all along that we would be a huge and lovely castle, with His flag flying high and His light burning brightly on the high walls and from the tall windows, so that others would see Him.

Lewis says that God MUST make these deep changes in us so that we can leave our cracked shell and fly like a bird is supposed to. The alternative is to remain an egg and eventually start to stink!

Reflecting God’s Glory

Isaiah . 43: 1 – 7 says that we are created to reflect God’s glory.

1 But now, this is, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth– 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

This is His plan for every single person who accepts Jesus as personal Savior. But a problem arises between what He has created us to be and how we see ourselves. He knows that we are created to show His glory. But we know that we are cracked mirrors.

Christianity is all about relationship, and that relationship begins with God. God wants relationship with us, but our sin nature cannot be in the presence of His holiness. God the Father specifically sent Jesus to deal with this problem, a problem that is impossible for us to fix. Jesus’ death and resurrection make an actual new life possible. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, a fundamental and seismic change happens in the relationship between God and us as well as within us. Because of Christ, we become children of God.

Being A Child of God

The term “children of God” can truly only legitimately be used by believers. There are rights and privileges, which exist for a child in any family. With Jesus as our older brother, the Firstborn, we enter the family of God. Reconciliation with God replaces antagonism towards Him. Peace with God replaces fear of His judgment. Because of Jesus, when God looks at us, He sees ONLY Jesus’ righteousness: Christ within us.

Gal. 3:26 – 27:For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Gal. 4: 4 – 7 But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that he might redeem those who are under the Law, that we might receive adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through the gracious act of God.

As His child, we have both the right and the privilege to enter His presence, run into His arms, and sit in His lap to talk with Him whenever we want to!

At the same time that this huge change takes place in our relationship with God, there also occurs an enormous shift within us. Our sinful hearts are changed in such a basic way that the process of being transformed can begin.   Where once we were quite content to let ourselves be queen of the universe (It’s all about ME), we now begin to realize that there is something better! Our hearts begin to comprehend, through the working of the Holy Spirit, Who God really is.

With Jesus’ death and resurrection the New Covenant was established. This New Covenant had been spoken of in the Old Testament and is especially clear in Jeremiah 31: 33 – 34:

“But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “ I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I shall be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Our hearts that were stone – hard and unreceptive to Him – now are softened to receive Himself in our inner man.

Ezekiel 11:19 states, “ I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

Changing – a Gift of Grace

These two changes – that of our relationship to God and the change within our hearts – happen totally apart from our own striving. They are gifts of grace. But this truth is not so easily grasped within. While we accept it gladly with our minds – rejoicing even – the truth takes longer to reach our hearts. Head knowledge does not automatically create heart knowledge. For a great many believers, the distance between head and heart is measured in years.

For many years as a believer, I knew the Truth of God’s Word concerning Who God is. I knew intellectually what His Word said, and I wanted to follow Jesus wherever He led…just as the song said. In my mind, I believed He could do anything, but I lived my everyday life not expecting Him to. I could quote Scriptures about God’s love for us and fervently believe the verses for you, but in my heart I feared that God was just waiting for me to do something wrong.

When I tried to read the Bible on my own, the “judgment” verses seemed to hit hard, while the “grace” verses were not to be found (although in sermons and Bible studies led by others, I could hear that grace was there). I would have told you with utter certainty that God’s grace is sufficient for salvation, but my heart did not understand that His grace is ALSO sufficient for changing me into the person I longed to be.

In my eyes, I failed to live the life described in God’s Word. You see, the God of the Bible was not the “god” I saw in my heart. Although I had accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation, I was still in bondage. Although He had thrown open the doors for me to a life of freedom, I remained in a cell, locked from the inside.

Set Fre

The apostle Paul speaks of having been imprisoned but set free by God. We know from his writings in the New Testament that his life was one of much hardship, including being beaten, shipwrecked, and put in prison. But Paul knew that God had not only set him free several times from a literal prison; he knew that God had set him free from the prison of legalism – from trying to work his way to heaven and from attempting to be perfect on his own steam by rigidly keeping laws and rules. He, too, was locked in an internal prison until Christ set him free.

So I realize that I am not alone in this experience. If it is not your experience, it is the experience of someone you know and love. For many of God’s people, there is a serious disconnect between what they sincerely believe with their minds and how they live, that is their actions, which show what is REALLY believed in their hearts.

God created us to be whole, but our own sin nature along with Satan’s lies to us create a divide in our beings that only Jesus can heal. That is why believers can love Jesus but not be too sure they want to be around God the Father. And yet it is the Father who planned all along for us to show His glory and made the way for us to do so

In his book Experiencing the Father’s Embrace, Jack Frost writes of how he accepted God’s grace for salvation but did not live in the grace God provides for us as His children.

  1. First, because of my childhood filter system of performance, I thought that through my rigid life of prayer, study and religious discipline and duty I was making myself more acceptable in God’s eyes.
  2. As soon as I left the way of grace, I could not pray enough, study enough or do enough to ever feel accepted by God, so I never attained the sense of closeness with God that I longed for.
  3. So I worked harder at making my soul spiritual. I tried praying more, fasting more, doing more, being better.
  4. After several years I got so weary and the Christian walk became so hard.
  5. I felt guilty and ashamed for not being good enough….
  6. I felt unworthy to be loved by God….

Finally, after becoming completely burned out trying to live the Christian life on his own and loving his family with the same conditional love he thought he had from God, Jack stopped. And God miraculously met him in his pain, showing His boundless love and grace and releasing Jack from the lie he had believed: that God expected him to work for His love. Now understanding God’s amazing grace, Jack could then let the Holy Spirit work within him to bring needed changes. And he began loving his family with the same grace and unconditional love with which Christ loves him.

My Story

I grew up in a Christian home and can’t remember a time that I didn’t love Jesus. I formally invited Him into my heart as a teenager at my Confirmation in the Lutheran Church. Later, as a young adult in a Bible study, I realized that I had never given Him control of my life and yielded this control to Him as my Lord.

However, like Jack Frost, I somehow missed that in yielding control to Him, I could then rest in Him to change me. Instead, I tried to work hard at the Christian disciplines to become what I thought He wanted me to be. But although I loved Jesus, I felt very distant from God the Father and that He must certainly be disappointed in me and my failures. I worried about everything, had no peace, and was concerned because I would feel intense anger when one of our daughters disobeyed me. Where did that anger come from? But I couldn’t seem to change.

Some years later, our pastor’s wife wanted to begin a prayer ministry to those wounded people who were unable to forgive and unable to draw close to God. In looking for those who would be trained to pray with the wounded, she looked for one of two things: 1) was God calling us to prayer, OR, 2) were we the kind of people to whom complete strangers would share their life’s troubles as we stood in the grocery line? I fit the second, so I attended the first meeting. There I learned that in order to pray with others, I first had to pray with someone myself, to open my life to the Holy Spirit to show any unhealed wounds in my own life. Although scared to death at what the Holy Spirit might find and reveal, I went to pray with a seasoned prayer warrior.

As she gently questioned me about my family and my relationships with my parents and siblings, when she asked specifically about my father, I began sobbing. I was astonished, and my prayer warrior looked as surprised as I felt!   We agreed that we would give God time to work during the next few days and planned to meet the next week.   But God worked far before that next meeting. A few short days later, when I was home alone, I knelt by our couch and asked God to please show me what I needed to know.

Immediately, I knew that I was angry at God for not giving me a father who could “be there” for me emotionally.   As I then shared my great anger and sadness with God, I again immediately knew two things: 1) The only perfect father would have had to be God since no human father is perfect, and 2) that I had buried my anger and unforgiveness very, very deep.   In prayer, I repented and then forgave my father for being human, and I asked God to forgive me for my anger and unforgiveness.   An enormous wall came down within me. God’s unconditional love flooded my being. God the Father loved me, broken and sinful as I was (and am). God was calling me to pray, not because I was perfect but because I now understood His grace in the midst of sin, His goodness in wanting always the best for us, and His love that pursues us even when we don’t know it.

When I knew that God accepted me exactly as I was…that I didn’t have to try to clean myself up…that I wasn’t supposed to try, in fact, the cell door not only opened, it disappeared. Satan truly has no power over us, but he can certainly use our fears. That’s why the Word is so clear, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”

When I knew that God accepted me exactly as I was…that I didn’t have to try to clean myself up…that I wasn’t supposed to try, in fact, the cell door not only opened, it disappeared. Satan truly has no power over us, but he can certainly use our fears. That’s why the Word is so clear, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”

When we let God into the places of guilt and shame and fear, when we share those things with Him, we are letting go of the very things that have kept a door between us. He will forgive us everything, even our not believing He is good, and at the same time assure us in a deep, deep way that we are loved — very individually and uniquely — by Him.

In Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli wrote:

Messy spirituality is the place where desperation meets Jesus…. It is amazing how few of us believe in the unqualified grace of God. But it turns out that that what disqualifies you and me from ‘spirituality’ – the mess of our lives and the crippledness [sic] – is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus…. Some of us actually believe that until we choose the correct way to live, we aren’t chooseable [sic], that until we clean up the mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us. The opposite is true. Once we admit how unlovely we are, how unattractive we are, how lost we are, Jesus shows up unexpectedly.

How do I know that He really does have freedom for us?

Because He has set me free! I am not a worrier anymore. I am not bound by anger. I know deep inside that He is good. And I have a deep peace and joy within that did not come from me.   All of these are inexplicable outside of the mighty hand of God. God’s glory is shown in each of us by the fact that what we cannot do, HE DOES IN US.

I have a small candle holder made of broken pieces of dark-colored glass. By itself, it looks like a lot of dark glass stuck together. But when a candle is lit inside of it, light streams through the pieces, illuminating the rich colors of the glass. In just the same way, God shines through our redeemed brokenness to show His glory.

Dragging Around Old Skin

I never liked reptiles, never wanted to go into the snake house at the zoo. But a summer in India changed that. Our little home on the orphanage grounds was two rooms – one a large bedroom, which we used as a medical clinic, and the other, a bath. It had running water – little girls ran water in every morning and evening. We ate our meals with the founder of the orphanage in an outdoor, covered pavilion.

The first few days I was enormously uncomfortable because there were lizards running all over the walls. But then my husband told me that their presence meant that the bug population would be seriously decreased, and they instantly became my friends!

Lizards, like snakes, molt. Lizards totally shed their old skins when the new skin is grown. When the old skin is totally shed, the lizard can get on with life – finding food, enjoying the sun, and keeping a careful watch for enemies. Imagine the mess a lizard would be in if it attempted to move around with the old skin still attached! Finding food would be difficult if it had to drag along the weight of the old skin. And if an enemy came, the old skin could keep the lizard from maneuvering to either flee or fight.

But as new creatures in Christ, we too often do that very thing! We are clothed with the eternal. We are bright-shining, new creations, but we drag around our old selves – our past, our worries, our sin, our guilt – and Satan knows how to get at us as we are lugging around our stuff.

For many years I was a believer. I loved Jesus and I wanted to know God. But I was trapped in my old skin – longing to be free to soar, to enjoy the Father-ness of God, to find rest and joy as Jesus and the disciples had obviously experienced.

What old skin are you lugging around?

Is there some hurt in your past that you have not been able to forgive?

Share that hurt with Jesus now. Tell him how you felt; invite Him into your pain. He died so you could be free to bring hurts to Him. Share your hurt with Him. Then let Him heal your hurt, give you His perspective, and help you to forgive.

I read once that having unforgiveness toward someone is like letting them live rent-free for life in your mind. But if you choose to share that pain with Jesus, your heart will learn that He understands. Knowing that He understands makes it possible to forgive.

Forgiveness

Let us be clear about what forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness is not overlooking the wrong done to me or by me. It is not excusing the wrong. It is not taking blame that isn’t yours: we must confess our part in a wrong done, but we should not carry the whole blame if others had a real part. And forgiveness is not explaining away a wrong. We cannot always wait to understand a wrong done to us; sometimes there is no reason that we can see, but God still calls us to forgive.

Here is a good definition of what forgiveness is: forgiveness is facing a specific wrong that we have done or that has been done to us AND releasing it to God. He calls us to forgive unconditionally and completely, regardless of whether the one who has wronged us ever acknowledges it. HE is the one who gives us the grace to do so. And if we are the ones who have done the wrong, then we need to repent and confess it to our Lord.

Have you committed some sin in the past that either you or Satan keeps beating you over the head with? Share it with Jesus now. The truth is that if we do not confess our sins, He cannot forgive them, though He stands ready to. But…

1 John 1: 9 says that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

He is amazingly willing to forgive, but we need to take that thing out of the darkness where it’s been hiding and let His light shine on it. When we do so, He frees us of its hold. Then we are able to receive His total forgiveness.

A really scary but good prayer that I prayed before God brought deep healing of hurts and the ability to deal with my deepest unforgiveness is found in Psalm 139.   This is the wonderful psalm that speaks of God’s calling us into being, of His always being with us all through life, everywhere, and then it concludes with these verses:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me (examine and refine me) and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me (either hurts that have come from others OR hurts that I have inflicted upon others),

And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 143: 6 – 10 says,

I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a dry

and weary land.

Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You;

Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.

Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God;

Let Your Spirit lead me on level ground.

What worries have you been hauling around like an old dead skin rather than putting in God’s hands for Him alone to carry?

Guthrie said in his commentary on Hebrews 3 that in a sense one can say that all sin originates from thinking that God has less than our best interests at heart.

If I am worrying about a situation, it reflects the truth that I am not trusting that God has my or someone else’s best interests at heart. He has said in Romans 8:28 that He causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God.

God WANTS to carry our burdens and, besides that, He is BIG enough to be ABLE to carry them! Our job is by prayer to bring the situations and people to HIM to carry.   I have learned that if I am worrying about something, it is a signal that I have made a decision that God has less than my best interests at heart

He doesn’t say He will work ALL things for our good IF we pray right or IF we are faithful in our quiet times or anything else! He says if we love Him, messes that we are, He WILL work all things for our good and His glory. Let’s pray and ask Him to hold us close while we share with Him our hurt, our sin, our worries.

 

Study and Discussion Questions

The following questions can be used for individual or group study. For group study it is recommended that copies of each of the four Mirrors teachings be copied and given out at least a week prior to a meeting. At a meeting, it may be helpful to divide into small discussion groups, since the answers to some of these questions are very personal.

The Each Teaching can be easily divided by reading two or more sections each day and answering questions that pertain to the corresponding reading.

Day One – Read: Seeing in the Mirror and Reflecting God’s Glory. Answer questions 1 and 2

Day Two – Read: Being a Child of God and Changing: A Gift of Grace. Answer questions 3 and 4.

Day Three – Read Set Free and My Story. Answer questions 5 and 6.

Day Four – Read Dragging Around Old Skin and Forgiveness. Answer questions 7 and 8.

1.) Do you see yourself as a cottage or a castle or perhaps something in between?  What renovations or deep changes do you recognize need to be made? Has the Lord wanted changes that you are not ready for?

2.) Read Isaiah 43:1-7 again. Make a list of “…what the Lord says, He who created you…and redeemed you.” How do these verses speak to you about how He sees you and His plans for you?

3.) Some Christians believe that everyone born is a child of God. Look again at Gal. 3:26 – 27 and Gal. 4: 4 – 7. What stipulations do these verses put on the term “child of God?”

4.) Describe the “heart change” that has occurred in you since you became a believer. Is there any part of your heart that you have held back?

5.) Jeannine writes under My Story, “How do I know that He really does have freedom for me? Because He has set me free! I am not a worrier anymore. I am not bound by anger. I know deep inside that He is good.”  Think of some changes God has made in you. How do you see God working to change the image you have of yourself?

6.) You are a new creature in Christ. Is there any aspect of your old self (your past, worry of any kind, hurt, sin or guilt) that you are still dragging around? How might forgiveness help you to let go of “old skin?”

7.) Can you share an example of a time when you asked for forgiveness and it had remarkable results?

8.) There is an old saying, “Blessings in Disguise” that was used to describe the good that God can bring out of all things. Recall something God used for good in your life.