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God woke me up in the wee hours of the morning to have this interesting conversation with Him. He did this exactly a week after I got home from my ministry trip to Singapore. When the conversation first started, I felt a bit distant from Him--I did not have any reason to feel distant--I was not in any type of sin or rebellion, and I had sought Him before I went to bed. None the less, He felt a bit "far away."
So I began telling Him that I loved Him and that I was hungry for Him. His reply sort of surprised me. Let me share a piece of the conversation, because I believe you may find it helpful.
"Lord I love you."
"Yes, Teresa, I know you love Me. I love you too."
"Lord, what would it look like if I was in the perfect center of Your will right now, and how can I get there?"
"Teresa, one thing that it would look like is that you would believe Me when I tell you that I love you.
"I do believe You Lord, and I want You to know that I love you so much!"
"No, Teresa, you don't really believe Me. If you did, you would not assume that I would distance Myself from you for no reason, and you would not feel a need to keep telling Me over and over that you love Me, as though you were trying to convince Me of that. Child, do you believe that I know all things?"
"Then I would know that you love Me, wouldn't I?"
"I guess so, Lord." I loved the Lord with all of my heart, but was that good enough? Did I have enough love to offer God?
"If you really believed that I love you, then you would not be guessing, Teresa. You would have a certainty in your spirit that would allow you to move past this basic into more advanced things with Me. This is a basic, and we keep revisiting it over and over again. I want you to be secure in My love for you, so that we can move on to more advanced things."
I was not sure what to say to Him. So the thing that came out was, "But, Lord, I really do love you."
"Yes, Teresa, we have already established that. You don't have to try and convince Me of that because it is already a given. Here, let Me show you. Teresa, according to My Word, how do you show Me that you love Me?"
That was an easy question, and John 14:15 and John 15:14 immediately popped into my mind. "By obeying You, Lord."
"Do you do that, Teresa?"
"Yes, Lord, as best as I am able."
"Then why do you think you still need to convince Me that you love Me? It is already a given--I know that you do."
I did not have an answer to that question. Then God went on to talk about my not truly believing that I was completely and totally loved, which was a bit of a surprise to me. I "knew" it in my head, but my heart was not fully convinced. I felt a bit dirty and unacceptable before Him, even though I hadn't done anything wrong.
"Teresa, if you were convinced that I love you, you would be living and walking in the privilege of the elect. You do that sometimes, but you can't stay there on a regular basis because you are not fully convinced that I really do love you."
"What do you mean, Lord?"
"Do you remember what it felt like when you were in Singapore last week?"
"Yes, Lord, it was wonderful." The Lord had allowed me to push into a place of amazing intimacy with Him. As a result of that, I was able to move in incredible power and anointing as I ministered there. It was an incredible trip and God was incredible to me on it.
He gave me a favor that was amazing--everyone (even total strangers in the restaurant, etc) liked me and wanted to treat me a bit more specially than they treated everyone else. I had felt almost like a princess and I was keenly aware that this was the favor of the Lord on Me. I knew that favor came because I was living very much in His presence and was carrying His presence as I did my day-to-day tasks. People were sensing and responding to His manifest presence (and goodness) on me, and that is where all the favor came from.
Even if that amazing favor of God had not been there, the anointing had been so strong that it would have still been an amazing trip. I hadn't wanted to come home, because I wanted to live in that place with God all of the time. But it is easier to do that when I am in a "sent" position, on a task for God, than when I am at home in day-to-day life.
"I want to change that Teresa, I want you to live in that place with Me all of the time, and not just when I send you out on ministry trips. But in order for you to live there, you have to become truly convinced that I love you."
"Lord, I think I know that You love Me."
"No Teresa, you don't really know it deep down in your inner most being. You have head knowledge that My word says 'I Love you,' but you don't really believe it. If you did, you would live differently in Me, and shame and condemnation would never be able to touch you. You would never feel separated from Me and you would not need to try to convince Me that you love Me. You would feel fully accepted in My presence and you would feel bold and confident to come before Me and ask Me for good things."
"But Lord, sometimes I do feel that way." About six recent instances of that flashed through my memory.
"Yes, Teresa, at times you do. But if you truly believed that I loved you, then you would feel that way all the time, not just some of the time. I want to move you from where you are to that place, so that you can learn to live in My love."
Then the Lord reminded me of times that I had not felt that way. He did not have to reach into the distant past, He was able to pull an example out of the past 24 hours. On my way home from a pastor's breakfast, the Lord had prompted me to go to this store I almost never go to. I wondered if He had a divine appointment for me, and sure enough, He did. I got out of my car and then I noticed a lady from my church who I had not seen in a long time. I called her name and we started a discussion.
It turns out she had changed churches to a more traditional church because her recently saved husband was more comfortable there. The new church seemed a bit dead to her, but she was deeply committed to her husband, so she went to that church with him. She had always struggled a bit with a spirit of infirmity. Now that she had no Christian support system to fight it, it had really taken her over. Both of her wrists and thumbs were in splints and she had ace bandages wrapped up both arms. She told me that she was in constant agony and could not perform simple household takes (like doing dishes or the laundry) without extreme pain. I could sense a very strong spirit of infirmity on her; in fact, my body started to ache just standing next to her.
Part of me thought, "Oh maybe God set up this divine appointment for me to heal her." But I did not want to tackle this strong spirit of infirmity in the parking lot. I have this problem that sometimes when I take on this type of spirit, it tries to counter-attack me for a while afterwards; and I often struggle with the same problem that it inflicted on the other person for a couple of weeks. I had finally come home from a missions trip healthy, and I was going to leave for another one in a few weeks. I did not want to deal with this thing. So I decided not to pray for her and rebuke the infirmity. Instead I just sort of loved on her a bit and chatted in the parking lot.
After we finished talking and I'd walked off, I wondered if I'd been disobedient to God. I had not heard God explicitly tell me to pray for her, or I would have obeyed Him. But it had been my choice, and it may not have been a choice that pleased God. [In all honesty, she has some inner issues she needs to deal with, and the spirit would have probably come back shortly after I rebuked it. But all the same, I had chosen not to minister to her and I wondered if God was unhappy with me because of that.]
She had reached out touched my elbow as we parted, and I felt a transference. I have been experiencing pains in that side of my body since the encounter, and I had thought to myself, "It's not fair, I did not go after that spirit and I still got attacked by it."
Then I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mentor about a month previous, regarding transference and spirits of infirmity. I asked him if he got counter-attacked when he rebuked a strong spirit of infirmity and he said "Never." I realized that I must have some open door that gave the spirits room to counter-attack me and I asked God about it. I asked Him to show me what the open door was and then to help me close it.
All of that came flooding into my memory as I had this conversation with God.
"That's the open door, Teresa. You don't really believe that I love you. If you did, the spirits of infirmity would not be about to touch you."
Wow. I was speechless. Then the Lord went on. "How did you feel today with that encounter in the parking lot? Did you feel My love on you?"
"No Lord, I was concerned that You might be upset with me for missing a divine appointment. I thought You might be angry that I choose not to minister to her because I did not want to take on the spiritual warfare that would result from it."
"Did you disobey Me? Did I tell you to minister and you refused?"
"Did you ever consider the possibility that maybe I set up this encounter not so that you should to minister to her, but so that I could speak to you about it?" He paused, then continued, "If you truly believed that I loved you, then you would not have struggled with condemnation over this. Also, the demon would not have had any ability to touch you in any way."
I pondered that for a bit, then God continued. "Teresa, if you had met this same spirit in Singapore, would it have been able to trouble you in any manner?"
"No, Lord, the anointing on me was too strong."
"So, what is the difference between here and Singapore?"
"I think the difference is that in Singapore I set myself totally apart from things--I did not watch any TV, etc." The day after I had gotten home from Singapore was a jet-lag day, and I had vegetated in front of the television and watched far too much of it in one day. It had dragged me down spiritually a bit, and I did not "feel" as close to God as I had on the trip. I felt that My behavior had caused me to slip a bit in terms of God's approval and favor.
"So you think that I stopped loving you because you watched a bit of television?"
It sounded ludicrous when He put it that way. God is so much bigger than that. But yes, essentially, that is what I had thought.
"Teresa, the reason you thought that is because you are not secure in My love for you. You don't really believe, down deep, that you are truly and completely loved. You are limiting My love by tying it to your performance, and you need to stop doing that."
He paused. Then He concluded with, "Teresa, this is a very basic thing. You need to learn to believe that I really do love you, or you will not be able to move past that into the more advanced things that I have for you. Don't limit yourself in Me, and don't hold yourself back. I want you to start believing, deep down in your innermost being, that I really do love you."
I am not sure precisely how I am going to carry out that instruction, but I know the Holy Spirit will help me. I know that He loves me some of the time; in fact, I know it a lot of the time. But God told me that I need to know it all of the time. I need to start believing what He said to me--both through His written word (the Bible) and directly.
I was a bit surprised to have this conversation with God, because I thought that I already believed it. But My belief was limited to my head knowledge, and not to all of my experience and innermost being.
I am guessing that I am not the only one who needs to "really and fully" know that God loves me--totally independent of my performance or of the task I am doing. The reason that I shared this with you is because I thought that what He said to me might be helpful for you too. God wants you to know--truly and down deep--that you are fully loved and accepted.