Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sparrow, what are your thoughts on universalism?

I want to share something with you, my readers and friends,  in order to be fully honest with you, and so you will know where I stand. 

I have been asked what my view is on universalism and have been asked if I am now leaning towards that, and how I came to the place I'm at right now.  So this post is to hopefully answer that question:

Over the course of the last year, in going through some really hard times in my family with sickness, hospitalization, loss of a family member, I have come through some deep experiences with God and just experienced His presence in such a powerful way, and experiencing the eternal reality in a vivid and life-altering way, it is like God just impressed upon me very strongly that everything is okay deep down in the ultimate sense and that everything will be okay in the eternal sense, for me, for my family, for everyone.  Having this experience of God and of spiritual reality, almost like experiencing a taste of heaven and seeing how the heavenly realm and really God Himself just underlies and holds up all things in the universe, and that since He is perfect and pure love, love is behind and beneath the surface of everything, it just grounded me in a deep way and brought a rest to me, a deep sense of knowing that all is well and all will be well, for everyone..that it's all going to work out okay for everyone in the end..I now don't think anyone will be in hell eternally but that all will end up in heaven eternally.


I know that many consider this heresy and I did for many years, too!  But this is where I am on my journey.  I don't take my change in beliefs lightly, in fact I struggled with such ideas for quite a while and was afraid to believe such things, afraid God would be angry with me, eventually hoping this was so but afraid it wasn't true, then relieved when God assured me it IS true!  Now my experience is a personal one, not something that could be scientifically verified, not something that necessarily will hold water with other people..but it is real for me, it is true in my life, it has brought me such peace and relief.  It has brought an end, finally, to the searching and seeking I've been through all my Christian life, searching for a place of real REST in the arms of God, searching for a way to be able to really, really, TRUST Him ...I have found that through experiencing Him so deeply in that troubling time of family crisis. 

Before, I wasn't able to fully, completely trust Him, because there was a hesitance in my mind, a fear of someone who would allow some  to suffer in hell in eternal torment..it was like there was a dark side to this 'god' that would do such a thing, and I couldn't fully relax, rest in Him, or trust Him because He didn't feel completely, totally 'safe.'  Even after coming to understand Grace, which took away many fears and helped me see Him as love, there was still something struggling to rest completely and fully.  There was somehow still a hidden fear of wrath, a fear He might turn on me...for God seemed willing to reject some and allow them to suffer eternal torment in a place he made called hell...hell remained in my belief system, and as long as it was there, so was my fear!  This was truly the cause of my problems with distrust, with my fear of God, with my inability to rest, with my endless seeking for relief from some undiagnosed angst, but I didn't know it was the cause or root of these problems until God impressed upon me the depth and scope of His grace and love and His assurance that 'all will be well' for all people!  And then I immediately began to rest, to trust, to relax in Him!  The weight of that hidden, nameless, deep fear fell off!  It's so wonderful because now I can really believe Him to be all LOVE, because I know He won't leave anyone out in the cold, He will bring all the people He made, all humanity, for we are all His offspring, home to Him in the end! 

Everything will be okay, for me and for all people..He will get us home no matter what..it isn't up to us but up to Him..therefore we are truly safe, all of us!  He's got the whole world in His hands and we can't fall out, there is not even a place to fall out to, for all of the universe is IN Him, there is no OUT!  What a relief!  Hell dissolves, it never was real, the hell was in our minds as we were only separated from Him in our minds - in other words, we thought we were separated, but it was an illusion, a lie! We never were separated!  All of creation exists by Him, through Him, in Him.  For from Him, and through Him and to Him are ALL things!  Unto Him ALL flesh shall come!  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, and He completed the work the Father gave Him to do!  He reconciled all things to Himself, and all flesh shall see it together, the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, all nations will come to Him, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, for He is the spirit in man, He is pleased to reveal Christ IN us, and the spirit RETURNS to God who gave it!

I don't know how, don't have a clue what some Bible verses mean, don't have it all worked out in my mind, I just know that I know that all will be well for everybody and that grace means something so much deeper than I ever imagined, it really means He will bless us, keep us, love us, save us, no matter what, all of us, bring every last little lamb home no matter what!  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (for we were lost in our thoughts of loneliness and fear, confused by lies of separation and abandonment) and now I see He truly accomplished His mission and will bring every person home, and that was never in doubt! 

There is so much I don't understand, but this is where I am at right now and where I feel God Himself led me.  It is just my personal experience and I am not asking or demanding that anyone else believe this, not trying to push my ideas on anyone, I hope!  I respect anyone else's belief and I have definitely believed other things for most of my life!  But this is where I feel God has brought me.  I have been relieved and encouraged to find that there are evangelical Christians who believe that all will one day end up in heaven.  This has encouraged me.  But it wasn't through reading books of others that I came to believe this, but simply through a deep experience of God as pure love and grace in time of crisis.  I will never be the same.  It was like a near death experience, coming at the same time as a dear family member was passing into heaven.  I look back on that time now and in my memory, it is just flooded with the light and warmth of heaven. I can't explain it! But anyway, that is where I am at and I feel I need to be honest and share that. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Taking "God Is Love" to its Logical Conclusion..We're Safe in His Arms Forever!

For most of my life I have said "God is Love," yet the image I've held of Him has been anything BUT Love!  But He impressed on me so much this past year that He is love, real love, unconditional love..and He impressed on me what that really means..not through words or books or teachings but just through experiencing Him as Pure Love in my time of need! 

And the God I experienced is noone to be afraid of at all..He is a Love that is so all-embracing, so warm and friendly, so joyous and strong and good..a Love that sees us all as perfect, just like a proud parent with a little child! 

We are His little babes and He wouldn't let anything harm us or keep us from His embrace..and He wouldn't do anything to hurt us in any way..He never has a 'mean face' towards us..never has an unkind word..He takes care of us and always will..He will always hold us, always keep us safe, always carry us, always make sure we are warm, happy, and contented in His house..no matter what! 

Little children mess up all the time - so what?  The best parent understands that child, their limited understanding, their times of hunger, tiredness, and pain and how all that affects the child's mood and actions.  Parents understand that little children need understanding and compassion, and that hugs and acceptance are the most powerful things of all..

And no matter what the child does, that good parent will never disown the child, never throw that little one out in the cold, never turn away from that baby!  Just imagining a little helpless toddler or baby left out in a cold, snowy alley-way makes me feel so awful, for it's against the basic parental instinct of "protection and care for the baby at all costs!"  And if I, a simple human mother, could feel that way, imagine how much more strongly that parental instinct runs through the veins of our Perfect Heavenly Dad! 

He sees us all as His little ones, babies in His lap, and He is protecting us at all costs!  There never was a question of being in true danger IN ANY WAY!  He has always had us safe in His arms and always will!  Daddy's got us and we're safe forever..forever and ever!  There has never been a question of 'going' any other place but into His arms forever - in fact, when I think about it I see that we've never been any other place and there's no other place we COULD be at all, for this whole universe rests in His arms!  There is no other place to be but in His arms..how safe we all are!  I really see that now! 

It makes so much sense for me just to see God as the Best Parent and see that is what any parent would want and do for their child..to hold that child safe forever...and that nothing the child did could ever change that...so how MUCH MORE will God do for us, His offspring..'for we are all His offspring!'

Some thoughts on the meaning of Justice, according to Perfect Love..it's all about Reconciliation and Relationship!

It's wonderful to think of God's justice as reconciliation (being forgiven freely and seeing relationship restored without any of your effort required - GRACE), instead of the human definition of justice, which is more retribution (getting what you deserve, having to make payment for what you did wrong, having to earn good payment by doing things right- LAW)!

Julian of Norwich made an interesting statement in her book, The Revelations of Divine Love... She said that in all her talks with God, in all the words she heard from Him, He never once mentioned hell..I found that wonderful and it gives me hope that all will be with God!  Some call this ultimate reconciliation, I believe.  I love this idea of ultimate reconciliation..it's like the ultimate grace, taking grace to its logical and perfect conclusion!  I love how it is all about restored relationship, not performance/payment for sin!  It love how it is all about friendship, not being in a 'court of law!' It makes everything a family matter, not a court matter.  I love that!  At the heart of the universe is not a stern Judge in a courtroom with a gavel but a smiling Daddy by a warm hearth with outstretched arms!

I have heard that the Orthodox Church sees salvation as reconciliation, renewal of relationship, more than a forensic/legal "payment for sin" type of thing, and that their idea of justice is more reconciliation than retribution (which seems to be the main idea of the Western Church..) I really like that idea, and it makes sense to me to think of God in more relational terms rather than legal/courtroom terms.  He is my Papa and good Papas forgive their kids without needing a 'payment' first.  So wouldn't the Best Papa of all do the same, and much more!?  He would go farther and actually bless us even when we did wrong, would give us presents and throw us parties!  Sounds just like the father in the prodigal son story!

It gives me such hope to think of all being safe at home with Papa one day, of Jesus bringing to fruition a true reconciliation of Papa with all His confused little ones, who have been wandering around far from home (distanced in their minds only, for God is always with us, how wonderful!), bringing them all safely home to sit on His lap and enjoy parties in His beautiful palace forever! 

I know that Christians have many different views on what happens after this life in eternity..I am coming more and more to see that my Papa is such a wonderful Dad that He wouldn't bear to have any of His kids out in the cold, that He wouldn't rest till He had them all safely home in His embrace and care..I truly believe Love Wins, as a recent book of the same title says..and the way Julian of Norwich said that God never spoke to her of hell..it makes me think we have interpreted some things wrong and that there isn't a hell like I was always taught..I love to think that we all go straight into the arms of God forever..after all, Jesus came to save the lost and I believe He is successful in His mission, right down to the last little lamb..I do believe that the good Shepherd will have us all back safely in the fold in the end!  I don't have it all worked out in my mind, don't understand every Bible passage (I feel like a little child in my understanding and know I have been and could still be wrong about so many things)..but He really impressed upon me in this last year that He is LOVE and Love never hurts anyone, Love will make everything okay in the end for everyone, Love couldn't bear to have it any other way!

He really is perfect love, wow!

He is Love, and love always forgives, love always embraces, love doesn't hold anything against another, love doesn't judge or point out faults, love doesn't shame or condemn, love doesn't demand payment for wrongs, in fact love sees only the good in people, love doesn't see sin, love sees us all as innocent children and love truly understands why we have done the hurtful things we've done, all because of pain and confusion and lies we've encountered during our lives..love understands and love has infinite compassion for us..love doesn't reject us because of our confusion and pain..love heals our pain, love frees us by giving us the truth, love shows us we are worth something, that we are truly innocent and good because we are made in the image of a good God, love shows us we have a home, a place of belonging, and it's with our Dad, who has always loved us and will never stop doing so, with a love that is not passive but active, a love that goes out and finds us wherever we have wandered and carries us home, just like a little lost lamb on the shoulders of the shepherd!

Love tells me in my heart that everything is going to be okay, that all shall be well, that no matter what, it's okay and it will be ultimately and eternally okay!  Love has us all in His arms and He isn't letting go!  Love won't drop us or throw us away!  Love won't desert us in our hour of need or in our hour of error!  Love understands us, Love has compassion on us, Love has nothing but kindness for us, nothing but good, nothing but blessing! 

It truly warms my heart to begin to understand Love's idea of justice and how it's been about family love and relationship, not rules and punishments, all along!  Love's idea of "justice" is making everything "all right" and setting everything back into alignment, harmony, and good relations..in other words, bringing it all back to being one big happy family again!  His way of setting things right is about putting back the broken parts into wholeness, healing the hurts, restoring the ones who've felt they were too far gone to come home again, embracing the lonely, bringing everyone back to being a child again, safe, warm, happy, innocent, loved, accepted, HOME!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Quotes on God's Love from Julian of Norwich

I have recently been enjoying reading a book by Julian of Norwich called The Revelation of Divine Love, and I just wanted to share some wonderful and comforting quotes from the book..to see God as perfect Love just makes things so simple and beautiful..since the Beautiful One at the heart of it all is Pure, Strong, Unconditional, Unending Love, then everything will be okay..all IS well and all SHALL BE well!  Love has us and won't let us go, Love will make everything alright!

 

Julian of Norwich quotes 

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
“He said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.”
“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
“Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.”
“And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceeding well.”
“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?”
“...deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, 'You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well', as if he said, 'Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.”
“...the goodness of God is the highest object of prayer and it reaches down to our lowest need.”

“Grace transforms our failings full of dread into abundant, endless comfort … our failings full of shame into a noble, glorious rising … our dying full of sorrow into holy, blissful life. …."
“And He that made man for love, by the same love He would restore man to the same bliss, and overpassing; and like as we were like-made to the Trinity in our first making, our Maker would that we should be like Jesus Christ, Our Saviour, in heaven without end, by the virtue of our again-making.”

from The Revelation of Divine Love

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Glorious Good News

The good news we are meant to share is that God loves us and is looking out for us no matter what, and that nothing we do, even killing His Son, could ever drive Him from our side! 

A message that God is love and nothing else, love and nothing BUT love!  And that He's got us all in His hand and is bringing us safely through everything, that everything really will turn out fine for all the whole universe! 

Sometimes people make it all about how bad we are and how angry God is, all about sin and payment and wrath, when really it's all about LOVE.  Love only sees the best, only sees us as pure little children!  Love bears all things we could possibly do, Love believes in us no matter what, Love endures to the end of all our misguided acts, and Love never fails us!  Love loves us when we can't love ourselves and keeps on saying that we are innocent and 'don't know what we're doing' no matter what we do!  Wow!

His mind just isn't on sin or punishment at all, is it?  For He has never seen us as anything but innocent!   Love just doesn't see or think or dwell on sin - Love thinks no evil!  Love thinks no evil of US!  Love thinks only good and beautiful thoughts of us, thoughts of compassion and care, thoughts of blessing and peace, thoughts of giving us the future we hope for..Love thinks of us as "my beloved children, in whom I am well-pleased!"

And He would never harm us..He would never hurt or wound His dear little children..That is the FARTHEST thing from the mind of a good father; on the contrary, a good father is wanting to PROTECT his child at all costs! 

The good news isn't God is going to get you if you don't shape up but that Daddy will never 'get' you, that He is instead always protecting you and will never let anything fatally, eternally, happen to you to damage you in any way! 

Salvation..means saving..rescuing..preserving..protecting..

Daddy will protect us, save us, rescue us from whatever mess happens..

I feel I can hear Him saying to us, like the best father would (and of course, He IS the best!):  "Don't worry, little one...I'm holding you, I'm protecting you..I will always be there for you, I will always save you.."

This is, to me, the message of the gospel, the good news of great joy which is for all people, the message of peace from God towards all on earth, and of God's good will toward mankind!

"I WILL ALWAYS SAVE YOU!"

He's got us in His arms and won't let us go..wow!
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14