Monday, May 3, 2010

Strait Paths on the Piano Bench

Many in the Body of Christ are going through trials and hot fires right now....What we can trust is His Word which says that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And one of His purposes is to kill the King Uzziahs in our lives; to remove the Baals from our mouths; to take us down the narrowing path (strait and compressed); to shake us loose from the things of this world, so that we will see Him high and lifted up....we will repent and cry out..."Lord, I am a wo/man of unclean lips! Forgive me!"..."Lord, not my will be done, but Thy will be done." And then we will go...not for man's glory, but for His Glory...and we shall go unto the least of these....stripped naked of our own go to the naked - for His Glory....That we pant for Him as the deer pants for go to the thirsty and give them a cup of cold water in His the One Who hung on the His final moments....uttering in languished agony.....
~"I thirst."
Do we see Him now?....Do we hear Him now?
(Isaiah 6:1-8, Is. 58:6-10, Hosea 2:14-17, 2 Chron. 7:14-16, Matt. 7:14, Job 42:5-6, Matt. 25:40, Is. 53:2-3, Is. 64:6, John 15:1)

“My Piano Bench Lesson”
By Crista Simmons
Revised: May 7, 2008
Prayers of desperation ripped from my soul. Tears flooded my living room carpet by day and my pillow by night. It was the summer of 2002; one of the most difficult trial times of my life. I had just emerged from and emotionally ripping trial with my oldest son. The Lord had showed me that I had to totally let go. Now it was time to totally let go again in another arena and to learn something new. Like Job, I wasn’t sure I had recovered from my last “experience” to face yet another trial so quickly. I could still feel myself choking and vomiting on the sea water from my last thrust into the ocean of life, and my fingers had just barely taken hold of the raft.
By nature, I am self-directed and a “doing” oriented person. My hobby is gardening and my career is teaching piano. I was still single at the time. And in this trial the Lord used my love of gardening and vocation to teach me in greater depth about His desire for my relationship with Him. I’d been reading “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. In this super packed little book, Bruce describes the stages through which the Lord takes us in His work to produce more fruit in our lives. On page 71, he writes, “Did you know that growers prune their vineyards more intensively as the vines age?” He quotes a horticultural bulletin which stated that the vine’s ability to produce growth increases each year, but without intensive pruning, the plant weakens and its crop diminishes. Mature branches must be pruned hard to achieve maximum results. I began to reflect on my own gardening tools and their uses.
Pruning. There are different levels and tools. Scissors for the little stalks; nothing too tough or woody, but soft and pliable. Hand pruners for trimming thicker, more woody stalks and stems like rose bushes. And there are the Loppers. It takes two hands and upper arm strength to utilize these.
Pruning. The Lord had been snipping away at my twigs for years, but now He no longer used the scissors or hand pruner. He’d gotten out the BIG loppers for this one! I could now hear and feel the CRUNCH of my branches. I felt like my stretch marks were about to rupture.
Yes, my flesh was rupturing. Not a pretty sight, but necessary to advance in the Kingdom, because God loves us too much to leave us where we are. I’d finished reading Bruce’s book. Now it was time to take stock. Sin can cause pain. Walking in obedience can cause pain. Not too encouraging at the time. Yet that is a fact in our walk with the Lord. To go higher in the Spirit, He calls us deeper. And going deeper involves more cutting of the flesh. We have to be cut, gutted out, boiled and fired in the kiln. It is our choice. To whom will be bow? Flesh or Spirit?
I knew from reading and prayer that my pain was a result of walking in obedience. And now, the Lord was allowing this situation to grow me more fully in Him. I remember standing at my kitchen counter and literally begging Him to tie my flesh to the horns of the altar. I knew that if I didn’t get through this test, I would face the same test, and I didn’t want to go around this mountain again!
I was now at the Red Sea financially. I had six weeks to go until I started full-time work again. All my resources were gone. I’d been in similar places before this, but there always seemed to
be a light shining from somewhere within the tunnel. But now, dark turned to pitch. I had remained faithful in my tithes and offering over the years, however not always my first fruits. The Lord had been dealing with me about his issue. It seemed every time I turned around, there was I Kings 17 again!!! I knew what he was asking me to do. Let go! But did I really trust Him?
Trust…always the bottom line issue with me in my relationship with Him. I knew His love, grace, mercy and strength had carried me through many major trials in my life: adoption, sexual abuse, job loss, suicidal depressions, divorce, a sinful relationship and selling my home. But now, single, self-employed and less than $50 to my name, a late car payment, and many more bills that I did not even have money to consider paying. On July 24th, I wrote in my journal, “I am in a season of mature pruning; about values and identity. God is good, and God will work this out for my good. God is good, and He is good all the time.”
Then the Lord interrupted my thoughts. “Crista. Do you really believe this? Not yet. Not yet in your heart. This is the point I want to bring you to know that you know that you know for your own life. You encourage others; now encourage your own spirit in My goodness for you. See how I want to have you believe this for yourself - in your own spirit. There’s been a hole in your spirit that I want to heal. I want to pour out My mercy and grace upon you. I don’t just wish you well, drive by your house and wave as man does. I come to your door, and I want you to ask Me in with you. Invite Me in, and I will come in and be with you. I want you to know more than you do that My goodness is for you, but I had to deal with your unbelief first so you’d be ready to listen. Listen to Me.
It’s like this: As you give pictures and phrases to your students, so do I to you. Sometimes your students cry when you lovingly correct them. So do you when I correct you. But what happens when your student lets you sit on the bench with them? WOW! A solo becomes a duet! An OK becomes a Breakthrough! That’s what I so desire with you. Invite Me to sit on your bench with you, and we’ll have a “WOW!! It’s one thing to stand beside your student instructing them; it’s quite another to sit on the bench with them. There’s chemistry in sharing the bench! Think about the enjoyment when the chemistry is right for playing a duet. That’s what I’m talking about - ONLY GREATER! GREATER MEASURE! GREATER ABUNDANCE!"
Then I saw myself sitting on a piano bench. Jesus came over to me. As He stood beside me, I was crying. I didn’t understand. I was scared and hurting. Then I looked at Him. He asked me if He could sit beside me. I nodded. I felt Him slide onto the bench next to me. His love surround me in a freshness and fullness that lifted me above my circumstances. And then I knew. This whole financial pruning issue was about my relationship with Him. It was about an opportunity for even greater intimacy than we’d had previously.
It was no longer about “doing”, because there wasn’t anything left “to do”. Now it was about being. Resting. Abiding. Just being together, because we love each other and enjoy each other’s company. It was about turning a super solo into an incredible duet. A WOW! Duet for both participants and listeners. He wanted me to choose Him in deeper measure than I had done previously. He wanted me to see His hand in the process.
“Secrets of the Vine” became transformed by the “Secrets of the Bench”. Abide. Rest. Wait.
Intimacy. Join together. Harmony. Synchrony. A love song played out by The Master Composer, Himself, and His Bride.
“Deep calls unto deep…and in the night, His song shall be with me.” (Psalm 42:7-8)
Dear Jesus,
Please come sit with me
On the piano bench today;
So we can be close
And play a fabulous duet -
Love always,
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(This entry may be shared as long as it is shared in it's entirety. Freely have I received...freely do I give. Blessings always, Crista Simmons

Welcome ~

The purpose of this blog is to encourage our walk in Christ; together in Him; for as we develop our relationship with the Lord, we ARE more than conquerors through Christ Jesus! Praise God! My writings are mostly from an experiential standpoint; however sometimes this includes dreams and visions. (Comments are reviewed prior to posting.)