Abide: Looking Inside

“I know what it’s like to live a divided life.” With these words, Rich Villodas opens the fifth chapter of his book, The Deeply Formed Life (p.88). I read them the night I finished a draft of last week’s post–the one where I wrestled to put into words the ways our bodies play a role in our spiritual abiding. How kind of God to give me another layer for understanding what living disembodied means.

Sometimes it’s the way we separate our inner self from our outer self. 

As if wearing a mask, we keep our struggles hidden. We camouflage the anger or bitterness or shame that have a hold of us. We bury the deeply rooted false beliefs that wrongly influence our every action. It’s as if we physically rip apart the self we present to the world from our inner person. A divided life. However, “to follow Jesus in this world requires us to embrace a fully human life, alive to the dimensions of our interior worlds that often are repressed, ignored, and explained away” (Rich Villodas, p.90).

In other words, if we’re to abide fully in Christ, we need to seek wholeness for ourselves. No more disembodied living. So, how do we embrace and embody our whole being? We look inside.

Lord Jesus, just as You met Paul on the road to Damascus, You meet us where we are–broken, scattered, grieving, lonely, hope-filled, and hungry for more of You. You led the busiest of lives, Lord, yet you developed an abiding rhythm with your Father. Thank You for showing us what it looks like to step away from the distractions and get alone with God. We confess to You today that we desire more of You yet have been hiding from You. And from ourselves. We’ve been afraid of feeling too much, of remembering the pain, of experiencing all the shame and guilt and regret that we’ve tried so hard to push down and forget. But we see now, Lord, how much damage we’re causing within us and to those around us. Living fragmented has forced us to live from our false selves, but we want to live as our true selves–with You, Jesus. You’ve promised never to leave us but to walk with us and help us, so we take You up on that invitation now. We ask that You would come alongside us in this journey of wholeness and inner healing. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Incorporation of Acts 9:3-6, Psalm 34:4, John 17:9-12, Matthew 14:23, Isaiah 41:10

Buckling the Belt of Truth

Borrowed from GodSpeak.net

We’re ready to do the deep dive within–not to feel worse about ourselves but to bring the broken and hidden to the feet of Jesus. As our physician, Jesus can mend the fragments and heal the hurts. He can shine the light of peace and joy and grace into places where only darkness has existed before.

So, before we take another step, let’s put on our next piece of armor, the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). Truth is described as a belt because it serves as an anchor for all the other pieces of the armor, holding it all together. When we abide in God’s Word and know the truth (John 8:31), we are set free–and we’re armed. We tighten that belt around our waists so that the truth holds us at our center, keeping lies at bay.

Armed with truth, we can begin the work required to bring healing and wholeness to our bodies–inside and out. Before we go any further, however, it’s imperative to say that we do not need to have ourselves all put together to come into God’s presence. Jesus died for us “while we were of no use whatever to him” (Romans 5:8, MSG). But He loves us so much, He doesn’t want to leave us in our brokenness. He deeply desires that we find forgiveness and wholeness in Him so we can have full life, being made holy in every way–”our whole spirit and soul and body kept blameless” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). 

Practice in the Psalms

No matter our state of being, we can come to God, and the Psalms are great in helping us do so. Poetically, the Psalms give us expression–language and imagery–for what is happening within us. They also give us permission “to lay out our questions, doubts, fears, rage, unfiltered thoughts, praise, celebration, and joy to God. It’s as if [God] knows that the way toward divine union in worship is through a willingness to be human” (Rich Villodas, p.96). 

King David, the author of the majority of the Psalms, demonstrates for us how to look within ourselves to spot what’s fragmented. Whether he laments or repents, David shows us how to be honest with ourselves and with God.

“David, in Psalm 139, did three things effectively that we are invited to follow. He made time for interior examination, he was integrated enough to surrender his inner world to God, and he had the courage to face himself.” Rich Villodas, p.102

Time. Integration. Courage. Three hard-to-find ingredients in our busy, dis-integrated lives today, yet they point us toward wholeness within ourselves and, ultimately, in the world.

This week’s practice is to use Psalm 139 as a guide for interior reflection. Read it. Speak it. Sing it. And allow its words to search you. When you sense the Spirit speaking–a flutter in your spirit, a whisper in your heart, an image in your mind–pause and hear Him out. Allow truth to rise up, be seen, and given to Christ. Keep that belt of truth tight and the Sword of the Spirit nearby so the enemy cannot attempt to lie to you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and get a clear picture of what I’m about. Father God, I know that You are good and that when You look into my heart and mind, it is a glance of kindness that’s for my good–meant to help me know myself so that I can more fully surrender all that I am to You. So I open myself to you now and ask that You would point out anything in me that offends You–anything that needs grace and forgiveness. I pray that in this process of examining and releasing that You would lead me along the path of everlasting life–a path that leads to You. I love that you always know where I am and what I think and what I do because it means You are constantly with me, calling me back to Yourself in grace and love. Thank You for going before me and for your hand of blessing on my head. This knowledge of who You are and how You work is truly too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand. Yet this is your way. So I choose to walk in it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Incorporation of Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24)

Prayer for the Physical

Western Walll, Jerusalem, 2017

It’s interesting to think how prayer embodies our bodies. The Spirit in us connects with God, so as we pray, our physical bodies will be involved. My friend describes kneeling as becoming an altar before the Lord. Worshippers at the Western Wall rock back-and-forth and walk out their prayers. Very often my hands move or my head bobs as I pray. However it looks, allow your body to embody prayer.

Lord Jesus, You created me and were there when God breathed life in me. You truly know everything about me–the number of hairs on my head and the days I have on earth. What a revelation it is that everything I share with You, You already know. Yet You desire to hear all of it. In your wisdom, You know how important it is for me to get honest with myself–and that’s exactly what happens as I get honest with You. Just as David brought his every fear and emotion to You, Lord, I desire to do the same. I long to see myself the way You do–to see my motives, my broken places, my repressed feelings, and my darkest fears as You do. Lord, your Word promises that your love is always enough–that it covers all my sin and casts out all fear. Your love is the key to trusting You to guide me into myself. Help me root myself in your love so that I have all I need to explore my own depths and pull up the weeds that pollute my inner being. In your name, Jesus, Amen.
(Incorporation of John 14:6, Luke 12:7, Psalm 139, 1 John 4:18, 1 Peter 4:7)

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  • Week Three Practice = Interior Examination. Pray Psalm 139, allowing its truths to move you into introspection–awareness, confession, surrender, obedience, or whatever God invites you into. The idea is reconnection with our bodies and living from our true selves so that our walk with Christ, worship of God, and way in the world come from depths of wholeness. We want to be embodied believers.
  • Week Three Prayer = Utilize the prayers in this post to jumpstart your own prayers of invitation and revelation about your body’s role in abiding with God. Also, Dr. Matthews’ Warfare Prayer remains an incredible tool to help us stand firm in Christ and against the enemy.
  • Entering into community with each other is integral to our spiritual growth. So, comment below or join in the conversation on Instagram.
  • Worship rhythms will always help us keep our focus and adoration on the One True God. While we’re worshiping, we can also be praying. I found myself praying Kim Walker-Smith’s song, “I Say Yes,” from our Abide playlist this week. She’s captured the very words my soul has been wanting to express:
    • Father God, I say yes to Your heart and all of Your healing. Because your ways are higher, Lord, I surrender. I come to You just as I am–I come to you open, God. I am ready for all that You promised, for all that You are. So pour out your Spirit, pour out your presence now. Tear down these idols, and every stronghold. Tear down all judgment, and all of my pride. Tear down religion, and all my self-righteousness. I believe You are faithful to everyone and every promise. I believe that You are faithful. You will rebuild. You will restore. Lord, I surrender–I come to You just as I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
      (Incorporation of lyrics from “I Say Yes” by Kim Walker-Smith)
  • Resources for this week–just a list you can come back to as needed. No expectation for this series:

Featured photo by Meg on Unsplash
**affiliate links, from which I could a little something

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

3 thoughts on “Abide: Looking Inside

  1. Shelley,Thank you for your prayers. 💜 Reading this post has me reflecting on how I can seek wholeness by examining and surrendering my inner self. Broken but never forsaken.

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