Just before I reflect on this topic with you, I did want to say something about my sense of what God was doing through the 10 days of Prayer & fasting that we completed at the weekend. This was the first time I'd felt led to call the church to devote themselves to something like this together since coming to Jericho Road. So I know for some people this would have been new. I want to thank all of you who managed to make it out to one or more of the sessions. It was so good to see the way the Spirit was moving among us as we listened to the Spirit, to God's Word and to one another. My sense was that something significant was happening to us as a people together ... and that there is more to come!
My hope is that we can definitely have a repeat some time in the future but that also we keep growing as a praying community where we come together to pray together for God's purposes and His Kingdom to come here on earth as in heaven. I would love to hear from others of you as to what you sensed the Lord saying and doing through these times.
So, back to our "triggers" 😬. This came up during my sermon on Sunday, but an important part of our growth and salvation, is that we can be increasingly freed from the things of our shadow side that can influence our response to people and situations that may challenge us in some way. Our "shadow side" refers essentially to the flesh, our brokenness and self-centered ways by which we used to live before turning to Christ as Lord and receiving His Spirit's empowering.
Paul the Apostle talks in 1 Corinthians about basically 3 types of people - natural (those without the Spirit), spiritual (those born again through the Spirit) and carnal (those with the Spirit but still living out of the flesh or shadow side). To be carnal is to be still like a child in our spirituality, and God's desire is that we grow up in the Spirit and learn to walk in Him.
Part of my shadow side includes things like passive aggressive behavior .. when Carol and I were first dating (and later no doubt!) if she said or did something I didn't like, I would retreat into myself, pout, and find a way to get my needs met through control. I liked to get my way without having to accommodate myself to others. 'Control' was a way of trying to manage my circumstances so that I felt better ... not to be recommended! I was fearful of being 'found out' as not having it all together, of not measuring up somehow even if no-one was holding a measuring stick against me. But I was plenty skilled at doing that for myself. Don't show any weakness or vulnerability was my motto (unspoken) as that would no doubt be taken advantage of, but that also meant it was hard to get to know me.
Another aspect of my shadow side was to seek to perform in a way that gave me a sense of value, of approval from others. It made me quite driven to get things done and prove that I was capable, sometimes to the detriment of people and their needs. I hadn't learned to live and work from a place of rest relationally, which of course, is God's gracious gift to us all which is why the gospel is so wonderful. But for me earlier in life, being free to own my mistakes or confess my sins (to use the biblical expression), jeopardized my need to earn other's approval through being as perfect as I could be. So again, healing and connectedness remained elusive but then again, I had 'got used' to living with superficial connections, after all who needs it, eh?
Our shadow side is really an accumulation of painful emotions - guilt, shame, fear, anger and hurt - that we have accumulated in life's journey, that we have not learned to process and be free from. On top of that we draw conclusions about what is true, not through the revelation of the Spirit, but out of our painful experiences and these thought patterns can become so entrenched in us (i.e. we're addicted to them!) that we find it hard to be set free through new and real truth as seen in Jesus.
So what are we to do, are we without hope? Not at all .. we just need to die to the old and allow the new to come forth! We do that as we yield our wills, surrender control and trust in the goodness and love of Jesus. Paul says, "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 13:14) and then you will not live out of the shadows! For this, we must learn to give ourselves to others, spiritual fathers and mothers, who have learned this wisdom and put it into practice. We need a few trusting, loving and intimate friendships that will help us to more consciously know ourselves, expose the "darkness" without shame, and give ourselves to "walking in the light".
Much love and prayers,