I had a profound experience many years ago that shed light on the crux of my issues.
I had been saved for about fifteen years at the time, and I was already at Christ Tabernacle, the church my husband and I pastor. Christ Tabernacle is the first church to be birthed out of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which is the church where I first experienced God’s presence and learned about faith and prayer. So you can imagine how honored and elated I was when I was asked to be a speaker at their very first women’s retreat
I immediately went to the Lord, and if I remember correctly, my prayer went something like, “Lord, I need a word from heaven” (which really wasn’t necessary to pray. After all, where else would He give me a word from? Definitely not the other place!). I was looking for something profound.
I continued, “Lord, this is the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I need a word [organ playing in the background]. Lord, please help me. It has to be deep. Show me who the Antichrist is, the 666, something from the Book of Revelation—anything. I need to impress them!”
I know you’re probably thinking, “What an awful, self- centered prayer.”
It definitely was.
Well, needless to say God didn’t answer that prayer. As the time came closer for me to speak, I was in a panic because I had heard nothing from the Holy Spirit. Then one morning—one life-changing morning—I finally heard Him speak as I was making my bed.
As I threw my comforter in the air to fluff it up, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit say, “I want you to ask them, Do you believe God really loves you?” I said, “What? You want me to ask them that, Lord? Are You kidding me? Don’t You know the song, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’? Lord, that is so basic. How in the world am I going to stand up in front of the women at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and ask them such a childish question?”
Then I heard the question that changed my life.
The Holy Spirit asked me, “Maria, do you believe that I really love you?”
I thought about it for a quick second and started to weep profusely. Oh, I believed He loved others, but me? I had to admit to myself that I didn’t believe Jesus really loved me. I knew in my head that He loved me, but I realized that I truly didn’t believe in my heart that He loved me.
I was eighteen inches—a foot and a half—from victory. This was where my deep issues had their root, from where all my trust issues stemmed. The Holy Spirit neatly wrapped up every feeling of insecurity, worthlessness, and fear in an instant and narrowed it down for me by identifying my double-mindedness.
The belief that God loves us is the critical truth on which the rest of our faith hinges.
The failure to believe this is the difference between living our life trying to gain God’s approval and living our life knowing that we already have His approval.
Think about it this way: Imagine two choirs singing. Everyone is singing the same song, swaying in the same direction, but there is a major difference. As one group sings, they are crying out in the depths of their being, “Lord, I’m singing. Do You love me now?” As the other group is singing, they’re saying within, “Because He loves me, I sing.” In church we are all doing the same thing outwardly, but the issue is not what we are doing. The issue is why we are doing what we are doing!
When we don’t believe we are loved—in our hearts—we never feel like we’ve done enough.
There is no rest, no enjoyment of God’s presence. We definitely need our hearts to experience a brain wash to cleanse away all the false impressions we have of God.
That day in that room as I was making my bed and had a meltdown, the Holy Spirit directed me to open my Bible, and He gave me a simple illustration concerning Mary of Bethany. I realize that what He showed me that day may not be chronologically correct; nevertheless, that revelation was not only the beginning of my mind and heart being transformed, but it has set many on a path of healing. The picture He gave me was crystal clear.
In Luke 10:38–42 Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet—and she is empty-handed. Her sister, Martha, comes out of the kitchen like a lunatic accusing her sister of leaving her to do all the work. Martha represents family—those close to us.
What does Jesus do?
He defends Mary!
In John 12:1–8 the Bible says it’s six days before the Passover, and “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair” (v. 3).
Judas speaks up and accuses Mary of being wasteful. This perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor, he says. Judas represents the enemy.
What does Jesus do?
He defends her!
In Mark 14:3–9 the Bible says it’s two days before the Passover, and Mary “broke the jar and poured the perfume on [Jesus’s] head.”
The disciples accused her and rebuked her harshly. Wow! Anyone see a pattern? The disciples represent our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What does Jesus do?
He defends her!
Looking at this simple illustration, allow me to share two simple thoughts. First, let’s notice Mary’s body language as she gets to know Jesus. At first she is sitting at His feet but not touching Him. Then she is pouring “just about a pint” of perfume while actually touching His feet. Next she is breaking the bottle and has worked her way up to His head, His face, eye to eye. She could now feel His breath on her.
This is intimacy!
Here we have one of the vital keys to making strides in reducing the eighteen inches between our heads and our hearts. Here we see clearly the progression of surrender.
[Tweet “Surrender isn’t instant; it’s progressive. Surrender is a pint at a time!”]
Second, notice that in every instance as she tried to gain ground and get closer to Jesus, she was accused. The accusations came from familiar voices—her family, the enemy, and the “church” brethren. But in every instance, Jesus defended her! It was only when she saw Jesus as her defender and not her accuser that she was able to trust Him and thus surrender her most valued possession.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is our defender. He is not our accuser.
Don’t allow those voices of accusation to keep you from getting to Jesus any longer. Know that when you take a daring step forward, you will face opposition, but it won’t be from Him!
The Bible tells us, “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:10–11, emphasis added).
What is the word of our testimony? It is that we are unconditionally loved by God, and if God loved us enough to save us, then who are we to argue with Him? I believe it’s time to wash the brains of our hearts, or should I say, it’s time for us to get a much-needed brain wash.
[Tweet “We are just eighteen inches from victory.”]
Come on, it may be a pint at a time, but eventually the bottle of fear, worthlessness, and insecurity will be emptied out. As we trust God in the deepest recesses of our being and grow in the profound knowledge of His love, the Holy Spirit will enable us to surrender our most private pain and our most intimate dreams.
He’s our defender, not our accuser!
Copyright © 2015 by Maria Durso, All Rights Reserved. Purchase a copy of my new book, From Your Head to Your Heart, on Amazon here.