Recently God was speaking to me about a “stripping away” in my life that would occur before taking the next steps into some of my dreams. I, jumping to conclusions, took this to mean that there would be a time of “boot camp” in which I would face testing, trying, and shaping to be made stronger. Strong enough to handle the criticism I know comes with stepping out to pursue a dream. Tough enough to not be thrown off course by those who would be offended at me, at the favor of God on my life. There would probably be lots of crying, and repenting, too. Basically, I thought God would expose all of my weaknesses, we’d fix them, and then I could do all the things I had in my heart to do.
I have been walking with God since I was four. I have heard His voice and felt His presence at a young age. I have always loved His Word. The past decade has served me as a time of waiting, and serious training. Though God has never used any means to humiliate or shame me, I still have this thing in me that occasionally creeps in and tells me the lie that God must take something from me before He can really use me, or really love me. This is a big-fat-lie! We must not doubt God’s love!
This is what God actually told me about this “stripping away” (when I finally asked him):
“The stripping away isn’t me taking things from you. It is me “undressing” you from the “clothes” that you are hiding behind so that you may be truly intimate with me. Fully aware of my love. Fully trusting in me, not these “outward appearances.””
What a beautiful picture! I was expecting battle preparations. God was planning a honeymoon. I was preparing for a confiscation of all of my hopes and dreams. God was inviting me to come to Him to reveal to me the substance of who I really am – apart from all that I have, or do.
 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
These verses have been echoing in my heart for over a year now. God’s love is lavished on you and me. He calls us his children. He has such beautiful plans to make us like him, that the world around us cannot even comprehend it! Verse 3 goes on to say that it is this hope, the hope of being transformed into Christ’s image, that kindles the desire to remain pure, holy and completely his! Just as a new bride has set herself apart to only to be intimate with her husband!
Sometimes we do need “boot camp” in our walk with God, but again, this is never to expose, shame, or destroy us. God’s “boot camp” is like a tough workout at the gym: he knows what we can handle, and the muscles of faith we already have, and we get to give those muscles a workout!
But we are just as much in need of intimacy with the Father. When we bask in His love, we are set free from needing approval from others. When we know the depth of his love we become free. Free from fear – the one who loves us holds us close. Free from shame – the one who loves us has washed us clean by His blood.
God never strips us to expose us or shame us. He strips off the layers of death and destruction to reveal His pure, perfect, spotless bride – conformed to His image.
I hope this has encouraged you today. God longs to be intimate with you. Will you let him help you remove the layers that you are hiding behind? Do not fear that he will be disappointed with what he finds! He already knows you, loves you, and longs to show you who you really are, in his image!
thanks for reading,