Thursday, February 24, 2011

You know, the beautiful thing about David was that there were no false pretenses.  I have a feeling that he was the type of person that felt things very deeply.  His highs were really high, and his lows were really low.  Let's not indulge in the debate as to whether it's appropriate to live by our emotions - and let's move forward to the recognition that God made us as emotional creatures.  Do we base our decisions on our feelings?  Of course not, but emotions are not the curse of humanity to be shoved into the abyss of all things wrong with God's created.  And that's another post for another day.....

David was emotional.  David was also very precious to God.  We've heard it quoted hundreds, maybe thousands of times.  He was a "man after God's own heart."

To revist - the question that was left in yesterday's post was - what do I do when I'm already weary?

And the answer (cue trumpets - or shofar's if you like - parades of tassel dripping circus elephants, acrobats, and a really long drum roll...)


Enter Psalm 6 - written by David
O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
         Nor chasten me in Your wrath.
      2Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away;
         Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed.
      3And my soul is greatly dismayed;
         But You, O LORD--how long?
      4Return, O LORD, rescue my soul;
         Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
      5For there is no mention of You in death;
         In Sheol who will give You thanks?
      6I am weary with my sighing;
         Every night I make my bed swim,
         I dissolve my couch with my tears.
      7My eye has wasted away with grief;
         It has become old because of all my adversaries.
      8Depart from me, all you who do iniquity,
         For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
      9The LORD has heard my supplication,
         The LORD receives my prayer.
      10All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed;
         They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.

Do you know why I love this?  2 reasons.

First, David is gut-wrenchingly honest.  He's a warrior king, known for a monarchy that was unafraid of battle.  He surrounded himself with mighty men, and he didn't seem to know what it meant to shy away from a fight.  But here?  He's weeping.  He's broken and desperate....  That's honest.  He's vulnerable and weary, and knows the absolute truth that no one can help him but the Lord.  Our manly man is pouring out his heart in frustration, heaviness and discouragement.  To me, it makes him relatable.

Second, in an instant it's over.  Do you see it?  Look between verses 7 and 8.  In 7 he's wasted away with grief.  Sounds pretty weary to me.  And in 8, he raises up as strong, knowing that God has heard him in his weeping What happened?!

Matthew 11:28 - Come to me you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Jeremiah 31:25 - For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.

And then there's my favorite...

Isaiah 40: 29-31
      He gives strength to the weary,
         And to him who lacks might He increases power.
      Though youths grow weary and tired,
         And vigorous young men stumble badly,
      Yet those who wait for the LORD
         Will gain new strength;
         They will mount up with wings like eagles,
         They will run and not get tired,
         They will walk and not become weary.

So what do we do when we're weary?  Nothing.  We wait.  In other words - stand firm.  God will refresh ~ God will surprise you with is peace and comfort ~ God will strengthen the heart of the broken.

And when He does it... it's not trite.  It's not a cliche.  It's miraculous.

That doesn't change my deep dark crevice at this immediate moment... but maybe it will in the next immediate moment.  Isn't that what the Lord did?  One verse he's wasting away and the next he's been filled with a power that supercedes all expectations.  It's like the passage in Revelation (20:7-9) where Satan has been released from his prison and takes the time to deceive the nations, gathering support from the 'four corners of the earth'.....  (obviously, this would take some time).... in order to make war against the Lord.  Picture it - they march on to war.  They come to the beloved city and they surround.  It takes 2 1/2 verses to build this picture.  It's intimidating.  Their numbers are enormous.  They've taken their time, gathered their resources and now they're mad and filled with evil.  Suddenly - fire falls from heaven and devours them all.

Did you get that?  1/2 a verse and everything that the enemy has spent so much time building is wiped out and eternity spins on the much awaited pivot.  It means that I can trust that there will be a "suddenly" that will soon invade this season, pull my heart out of this weary broken place, and will fill me with hope.  David was in the throws of despair.  We don't even know what the Lord did, but in less than a verse, God refreshed his spirit and David turned on the pivot.

I believe it with my entire being - God will intervene.  And I feel encouraged as I wait for Him....  He's coming.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When You've Done All~

Have you ever been faced with a place in your life where you know that something drastic has to change?  I'm there. 

I can't explain it.  I don't know why I'm here.  I'm not sure how I got here, but it's a horrible ugly place.  Now, I know that as a child of God I have the wonderful privilege of being hated by the enemy.  Yes, friends, there is a very real enemy who longs for nothing more than to destroy you.  It's a wonderful thing to be hated by him... because it means I must be loved by God.  That's another post for another day...

And we know in our heads that life's journey is not about flat ground - but is full of 'mountains' and 'valleys.' 

But when you're in the valley, it's awful.  It sort of reminds me of those wilderness survival shows where the guy is trying to use ingenuity and a few scrap pieces in order to live until help arrives.  Yeah - that's where I've been. 

Right now, mines not really a valley.  It's more like the crevice that drops 100 feet into a dark hole below the valley.  The most frustrating thing about it is that I can't put my finger on what pushed me over that edge.  For months I've been reminding myself that Scripture shows us that God's favor rests on those who are obedient to Him.  It's clear in so many places - blessings follow obedience, and curses follow disobedience.  Curses???  That's such a scary word.  How 'bout this - 'consequences'.  Much better.

We get that.  Cause and Effect.  If - then statements.  Ball goes up, must come down.  If I don't pay taxes, then I will go to jail.  If you don't go to your college classes, then you'll be paying for your failure.  If the enemy hates me so badly - it must mean I'm greatly loved by the Lord.    

When I was in school, during my Old Testament Survey course, my professor opened my eyes to something I had been completely in the dark about.  There are different types of wisdom.  (Incidentally, he probably said it much more eloquently than I ever could). 

Basically - you have the standard wisdom of - ball goes up, ball comes down.  These are principles noted in scripture such as the beginning of Deuteronomy.  If you obey, God will bless you.  If you disobey, there are consequences.  It's the thought process that rose up in Jesus' disciples when they asked Jesus:

"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?"

But there's another level of wisdom that we all have trouble understanding.  It's a level of wisdom that is deeper than rational scientific thought.  It says, ball goes up - and might hang out there for awhile, giving you the opportunity to recognize that God is in control of the movement of the ball in the first place.   It's the answer to the question:

"It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

So as I look around at the dark crevice below the valley that I seem to be in right now, I have to ask myself the question - is this conventional wisdom?  or is this Spiritual wisdom?  ...  I have searched Him out.  I have prayed and prayed and cried and cried, and I cannot come up with any answers as to why I'm in this place.  It's even debatable whether or not I have the right to question God like that, but along with being my sovereign King, He's also my Father.  And Christ my brother.  And in Jesus' pattern for me, He showed Himself crying out for answers, too.  Psalm 22:1 - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

Do you ever feel that way? 
Is your valley(crevice) experience ever overwhelming and you can't put your finger on how you got there or why it seems you've been abandoned?  Do you ever get weary, waiting for the blessings and favor to show up?  You know they've got to be coming - you've been obedient - and it's a solid principle.  Sow good seed, get good fruit.  So you wait.... and wait..... and fight off the crows.....  You quote the scriptures to yourself to remind yourself that God is never late.  You recount all the times in the past when He has been faithful and come through.  But you're getting tired.  And those crows are relentless... and your body is sore from having to be so strong.  Your arms are heavy.  Your mind is heavy.  Your spirit is heavy. 

I could write something along the lines of - hold fast, help is on the way.  I could tell you of all the passages where God has demonstrated His faithfulness for others.  I could tell you of all the amazing things He has done in the lives of those around us.  People have told me all things things lately. 

If I'm being honest - I would say that it makes me more lonely.  I just keep thinking, He's worked - He's moved on the behalf of others - He's been faithful to so many others.... so what's wrong with me?  Why am I here alone in this smelly crevice that is dank and cold and ominously dark?  Why am I weary with no intervention?  I cannot win.... I cannot even fight anymore.  I know it's not my battle and victory would belong to Him anyway, but it doesn't even look like anyone is fighting at all.  (I think this to myself as the proverbial tumbleweed goes rolling over the top of the crevice, dropping dust and sand into my eyes as it rolls on by). 

Will God come through?  Of course He will.  But what, on earth, am I supposed to learn from this?  If I'm still here, what have I missed? 

The word says in Galatians 6:9 "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."  And again in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 "But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good."  But how???  How do you keep from growing weary???

I love Ephesians.  I really do. 
(6:13) "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm...... (verse 14) STAND FIRM THEN..."

And then there's my favorite passage - Hebrews 12:3 - "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  That's fantastic!  Focus on Jesus who has endured so much more than I have.  Yes!!!

But what about the fact that I'm already weary?  We've established that the fighting off of the crows is just about over because every ounce of strength, focus, and stamina is just about used up.  And we all know that I can't up and climb out of this crevice on my own.  I'm tired.  I don't understand.  I can't rationalize what's happening... Hebrews tells me what to do to prevent weariness, but what about when I'm already so broken apart?......Where's the encouraging payoff to this post? 

It's coming.... tomorrow.  


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pursuit in the Fire~

I really need to write a post about what it means to pursue when you are in the middle of the fire.  I'm there right now...  and when I come out of this furnace my first intent is to honor God with His victory.  For now, I'm walking this out.  I'm holding to faith.  I'm struggling and fighting off discouragement.  I'm trying to learn from those who have been here.  I'm crying at the feet of my Savior.  I'm filling my mind with all that I know He has been - and ...

I'm reminding myself that He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

I'm reminding myself that He loves me, and hasn't abandoned me... that the fire will not last forever - though it certainly feels like it already has.....  that He knows me, and loves me, and pursues me too. 

I'm reminding myself that I can't grow weary in well-doing, though it would be so easy to fall apart.... and that God has given me what I need to prevent that weariness - Hebrews 12-13, among others....... that, there is a reward for those who will diligently seek Him.

But this fire? - it's rather hot.  I actually had a dream that lasted all night.  It was a long night and every time I fell back asleep it was the same.  And when I got up in the morning it was the same.  It was a song - running through my mind.  Not even a song, really.  Just a phrase of a song.  It was like a creepy hook that played over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over..... the lyrics are:

You're not good enough
You'll never be...

This has been going on for weeks now, and I'm starting to get battle-weary.  I suppose that is the very essence of pursuit through the fire. 
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