Being a devoted follower of Jesus is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it is by far the thing I have failed at most in my life. I have cried to him in sorrow and yelled at him in anger, my most recent complaint has been over and over, “God I need you! Why won’t you show yourself to me. Must I stay here in blind doubt forever?” I think to myself, if I could see him, and if I could know, really know that he was there, see him in the flesh of Jesus, or the fire burning over the Israelites, I would believe then. I would believe and not doubt. I could be obedient and trusting, the grass seems much greener over there, where God reveals himself dramatically!
But the more I read, the more I think this perhaps would not be the case. This morning I was reading Numbers 16. A group of Israelites are sick and tired and begin to complain against Moses, and against God. God becomes angry and swallows them up into the “realm of the dead”. Now if that isn’t a display of God’s mighty power then I don’t know what is! These people had been warned by moses and by God, and yet they still rebelled. After a direct display and answer to their complaints, the Israelites begin their grumbling again. THE NEXT DAY. Only the intervention of Moses can help them.
This goes on and on. God is very active in the lives of the Israelites, so direct that you would think that they would not need to question him and his power or his plans of provision. But they do. It seems to me there is no difference between how they acted, and how I am acting now.
So as much as I long for a direct word from God. As much as I pray to seek him and I ask him to help my unbelief, maybe this way is better. He is quiet, so I have to lean in and listen. He is gentle, so I don’t run away for fear of being swallowed up. Even Jesus himself says to Thomas “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Maybe the grass is really greener on this side.
Let me say, it is not easy when you feel like the Lord is silent, like he has left you. But press on, He is the Lord, our King and savior. we need him.
God I confess my unbelief, help me to know you and love you. God I want to serve you, help my wavering heart. I need you.
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
This was supposed to be freeing. Taking the chance out of it. Putting the control in my hands.
So why do I feel so unsettled, like there is a much heavier weight on me now. Maybe I should explain a little bit. I’m taking this class about dating….yes I know….I thought it made me sound desperate too. But I also wanted to learn more about dating, and perhaps gain some encouragement. There have been quite a few good points I have learned, both about myself and the opposite gender. But after this last class, I had to talk to God, for I was feeling so desperately confused.
We have talked about all the “normal” things, like infatuation and what sort of a line is there with guys and girls being friends. This last class, was about “finding the right one”. Now this has always been a touchy subject for me, because I so strongly believe that if we follow God for the blessing of a spouse, we are not following him at all. The teacher* talked about it being our choice, which I don’t totally disagree with, the Lord allows us many choices surrounding our life. But the more freedom I felt like was given, the less free I felt. like it was all up to me. If I want to find a husband I can go online dating, and to groups filled with young people. But I better be out there. My head was spinning. Does the bible really say this is up to us, we have to make the choice and then find someone to marry? I felt like things were getting twisted and complicated in unnecessary ways.
My thoughts were exhausted when I came to the question. Does God not orchestrate love stories anymore?
One thing I know about God, he knows what is best, and he withholds no good thing from those whose walk is blameless. One thing I know about myself, I know what’s best for me (well I think I do, but I don’t). Because how could I? I am a temporary human seeing only the present, but constantly obsessed with the future. I really want it to be ok for me to online date. Because I desire to be married. I desire to be in a relationship. It’s not because I need to be filled by a man. Because I have tried that, more than once, and as recently as last week, but God has lovingly shown me over and over that I won’t be satisfied with anything but himself. I desire to be married because that is how God created me, but that is not the only reason I was created. I have more family members and friends that are desperately lost and in need of Jesus than I can count on my fingers. I have about thirty co-workers, and maybe one of them may know his great name.
I’m getting frustrated as I write this because so many christians feel their life doesn’t start until marriage, they settle for a good man whom they met online because they can’t wait any longer. I am not trying to condemn people who use online dating websites, if it works for you and you feel like God is blessing it in your life, go for it! I just think we are not giving God enough credit here.
Because when it comes down to it. I want God to decide when I get married. I want God to decide if I am to get married at all. I want to be faithful and wait until he brings my husband into my life. I want his timing and his hands moving the pieces together, for I KNOW he will do a much better job than me. He created a universe bigger than we can imagine, and he knows the amount of hairs on every human’s head. I’m pretty sure he can write me a dang good love story that I don’t feel slighty ashamed of telling. A story that shines glory onto the God who is bigger than I.
He is my daddy. And somethings parents say no, sometimes wait, and sometimes yes. As a child I see only my present desire, with no reverence for the future. I want what I want, and I want it now. By my daddy sees my whole life, he sees me, he created me. If I would be more useful for the kingdom as a single person, I will spend every moment of my life depending on God to keep me leaning on him when I desire marriage. If I am to be married, I want it to be a holy beacon for my dark family, and I know that will only happen if I give him the choice. Choice of timing, and choice of man. The point is, me putting that choice into my own control, should stress me out, me giving it to daddy to take care of, never a greater peace in my heart.
*Full disclosure this class is taught by a couple that I admire and highly respect, we may just have some differing views.
I have this bad habit.
I’m sure there are others out there. My best friend calls it Radio ADD. Every few seconds I’ll change the channel. Even if the song I’m listening to is ok, even if I really like the song. I always have to check for something better. Because what if by not checking around I’m missing my favorite song? After all that changing I realize that there really wasn’t a better song, and I missed most of the song I was really enjoying.
The last couple of weeks I have noticed myself doing this a lot, and each time a quiet thought.
“Don’t do that to yourself.”
Now I’m not one of those people who gets God talking in a big booming voice from heaven. But when thoughts like this come into my mind, it’s pretty clear it’s not me. So it’s either from him or the enemy.
As I pursued this thought a little further, I started to understand what it meant. So often do I change the channel because I’m worried I’m missing something good!
I can’t commit to this church because what if God is really moving somewhere else! I don’t want to miss him move! Except he is working in my church, and I miss him because I changed the channel. This Job, this guy, this family, this living situation. I’m always so anxious to move on to what God really has for me. But I forget to be content and I miss what he’s doing and where he’s moving. I miss his beautiful artwork in the sky because I’m too busy changing the radio. God didn’t create us to be restless wanderers, oh what a punishment that must have been!
He created us, to LIVE.
He created me to enjoy hours with him in my room. That walk I didn’t think I had time or energy for, was what he wanted to use to refresh me. Blasting the music and dancing. Dancing with joy and praising him. He was whispering to me in the car. “Don’t do that to yourself sweet girl, come, and enjoy EVERYTHING with me.”
So today I was in my car, and like that creeping enemy, I thought, “I’ll change the channel to see what else is playing.” But then I decided to stay. Let me tell you, it was worth it. God and I sang that song and let the fresh air from the window blow around my hair.
“In your generous love I am really living at last!”
This is a great article. I wish I could say I was above this. But I have fallen into it more than I would like to admit.
What a month it has been. It’s left me sitting here on my bedroom floor with colorful christmas lights from a sweet friend strung around, creating the most beautiful light, somehow illuminating your love washing over me. My eyes falling and my heart open.
In my walk with him there has been many, many ups and downs. But never such a cleaning out of my soul as these past weeks. I kept putting on the band-aids expecting that deep, infected gash to heal. All this time with his sweet patience. He knew it was hard for me, but he knew that force to change would only chase me away further. I’m not going to provide all the nasty details, I’m just hoping to provide a reminder to myself to not pick at the scabs, but also to provide hope for those who feel they have tried everything to please God and somehow have found out they can’t.
I got home from a summer of serving and I suddenly became too tired. Too tired to keep up perfect faith. Too tired to have things together in front of him. I became very honest with God, which was what he was after all this time anyway. And then he started working.
“Why Should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured, your whole heart is afflicted. ”
– Isaiah 1:5
We first tackled the deepest issue, who he was. He took me through his traits of faithfulness, and unfailing love. UNFAILING LOVE. Comforter. Provider. Creator. Redeemer. Protector. God, yes somehow I had managed to minimize this, this one also came with a big dose of [loving] humility. My love and thirst for him and for scripture was restored. My dependence on him deepened greatly with these desires, it continues to draw me closer and into his life giving word.
Then we moved on to me. Which was quite a bit more messy. Lies. The kind of lies that are engrained early in life by the nasty enemy and only build and grow deeper into you, strangling your heart. Lies about who I am. I learned about the devil, and I was taught how to pick up my armor. I know this won’t shock any of you girls out there, but my beauty came into question more than once these past weeks. Am I lovely? Am I good enough to be desired? I soon realized how hurtful it must be to my creator for me to keep asking if he was sure he didn’t screw up. Jealousy was addressed. Why did you give her that, but not me? Why does he get to be off the hook, but I’m still caught. Desires were put in check. Pay attention here because at this point I fell into a lie that came from the church. I felt utterly condemned that I still had desires for marriage, for family, for relationship. I have read countless books that seem to say if you still desire these things your wrong, you aren’t fully repentant, and there is no way you are fully dependent, and getting what you need from God, if you still desire a guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should obsess and desire these more than God, and we certainly shouldn’t bet our security on if we attain these. But we shouldn’t kill our hearts. Our personalities and desires came from God we must keep them in check, but we must not beat ourselves to self loathing over them. He again gently reminded me that the lost, which my heart has always hurt over, were saved by him. He didn’t need me to save them, and it was a burden I wasn’t supposed to hold on my meek shoulders.
And then we took on others. My dependence on some. My mistreatment of some. I had a lot of really hard conversations with people. I granted forgiveness I had been holding out on, and asked for forgiveness my pride had kept me from for so long.
All through these weeks he has been faithful. With good friends that spur me onto truth and call me out when I need it. With moments of his breathtaking glory shinning through the clouds. Sweet time with friends to have fun and enjoy how he has blessed me, and sweet time with him. Like when I was driving through downtown with all the pretty lights. The snow was falling and I was shivering from cold, but he reminded me of his precious gift on christmas, Jesus, who would ultimately was me white as snow. I pray that you will soak in his grace and love tomorrow. Know that he is worthy of your trust, and the pain it takes to work through things with him is so worth the deeper friendship you gain with your mighty king.
I have been going to church for awhile now. I talk the talk, and sometimes I even walk the walk. So things like grace, salvation, and Jesus even get tossed around in everyday conversations. I understand these things. I know the deep pit of sin that is always tugging at my thoughts and actions. I have been moved by pictures of a bloody Jesus and felt nothing but sorrow that I caused that. My mind, and my heart even understands the deep seriousness of the gospel. But somehow the true reality of grace took this long to click.
It has just been one of those weeks. When life isn’t working and I try and try but fall short, every time, in everything. I can’t manage to do my job right. I make a few mistakes in friendships and chose selfishness over love. My ever wandering heart gets distracted and betrays my God again.But driving home in the car a verse pops into my head.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
This verse from Romans 5 is one I have probably heard at least 15 times. Jesus died for me, and I don’t deserve it. I get it. But no, I don’t. We are powerless, over sin and death. We are ungodly, dirty people, adulterers who have cheated on our perfect lover. Sinners, liars and murders, without a thought of repentance. We were God’s ENEMIES. I don’t know about you, but I have some of those. That girl who is never kind, who breaks me a little more each time I hear the words pierce my back. The customer who yells at me to get his anger out every week, he makes it personal. She stole the guy I wanted, he broke my bones. I might consider them enemies. We have done much worse to our Beautiful God. And yet even then he died for us.
When I can’t do anything right at work or I get a bad grade. It’s easy to accept that grace. But when I sense a big sin coming to the surface I try to hide it in shame. Why? He knows. That. yes, that. He knows I love that more than him. He knows I won’t be faithful. But if while I am an enemy of God, he dies for me anyway, then he loves me in spite of that. How beautiful , how freeing. My faith doesn’t have to be perfect. How am I just getting this now.
I cannot make him love me less. His grace is that good, that deep. There is no way I can adequately put into words the freedom I feel from this grace. All I know is I’m grateful, knowing I can’t give back what he deserves.
Good message for this time of year.
A poem that I wrote awhile back just after the Boston Bombing.
Screaming, sheer chaos
terror and cruelty of MAN, demonstrated. again.
the cry of an eight year old, never again
That is enough.
I drop to my knees
tears streaking my face
as more blood pours out.
weeping, inconsolable, I give no grace
I cry out in anger, God I am tired
and I don’t get it, I do not understand
how all of this evil can fit into your plan
I want to wake up and not cry out
how could you let this happen, I’m beginning to doubt
My heart is breaking, it is broken,
and I’m not sure of how much more it can take
I am trying to keep it together
and yet they continue to hand over their fate
as I struggle with my human reasoning it doesn’t make sense
How can you love us, when you know with no ends
It seems there is silence, with no answer in sight
then a gentle answer, as if not to frighten me
“My beloved, this is not coming from my hand
that hurt you are feeling, is MY heart for them
and although you can’t comprehend it, and you want to know why
you won’t understand yet, but I am coming in time
Come sit in my lap child
let me encompass you with my love
and the tears flow more freely
and I begin to let go
Then very gently I become more aware of my weakness
realizing I am standing up on my own, and can no longer stand tall
and when I decide it is not and option, I begin to fall
he has caught me, and is clinging tightly, he will not let me perish