Sunday, March 30, 2014
When I was a teenager, within a very short span, three men in the congregation of which we were a part, committed adultery and left their wives. They were then "disfellowshipped." It all made quite an impact on me because all three men had had no small significance in my life. I was confused, hurt, angry, and perhaps, above all, shocked.
My own life took a dark turn just a short time later. According to my own self, I had fallen and fallen long and deep into murky, mucky filth. I shocked everyone who knew me. I grieved everyone who loved me. Some were angry and hurt and confused. Some were up at arms because the "procedure" for such things didn't unfold. It wasn't true, but it appeared that way, and they were unhappy.
Years after those events, a family member shocked me too with an "unspeakable" sin. That time I wasn't confused or even hurt. Just angry. And shocked. Against the wishes of most of the family, I set out to follow "procedure" as I had perceived it done. I really rocked the family boat.
At this point, it'll be no surprise that several years after that, in Twilight Zone style, it happened again. A very good family friend for whom we had "a chair" informed us all that he didn't believe that God is good and true anymore, and thus he would no longer be loyal to Him. I was shocked. And sad. Intensely and abidingly sad. Again, the "procedure" I'd always seen began and he was eventually "marked" and "withdrawn from."
Then Rod Serling came to my house, and I was stuck in the never ending cycle. It was my turn to be the Prodigal's parent. Have you known that? (If so, you can skip this paragraph.) I was sad. I wasn't shocked. I was his mother, and I knew. I was angry. Oh very, very angry. Then I was sad again because his turn in the pit took a sort of permanent downward twist. I had prayed that God would do whatever necessary to rescue him from the lion's mouth, and when He answered I was in awe. Never had I (could I) construct such a rescue attempt. This journey has continued, and the end has not seemed here. But I have hoped that it will come because I have become the Prodigal's parent. The ominous "procedure" has not occurred, but its initiation has been entertained, and I have been scared. And lonely. And confused.
Well, if I ever did wish for something, it has been that Rod Serling would blow up and die and take his nasty Twilight Zone into perdition with him. He has proven a stubborn house guest. Another child wandered off. Into the pit he fell. And deep. He has not liked the pit and has attempted to scale up and out. Yet, I have been uncertain that he's as ready for the Light of day as I had hoped. Again, the story has not ended, but I am pulling for (read: praying for) the happy sort. I have doubly become the Prodigal's parent.
These events, stretched over decades, have introduced so many questions about what to do, what to say, what to feel, and on and on. It has been my deep and earnest desire to know the mind of God in these (and all other) matters. The more these kinds of tragic events have piled up in sickening mounds of stench laden yuck, the more I love God and long to have rest with Him, just simply worshiping Him. The more I have seen and suffered from sin, the more I hate sin - in me, in you, in everyone.
These things have combined to drive me to search the Bible for the truth about the fallen and those who know and love them. In the truth of God have been riven the stays of hope, unchanging and attainable. It has just been a matter of digging, and digging, and digging, and digging...
To be continued...
Sit Adam and Eve down and 'splain what it really was they were getting into?
Speak instead of clamming up?
Shut up instead of speaking?
Get a postcard from God answering the specific questions you have about *your* life?
Start running and not tire until you wanted to stop running?
Memorize the whole Bible?
And understand every single thing in it?
And apply it perfectly?
Love without pain?
Have perfect recall?
At the perfect time?
Monday, June 25, 2012
You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the Lord your God.
I have been praying prayers of physical healing for others recently. This morning there was a desperateness about it too. Then I read Deut. 29. I know I posted something similar before about chapter eight, but it is so profound to me that God works in all kinds of ways to generously give us the opportunity to know Him. It is utterly astounding that He seeks us - wants us - at all, but the fact that we can absolutely trust Him is so comforting. When we have to go without the thing(s) we desperately want, it is good. Hard. My heart (yours too?) gets so set on some of the things I long to be true that I am discontented and whiny when they are not. Reality is that the fact I am going without, or watching loved ones go without, is testimony to the GOODNESS of God. He is always providing the very best, even giving us the best of droughts that we might KNOW HIM. There is no (and None) better.
Monday, May 14, 2012
21 You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.
22 The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.
23 But the LORD your God will give them over to you and throw them into great confusion, until they are destroyed.
This struck me. Well it did too. God intended to defeat the inhabitants of the Promised Land absolutely, but He intended to do it slowly so that the wild animals wouldn't take over more quickly than the Israelites could settle the land. What a comforting thought it is that God is never "slow" without purpose. When it seems that deliverance and fulfillment of promises are slow in coming, it can give me cause for peaceful calm and joyful gratitude because I can trust that God is working in just the right way - for the very best outcome in my life. What a beautiful thought!
Sunday, March 18, 2012
This morning I was reading in John 18, and I noticed something in a different way than I have before. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane that last night the conniving mob came to arrest Him. He saw them first and stepped out of the protection of night. John recorded this for us: 'Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?"' After He was seized Peter angrily swung his sword, trying in impulsive protection mode, to defend Jesus. Jesus spoke to Peter, '"Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?"'
Jesus knew what He needed to be done, and He courageously and decisively did it. No delay. No excuses. That caused me to marvel. There was not the semblance of procrastination, just prompt, responsible, and stout resolve to begin working on the task at hand. What an awesome example Jesus always has set for me!
Friday, March 9, 2012
Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, (Revelation 16:9, 10 NASB)
Our congregation has been reading through Revelation every week for a few months now. Many things have impacted me, but today I want to share the startling lesson from the verses above.
May it never, ever be that my heart would be so cold and hard as to not respond to the discipline of God with humble repentance and reverence for Him. It is simply and utterly chilling to think about what the wicked did as a result of God's just and right punishment. Doesn't it make you shiver with fear for them? What a stark warning:
"and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
"MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12:5-7 NASB)