Friday, January 16

Big enough

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also covered it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:1-9

This was the verse in yesterday's, a very good devotional set in prayer format by Carolyn Baker. She spoke of being led to these verses because God whispered 'Sparrow' to her and this was where the search for sparrow led to. I felt compelled for different reasons.

I've tried to write about our destination; here it is called lovely, a place that is yearned for and cried out about in the hearts of the believer. A place near the altar of God. But, that didn't 'flesh' out….so the attraction, the pull, wasn't about the eternal destination.

I've tried to write about being blessed…..those who dwell in God's house, those who find strength in Him……but it isn't about blessings, something that I have been well versed in for the last six months, of being one of God's own.

The phrases that keep me coming back are:

"Who have set their heart on pilgrimage" and "go from strength to strength".

The journey…..a pilgrimage…….With a destination firmly known in the mind of the journeyer……

And something else……..


You see, don't you, that we were never meant to journey alone. As I've said before, we were built for relationship; with God, with Creation, and with each other. When Eve was tempted, she stood alone…even though Adam was right beside her physically, he was silent and left her to fend off the devil alone. She failed, and so do we when we face the manipulation of the evil one..

God's enemy, and the usurper of this world, is intimately aware of us, for the distractions and dangers that lie on the roadside of this pilgrimage home are tailor-made for each of us...flesh-specific to each of us, even though the titles, types, and results are common. We often sit in judgment, thinking in our mind how could this person or that person fall prey to the obvious, secure in our piety that we would never do such a thing.

We look at the homosexual and point to the verses, and try to coax them into the light as they stand in the darkness…..instead of going into the darkness and helping them into that light. We look to the alcoholic and tell them to enter the recovery program before we start standing beside them with midnight phone calls and daily visits….for God has shown excessive drinking to be a sin. We decide that if a Christian smokes, they aren't worthy of grace and mercy…and we shun them.

Obviously, 'they', those sinners, 'chose' to sin, defiling the temple that their body is….all the while, we eat unhealthy. We distract ourselves from our sinful natures, still there after our salvation, because we don't want to face the fact that we are not all we can be within the brethren.

We fear relationships, because in the harsh and clear light of our faith, we are left still broken, still sinful, and are left to be judged by those near. The devil knows this; it is that protection and benefit of relationship that helps keep us upon the firmer ground, or pulls us back to safety when we wander off the road into the quicksand of sin's attraction. It is that relationship with brethren, that 'judging', that if done with love, compassion, and hope can break the bond of sin, even in the lives of other Christians.

The devil knows me very well, for we once were dearest buddies, it could be said......anything that opposed the church and its 'alleged' god….that was what I did. I've often said I have had the sinful life of Saul with the exception of not being directly responsible for the death of another.....thought there are no assurances, unfortunately, that I wasn't indirectly responsible for another's choices that led down that path. I pray that God provided protection for those that I interacted with during those dark days of my life.

Drinking in excess. A bit of drug flavoring to boot. Heavy self-injury……I would put myself in situations where the outcome was not favorable for continued living. I wanted to die before I was 30 and lived accordingly. I am not proud of what I did, and I am still working on the wounds both caused by others and self-inflicted. The devil has his file cabinet full of the methods of how to get through to me.
As he does with each of us.

He knows that he only has a limited time before he loses, so he has a two-fold purpose; to disrupt the children of God from enjoying the peace in this world that God gives and to prevent them from doing God's work; and to draw those he can so close to him that they are unable to hear God's children speak the truth.

We were not meant to travel alone, and we weren't meant to deal with the personalized sins and the attacks of the devil by ourselves.

It is foolhardy and the stuff of sheer folly to think that we can make it on our own, by our own methods, and be saved. Yet, religions that cater to that 'self' are gaining popularity, because there are no rules, no one can be hurt, and you can be isolated from others. It is better, this world says, to appear to be 'tolerant' than to disagree with someone and yet still love on em……

We live in fear, chastising ourselves because we shouldn't. We fear relationships, financial stresses, personal trials, and exposure to others. The devil has our number, creating in us the fear of being fearful; of God, of others, and of ourselves. Because in those things; fearing God, others, and ourselves; we find the greatest freedom and find the greatest source of peace and joy within the destructive nature of this fallen world.

We are to be, as a people in love with Christ, servants. To God, to others, and ultimately (when we do those two things) we serve ourselves, to become the people we are empowered to be through the Spirit. And it is that type of friend, to others, that we are supposed to be.

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NKJV)

As a friend, as a Christian, it is not our job to convince someone of the truth, rather to stand firmly in "contention for the faith" and allow the Spirit to convince them. If we keep each other in this state of grace, accepting the person to whom God created and is desirous of relationship with, we can be those 'they' that have a heart set for pilgrimage and who leap from strength to strength in this journey to the shores of our ultimate home.

And we will make oasis out of this desert of sinful desires and self-protecting tendencies only if we walk with our hearts on our sleeves, taking our bruises and our cuts and bleeding for the sake of others without gain or agenda. It is those types of friends that will walk the distance with you, taking undeserved blows from and for you, and look at you with love and kindness because you are their friend and they will not stop that relationship.

I guess I'm rambling again. I've spent most of the week pondering these two verses, wondering what God is teaching me in this moment, in this time. With the trials recently endured and over, I wait with an unexpected eagerness for the next to begin; either personal or corporate or nationally. For the trials, I know, will come regardless of my faith or my proper stewardship.

It is my friends on this journey, my loved ones, and my God that will help me through…….

And that is why this last phrase from Carolyn Baker,, hits home………..

'Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead , tell the storm how big your God is!'

With the economic stresses, I face an uncertain future at the job. I remarked that God will as God wills and a friend said, "A car is one thing. Losing your job is something totally different." I replied, with a strength found of the recent trials,
"My God is big enough."

Is He that big for you?

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