Tuesday, August 18

Sorrowed into silence....

“…and having heard these things, Jesus said to him, `Yet one thing to thee is lacking; all things--as many as thou hast--sell, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, be following me;' and he, having heard these things, became very sorrowful, for he was exceeding rich.” (Luke 18:22-23 YLT)

“I can be so rich in my poverty, or in the awareness that I am nobody, that I will never be a disciple of Jesus.” Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost For His Highest (Updated Version edited by James Reimann) daily devotional, “Or I can be so rich in my awareness that I am somebody that I will never be a disciple. Am I willing to be destitute and poor even in my sense of awareness of my destitution and poverty? If not, that is why I become discouraged. Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus ----not love for Jesus Himself.”

The clock slowly ticks away on that time bomb that lies at the center of my life….it’s booming mechanical snap tolling like some endless chiming haunting my hours, whether awake or asleep, as the avenues that I have become increasingly few….and the sentries that stand at the forks increasingly agitated about my passage.

My faith has been tested these past summer months and I find more and more appalling structural in my belief and cosmetic damage in my faith than I would’ve have thought possible a few months prior. It has continued to pile on as the summer progressed and no solutions were found; no one stepped forward in the church to respond to the need with my kids….even the elder that talked so promising to me the Sunday prior to the last never called back, and yet greeted me with a kind smile when I came to church this Sunday.

The finances fell apart again, quicker than last time, and I put my pride on the shelf to go to the Soldiers’ Relief Fund ran through Oakland County to sit with a Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) and be made to feel a disgrace to the military service, without a guarantee that they would be willing to help.

The Landlord, who has finally managed to rent all three apartments, is angry.......the lease is up September 1st and I cannot give him an answer as to whether or not I’m going to be staying in Holly.

The meeting with my Lead Pastor that I missed by being at the wrong Villager Restaurant is probably not going to happen in time, even though it was not for the purpose of discussing the situation, before I leave the congregation. He and his wife are celebrating 30 years of marriage and August is typically a busy month, even without the addition of preparing the new property for the ‘grand opening’ for the River Church. And, seemingly when I have found that niche in the church family here in Holly, I find that the movement out of the congregation will seal that undone and unexplored.

In a state of ‘increased’ conviction that Holly is where I am supposed to be, and the River is the church to which I will find the next season unfold in this journey….the confidence of those around me lie in moving out of the area.

In a state of ‘calm’ conviction that my job is the thing that I should be moving away from, into the calling of God’s from so long ago, the assurance remains in others that God will make a way, in accordance with those around me, and I will be preaching or teaching the Word……I have nothing to be gained by speaking its vision to others, nor of the vision to go overseas as a missionary. The Body has nothing to do in neither preparation nor establishment of that position to which God has foolishly called me to.

And as time grows increasingly shorter, both in this current personal seasonal ending and in the shortness of the season of this world, I am growing less and less convinced of the calling or its authenticity. The sharpness of my faith is a double-edged sword and I am becoming immune to its cutting edge; dulled by the merciless beating of it in the battlefield.

Instead, haunting images grace my slumber….of the contentment and peace of being within the purposes of God, doing the work to which God has seemed to call me……that transforms in the harshness of the daylight the horrifying nightmare that I am nor will ever be within the grasp of that purpose; being the utter sinful, though redeemed, man I am.

Like that rich young ruler, confronted with the necessity of being a disciple of God, I find myself utterly shut up with sorrow and frozen with shame. The world continues to collapse and the foolishness of the man-made structure of governance worldwide, particularly within the boundaries of my home country of the United States, continues to be exposed to the apathy of the governed.

The conformity of humanity under a worldly-established and defined ‘religion’ continues forward like a ravenous beast, consuming those opposed in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘unity’ and mankind cheers its cleverness under those dripping jaws…..clueless that when the truth is eaten and the world is void of the voices of the faithful who have been consumed, they surely must be the beast’s next meal source. Religion has become boastful obedience to a outside God, the love for the worldly things dressed up in mankind’s version of what god is supposed to be; silent and aloof.

Mankind has once again claimed its unfounded right to declare what is righteous, fair and dutiful of their gods.

I grow sorrowful, not because of the ‘mega’ nature/size of my home church nor the path to which its leadership have decided to follow in the pursuit of God….I disagree with its decision, but am confident in God to correct it and use the resultant mess (if any) for the betterment of the people within its walls. I grow saddened that I won’t sit under the teaching of Jim Combs, a godly man and excellent communicator of what God would have me to hear…..even now.

For some reason, even in the short fast I performed (24-hours), he remains upon my mind to sit down and talk with, not only about the burden of missionary work in Australia but of all the things to which God has burdened me with……as if even he would change the decision of the church’s lack of participation in my life, messy and bumpy as it is…..after all, there is nothing in the church about the single father being treated with the same deference as single mothers, widows and orphans.

My devotional time has suffered greatly, as is evidenced by my decreasing blog writing……there is nothing to which the fire is being fueled and I am not one to just go through the motions as if action can transform into reality and create belief….the brokenness of my beliefs, the smallness of my faith and the worldliness of my experience has brought me to a standstill……to a sorrowful silence……...and I feel less assured of my calling and purpose as a God-desired thing as I pile more and more reasoning that others have given me for the seemingly inaction of God in this place.

But I wonder if I loved the way I loved the idea of Christ and have fallen upon the reality of how much farther I have to go to be confident in loving Christ Himself.

The illusion of my belief has been dashed upon the rocks of reality……as time goes on, with the uncertainty of the future, I haven’t even packed my belongings up in preparation of moving..I don’t believe in the capability of moving. Even if I get approval from the park management to move into that beat up and damaged older trailer…..I have to come up with the funds to move, to start utilities, security and first months……and then, even then, I don’t have the confidence in the increased demand of the cost to live………though my faith is the size of a mustard seed……I don’t believe I can move this mountain, or the mountains that stretch beyond it as far as the horizon.

I have been sorrowed into silence.

The hope remains……and the assurance of God’s authority rings in the silence of my ears.

And my sorrowful heart lifts up its plea…..its heart-rending brokenness crying out its pain…….

“I will cry out to you, O LORD. I will plead to the Lord for mercy: "How will you profit if my blood is shed, if I go into the pit? Will the dust of my body give thanks to you? Will it tell about your truth?" Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me! O LORD, be my helper! You have changed my sobbing into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy so that my soul may praise you with music and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” (Psalms 30:8-12 GW)

Even in this place, I cannot deny the authority of God, His mercy and grace and the demand of voicing that praise and thankfulness as the ship fills with the waters of this world and prepares to go under. I cling, against any worldly hope, to the fantail of this massive ship…….determined to gasp life-giving breath until I am no longer able, until this world consumes me in the mouth of the mighty beast that roams hungry upon its surface.

His story will remain, even if mine ends.

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