Sunday, May 1 much more than that

"He stretches out his heavens over empty space. He hangs the earth on nothing whatsoever. He holds the water in his thick clouds, and the clouds don't even split under its weight. He covers his throne by spreading his cloud over it. He marks the horizon on the surface of the water at the boundary where light meets dark. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished when he yells at them. With his power he calmed the sea. With his insight he killed Rahab the sea monster. With his wind the sky was cleared. With his hand he stabbed the fleeing snake. These are only glimpses of what he does. We only hear a whisper of him! Who can understand the thunder of his power?" (Job 26:7-14)

I don’t write like I used to.
I find myself being sidelined or even pushed out of the way, it seems. Everyone tired of the same old weary repeat of my life being a struggle or a fight to even breathe sometimes. No one wants to listen to a story that is crawling along, seemingly without merit, in the drearily pre-morning gloom before the dawning of the sun. The Christian life is supposed to be one of salvation, struggle and then achievement…..the overcoming of the many strongholds that complicate our lives.
When someone brings up the fact that Christ struggled, many times in His ministry time on this planet, they are shooed quickly out of the picture. God doesn’t want us to suffer, He doesn’t want us to feel the bitter pain of abuse or neglect or hatred, and no, no, no--- He doesn’t send things our way that seem usually harsh and full of sorrows. He is a gracious God, a good God and would never deliver upon us difficulties that we, as our bodies are lashed to the main mast of our ship, are not sure we will survive. That would be evil, and our God cannot do evil.
Funny thing is, no one said God does.
We struggle with who this God is, what He is about and how we can fit Him into our understanding. So we come up with highlighters and go through the Bible marking each and every love phrase that we can possibly contrive such feeling from……and when we hit the hard ones, the ones that bring us face to face with the realistic image of God….a complete image of Wrath, Anger, Love and Compassion, when we hit those we stumble and twist them around to try and fit our image of who God is. We try to bring God back down to earth on our terms.
And we fail.
Once upon a time, when this was all new and fresh to me……you know the time I’m talking about, when God’s voice remained fresh in your ear as if He had just whispered “I love you” in them. Where you can still feel His hand upon your shoulder as He displays all of His glory for you……in that time, I believed the powerful, magnificence and beautiful authority of my God when He spoke those words that sent me into a wild frenzy of denial and hysterical laughter. I believed when, as I finally surrendered before Him yet again, that He would do what He had planned free from the constraints of my past and my future even as He walked in my present. Believed that, in Him (not through, because or even for Him) that I would do what He wanted because it was His plan, His ideal and His life to do with what He would do. I gave it to Him that February day, because I thought anything less was not showing my gratitude for the gift of mercy that He gave me.
Me. Chief of all sinners (as Paul would say).
Even as I started on the systematic journey of demolition to my life, (you see even the joists in the floor were rotten) I was still walking on the proverbial cloud nine….God would, God could and therefore God was going to do what He wanted in my life to prepare me for the purpose that He had presented to me that October day. Oh, there were plenty of moments in the midst of the pain, in the heartache of the disbelief and the discouraging, that I would wonder why, why this God would even bother with this mess called humanity. Why He wouldn’t simply just erase and repeat with a better design. I questioned even as He presented the next part of the journey, the next desert experience and those late night campfires in the wilderness of despair. I wondered why me and pondered the divinity behind the call, the purposing behind the purpose.
I have been uncomfortable since that day in February and completely lost without a clue of my direction since that October day even as I’ve grown comfortable in His provisions and focused only where He would have me go rather than the journey to get there. I have argued, cried and begged just as many times as I have calmly thanked Him for the limitations, healing and discipline that He has introduced into my life. Even as I’ve realized how far I’ve come, I realize how far I yet to go with the likelihood I will never get there this side of the White Throne.
But in everything, even this journey towards the Home I’ve never known, I guess the ‘honeymoon’ phase has to come to an end and the mundane of just the daily walk come to a collision point and the mundane takes over. Like an ‘old’ married couple, the Christian settles into an easy kind of life where things turn into blessings on a dime and your steps become a graceful gliding sweep through chandeliered ceiling halls and beautiful ordained gardens. Struggles become those moments at ‘tea time’ when the cupcakes aren’t perfect and the tea a bit tart.
God becomes this great guy who wants nothing but love and is willing to do anything for us to get us to love Him. Why wouldn’t He want to ‘bless’ us with more money than we can spend in one lifetime? Our tithe of 10% would be so much more if we had more money to take care of everything else too. Why wouldn’t He want to fix our wounds, binding them tight with His healing mercies? He doesn’t want to have us experience pain or sorrow.
What we fail to realize, what we don’t want to understand and what we dare not think is that God is not us. And He ‘owes’ us a lot less than we think we are due, even if we are simply grateful for His gift of Salvation. And He is God, unlike us in every way.
His own Son, three-in-one/Fully God-Fully Man/Messiah, felt the struggle of despair and sorrow. He experienced the harshness of death and the silence of hatred. In the Garden, the night before His death, He wept tears of blood and was broken in the despair of what was to come. But He did it, not because of love but because of the commitment He made to His Father’s will……He doesn’t say in the night before that He was doing it because of love, though love was surely one of the motivations He felt. He did it because it was His Father’s plan, because He had to.
And God, in His way, turned His back upon His only Begotten Son as He was draped with the sinfulness of the whole of mankind in disgust and shame as He died. He despaired for this lost Son even as He waited for the plan to go forth to its conclusion for this part……
That sounds like a Father of Love to me.
He owes us nothing more than the penalty for the sinfulness that we have, even these ‘crystal-clean’ Christians. He is more than justified to reach out and strike us all dead as He did the generation in the desert who made the Golden Calf idol rather than redeem any one of us. The greatest of us, the ones without many sins, are just as guilty of the punishment we deserve as those like me who have more than a lifetime full of penal labor to try to start paying for the price of our admission in Heaven. He has more than a right to demand our lives in servitude and withhold judgment on whether we are getting into His mansions or even the grounds of His kingdom. Just because He desires that all would be saved, He doesn’t force everyone to be saved.
He doesn’t have to remove the penalties of this world upon our lives or instantly change all the imperfections that we develop over the life spent in the darkness; the bruised knees and shins, the bleeding cuts and scrapes or the bumps rising on our heads from the collisions in the night.
We have but a whisper of who He is and what He is capable of.
It would take an eternity to understand who God is and what He thinks about the struggles in our lives or the sorrows that come our way. Part of our Heavenly eternity is going to be the eternal opening of our eyes to His wonders anew and the deep awe of how far off we were of His grace in view of His power, His wrath and His righteous anger towards our sinfulness.
But the church isn’t all bad, as Pastor Will from the church plant group I attend every other Sunday was pointing out today. Far from being understanding of our lack of perfection and highlighting what is good and right in this warfare that is taking place on this world. We aren’t prone to divorce more than non-Christians nor are we lacking in charity or other works. We are not perfect and it is that lack of perfection that hazes the image of God. We are told we’re constantly screwing up when it is not us who do the real work anyway. But we become complacent in our worship, bored in our walk and fade away from the fellowship…a fellowship we vitally need, if the stats that Pastor Will showed us tonight are truthfully as best they can be.
Connection with church and the fellowship helps us be better followers and the fruits that come from our faith are exponentially greater in the community of believers. But I digress…..
As we grow closer and closer to this God we cannot get a ‘full picture’ of because of our humanity, our humanity is more conformed to what God intended us to be in the first place and we become less combative about ideologies that are wrong and more interested in enticing them to grow in those ideologies to the point where they realize the emptiness of the religious movements by humans. We become less bitter about the deliberate wounding by the world, those who are in league with the enemy and those within the family who stumble along as much as we do. We seek as a community, as a family, to gather our understanding of God together and dialogue about the mysteries that are revealed in the discussions about our Father and His Son and His Holy Spirit. Then we become a even great force for the glory of the Kingdom’s King and less marked by the world’s culture because we are the ‘dominant culture’ by our effectiveness at love with accounting, mercy and grace.
And when the stories of struggles, trials and pain come into the repeat mode of life, when a brother or a sister struggle with an addiction, disease or mental fatigue yet again or a once-dedicated and effective warrior for the Kingdom is tricked and swayed by the enemy’s lies when they shouldn’t have been, we don’t hesitate to step into those lives and see the glory of God working itself even in those places and by our rejoicing in the struggling well of our family member they are empowered once again to rise back into God’s grace and be repurposed in His plan for them.
And it no longer becomes a game of ‘when are you going to be ready’ but a life of dedicated ‘we will get you ready’ for what God has in store for His people.
So, if your beliefs are so fragile that you cannot dedicate the time to a family member in the body who has been struggling well, but struggling long or you look with painful sorrow upon a brother or sister who was once of prominence in the body but has fallen from the isolation of leadership or the whispered lies of the enemy that have opened those old wounds……then I would ask God to strengthen you for the primary duty of this Body, to love one another and strengthen one another, accountable in love. Because when we focus on what God calls family with what God tells us the characteristics of that family, we live that life as undeniably God’s. We stop worrying about a 'definable' progress, check marks on a list of things that we cannot control in a general sense and become more specific in our personal dealings with someone else.....we seek God's will not our own definition.....we worry less about our agenda and more about His.
This is why I don’t write so much anymore…….I really don’t know if anyone is listening anymore. And this is why part of the adore of the call has faded into the background of the din of battle……
God is so much more than what we can even imagine and as Job says, we have glimpsed but a whisper of His thunderous power…….He is so much more than the simplicity of love and more wrathful than our worse and darkest anger……
He is our God and jealous for us…….
With just the glimpse of His power and character, I’ll stand steady for Him on the mysteries I have yet to become revealed on….
Because of what I’ve already seen, He is worthy of my praise and justified in His plans for me, whether sorrow or joy, peace or chaos, pain or peace……
God is god, and I am not, and He is not limited by my lack of understanding.

Understand if you've made it this far in this blog, I am not saying that God is capable or even willfully involved in the evil works of the enemy. I am saying that in the definition we use of what bad and good is, we must realize that we are using our definition and not necessarily God's. For if what we once thought was a bad thing (mislabeled as evil) actually brought us closer to God or disciplined us to be effective warriors for the Kingdom, isn't that a good thing?

Just my thoughts.

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