Friday, September 12, 2014

Hug That Ugly Gift

Ever feel like God has offered you up to Satan to be tested like Job? Is that pity party turning into an all-nighter...or all-weeker...all-monther? For the life of you, you just can't figure out what you have done to deserve the series of unfortunate events lately. It's like salt being rubbed into a wound. Or maybe it's just one thing...that one thing you intentionally asked God NOT to let happen...and He did. Or that ONE thing you have asked for...and He said no. "Does He hate me?", you ignorantly ask. 

If I really knew Him...really understood His ways...that question would never be asked. The pity party might still happen on occasion, just long enough to call a cab, grab my shoes and get out of that place before I do something I regret. Even Job, a righteous man, questioned repent of it later...after being reminded of His power and wisdom.

There is a gift from God we are given on occasion. A gift that no one else can give and and that benefits us in a way nothing else can. It is a grace...undeserved and valuable. It is uncomfortable grace. Unless you are the type that doesn't mind settling, that is content with good enough and has no ambition to chase Jesus and become as close to Him as possible, you really should consider embracing this gift. Gird up your loins and prepare yourself for life's harsh lessons. They are going to happen anyway, why not go into them ready, willing and able by God? Take them by surprise and turn the mourning into dancing. Resist the temptation to chase comfort and go after the treasure buried beneath the pain. I am told by those older any wiser than me, that it gets easier every time, because you get used to God grabbing your hand on the way in, sometimes even carrying you over his shoulder, covering your eyes and vital organs. You may come out with bruises or even lose a limb, but your heart is bigger. Stronger. Shared by Him whose broke for you one day.

As Paul Tripp explains this grace..."It takes you somewhere you did not intend to go in order to produce in you something you could not achieve on your own." The problem is, we don't recognize this grace because it is prickly. It's not wrapped and tied in pretty paper and a fancy bow. It appears ugly, harsh and it stinks. it is avoided and fought against. If I open my eyes and see what is really there, I may accept it, even go to it willingly. Go through it with anticipation and courage. Come out of it definitely, because He promised, with that precious gift...personalized...treasured and worth the pain.Yes, someone may be salting your wound, but salt heals and protects. 

Turn the pity party into a surprise party. Surprise yourself by reacting to trials in a grateful, humble and positive way. Let no complaint leave your mouth...why should we complain about a gift? Even if it's not what we asked for. Remember those times you gave a gift to your child and they were unappreciative? They didn't see the value. They had their heart set on something else. They didn't trust your judgement and their face and words revealed their heart's desire. Your weak and faithless heart may look up to the Father filled with question marks, but He already knows our lack of understanding. That's ok, as long as we trust and are willing to obey. Hug that ugly gift and wait for the blessing. 

God is always good, always wise and always doing what is best for you...not necessarily comfortable...but best.

Psalm 141:5 "Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it."

Job 13:15  "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him..."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vacation of the Will

I'm hoping that a change will be as good as a rest. This summer was anything but a restful break, so it's unique activity must serve as a break of sorts...because summer is starts tomorrow...blink....start again. 

One thing, of many, that I am looking forward to, is blogging again. I tried, but simply could not find time to write this summer. From the first break of light and bird chirp, to the last washed dish of the warm evening, these fingers were otherwise occupied. Countless runs to lawn mowing sites, beaches and bon fires kept me out of trouble. Trying to figure out how make meals without the heat of  roasting and no BBQ was a challenge. Experimenting with THM meals was fun and we have lost SOME weight. Waterski camp was another great success this major injuries and spiritual growth apparent. A "Hee Haw" barn dance was a long awaited dream come true of sorts too.

I would say the highlight of my summer was a still small voice. No big vacation happened. No major relaxation occurred. There were lots of disappointments this summer. That happens when you set your sights on something you want and then your own impotence or circumstance gets in the way. I am not greatly acquainted with Abandon yet. We are not close, personal friends, but I have being forced to meet her. To let go of personal desires and throw my lot in with that of the One who knows your heart better than you do yourself. To stop trying to lead everything and follow. Fear still nips at my heels and trips me up. So...when no big dreams happen or nightmares come listen for the still small voice. It can consume you and even drown out the noise.

Let me tell you about my amazing summer vacation. I was blessed to go to the East to West concert for one evening in June. It was the brief big dream of the summer. All but one of my family was there as well as numerous friends. It was loud and crowded. Trying to keep track of where my two younger kids were was a challenge. They were with many friends, in a well guarded Christian venue and they are smart and careful. We had a well thought out, over practiced plan for staying safe and communication...but I still have a bit of an irrational fear of losing them. The Newsboys were going full throttle, I was walled in by strangers near the front of the stage and pretty much grounded in a foot of mud. It's funny watching people try to jump to a fast beat in heavy muck. As I contemplated pushing through the sea of praisers to just try to get a glimpse of my kids...for my maternal OCD...something made me give up. The song Mr. Tait was screaming in my face was "I Want to Live With Abandon". So...that's what I did. I abandoned my irrational and unnecessary desire and let God be God for me. A very loud voice and still small one spoke to me all at once. I felt powerless and overwhelmed. I also felt loved and well cared for. His eyes were above this little crowd. He sees my children all the time.  I wondered at the party faces all around me, if they knew THIS feeling. Were they there just for a fun time? Did they really KNOW of whom they were singing? Did they have this ability to abandon everything and float on His hope and power? Stuck in the mud and floating. It was a great moment of praise. Vacation: "the action of leaving something one previously occupied". I vacated my own desires for a brief time. I had a lovely time. It was balmy, beautiful, restful and educational. I should go there more often...maybe even get a time-share.
 My inclination to avoid tragedy and chase fun is exhausting. It rarely goes the way I want it to. It also LOOKS LIKE everyone else is having what they want most of the time. The North American Dream/Lie. Tired? Yes, but not from external work. Tired form my own internal battle. The Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT. Learning to live with Abandon. She is not someone I desire to embrace, but must if I am to experience Christ to the full. Now that the summer is over, the vacation pictures on facebook will dwindle, the scent of BBQ in the air will be less frequent and we can park the van for a little longer than usual. There is something soothing and contented about a little work and routine. No more chasing summer dreams for me. I will rest and float in the divine regular. I will try to treat triumph and disaster as imposters. Let neither have a hold on me. Take a vacation from your own will and retreat to His.