Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ever Broken God's Heart?

I’ve disappointed myself. Here, I thought I was mature enough to handle most stuff, I have been taken down by the rebellion of one person. After many words, threats and consequences, the decision is as firm now as when it was made five months ago.

Here’s my lesson: it hurts like heck when someone deliberately turns their back on your counsel. In a very miniscule way, I sensed what God must feel when we do the same to Him.
Most of our sin is casual, something we do without giving it much thought. We say something hurtful, we punch somebody’s lights out, we yell at the driver who just cut us off. Stuff that just comes out of an uncontrolled life. But there are other things we do by not doing what is right. We turn our heads from the need of the hurting, we refuse the opportunity to share a life-changing message to a friend, we withhold our smile from someone needing to feel wanted. Stuff that comes out of an insensitive life.

 But the most serious sin is the one we plan out. The one we commit after being told how wrong it is. The one we have decided to commit all costs. The one we have sold out to. That is the most grievous sin God has to deal with. He warns, He confronts, He redirects and we go on anyway. How that must break His heart!
God, I am at a loss as to how to go on. I know how easy it is to judge others and accuse them of the very things I’ve done against You. Thank You for the mercy You gave and the love by which You restored me. May you apply the same in this case.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

I feed two cats each day. Dippy and Buddy. Buddy likes to be scratched before he eats. I usually oblige. But when he’s done being scratched, he bites me—not hard, but just enough that I try to avoid it. Why? Because I don’t like getting bit.

Often we try to do good things for people, only to get bit in return. It’s not like we saw it coming and could have avoided it. We just get caught up in their problems, think we’re helping make a difference and they bite us. For most biters, we’re dealing with a character flaw. Somewhere in their development they found it appropriate to bite people who are trying to help them. Probably some deep hurt drives that.
Years ago, I saw a kitten crawling down our street toward the woods. He was hurt and couldn’t walk. He was going there to die. Caring me, I wanted to help, so I rushed out to pick him up. Out of his pain, he latched onto my finger and wouldn’t let go. He literally sunk his teeth into my flesh. My lesson: hurting things hurt others. Or to translate it to people: hurting people hurt people.

I don’t want to think it’s intentional, but it is a reaction I see all the time. And one I wish to avoid.
Now with Buddy, I don’t think he bites because he’s hurt. I think he just does it out of habit—something in his Siamese DNA. But if I picked up another hurting kitten, I’m pretty sure it would happen again.

Knowing that doesn’t stop us from helping, it just makes us treat them differently, often by putting on gloves. Gloves protect you but make you insensitive to them. It’s kinda hard to treat someone gently while wearing gloves.
Oh, how I wish they would just deal with the hurt and not take it out on others.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I’m having a hard time finding my joy today.

In the movie “For the Love of the Game,” Kevin Costner plays a major league pitcher in his final game, in which he just happens to pitch a perfect game. In the early innings he goes through a process to block out the distractions. He says, “Close the mechanism.” At that point everything goes silent and a clear path is established between the pitchers mound and home plate.

Late in the game, however, when he’s tired and hurting, he goes through the whole routine and nothing happens. He can no longer block out the distractions. What’s he do? He goes into muscle memory, doing what he’s done a thousand times before. Just throwing a ball to a catcher. Even with the distractions, he can still function and even function well.

There are times when we can block out the world and the cares it brings with it. We can refuse to be drug down to its level and instead keep pressing upward. We can make the pitch even when our arm is about to fall off and everyone is yelling for our defeat. How? Memory.

Memory gives us a platform from which we can stand in the midst of trials. We can look back and see how faithful God has been in the past, how impossible the situation seemed then, yet how perfectly God worked everything out. Memory allows us to gain strength to trust Him later.

Instead of falling apart, which is such an attraction, I must go on and finish the game. I’ve still got some innings left. How I feel, what I’m obsessing over, regardless of the frustration building up inside, I deny those from controlling the moment and trust God. I cannot let those stop me from completing the work God started in me.

I will not be defeated by the words, actions or dishonor of others. I know too much to allow my concerns to overwhelm me. I will pray to the God who is absolutely faithful and cast my cares upon Him. I will pour my heart out to Him, claim His purposes in my life and stand strong, knowing His peace will surround me.

I will trust in Him for wisdom and anticipate Him directing my paths. For He alone is God and able to do in exceeding abundance all that concerns me. And joy will return, maybe in the morning, but it will return.

Question: Ever been here?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wait, You Can’t Trust God?

The hardest part of faith is believing in what we cannot touch, see or feel—knowing something that rides just outside of our senses is real. We have no problem believing when we see the evidence but most of what faith demands is silent and invisiblelike bones.

We understand the fact of faith but struggle with the content. Quite often you’ll hear someone with great boldness say, “I have no problem believing, I just have a hard time trusting.” It’s as though they can separate faith into the act of believing and the act of trusting. You can’t. If we are not trusting, we do not believe. We are, in fact, disbelieving—choosing to deny or doubt what we have known to be true.

Every one of us has been brought up to be self-reliant…even by godly parents. They wanted us to be able to stand up to and withstand the tortures of life, which is very biblical, only the Bible goes on to tell us in whom and on what we are to stand. Stand firm in the Lord…stand in the grace of God…stand firm in the presence of His glory. It never tells us to be strong in our own might—in fact, just the opposite.

My strength never plays into the formula of faith. Faith requires belief and trust, which aren’t measured, enhanced or enacted by my strength. Even the man who admitted he needed help believing still got his son healed.

Joy flows from the category of faith. I can’t see it, I don’t know where it’s stored, I can’t make it come forth. All I know it’s there, as real as my next breath, and will manifest itself if I will acknowledge what interferes with it. What might that be? My lack of confidence that God is presence in my life.

This is no game. It is reality. God is present. I can trust Him to accomplish what concerns me. If I remove all doubt to His presence and activity, I will experience His joy flowing through my life. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Disappointed in God?

I read a crucial book in my spiritual foundation years ago by Phillip Yancey called Disappointment with God. I never wanted to face the fact that God’s actions had disappointed me until I realized how many memories I had stored away of when He hadn’t acted as I had wished.

Prayers that weren’t answered as I had prayed, trust that was placed in my expectations rather than in Him, solutions I thought were best that were inferior to His, plans I had made that were trumped by His decisions: all stored away in the category of disappointments--times that God didn’t act as I had expected.

Whenever a person disappoints us, we generally dismiss it. If it happens often we dismiss them. I cannot count on a person that disappoints me. Their promises mean nothing.

Whenever I have determined God isn’t trustworthy simply because He has operated differently than what I had expected, I categorize Him as unfaithful. Once I have done that, He ceases to be important in my life.

That’s why the most important words in the Model Prayer are: Thy will be done on earth as it is being done in Heaven. In Heaven God’s will is never challenged, evaluated or categorized. It is what it is. If I could ever get that perspective into my life, I could never again be disappointed in God. Whatever He did would be good for me and vital to Him for accomplishing what concerns me.

Only on earth do we challenge God’s right to be God.

Joy comes when we recognize God is faithful. I may be unfaithful but He remains faithful in all He does. Because He is faithful I must let go of my disappointments. I cannot be disappointed in God and expect joy.

Question: Is there a disappointment you find hard to let go of?