Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hung Up on Three

I've been pondering something over the last couple of days that's got me a little upset. 

On Friday I grieved over the Savior's crucifixion and death. 

On Saturday I thought of the time Messiah lay in the tomb.

On Sunday I rejoiced over Christ's victorious return to life.

Each year I remember with gratitude the Lord's blood sacrifice to secure my release from the consequences of my sin. 

"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."  Hebrews 9:22

But this year there was something about the blessed scenario that didn't sit well with me. 

Maybe it was the idea that there was a limit to the amount of time Jesus had to spend in that dark place. After all, it feels like I've been in a similar dark place over the last nine months. 

One problem has followed after the other to prevent me from catching my breath. Just when I think I may be getting a peek at what's ahead, the image goes dark and I'm back in the Pit of Despair. (and I don't mean the one from Princess Bride) 

I know I'm where God wants me, but I'm not where I want to be. 
I know God can see me and the way ahead, but I can't see anything. 
I know God is in control, but I don't know how long this phase is going to last.

And that's where I run into trouble. I mean after all, Jesus knew His Tomb Experience was only going to last three days.

"He [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him and after three days he will rise.'"  Mark 9:31

I mean, if I knew the limit for all these health dilemmas it sure would be a whole lot easier to stand up under them. 

But no, I'm not being given even a hint of when this will taper off and I'll be granted at least a little time in a Peaceful Meadow. (think Psalm 23 here)

Yes, I know Jesus was and is God and so He has a bunch of privileges to enjoy that I don't get. He's divine. I am not. 

But still. If I could just have a hint of a timeframe, it might be helpful in supporting my endurance factor. Ya know what I mean?

Have you ever been in a situation where you're being stretched by a specific or extra responsibility, but you know you've only got xx days or xx weeks until it's over so you pace yourself and you make it to the end just before you collapse?

Well, I'm pretty sure I'm already past the collapse point. So it feels pretty unfair that I can't know how much longer I have to persevere. 

HAH, that is until I consider the passage I was reading this afternoon.

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived 
what God has prepared for those who love him."  
Isaiah 64:4;  1 Corinthians 2:9

The reminder of all the blessings God has for me "down the road" stopped me short. 

I still can't see them, but I know the blessings are there because God's Word tells me so. It's not that a bright light went on or a ladder appeared to bring the end in sight. It's just that my Father reached down and touched me with His Truth. (and please note that this is an Old Testament Truth repeated in the New Testament for confirmation and emphasis and continuity)

Yee ha. My Abba Father loves me. He hasn't left me alone. He knows my every need and meets each one right when I need it. I'm encouraged to trust Him for one more night . . . perhaps one more day . . . at least until He touches me again. 

Thank you, LORD. Your tenderness is even more powerful in trials. I love You. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Quest of Sorts

A friend posted a link to the website of a respected person in the publishing world. In reading through one of the posts featured there, I came up against myself in a way I hadn't quite done before. 

The theme was about finding one's passion and, to tell you the truth, that one noun almost kept me from reading. Instead I persevered, translating the 'p' word to a 'c' word, call. It was pretty easy going until I got to the last of the three steps offered. 

"Ask others about the 'one thing'."

The author admitted that when she'd done the asking herself it felt a bit "awkward or self-serving." To her surprise the people who read her question actually took the time to respond. She found the answers helpful in understanding the call God was placing on her life. 

So this week, instead of expounding on the insights God's been granting me - which He has in abundance - I'd like to ask you to expound on that simple question for me.

What is my one thing?

I'll be looking for your responses.

And just so you don't think I'm being lazy, here's a passage God has been bringing alive to me these days along with a song of praise. May He bless you through His Truth for His own glory. 

"But now, this is what the LORD says -
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel;
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you [Sandra] by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom, - Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, 
and because I love you [Sandra], 
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you [Sandra];
I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters, from the ends of the earth - 
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."  Isaiah 43:1-7

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fellowship of Ignorance?

Hey, all. I found a most encouraging verse.

Well, okay, it's not a whole verse. 

It's a sentence in the middle of a passage.

I came across it as I read through the portion of John titled The Triumphal Entry.

Stay with me.

I think you'll be encouraged too.

Let's join the disciples on the day after the dinner party held to honor Jesus.

The crowd that was following Jesus discovered He was headed to Jerusalem. They grabbed palm branches and went out to hail His arrival. 

The recorded words these New Testament people yelled are significant.

They called out a Hebrew word that means to save, "Hosanna."

They called out an identifying phrase from Psalms, God’s ambassador.

They called out the title and role they believed He carried, “King of Israel.”

The noisy throng was clearly making the connection between the Old Testament Messiah and the New Testament Savior. They may have built their expectations for Christ’s behavior on faulty assumptions, but their conclusions about His identity were sound. 

So here’s the thing.

How come all the Old Testament hints and clues fulfilled by Christ's words and deeds were enough to convince the Christ's casual followers . . . yet the Disciples, those who had traveled with Jesus Himself, were still confused? 

John reports that the very ones whom we might expect to reach the proper conclusions about Christ’s identity and purpose "did not understand all this".

Some people might have difficulty accepting that the 12 were still puzzled, but that's what the the God-breathed words say. A crowd of average people recognized Christ’s divinity and kingship while His closest followers remained perplexed.

How could that be?

Well, I get it. 

And I'm thankful for that one short sentence in this detailed account.

You see, it seems I walk around confounded by what's going on in my life a good bit of the time. Circumstances surround me like a fog and I wonder if God can see me. I can't make out the way ahead and I waver between sitting down and moving my feet.

There are stretches where I feel I'm slogging along in mud while the deeper things of the faith are beyond my grasp. I begin to wonder if I’ve made any progress at all in my pilgrim walk. 

Sometimes I struggle to understand a biblical concept or apply a godly principle to my every day life. It’s not that easy to challenge faulty assumptions and change old habits in the light of Truth. 

That's why I am rejoicing over the confusion that grabbed Christ's Disciples.

The 12 talked and travelled with the Shepherd of the Sheep and even at the point where He was entering Jerusalem they were ignorant about who He really was and is. Even though some of them voiced their faith earlier, their understanding still didn't match that of those who had much less direct and personal contact with Messiah, the Savior.

As I paused over this impression I began to feel a certain kinship with those guys. They obviously had adequate evidence to recognize the heaven-rich personhood of Jesus and walk with confidence in His Name. But they held back and stood on the sidelines in uncertainty.

I'm encouraged by that reality because it says that it might take time for others whom God calls to process information too - even ME. This fellowship of ignorance means it’s okay when my brain or heart are stumped by biblical Truth. Our shared experience in weakness reminds me I’m just as human as the 12 were on that particular day. 

It comes to me that God's acceptance is not based on whether or not I know everything about Him at any given moment. I ponder that God's expectation is not that I will comprehend and apply every biblical mandate and principle into my life instantly and fully. I begin to consider that God's love may envelope me even in my imperfection. O the joy unspeakable.

And more encouragement follows.

John goes on to report that, after the glorification, the Disciples came to understand the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the coming of the Christ. God didn't leave them in their ignorance. When the time was right He opened their hearts and minds to receive the richness of His Truth.

Since God is "the faithful God" and "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever", I can wait in assurance that He will grant me the wisdom I need in His perfect time. I will move from the fellowship of ignorance into the fellowship of knowledge by His Almighty Loving Hand. Hallelujah. 
(Deuteronomy 7:9; Hebrews 13:8)
Where are you?

Are you wondering about your progress on the journey to Jerusalem?

Are you using your less than perfect performance and / or imperfect self to kick off a pity party?

Put away the violins. 

God is in control of every detail and He meets every deadline. 

Let’s choose to rest in His arms TODAY. 

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 

“Hosanna!”  [Hebrew for “Save!”]

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Psalm 118:25, 26]

“Blessed is the King of Israel!” 

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 

“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”  [Zechariah 9:9]

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.”  John 12:12-16