Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rest and reassurance

During our study tonight of imprecatory Psalms, God reassured my weary heart. We read several in our Community Group as an echo to the sermon from Sunday and to lead into discussion. As I read Psalm 9 aloud, I was reduced to weeping, and my amazing husband had to come to my rescue to finish the reading.

Here are a few verses that rocked my broken heart:

Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessings be on your people! Ps 3:8

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Ps 4:8

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. Ps 5:11-12

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. Ps 7:17

And finally the one that brought me to tears in the presence of dear friends:

The LORD is a stronghold to the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Ps 9:9-10

There have been moments in the last month that it has seemed like we are surrounded on all sides by evil that is conspiring against us. We are seeking to be faithful to what God has called us to in the church, we are fighting to love our daughter who is feeling further away every day, we are struggling to honor God in our marriage as we are tempted to get lazy. We are fighting in every aspect of our lives for righteousness, justice, mercy, and yet it seems the further into the battle we get the more we realize that evil in the world is much more pervasive, numerous, and crafty than we are prepared for. Our battle, indeed is not against flesh and blood, but humans are often used as mines in the dangerous fields we tread.

And yet, salvation belongs to God. We can lie down and rest because God sustains us. We are shielded by his righteousness. He is perfectly just, in ways we could never even comprehend. Though I am shaken, God will never be shaken, his throne is firmly planted.

By the mighty hand of God, for his glory, and for the good of conforming us to the image of Christ, righteousness will prevail. My daughter will come home. Our effort to teach gospel to teenagers will produce fruit. My marriage will survive. My friends will know that I love them. My city will feel the love of God.

And I will find rest in praising the one who made me, who redeemed me, who adopted me, who loves me, who leads me, who shelters me, who sustains me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bible induced angst

Final week of James with Marla, and also a bonus week of purge related awesomeness. Check out Marla's 31 days of purging, it'll wreck ya!

By the way, I just read this blog, and feel a little embarrassed because I say A LOT of these things on a regular basis, and probably drive everyone around me nuts. But I digress... EDIT: the link is dead, no idea what I was talking about, move on. :) But this lady has a fun blog!

I'm going to cheat a bit this week by actually being structured and following Marla's questions instead of just ranting and it not making a whole lot of sense. Go to the link at the top if you forget the questions.

1. James 5:1-6 is so hard on my heart right now. I'm not going to say I don't like it, but I honestly don't know what to do with it. We have had to make some very hard financial choices in our almost 4 years of marriage. God placed it on our hearts to be free from debt, while equally placing it on our hearts to give until it hurts. We have lived against the cultural mores of wealth and comfort in so many ways. We give water buffalo as Christmas presents for goodness sakes! But we are still better off than 99% of the world population. And every choice we make affects another life, even if the life is an unseen face half-way around the world. I am honestly paralyzed. God has graciously worked in me a givers heart, through the constant tenderizing of my husband giving our lives away, but I feel like it's never enough. There is always more I can do. There is always more I can give. There will always be poor, orphans, widows, broken people in every corner of my life and I will NEVER be sufficient. What good does buying fair trade coffee do in light of tens of thousands of people dying from famine? What is the point?! Maybe I just haven't moved past the lamenting part of this. Thankfully I have a God who is bigger than I could ever comprehend, and when I asked him to break my heart, he did. I just don't know what to do out of this brokenness.

2. Patience in suffering? I would love to hear what someone else has to say about this. Actually, no, I wouldn't because in the last 2 months I have probably heard it at least once from some well meaning person. Here's the thing, suffering doesn't come in just one form, and it often comes all at once in all it's hydra-like glory. Is waiting for ANY information about your soon (hopefully) to be adopted child suffering? In a sense yes. Is finding that you have no time to spend with your spouse because God has called you to a ministry that requires a lot of time suffering? It can be. Is relationships that you thought were solid (even ones you thought were growing into true friendship) getting unstable seemingly all because of your lack suffering? For sure it can feel like the worst kind of heartache. Is your co-workers attacking you in stupid petty ways suffering? Yeah, especially when it feels like sadistic scientists just testing the rat in a maze to see when he will just give up and die. Is people you don't have time to invest your heart in asking you for help suffering? Don't have an answer for that. I can say this though, when you are praying for patience in suffering, and "life" seems to pile on the heaps of chaos, those prayers become much more desperate. The refining fires of faith cause this earthen vessel to make a whole lot of noise (think random kid screaming for no reason) and lash out in crazy spastic ways (think Daffy Duck spaz out.) Gentle and quiet spirit, hmmmm.

The prayer of faith section gets my goat too. I grew up in a church where people prayed for healing a lot more often then they saw a doctor. I now go to a church where it seems like there is maybe more MD trust than I AM trust. And before you think I'm condemning the church that I call home, I'm pointing the finger right back at myself for all too often seeking medical advice before praying for healing. Now is the church that I grew up in right? I don't know. There were times where it seemed imprudent to have a sick kid (actively throwing up) in church so that people could lay hands on said kid and pray for healing. But there was also a man who had an imminently terminal diagnosis from a brain tumor that disappeared days after people prayed for him. If we are suffering we should pray. If we are cheerful, we should sing praise. And if we are sick we should have the elders pray for us. And the tie in with sin is just down-right confusing, and could easily cause people to think like Job's friends.

Brother James, why did you have to end your letter on such rocky ground for my heart? God, why did you see fit to include this as part of your words of correction, love, and encouragement?  Why is my heart so wrecked by so many nuances in one little chapter of the Bible? Oh right, I am not my own, I was bought with a price. That price requires me to DO justice, to LOVE mercy, and to WALK humbly with my God.