Archives

All posts for the month September, 2016

My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?

Published September 30, 2016 by Dawn

“My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

So many that I love are standing in this moment that seems to stretch on into eternity. Unutterable pain. Devastating loss. A cold shoulder to lean on. God, who has created all things, worked amazing miracles and time after time, even gave life to the dead … now He’s standing there in that familiar shroud of mystery. He’s not explaining His seeming complacency in our pain. He’s not justifying His inaction. He’s beckoning us to come near for comfort, which we desperately need, but between us and Him is this chasm of need: We need to know why, God.

Why take the wronged and leave the wrong? Why leave children without their parents? Or parents without their children? Why add to the pain we’re already drowning in? Why are you watching us suffer? Why is Your will so painful and hard? Why this road, God?

I’ve treaded softly with these questions, into the throneroom of God. Not just for myself, but for all who are suffering unimaginable pain. I grew up believing it was a sin to question God. I know what the scriptures say: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why have you made me thus?’ (Romans 9:20). But I needed comfort. I’ve been immersed in the pain of my brothers and sisters, and I needed to know what to say to them. So I crawled to His feet and poured out the soul of humanity. “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

He did not chastise me. He lifted me up and held me to His bosom, wrapping his fatherly arms around my quaking shoulders and soothing me with whispers of love. He showed me this scripture where Jesus, my example, cried out the same thing. Hours before, he had begged the father to find another way. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak. He accepted the Father’s will, which led him through a dark and torturous valley, then onward to Calvary’s crest. He hung on a cross he couldn’t even carry because he was so broken by the beatings. He faced death without the numbing effect of the gall. He experienced such suffering, and in his hour of need he asked the same question.

Did Jesus live a life of complete submission and perfection – sinlessness – before the Father only to throw it all away on one question? No. This question was not a sin. It was innocent. It was sincere. It reached the heart of God and no doubt ripped the Father in two.

God’s shoulders are big enough for our sincere questions. He is able to handle them. He can take it. And He wants to. He wants us to draw near to Him. If we couldn’t ask the hard questions, we’d push him away in defiance and frustration. He wants us to press into Him. To need Him and allow Him to take our sufferings on Himself. Jesus going to the cross for us was the first time he took our sufferings, but it was never meant to be the last. Has He gone through so much to abandon us now?

This deep well of pain – this emotional upheaval – is more than you can bear but it is not more than the shoulders of God can carry. Take it to Him. Crawl up into His daddy-lap and rest your head on his chest while you grieve. Let Him comfort you. This imperfect world will overwhelm you sometimes. The arrows of the enemy will hit their mark oftener than we can handle. We are not equipped to do this life alone. Go to Him. Your daddy, God. Go to Him and be held. Ask Him, if you must, “My God, my God! Why have your forsaken me?” You will find, as you bury your face into His bosom, that He has not. He never will.

 

*If this blessed you or touched you, please share it. There’s so much pain in the world. and many who need to hear this.

Advertisements

The Lord’s Supper AND Satan’s Masquerade

Published September 16, 2016 by Dawn

I was reading 1 Corinthians the other day when chapter ten really arrested my spirit. The first thing to catch my attention was verses three through five, which says in regards to the Israelites in the desert, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” Further down in verse seven, Paul continues,  “as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to indulge in revelry.’”

The Lord showed me the parallel Paul was drawing here between the modern Christians in that time and the children of Israel. He was pointing out that the Israelites sat down to partake of God’s provisions, which were symbolicly Christ with them (note that the rock was Christ, v. 4), then got up and engaged in idolatry, sexual immorality, and grumbling to/about God. These were things the Lord found highly offensive and scripture records that many died as a result of His anger toward their sin.

First Corinthians 10:6 tells us, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting out hearts on evil things as they did.” Paul reiterated this again in verse eleven, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings to us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”

These men and women in the desert were surrounded by the habitation of the Holy Spirit. They were aware of God’s miraculous provision every day as they stepped out in the morning to gather their manna. They were intimately aware of God, yet still tempted to walk away from fellowship with Him (eating and drinking from the spiritual rock) to gourge their flesh on worldly wickedness. Now I know why Paul exhorts believers in Philippians 2:12 to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling! What a terrifying thought, that we can be closely acquainted with the Lord, but still so easily led away to worldly things!

I was put somewhat at ease by verse thirteen, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it.”

Thankfully, God is aware of our temptations and works diligently to make a way for us to avoid falling into the snares of the enemy. We just have to be astute enough to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as he leads us faithfully toward our deliverance.

Paul is very straightforward in verse 21: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Clearly, Paul is adamantly discouraging us from indulging in both the communion with Jesus on the one hand and cavorting with the devil on the other. Jesus himself said we cannot serve two masters. To reject a pursuit of holiness because we favor the world is to reject God’s standards for us. It is to deny and reject what Christ did to liberate us. If God provides a way out, we are to take it. In our weakness, we may fail, but that is not the same as disregarding the right path because we like the revelry.

Believe it or not, the early Christians invented the idea of the grace card. Christians even then began to say, “But Christ has delivered me from condemnation, therefore I am free to just LIVE.” Paul’s spirit did not agree with this theology. Many of the epistles record this transaction: “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is constructive.” Paul does not go on to address the fact that to willfully live like the world after one has come face to face with Jesus is sure evidence that that person does not know Christ (John addresses this in his letter, 1 John). What he does say is that this attitude is not one a Christian should even consider. Paul told his hearers to live for the good of others, not selfishly indulging flesh that might hinder another person’s salvation. “Do not cause anyone to stumble” (1 Corinthians 10:32), he surmises.

The gyst of all of it is this: Christians should not be so weak as to entertain both a feast with the Lord and a party with the devil. These are unfit for us. We should be very careful not to indulge our flesh, and even more so in front of others whose acceptance of Christ might be affected by our walk in front of them. This is where that fear and trembling might come in: I can’t stand the thought that my actions or words may cause someone else to hesitate in kissing the feet of Christ!

The truth is, we have been invited to both the Lord’s supper and Satan’s masquerade. So many of us want to go to both, but it’s not the life we have been called to. The Lord implores us to “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Indulging ourselves at the latter completely nullifies the former. Even if we hide behind a mask, the Lord will recognize our attendance at the enemy’s soiree and will not be pleased.

I find it necessary to mention the cunning of sin. Many sins are obvious, but there are subtle sins as well. Most importantly, ALL sin is detrimental to a Christian’s walk. Pride is just as deadly to our spirit as sexual immorality. Grumbling, complaining and fault-finding are just as horrendous to the ears of God as hatred, jealousy and discord toward a brother or sister. We have all been set up by the enemy so that, at any time, we might stumble into a pit. Paul says in verse 12, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” How easy it is to stumble into sin! This is why we need to be walking closely with the Holy Spirit. We cannot discern on our own how often sin stands ready to trip us by the wayside. Often, we are unaware of the fall until we find ourselves on our knees.

Lord, We need you. Oh, how much we need you! Life is like walking through a minefield cleverly disguised as the answer to our prayers. Help us to recognize the enemy’s tactics and where the pits are, that we might avoid the traps set for us. Help us to die to our flesh so our spirit may live in uninhibited communion with your Son. Help us to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, Lord. To tell ourselves no when temptations come against us. Help us to be strong in our weaknesses. Be our strength, Father. We long to commune with you. We long for your presence. Help us to pull up to your table of delights. To drink deeply from the rock that is Christ. To have our fill of your Holy Word and to walk in the light instead of reveling in darkness. We love you!

Amen.

 

 

You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Published September 7, 2016 by Dawn

I hate middle school. I hated it when I was a student, and I hate it with an equal passion as a parent of a middle school student. All that soul searching done in a place where everyone is sure that the best version of themselves looks nothing like the current version of themselves. So begins the desperate attempt to find oneself that ultimately leads to so many kids losing themselves and living for many years afterward as someone they hardly know.

I guess I had forgotten how awful it was until confronted with the ugly truth once again as I tucked my daughter into bed. It was real talk time, where we take off the masks and really share our hearts. Little did I know that Satan’s arrows had been leveled at her and found their mark. My beautiful daughter, who recently made cheer captain, will soon be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society and has a host of other achievements to her credit, has been silently battling insecurity because so many people tell her she’s loud, her voice is squeaky, her laugh is weird, and a host of other things that make her suddenly quiet, reserved and afraid to express the joy in her heart.

Let me just say, I was dumbfounded. All of those things she suddenly is ashamed of came directly from me! I bellowed, “You’re loud because I’m loud!” She gave me a weak smile.

“Your voice is seriously just like mine. And that laugh … that’s good stuff. Who cares what anyone else thinks? You take after your momma and you adore me!”

Ok, so maybe I’m not all that humble, but I know she does, so … real talk.

She was still really upset about it all, and apparently knowing she got it all from me didn’t really help her to feel better. So I leveled with her. If ever I have prophesied to my children, I did tonight. I leaned over her bed, looked her straight in the eyes and said, ‘Listen here, my love. God has never stood up and faced humanity to apologize for you. He has never said, “Um … sorry, world, for this girl here. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was really feeling it that night, you know, but now … Gosh, I’m so sorry.’ No! He is smiling over you. He loves you. He is proud of the masterpiece He has created. He loves your loud mouth, your masterful way of making others smile. The way you laugh and the funny faces you make to have fun. He loves every part of who He created you to be and He is not repenting of it. So you should be you, unrepentantly. One day, you’re going to rock the world with everything about you that makes you uniquely fit for the purpose God created you for. Don’t try to remake yourself, because you are a special design to carry out a specific work. If God isn’t apologizing, neither should you. Be you unrepentantly!”

I then gave my daughter the best piece of practical advice. I told her to be frank with people. To tell people, with a serious face so they know she is serious, that when they say those things, they are hurting her. Her real friends will take that to heart and quit. The riffraff will take care of themselves by taking a hike. And who needs ‘em? Let them go! Maybe this doesn’t sound too PC but I don’t care. Frankly, I am tired of the façades. I am tired of masking reality to save face for others. I like real talk and I want my kids to like it too. It’s liberating. “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Being real is inviting freedom into relationships and individual hearts. I hope that when the moment arises, she will clearly recognize her own value and not suppress the truth for someone who doesn’t.

Finally, we prayed together and she whispered, as I kissed her goodnight, “My heart is smiling.”

I hope this truth finds lodging in the hearts of middle schoolers everywhere … no matter how old they are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made!