beliefs

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A Stone’s Throw Away from Judging My Neighbor

Published July 22, 2017 by Dawn

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1)

It’s the newest hot-button issue. The world loves this verse. Heck, so does the church. We’re throwing it around as a means to fend off anyone who wants to talk about morality because as a society, we’ve decided morality is so last century. I’ve been praying about this one for a while, because there are some scriptures in the Bible that seemingly contradict this one, and we’re all a little confused.

Because this is such a delicate issue, the authority of scripture is the basis of all commentary presented, and I hope this blog reads more like an expose. I also hope you understand that I have spent hours researching scripture and praying over this. I don’t claim to know it all, just want to present the scriptures and I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to the truth of God’s Will.

Let’s just begin here, with Matthew 7:1-5. I’m going to use the NIV text for ease of reading. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Ok, we have the topic of judging, alongside the topic of hypocrisy. This is a great place to start! Most of the time, this text is quoted in part. In effect, “Don’t judge me. The Bible says that.” But look further and you will notice that in differentiating between your plank and your brother’s speck, Jesus is referring to one thing: seeing your own sin. Christians should be introspective about sin before they discuss it out loud. They should know their own sin and then deal with it. To paraphrase, “take care of your sin first.” Christians should not speak of sin if they don’t have a healthy prayer life involving repentance. If we don’t know our own spiritual depravity, we shouldn’t try to help anyone else. When you come to know the depravity of humanity and what you are capable of, you can approach the topic of sin from a place of humility. Humility is so important, especially when discussing sin with unbelievers. When we have a nonexistent or weak relationship with Christ, we cannot help others understand topics such as repentance, forgiveness, and grace. There is no salvation from sin without these.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says “deal with your sin first, then help your brother.” This is where things can get a little uncomfortable. Because we are called to talk about sin … no one likes that truth. For a more in-depth understanding of what Jesus meant, let’s follow Him to the scene of another group of church members discussing someone’s sin.

It’s important to understand, however, that the same Jesus who said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” also said, “Go and sin no more.” Let’s take a look at John 8:2-11:

“At dawn he appeared in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

”Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

“’No one, sir,’ she said

“’Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

Ok, that’s a lot to digest so let’s take it in a little slower. It starts with the representatives of the church, those specifically entrusted to carry the Word of God to the world … the Pharisees.

Ouch, church.

They caught her in the act and decided something had to be done. According to the law, they would have been justified in stoning her. They were zealous for God, and loved righteousness. In this, they weren’t wrong. But when they picked up the stones, the true motives of their hearts were revealed. They didn’t want to redeem her from her sin. They wanted to punish her for it.

We still do this. I shake my head at Christians every day on social media who, zealous for God, only quote the law and lambast the transgressions of everyone who is not in line with it. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees by again pointing out their hypocrisy. He encourages them to take a hard look at their own lives. It’s a humbling thing, to be sure! The bottom line is this: we cannot talk to the world about sin if we do not have an understanding of our own sinful nature apart from the saving grace of Jesus. Because one thing the world is not wrong about is that we Christians also sin! What separates us from the world is not our purity, it’s our repentance. If we aren’t repentant, we are not pure!

The Pharisees also made a public spectacle of this lady. They pointed out her sin in front of a crowd of onlookers and demanded Jesus do something. What they failed to understand is that this approach did not make the woman repentant. It made her ashamed. People who are publicly shamed are more apt to be bitter and hardened to any effect the Holy Spirit might otherwise have.

Therefore, I believe the church, if we must speak of sin, should do so in a way that brings that person to Jesus in private. It is hard to be naked in public, people!

Finally, her redemption happened when everyone else left.

Everyone.

We don’t have to hang over people to see how things pan out after we bring them to Jesus. They will be much better off alone with him than with us anyway. Ultimately, redemption is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can and should present the Word of God without error, and we should pray with and for people. But we are not responsible for anyone’s salvation once we have presented the truth. Their blood be on their own heads. However, if we refuse to share truth because we’re scared of the world’s reaction, their blood will be on us. “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely  die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood” (Ezek. 3:18).

Listen, I know it’s uncomfortable. I’ve been dodging this bullet for years. The world is so well-versed on the “Don’t Judge” scriptures. But having read scriptures, we can see that talking about sin is not judgment. Jesus says to help a brother out with their speck after you have dealt with your own. He also addresses the woman’s sin after dismissing the mob. Discussing sin is not the issue! The issue is how we do it! That is where judgment creeps in. When we confront sin with an attitude of superiority, we stand in judgment over our fellow man. When we confront sin with an aim of seeing punishment afflicted, we stand in judgment. When we relish hatred in our hearts toward unbelievers, we are so guilty of judging them. Condemnation is a satanic tool; it resides in the heart of “Christians” who love justice without mercy. We also have to be aware that people are comfortable with their sin, and often love their sin. We cannot destroy them in the process of trying to “help” them. When Jesus said, “with the measure you use it will be measured to you,” he was talking about the measure of grace you extend to others. The measure of mercy. That’s a dangerous thing, church, to mete out judgment! If we aren’t extending love and mercy in our hearts, we are measuring out our own condemnation. That’s scary!

The crux of the matter, then, is this: “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sin” (James 5:20). This verse right here should be the driving force of any conversations we may have about sin. It is true: you can catch more flies with honey. We have to be aware that quoting scriptures will never be enough. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). When we speak it in the authority of of God, with the love of God in our hearts toward people and the attitude of Christ about sin, that’s not judging. Speaking truth in love is a possibility. No, more than that, it’s a mandate according to Ephesians 4:15. For that, we should never apologize. But we should tread lightly and for God’s sake, put down our stones!

 

 

 

Self-Annihilate, for the Glory of God

Published March 20, 2017 by Dawn

“…for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God … put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature …” (Colossians 3:3,5)

I was lying in bed the other morning in a very self-righteous state of mind, counting the cost of transactions already made with the Lord. Parts of myself I have willingly given up and submitted to the Lord, things in life I have placed in His hands and not taken back, although I may have wavered at first. Battles with self that I have won … I was thoroughly patting myself on the back and recommending myself to the Lord in what can only be described as a disgusting display of self-pride. This was my usual prayer time and the Lord was there too, bearing witness to my self-love until He no doubt had enough. He very tenderly (but also firmly) reminded me of a story in the Old Testament that wiped the smile right off my face.

Samuel anointed Saul for a specific conquest and told him to destroy the Amalekites. The men, women, children, livestock … they were to be destroyed completely. Nothing to even suggest they ever existed was to be left. He then left Saul to the battle.

“When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’

“But Samuel said, ‘What this is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’

“Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.’

When Samuel returned, he was indignant. Saul greeted him with a victor’s hello, but Samuel immediately knew something was not right. Saul boasted in his victory and paraded the livestock and even the king of Amalek around as a spoil of war, bragging that he had completed the mission God had sent him on but that was not how God saw it at all.

“Samuel said, ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, “Go and completely  destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out. Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?’

“’But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul said. ‘I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag, their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.’

Samuel repeated the instructions God had given Saul, but Saul still wouldn’t admit that he had done anything less than completely obey. He was blinded by his own pride. He kept Agag as a sort of trophy for having defeated an army that was notoriously vicious and most often victorious. In the same breath, Saul defends himself and says he did exactly what God commanded and destroyed all of the Amalekites, but admits to keeping Agag alive. Um, hello Saul! Is Agag not one of them?!

In his mind, Saul was justified in keeping Agag. He also distanced himself from the sin of keeping the livestock by blaming it on his soldiers. Twice. With all authority in his hands, he shrugs off his soldier’s defiance against the orders of God. And in case that wasn’t enough to satisfy Samuel, he tells him that the best of the livestock was purposed for God anyway.

When the Lord begins to deal with us in matters of the flesh and our earthly nature, He comes at us resolutely with the command that all must die. All of ourselves that is flesh and not spirit must be given over to death so that we may live in the new way of the Spirit. Because we love Him, we zealously thrust forth everything He points out as being unholy in us and nail it to the cross we are bid to carry. We easily identify our lusts and our unrighteous inclinations. We know they don’t please him … in fact, they no longer please us either, so it’s an easy sacrifice. But if we go on in this way for long enough, God begins to deal with things we would rather He leave alone. Things we carry around as trophies, spoils of war from days gone by. We look Him in the eye and insist it will be dealt with, then squirrel it away out of sight so we can take it out when we think God isn’t looking and admire it some more.

There are things in our flesh we are  sympathetic to that we will never willingly submit to God if we are functioning in our self-will. We have to submit to His will entirely in order to see the job done correctly, or like Saul, we will kill off only the things that serve no real purpose in our lives while keeping parts of us that doesn’t please God. We might even think, in our deceptive hearts, that what we have kept will serve a real purpose in His kingdom. And it will … just not God’s purpose. It will serve earthly purposes. Devilish purposes. Never God’s.

You see, God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites because He knew the threat they posed to the kingdom of Israel. The rampant idolatry, the constant destruction and war. God wanted His people to live in peace in the land He had so lovingly reserved for them. The Amalekites threatened their peace and security, and their presence threatened their purity and devotion to God. Saul’s sympathies – or pride, as it were – endangered the Israelites for centuries afterward.

There is sin in us – deep, hidden things that when brought to light, we will defend instead of surrender – that are traitorous to us. There is treason within our hearts just waiting for the moment we sympathize with it. Things God has said must go that we have hidden away because it seems to serve a purpose, or exalts our lowly pride. We will even look at God and insist we have given over all of ourselves, put to death all the misdeeds of the flesh, while glancing back at things we know He commanded us to give up and kill completely.  We don’t realize how serious a threat these things can be. How detrimental to our faith and our walk with the Lord. God wants us to live with inner peace and joy, and we are allowing things of the flesh to rob us when all we have to do is kill those desires and inclinations in us and we would be better off for it!

Be careful what you side with in your character. Each of us should bare every part of ourselves to the Lord and let Him approve or disapprove. We will no doubt approve of things that does not please the Lord, so to be all that God desires, we must allow Him to show us what in us is not of the Spirit, and then we must immediately kill the things that displease Him, dishonor Him, or violate our witness in any way. We cannot offer to God parts of ourselves as a holy sacrifice that He has already deemed as an unholy thing. We can never pride ourselves in a job well-done, because to pride ourselves at all is to admit that the job isn’t done. When we have completely died to flesh, we will find ourselves mortified, humbled yet gloriously alive in the Spirit and a pleasure to our Heavenly Father. To become such, we must first abandon all of self to death, so that we can be raised to life in the Spirit.

“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22)

Child-like Sons and Daughters of God

Published February 8, 2017 by Dawn

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19-14).

It probably started out innocently enough. A toddling boy clambered up Jesus’ bent knees and threw his body clumsily into the arms of the smiling stranger, or a little girl ran through a mesmerized crowd and thrust herself into his laughing arms as he sat teaching a multitude on a hillside. At some point, Jesus encountered a child that stole his heart, and from then on, they became a large part of his ministry. Parents who, at one point probably held their children back for fear of upsetting those around them as they listened to the teacher, felt more at ease as they watched Jesus’ playful interaction with the children who no doubt grouped around him, taking advantage of the fact that he was the center of attention. His disciples were indignant. Perhaps Peter went first, grabbing a child before he could run headlong into Jesus’ sermon and accosting him to turn back and find his parents. And maybe James and John, those Sons of Thunder, stepped into the path of a gaggle of kids and put them on the road back to their families. Who knows which disciple reacted first or said what. What we do know is that the disciples wanted Jesus to be able to minister unhindered by the nonsensical interaction those kids were after.

Jesus’ response was precious. In essence, he said, “Don’t stop them from coming to me. Let them come!” And then he said something that applies to all people, regardless of their age: “…for such is the kingdom of heaven.” What does this invitation mean to us? What does it mean to be “such as” a child? I’ve pondered this for a while, made a list of qualities I find universal to children, and will do my best to explore the depths of what it means to be child-like in Christ.

To begin with, children are often more obedient. They don’t spend time questioning the wisdom of their elders. They recognize authority and respect those in authority. Of course, there are exceptions but they are the exception, not the rule.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

Holiness is a hot topic in the church today, only no one talks about holiness. They talk about grace and accuse anyone whose ministry includes righteous living of being “religious” or “under the law.” But I wonder what minister who truly hears from God doesn’t preach on righteousness and holiness, “without which no man shall see God” (Heb. 12:14).

A child of God is obedient not because he or she is trying to earn his or her way into heaven. It is because the child loves and respects his or her Father. This holiness is God’s desire for us, and His children pursue it because it is His delight. I don’t want to be righteous so that other people are in awe of my life. I pursue righteousness and make hard decisions every day that keep me in line with the will of God because I love Him and respect His lordship in my life. A child of God is not attracted to the laisses-faire lifestyle that says because of grace, we can live uninhibited. Uninhibited is a dangerous path for a child of God to walk, because it is flirtation with the world and the temptations of the enemy. A child of God appreciates boundaries and lives to know the will and happiness of the Father.

In the same strain, that child will actively seek the guidance of the Father so that he or she may know what makes His heart glad. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). He spent time away from the crowds, away from even his closest friends, to be alone with his Father and hear the will of God. He is our example, if we are the sons and daughters of God. Children know they don’t know everything. They seek the wisdom of their elders. They spend time listening and will follow the instructions of someone they trust unequivocally. They ask for direction, they want to know what will work and what won’t. They want to understand the world around them and how they fit into it. Our Father is able to instruct us, if only we will become like children and ask … then listen.

Children are a little intrusive. They do not understand, nor care to understand, the concept of personal space. A parent’s lap is a child’s perch from which he or she sees the world. There is safety there. Comfort. Peace and tranquility. Children love to get close and cuddle. Still to this day, my daughter will lace her fingers in mine while we stroll through the neighborhood, forgetting the world around us and walking hand-in-hand with me like we have since she was a toddler. If I am sitting in the living room after a long day of work, you can bet one or the other of my children (or even sometimes both) will be snuggled up next to me, melting into my side and making it impossible to move. I love this about my kids. I often muse about how much God must love it when a dear child of His refuses to give Him any personal space. I know He must delight in those moments when we press into Him, discontent until we are smooshed up against His ribcage, looking up into His face in adoration. Or as we walk beside Him, our hand in His, losing ourselves in that contact. It’s rapturous.

Another thing I love about children is their reckless love. Children have no prejudices. They don’t see color or sex, they don’t care about socio-economic status and they don’t spend any time worrying about where a person comes from (or comes out of). A child loves to love others. A child of God loves to love others. There are no lines of division. A child of God will love even those who are living in sin, praying earnestly in intercession for those who are taken captive by Satan’s schemes.

I’ve also noticed how much emphasis kids put on eating and drinking. I have a niece and nephew that must taste everything in my house when they come over, and wash it down with a gallon of milk. Children are good eaters. I’m talking, of course, before they become picky. There was a time when both of my kids ate a vegetable and fruit at every meal … the good ole’ days. Anyway, the point here is that when there is food and drink available, kids will eat when they are hungry. And they are mostly hungry. A child of God will exhibit the same kind of ravenous hunger and thirst when it comes to the Word of God and communion with the Holy Spirit. When the Food and Drink are available, a child of God will unabashedly dive in to satiate the spirit-hunger that comes upon them. He or she will take time to feed off of the goodness of God on the regular to keep from starving to death spiritually. And a child of God will notice spiritual starvation and immediately hit the heavenly pantry for a powerful snack or a banquet at the end of a long day.

Finally, children are full of joy. They laugh. A lot. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Children of God will find strength in being joyful. Satan will try to wreck the lives of God’s children because he knows that a child of God is stronger when joy is abundant. He saps us by destroying all our reasons to rejoice in God. But here’s the secret: God is our reason to rejoice, regardless of our circumstances. Christ alone. A child’s greatest delight is their parents. Not their belongings or their friends. Not their positions of sports teams. Simply their parents. If God’s children can get back to the simplicity of this kind of love, we would be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We would be strong in spite of the storms of life, because we would live in the joy and delight of our savior.

 

 

 

 

Let it Rain

Published May 29, 2016 by Dawn

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” Acts 2:17-18.

 

After seemingly endless days of rain, it finally tapered off Tuesday morning, and I decided to take the dog for a run. He was all excited, I was all excited. We were finally getting outside! Just five minutes into our run (in which I had already set a goal, and being goal-oriented, cannot stop until I reach it), the skies confirmed it was not done, just reached a lull. The heavens above us opened once more and Bleu and I found ourselves running in a torrential downpour. It was amazing.

You imagine I said that with a lot of sarcasm, and naturally, I would have. Except I had never run in a downpour before, just assumed it would be horrendous. And while maybe “amazing” is too strong a word for my affections toward the rain, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If I can be honest, I found it kind of refreshing. I like rain. I don’t mind being wet. I really didn’t mind not being super-hot and sweaty while I was running. That was probably my favorite part.

Because I was suddenly so focused on the rain (or seeing through the rivers running down my face), I ran farther than I had originally planned and for the first time, wasn’t fighting an inner urge to stop way before my goal. I made it with ease.

On my cool-down walk back home, I began reflecting on the rain, and how much I like the fact that God said that in the last days, he would “pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.” What will it be like to be rained on by the Spirit of the Almighty God?

Firstly, in a downpour, there is no dry flesh left. In a matter of mere seconds, all flesh is covered. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, there will be nothing of the flesh untouched by Him. There will be nothing of our natural selves uncovered to jeopardize what God is doing.

In a downpour, the water is your focus. Pain no longer hurts. No distance seems too much. You are able to do what God set you apart to do, and achieve the goal because you are no longer focused on the flesh. You are focused on the downpour.

Finally, downpours are refreshing. They awaken every part of you as the rain washes down and cools your body. In the same way, the Holy Spirit upon us will awaken every part of us to His touch.

 

 

Father,

Let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain. Awaken us, Lord, with the outpouring of your Holy Spirit. Make us truly alive in Christ.

Coming Back to the Heart of Worship

Published March 21, 2016 by Dawn

I was hungry. Honestly, I couldn’t have waited another moment. There it was, all laid out before me. I was famished! So, I sat down and started digging in. I was so hungry, I wasn’t even paying attention to the people around me. I was stuffing myself. All decorum was lost. All propriety gone. I was soooo hungry! I pulled up to the table without waiting for an invitation or even a hint that it was time to move in. I rushed toward sustenance and ate until I was full.

So, what’s this all about? Worship. I led worship at church a few weeks ago, and for the first time, I was completely immersed. I was so hungry for the Holy Spirit’s presence, I lost sight of the people sitting in the pews. I rushed toward the table God had prepared and I supped with Him. I worshipped without feeling that familiar temptation to entertain the crowd. I worshipped without feeling the familiar burden to drag the people into the Holy of Holies. For the first time, I was abandoned to this one desire: to be with Him. To be filled. To be full.

I’ve led worship before, but this is the first time I was alone with Him in that spotlight. Knowing that many had come to go through the motions with me, to sing all the selected songs and move on into the sermon without experiencing the fullness of the presence of God. But I wasn’t there for them. Or anyone else. I had come to be with God, and He prepared a table before me. It was just me and Him in that moment.

Later, I received a text about how much someone enjoyed the worship, but it didn’t even touch me. It was nice, but how could I explain the effortlessness of abandoning that morning? I was so hungry. I was pressing into Him knowing that He is my source. I was dancing with my Husband, surrendering myself at His feet. Receiving fullness in the place of emptiness. And I knew that this time was the first time I have ever really worshipped. I was not battling the compulsion to entertain. I was not struggling with distractions. I was just entering in.

And that day, someone else came in behind me. And another, and another, and another. That day, someone in church gave their hearts to God for the first time. And I had nothing to do with it. I just stood there, microphone in hand, completely lost to this world. Everything about this day tells me that this is what true worship is about. It’s not a talent show. It’s not just a part of the program. It’s all about Him. Being with Him. Lavishing on Him. Blessing Him. And He, in turn, blesses us. So much.

Taste and see!

Oh taste of Him.

Bread of Life

Savior of Men

Drink to the dregs

Oh, have your fill!

Be quenched by His Spirit

Be led of His will

The Chasm of Need

Published December 28, 2015 by Dawn

I was praying the other night, trying to push through the apathy that’s been binding me for quite a while now. I really pressed in and felt the nearness to God as I prayed. I felt confident enough to ask Him what is specifically creating this chasm between us, and He gave me a vision of it. There I was, standing on the edge of a very deep, very wide trench, looking across to Him on the other side.

I said, “God, what is it called? What is it from?”

He said simply, “Your need.”

I began to cry, trying to turn away from it because my need was so deep, so insurmountable and I felt like the helpless architect of my own chaos. I didn’t want to look at it. In truth, I haven’t wanted to look at my need in a while. Because it’s more than I can bear and I am angry. Inconsolably angry at this point.

He said to me, still gently, “No, don’t turn away. Look at it.” So I hid my eyes with my hands and turned back to face my need. Not looking, but not turning away from it again. I sought the comfort of darkness in the palms of my hands to keep me from seeing the chasm created by my need, stretched out as far as I could see and separating me from My Love.

Then I felt his arms encircle me. I pulled my hands down my face, wiping the tears down as they went. God was there, in the chasm, bigger than it’s depth. He was standing in the place carved out by my need and holding me. And finally, I let Him. I needed it. I was in awe of the fact that He didn’t even look twice before jumping into that unknown depth to come and comfort me. And I am aghast at how long I stood there, opposite this loving God, feeling defeated by the depth and distance between us, not asking Him to comfort me.

****

The many blessings God has poured out on me over the years have been recently overshadowed by the weariness of single motherhood and the deep depression of my son. He’s eleven, and sometimes, he doesn’t want to be here. On earth. I can’t even say it … my son is often “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”

I guess I’m glad he’s talking about it, but I’m so broken … he’s so broken. And I’ve cried out to God for rescue. I’ve offered up petitions, I’ve written down my own suggestions. I’ve agreed to surrender to His will. But God has been silent.

My great Abba Daddy, whom I run to for rescue time and time again, who has done so many miracles to get me through and provide for us, who I absolutely adore and worship – He hears my cries. He hears my anguish and the anguish of my son and daughter, yet He’s silent.

I’ve cried out, “God, I will give back every blessing ever bestowed on us if you will just bring joy into his heart. Infuse him with happiness. Let him have light inside again.” I cannot see the working of His hands in this. My son is battling physical illness due to his depressive state and struggling through most days.

Finally, I quit crying out to God. I began wavering in my hopes for rescue. I began to doubt His precious promises, even as His word tried to compel me time and again to believe regardless of what I see. I stopped looking at the need or the promise. I let darkness cover my face to keep me from seeing the great need before me.

I’ve cried. I’ve seen God across the chasm, but I’ve not asked for comfort in my need. I’ve not spoken at all. I’ve only looked at Him and muttered the praises of my lips while allowing my heart to be hardened from the accusations inside. “Why aren’t you saving him?!”

In this vision, God did not remove my need. He stood in it. He comforted me in it. And in life, He offers to do the same thing. “When you walk through the waters, I will be with you. When you go 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” (Isaiah 43:2). I don’t know when rescue will come. I don’t know when God will deliver us. But I know He has stepped into our need and I know His arms and the strength of His comfort. I know His passion for us. It’s unfailing.

Made to be Broken

Published December 4, 2015 by Dawn

The bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough was sitting in the couch between my son and I. We were having a bonding moment. A delicious mommy-son bonding moment. Then the phone rang.

It was my daughter, or at least I thought it was. She still had fifteen minutes of cheer practice left before I was supposed to pick her up, but her coach had been sick and I thought perhaps they were being sent home early on account of that.

“Hello?”

The voice on the other end of the line was not my daughter. I could hear her, but she was in the background. Crying hysterically.

Her coach explained to my frantic heart that there had been an accident, and my daughter had been dropped. She needed to be taken to a doctor right away. I hurriedly hung up, scrambled to get my keys and ran out the door.

I did my best to stay calm while I drove to the school. I didn’t honk at the crawling truck in front of me, nor did I swerve around him in a mad dash to get there faster. I could not afford to risk getting pulled over and taking more time to get to her.

When I got to the school, I parked in front and ran through the building behind her best friend and my son, who were showing me the way to get to her. When I turned the last corner, she was sitting, ashen faced, with her arm propped up on a table and an ice pack over her wrist.

A strange mixture of pain and relief settled over me. I was relieved she was not hurt as bad as I imagined she might have been, but hurting because she was hurting. I approached her, anxious to see what was wrong. My eyes were searching her whole body for a sign of trauma. Then her coach raised the ice pack and my stomach turned. Her wrist was at an odd angle and very swollen. My eyes met her coach’s and she mouthed, “It’s broken.” I pinched my lips together and nodded, trying not to cry.

Her coach and I quickly decided that I needed to pull the car around to a closer side door, and by the time I pulled around, she was carrying my daughter to the car. I was so grateful to her. I could not have picked her up and carried her. All the while, my baby girl (who’s not so much a baby anymore, but still very much my baby in my heart) was agonizing over every excruciating movement.

Amazingly, the hospital was not too busy and we were very soon in a room on the emergency ward getting xrays. My poor girl was squeaking through clenched teeth, pouring out her pain. I stood right outside the door wringing my hands, unsure of what to do with them. With me. Feeling very helpless, yet very needed. She needed me, but I was useless.

After the x-rays came the wait. Minutes ticked by every so slowly while we waited for word on how bad it was. By the looks of it, we knew her wrist was broken, but how bad was the break? Was the other wrist broken as well? What kind of pain was coming next? She was in turmoil physically and emotionally. I was a wreck because I couldn’t do anything for her.

The xrays revealed that the radius had been completely detached from the wrist bones and her hand had moved down and to the side of it. The whole mangled mess needed to be set immediately. Or after an hour of preparation and pain.

We waited. She was so scared of what was next. Would it hurt? Would they please knock her out so she didn’t feel anything? When would the pain go away?

Finally, they sent me out into the waiting area while they sedated and “reduced” her wrist. I sat down and thanked God. I thanked Him that it hadn’t been worse. That she would wake up and not feel the pain she fell asleep with. I thanked Him that we are breakable. Or otherwise mendable. That when we break, we aren’t destroyed. We heal. Life goes on. That the pain would come and go until one day, she won’t feel it anymore. And then I marveled at how deep this truth goes.

I have been broken. Perhaps so have you. I think at some point, we all are. And part of that is by design. God purposes our breaking sometimes. And sometimes, He wisely repurposes the breaking we endure that was never inside His plan for us. No matter how or why we have been broken, I find great strength and peace in the fact that we are breakable. That we are made to endure such hardships, to heal from all the painful things we go through. We are not destroyed. We are mended. The pain may be our companion for a while, and we might spend a great deal of time simply managing our pain. But as time goes on, the pain subsides. The ache remains with the memory, but the fiery intensity of the breaking is gone. In my own life, I have found that the more we press into God and give over our hurt, surrendering it daily, the less it hurts us. Because He lovingly carries our burden. He takes our pain. He carries it so we can be free of it. And we learn to trust Him. We become intimate with the One who relieves us in our suffering, until we finally become aware of this magnificent truth: He gives gladness for mourning. From the ashes of our pain, from the pieces of our brokenness burst forth a precious, beautiful new reality.