Tag Archives: Faithfulness

Are You Stuck in a Box?

I listened to a sermon the other day where the pastor railed against a whole segment of the church whose theology was different than his, and  it brought me back to studying differing views in theology class.  First there was the tight collared Calvinist view, next the loose robed Arminianist  standpoint, from there, complimentarian to egalitarian, cessationist or charismatic and it went on.  When invited to respond, I walked to the front and drew boxes with each view.   Then I took the marker and wrote God encircling them all.

It seems we humans can’t help but do whatever it takes to quantify and understand everything.

This isn’t all bad; we have technology and much knowledge of our world because of this propensity, but when it comes to God, I wonder if this habit often serves to divide us and restrict our view of God to something we can wrap our mind around?  I wonder if we let God be as big as He is, if our boxes would give way to greater awe, wonder and worship of the only One who is worthy of it.  I’m not saying seeking right theology isn’t important – it is. But as soon as we think we have God and all His ways figured out, we are worshipping a different god.

When Job and his friends were confronted by God, rather than answering Job’s questions (he had some good reasons to question I would say), God proved definitively that He was far bigger and wiser than Job could ever conceive of.

In Psalm 139:6, David too realizes that while God knew him intimately, understanding God was not something his mind could accomplish.

Isaiah the prophet:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

We can explain how a baby develops, but the mystery and miracle of life has never been explained by science and yet, somehow, babies keep being born.  I don’t understand how God calls and saves people, but I know He does, and I am called to participate. The Creator of life is beyond our boxes and labels.

I believe where there is ambiguity in scripture, God desires we  depend on Him for the answers we need, and trust His divine wisdom for the ones we don’t.  I also believe when secondary things divide us as the family of God, the primary things like worshipping God in unity and loving and serving people until they encounter the Person of Jesus, fall by the wayside. (You know, the first and second commandments).

That is an unimaginable tragedy.  The world doesn’t need more Calvinism nor does it need more Arminianism. (I am sorry if you hang your hat on one or the other)  The world needs us to stop condemning each other. The world desperately needs Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God to break into every corner through the love and obedience of His Body -us.

Disappointed?

A few days ago, we experienced the heart wrenching disappointment of when some one you care about and have walked alongside is taken out when they seemed to be gaining victory.  My mind immediately asked Jesus where He was in the situation.  I ache for their pain, and wonder what more we could have done to support them.

It appears the pieces that were coming together have shattered into a million irreconcilable splinters, and the work God was doing, undone in one fell swoop.  I began asking Jesus how to respond.

I realize I cannot save anyone; the pertinent question for me is: ‘where does my faith lie when things fall apart?’  What I do with disappointment determines how I interact with and see God and how I display His faithfulness towards others.

I must remember my vantage point offers such a limited view of of the overall picture God sees in each life and circumstance (including mine).

Looking at the history of God’s people, I realize He is no stranger to sorrow and disappointment at the choices and actions of others.  There is no one who more faithfully walks alongside than God Himself.  Duet 32 says:

The people of Israel belong to the Lord.  He found them in a desert land, He surrounded them and watched over them; He guarded them as the apple of His eye… He nourished them with honey from the rock and olive oil from the stony ground. 

Even so, Israel fell over and over and God continually reached out, offering not only forgiveness in response to repentance, but also restoration and blessing if they turned back to Him.  (Isaiah 55:6-9).

Sometimes the person who falls and causes the grief and disappointment is me.  Even having tasted so often, the faithfulness and provision of God, I have found myself overwhelmed by circumstance, and rather than standing firm on His promises, turned to another source of help or comfort instead.

I can only imagine the sorrow Jesus must have felt knowing Judas, after walking intimately together for three years, would betray Him.  Yet Judas was the only disciple Jesus called “friend” and Jesus did not waver in His mission or His trust in the Father.

I realize I must develop the viewpoint of Jesus when it comes to the disappointments of life.  In the moment when all His disciples deserted Him, leaving Him alone to face the condemnation of Israel and the crucifixion of Rome, Jesus knew God was not finished with this rugged bunch of men.  His faith that God would yet turn them into the builders of the foundation of the Church was immovable and His grace and redeeming power encompassed and empowered them to rise again.

To dwell in disappointment takes the focus off the Redeemer.  There is no fall Jesus can’t raise a person from, and His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine.

So I will pray for and love my friend, and I will place my trust and hope for their story back where it always belonged.  In Jesus!

New Like the Morning

Gazing at the snow on the mountains, I am overwhelmed by a rush of emotion at an image that simultaneously fills my mind.

It is Jesus, snowy paint brush in hand, cheeks rosy and frosted by the chill, eyes warm as hot cider as they twinkle, almost mischievously. The landscape He is painting is mine. It is my life. My day. My experience.

The oblique day to day browns and greys make up the panorama and rain tugs downward with a dull haze. Disappointments, weariness, unrealized expectations and dreams, and hills that never seem to  crest begin to be dusted over by the snowy brush as Jesus sweeps across the canvas of the soul.

The faithfulness of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; His mercies being afresh every morning.  I say to myself; “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!” 

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.  So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)

There is a reverent stillness in the early dawn as virgin rays reveal the artistry of the night before.  Jesus has again woven a creative masterpiece of soft white where the night before was bare and brown.

I am learning to wait in the stillness, quiet with an open heart to receive.  To flood the soul in God’s mercy is to receive salvation and hope for the day.

In the coldness of the earth, blanketed in snow, a process begins of purifying and renewing so when the sun warms the land, life appears afresh and mercy blossoms after the resting of winter.

I see in the cycle of nature, the promises of God.  To those who wait quietly in the fall seasons, searching after God’s heart, salvation comes softly down like newly fallen snow.  A restfulness purifies and begins the work of renewal, opening the door for the new life of spring.

In every season, there is a promise, displayed practically before our eyes to draw us into the reality of God.  In our souls, there plays out a call and response with our Creator that, like the seasons, brings new life and change.  How reassuring to know that when we come, we will always find mercy.

In Christ, there is never an end to the mercy of new mornings, nor the restoration in the quiet hush of snow that washes and heals with the promises of new life.  Each season can bring reason to celebrate and reason for thankfulness, yet knowing how to position ourselves where we are brings fruitfulness in any season!

What season are you in right now?  What promises of God are there for you in the stillness as you wait and search Him out in the colours of your life?

Who Guarenteed Your Promise?

Do you remember pinky swearing with a spit shake, guaranteeing you’d shove a needle in your eye should you break your promise?  When a promise is given, the giver is also its guarantor.  It is a testimony to human nature that more needles are not thrust into eyes.

Sometimes I mistake being obedient with making the promises of God come to pass.  They are completely different.  I am called to walk in faith and obedience, I am NOT called to make God’s promises come to fulfillment – that is God’s job and His joy.

What promises and calling has God placed in your hands?  Has He asked of you strange and unreasonable things in view of them?  Oftentimes God leads us outside the courts of reason to the grounds of faith without sight.  He transcends our understanding to teach us more of His.  The stretching we undergo expands our faith, and in the hours and days of impossibility, its fabric is tested and refined.  Often unnoticed in the midst of obedience, God faithfully  brings to pass what He said He would.

Jesus words to many who have anxiously awaited Him lift the spirit:  Do not be afraid – only believe.  Do not be discouraged. Do not tarry in the home of disappointment, carry on past to the restful dwelling place of anticipation and belief.

Did the disciples forget who had guaranteed the promise?  When God is the guarantor, the most reasonable response is belief and expectation regardless how far outside reason’s boundaries the promise lies.

“I will be beaten and killed, and I will rise again in 3 days,” Jesus promised.

Only a few women timorously ventured to grave of the crucified promise and found not a body, but a message.  LIFE where death had held power just hours before.  What cross has come before your promises?  What grave holds in darkness, the seeds God has sown in you for this season?

We are not called to fulfill His promises, we are called simply to step by step obedience.   To come to the garden in the hours of despair and impossibility to witness the power of God’s impossible response!

Do not despair!  He is Risen!  Every promise of God is written in the blood of Jesus, and do not for one moment, think there exists a power great enough to void it!