Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of Buses and Betrayal


We all understand what it means to be "thrown under the bus"... the purpose can be a little vague, but betrayal is something that is an all too familiar feeling to us as human beings.  I know that I personally am well acquainted with the meaning of the phrase and although the pain of getting beat up under the said "bus" can be intense, sometimes the pain of being betrayed and thrown under is worse.

You feel that you are united to other Christians in a significant and inexpressible way; but there are moments where sin becomes so overwhelming that bonds are broken and backs are stabbed.  What should've been a chain linked arm and arm in spiritual warfare for the kingdom of heaven, becomes a spiritual blood bath against each other.

One thing that I notice in my own heart is the need to justify myself.  I hear the lies and I instantly want to jump on top of it and bring justice!  I hate deceit, but sometimes my desire to rid the world of deceit becomes obsessive and I feel frustrated when my attempts fail.  When I feel like the scape goat in a situation, I bristle and fight it.  When others seek to taint or even ruin my reputation, I fight like a maniac to try and *fix* it all. 

But you know, I would rather someone ruin my reputation and make me the scape goat, then make someone else.  I don't like seeing my friends or brothers and sisters in the Lord suffer... so if it happening to me, means that it doesn't happen to them, I will bear that burden and it is selfish of me to despise being hurt.

It is an attitude of selfishness rising up inside of me that says "I don't deserve this".  Instead of fighting it because of how I feel, I need to fight it because the recognition that the deceit on the villains part will destroy them and bring them to total ruin.  Instead of acting on a selfish motive, I need to act on a selfless motive... an act that is driven by a love for the Lord and His people--Not a love of myself. 

Which is why reputations don't matter to me.  Gossip, slander, hatred, envy, lying, deceit, anger and every other thing that seems to be targeted at the core of my being, all don't scare me anymore.  It does not matter.  What matters is that Jesus is Lord and His way is perfect and more than worth fighting for.

My heart is broken at times.  I feel betrayed and hated--but so did Jesus Christ.  Only He didn't deserve it because He was perfect, and I am hopelessly flawed and deserving of death.  But He has chosen me and bestowed His righteousness on me and I.am.free. (Galatians 5:1)  I don't need anything else.  Being addicted to other peoples' praise is a dangerous thing and one that will certainly let us down.  Friends don't matter.  Having people like you doesn't matter.  Respect, devotion, loyalty and support aren't things that are going to save you.  You're not going to die if people who claim the name of our Savior, then turn around and spew venom from the same mouth they proclaim blessings.  All that matters in this life is that lost souls see the work of salvation that God has wrought in your own heart.

 I feel so overwhelmed with grief at times.  A lot of these blog posts are written from a time where I was going through a painstaking trial and this post is no exception.  I've laid so much on the line and it haunts me everyday.  So why does it haunt me?  Because I had a picture in my mind of how life among Christians should operate and when it didn't happen that way, I felt hopeless.  

One chief lesson I have learned in most of my miserable moments, is that just because things are supposed to happen a certain way, doesn't mean that they automatically will happen that way.  Just because people are supposed to act in a way that exemplifies dignity and noble character, doesn't mean that is what they will default to.  Feeling challenged can be a rather enlightening thing for those around us.  It usually shows the people who surround us what kind of heart we really possess.  The tricky part is that if we have a black heart--a heart of stone, we can hide it for a little while, but the Lord will reveal it all in due time.  Whether for our salvation or our damnation, He will do what is best and that means that our lies and our deceit will come out of the woodwork.  Unfortunately, that means that others are probably going to have to be hurt in the process and that is where I am at right now.  I see how God is using trials and difficult situations in my life to reveal a *greater* web of lies and deception; but He is also using it to show me the places in my heart where I am indulging my own flesh and desires.  He is using it all to grow me and make me resilient and further dependent on Him for satisfaction and happiness. 

When I feel most despondent and sad, I go and I just read!  I just inundate myself and God never fails to comfort me.  The more I delve into God's Word the more He shows me and it brings me such peace and joy.  One scripture that really stood out to me in my reading today, came from Proverbs and was very applicable to some of the current difficulties I am facing...
 
"Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him..." -Proverbs 27:22

That verse made me see that it does not matter what I do.  It does not matter how hard I try to justify unjust circumstances, a fool's folly will not depart from him.  God has to do that work, and He can use others in a mighty way, but if I scream at the top of my lungs from every roof top I can find, it might prevent others from being deceived, but the root of the deceit will still be there and that is what really counts. 

So as we endeavor to battle against the evil that ensues us, may we cast off all fear we have of our own desires and be challenged to ask ourselves if our motive is for the kingdom of heaven, or for our own wounded egos. 

"The wicked flee when no one pursues...
But the righteous are bold as a lion." -Proverbs 28:1


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Alright



"Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.  And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.  Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"  But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  So the men marveled, saying,  "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" Matthew 8:23-27

I have read this story a million times, but for some reason, it struck a cord with me like it hasn't ever done before.  I felt like I could genuinely *feel* the fear that the disciples must have had on that boat.  Sometimes life is like an angry sea and there is a lack of assurance that everything is going to be okay.  I know that I have many moments where I feel despondent, hopeless, deserted and vulnerable. 

But what I find the greatest comfort in, is when Jesus says "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"

He knew that everything was going to be okay.  He was the one controlling the wind and the waves, if His disciples were trusting in Him and believing that He was the Son of God, then it didn't make sense why they questioned their own safety, when their safety lied in the hands of the God Who was with them on that very boat.  

And so I've wondered why I question the outcome... why do I wonder if everything is going to be okay?  Honestly, if I truly have the faith that Jesus is the keeper of my soul, what on this entire earth should I have to fear?

Absolutely nothing.

There is not one thing that can pluck me from the hand of God:

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand." John 10:28-29

So I realized how silly my fears were.  Fears about failing, or about what the future has, or about not living up to extra biblical standards... fears about people gossiping or lying about me-- all these things that the enemy uses to distract me from the greater purpose that the Lord has set before me.  Things to take my mind off my redemption and point me back to myself, instead of my Savior.  If I can just focus on myself and my own failures, then I will lose what the very definition of salvation itself is.  I need to be looking to the cross, not myself.  Even if it is a focus on shortcomings, it's still a focus on me.  It is still my heart saying that I need to do this, or I need to do that, when it has already been done for me.  I need to show forth good works so that I can be a testimony to a lost and dying world; not so that I can somehow be pleasing before the Lord and earn favor with Him.  

God has used these trials in my life to show me my own lack of faith.  I desire the kind of faith that can move mountains! (Matthew 17:20)  Or the kind of faith that isn't afraid to take a stand so powerful that it is a risk to my own physical life! (Esther 4:16)  I want to be able to impact others with the work Jesus has done in my own life and show how beautiful salvation is.  

But without the faith that God knows everything and is in control of everything that happens, my ability to have a huge impact is inhibited because all I can worry about is me.  (Philippians 4:6)  Instead, I need to trust God and just focus on proclaiming the glory of His name throughout the earth.  Instead of letting my fears bog me down, I need to meditate on the fact that Jesus is with me and ordaining my steps.  If I fail, then it is just an opportunity for me to become sanctified in an area that I need to be convicted in, and if I am wounded, it is an opportunity for me to become even more dependent on my Savior for comfort and love.  God's love is perfect.  It isn't unwavering like human love and affection; but it is constant and unchanging.  Why do we act like it just isn't enough for us?  Why can't we just hold onto something so perfect and glorious that was given to us in all our unworthiness?  

When we go through times where we feel unwelcome, unloved, rejected or lonely, those are moments just bursting with potential for a deeper relationship with the Lord!  It is God telling us that we don't need to be accepted, adored, or admired; but that we just need Him.  Corrie Ten Boom said "You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have" and that is just jam packed with truth.  It is in our darkest moments that the light of Jesus is so bright and powerful... it is when our hearts are broken that the balm of Gilead is the sweetest and the comfort of the Holy Spirit is overwhelmingly glorious. 

With that I shall end with a link.  (I know you're just overwhelmed with excitement! ;)  It is a song that has been a great source of comfort to me lately and is probably responsible for the inspiration of this blog post.  

So here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RclXGNBJTk


"...for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." -Matthew 17:20