Yesterday Chris Seay led the way with his convicting words about following Jesus as our Master. This morning’s reading ended with these words from Chris:
“Are you feeling trapped by life? Do bankruptcy, broken relationships, sin, destruction, harassment, and failure have you cornered? Congratulations, you are right in the hand of God.”
He described the Israelites’ absolute vulnerability at the Red Sea, trapped by a mass of water on one side and an army heading toward them on the other — No. Way. Out.
Because GOD. Because JESUS. Because LORD. Because MASTER. Because WE’RE NOT.
How easily I can lose sight that when times are hard and I want to quit, THAT is when I am in the center of God’s palm. The “mountain top” experiences are glorious to be sure, a lovely foretaste of Heaven. With that, time and time again throughout the Scriptures, people were in the midst of calamity and that’s exactly where they needed to be for God to “show up” and do His work and fulfill His purposes.
Like on the Cross. No greater mess; no greater miracle.
Oh me of little faith. God does His BEST work in the mess. It’s been my experience that He is so much NOT about “fixing” or changing circumstances but is ALL about transforming hearts and shaping His people into His image, whatever it takes. “God is in the business of reducing us to total dependence on Him,” I heard John Wimber say in 1994 and I really didn’t have a clue. What I know now: the harder the clay, the more pressure needed to mold and shape it. Best to be soft putty in His hands.
Here are some of the things God has used to reduce me to utter dependence on Him — Three major surgeries, the onset of two chronic systemic health conditions, near-divorce (twice), a family member’s suicide attempt…not to mention moving to a city where I know no one which involved losing my spiritual home in the Vineyard after 20+ years and giving up the call on my life as a Worship Pastor. And that’s the short list.
It’s definitely not the same as living in a dirt-floor shack with no running water and having to hunt for food in the dump. Or having my entire family wiped out at gunpoint and needing to flee to another country as a refugee. Or being a victim of domestic violence and needing to escape from my home to find safety and shelter. I get that, I really do. The people who survive those kinds of circumstances amaze me more than I can say.
But that list of “hardships” (for lack of a better word) is what God used to break me; it’s apparently what I needed to become softer putty in the center of His palm. The list itself cannot possibly convey the hundreds of hours of physical and emotional pain that were spent in tears and fears and many wonderings how I was going to make it.
And many times of asking “WHY?”
I rarely ask that question anymore, because the answer doesn’t usually come in the midst of the struggle; “Why?” seems to be answered while looking in the rearview mirror.
So I have stopped living this life kicking and screaming, and banging my head against a wall, demanding answers and solutions. I lament, to be sure, but in the midst, I know I eventually must surrender…I MUST. Whatever messes face me (and there are plenty) are fertile ground for God’s work of healing and transformation, molding and shaping me into the woman He wants me to be. It’s not about changing anyone else or changing my circumstances. Please. Change. Me.
This Lenten fast is only two weeks old, and there is much more to experience and learn. One thing I know for sure: it’s showing me that I can live life differently. With much less. With questions unanswered. With situations unresolved. And be content, more than content.
Because God. Because I’m not.
(Give a listen)