Monday, April 20, 2009

Truth and Consequences

So, a couple of weeks ago I found a journal that I had begun writing in back in September. Some of you may remember that we returned from Africa at the end of August, and September was a time of transitioning back to being stateside. During that time, and the weeks that led up to that time, God had really laid on my heart to step back from all that I was involved in at the church, from teaching a women's Bible Study, to being part of the leadership team for MOPS. At the time I did not understand it, but I knew that it was His will, and so I followed in obedience.

In this journal, I wrote:
What a strange season of life I am in right now, though I do feel a great sense of peace in it. After being able to exercise my gift of teaching for two semesters, and was privileged to hold some leadership positions in various ministries, I have felt the Lord urging me to step back from all of it, to rest and grow in Him. The verse He gave me is from Isaiah 30:15:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.

Above all else, I feel a call to deepen my relationship with Jesus, through prayer and increased study of His Word.
At the time, I wrote with such confidence and peace of the path that God was leading me down. Little did I know that I was soon to enter one of the hardest storms of my life. Little did I know how my Savior was trying to brace me, steady my feet for all that was to come. Is He not merciful?

The problem is that once the storm came, I failed to look to Him. Instead I focused on the storm, on the strength of the winds and depth of the dark clouds. I stopped crying out to Him and tried to wade through it on my own, by my own wisdom. Dumb. I'm sure that no one else out there has been so foolish as to think that they could get by their own smarts, that the way that seems right to them must be the right way. But then there was that one time with Peter, the Rock, who almost sank like one. This is what the Gospel of Matthew says about the account:
After he (Jesus) had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt? You knew He was calling you to trust. You knew He was calling you to lean in on Him in full dependence. You boldly asked for more of Him, for a deeper relationship with Him, to see and experience more of Him. You asked to walk on water. He wanted to grow you. He was calling you to go deeper, and sometimes, that requires trials and tribulations in order to exercise that growing faith and dependence. He called you out of the boat. Why did you doubt?

Job 36:21 says, "Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction."

I would like to say that that's a low blow, but there is too much truth in it. In affliction, counsel is not sought out properly, decisions are made in haste based on worldly thinking, and the ripple effect is astounding. So then, what to do with the consequences, because everything, whether good or bad, comes with consequences. I will trust that the maker of all things can make something of even this mess. I have to believe that truth.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Psalm 103: 8-18
Grace and peace y'all.

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