Tuesday, June 25, 2013

God Meets us in our Foolishness

"Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out His word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction."
Psalm 107:19-21
I am amazed that these verses stir up both such deep painful conviction and abiding hope at the same time. I can look back at my life and I can see that with God's help and the love of some very loving friends that I have weathered some pretty painful life events and experienced some deep losses. But, to be honest much of the affliction that I have suffered has been because of my own iniquity, unbelief, and mistrust of God.
Now, the mistrust of God, came from not understanding His ways. Growing up I developed some cognitive distortions and it was often through the lens of these distortions that I viewed the  Scriptures, which lead me to view God as distant and angry, rather than the loving Abba that His word describes.
And then there's the unbelief. It wasn't a purposeful unbelief in which I would read the Word and immediately choose to discount it. For God has gifted me with many wonderful teachers and a love of His Word. The unbelief was such that in the moments of stress, temptation, and trials my default was to fall back on untrue core beliefs that I had developed early in life. A counselor friend very gently pointed out to me that I said I believed something, but my life wasn't showing that I believed it. She went on to explain to me that when that happens in her own life she recognizes a truth has not yet fully replaced a faulty core belief and is acting out of the core belief rather than the truth. So, with the help of Beth Moore's Believing God and continual work on replacing those old lies with God's truth, I believe I have made a lot of head way overcoming the stronghold of unbelief. I think the most significant thing I learned about unbelief was that it was as important to believe what God says about me as it is to believe what God reveals about Himself. What is cool is that as I work on the unbelief, I have realized the mistrust I have had towards God is also being dealt with.
Now for the really convicting part...the part about the fools. I believe we are fools when we attempt to live life or deal with its pain apart from God. Sometimes we are simply a rebellious people and choose to sin and sometimes we do this as a result of our unbelief and our mistrust of God who is trustworthy. But the thing about sin, is that it is like cancer that grows and kills healthy tissue around it. Another way of looking at it is it is like a mold that is growing in fruit. Not only does the mold destroy the healthy cells right around it, it emits toxins that can make us sick. Another good analogy for sin is infections that destroy our flesh. Those commercials on TV about meningitis that state that it doesn't always kill and then the camera spans and shows people who have lost limbs or are paralyzed come to mind...and sin in all of its ugly "glory" does the same, slowly but surly it destroys and kills. It not only kills us physically as it wrecks havoc on our bodies. It can also kill us emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. Even at the times we look really good on the outside, the tendency towards Pharisaical thinking crops up. As a result, we lose touch with our own badness and are slowly killing our joy and our relationships through critical spirits and a lack of grace towards others and sometimes ourselves.  
The truth about sin, is that we all tend to hide it and live in shame, fearful that we will be found out. When we keep things hidden in the dark, our shame grows, which in turn causes more hiding until we are so steeped in sin that we are heart sick and feel like we are near death and sometimes in actuality are. Those shaming voices in our heads tell us everyone else has it all together. Everyone else sins less than we do. Everyone else will judge us if they knew how bad we really are. The voices also tells that even GOD deems us beyond help. Toxic shame silences us, causing us to either fake holiness as we continue dying or go into despair and give up.
But, we have a God who desires to meet us where we are at, even when where we are at is caused by our foolishness. He is already seeking to deliver us from the distress we experience, Even when that distress is caused by our own sin. He has His ears turned toward us waiting to hear the cries of His troubled children. He longs to deliver them from their distress. He knows that in our shame we tend to hide from Him, causing us to bear more pain than we have to. Our God is a God who longs to heal and desires that we quit ducking our heads in shame and cry out honestly to Him. He is waiting for us to call out to Him so that we are truly ready to hear his words -- words which have both the power to heal us and the wisdom to deliver us from our sin and our distress. He longs for us to recognize His passion for us to be whole and healthy individuals, relating to each other in ways that promote growth, display His love, flood us with joy, and draw us and others to the center of His heart and His will.
If we are experiencing shame, we can face that shame, calling it by name and cry out to Him, fully knowing that He, Jehovah Rapha, will save us from death. As we are scrupulously honest with ourselves and with Jesus so that anything that is poisoning us spiritually is exposed. We must come to Him humbly confessing that our ways lead to destruction. He will teach us to walk away from sin. He will teach us to stand in the face of temptation. He will teach us to remain faithful in the face of heartache and tribulation. He will empower us to love with a pure love that doesn't destroy those in its path. His ears are ever turned in our direction.
The question is, "Are we willing to cry out to Him and face our tendency to self destruct?" He is not angry with us, He is waiting with open arms. He is not disappointed in us, He understands that we are but dust and that it is in our weaknesses that His strength is made manifest. He is not disgusted with us, died to save us. He is not enjoying our pain, He's waiting until we truly want Him, not just relief from our affliction. He can and He will heal us and will deliver us from our affliction. He will deliver us from ourselves as He draws us to the center of His heart. 

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!