Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Year in Review

After two years of locusts, 2013 was the breakthrough year.  It was the year that confirmed God had indeed been working behind the scenes.  It was the year that I learned by keeping my eyes on Him, I could get through the troubles better than I went into them.  It was the year that I learned what to do in future times of trouble.  I learned that oftentimes the action that feels the most natural is not the right thing to do.  I learned to recognize the voice of evil in those discouraging thoughts.  I learned a little something about perseverance.  And I learned that through it all, God is right there, supplying what I lack myself.

Every day, my prayer was from Proverbs 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."

In two years' time, my head and heart have been through this verse every way possible. 
     -TRUST.  Believe what you can't see, or what you can't see yet.  It may look, on the surface, like nothing is happening, but you have a God who is working mightily behind the scenes.
     -Trust with ALL your heart, not part of it, and not some of the time, but with everything in you.
     -Your "own understanding" is horribly limited and flawed.  You see the tip of the iceberg.  Don't draw important conclusions about life based only on what you see and understand right now.
     -Defer to God in EVERYTHING.  Weigh decisions against God's Word.  Is this something you need to handle, or let God take care of it?  Do you need to pray, and wait, for direction?  Do you need to confess something that day that you handled that you should have left to God?

 As 2014 draws near, I can't help but wonder what it will bring.  Personally, I'm hoping that it's a year of moderation, not the extremes of the last few years.  But whatever it is, it will be perfectly designed by God to nudge me in the direction He has for me, and in the end, it will be very good.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Justice or Mercy?

I forget how that saying goes exactly... something about when you sin, you pray for mercy, but when someone else sins and you get hurt from it, you pray for justice.  Still, when we get hurt from someone else's missteps or deliberate stabs at us, we might find it hard, but still do-able, to pray for mercy for them.  However, today's events really made me stop and think hard about all this.

I think most people have heard by now about the little two year old boy in Sioux Falls, South Dakota who died today.  He was the victim of one heck of a beating, courtesy of the mother's boyfriend (allegedly).  You can read the details here

After being in critical condition, the little boy died today, and I started praying for justice.  Actually, I'll admit that was not my first reaction.   Then I started wondering if mercy wasn't what I should be praying for.  What's right?  Praying for mercy for that low-life, or justice for the little boy whose life was taken, and so violently? 

Do you pray for mercy for someone who is so dead in their own sin that they can't see the one thing they need desperately?  Of course.  Even when they commit a heinous crime like this?  I can't logically see how the reason could change, but I'll be the first to admit I find praying for the person who did this to be one of the most unpalatable things I can think of at the moment. 

I've been pondering this most of the afternoon, and have come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is probably to pray for both mercy AND justice. And that somehow, this person who is the epitome of evil can have his heart changed and his soul saved.

Monday, September 2, 2013

When the Going Gets Tough

Revelation 3:15-18  "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see."

Seems like the worst position to take with Christ is "lukewarm" -- if He feels strongly enough to say that He will "vomit" the lukewarm out of His mouth, that's cause for alarm if that's your situation.  Since so many of the people around me are lukewarm, it bothers me immensely.  I spent a good portion of my life lukewarm as well, and I thank God that He saw fit to show me how much I need to rely on Him, and He did so through some extremely difficult circumstances in my life - not once, but several times, each time changing me in ways that would never have been possible apart from Him.  While I would never have chosen those periods of crisis, I treasure the work He did in me during those times.

The Bible passage goes on to say, "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire."  The process of refining gold in a furnace results in the removal of impurities. Is He saying to go through our life's difficulties under His direction, and He will remove our impurities?  I think so!  Going through a crisis without Him will either produce a negative change in us (bitterness, anger) or no change at all.    But done under God's direction, and handling our difficult circumstances according to God's word, we will certainly be spiritually refined.

Since I'm still quite far from perfect, I can assume there will be more "refining" circumstances in my future.  But since I've been through a few of them already, when the next one comes, I can go into it with the assurance that God will indeed bring me to the other side of it, and much better than I was.  And that's of great comfort when the ride starts to get rough.