Saturday, November 1, 2014

Did God Fail Me?

Lately I have realized how very quickly life can take a major turn, and without advance notice.  People prayed for me while I was sick, and I recovered.   But sometimes people pray their hearts out, and there is no recovery.   What does that mean?  If I, or anyone else, die before reaching a ripe old age, or ends up with a lesser quality of life than I planned, does that mean God failed me?  Did He not hear the prayers?  Does He not care?

I know of someone whose mother had a major health crisis and was desperately and gravely ill.  This person prayed and prayed and prayed.  His mother died.  He now refuses to acknowledge that there’s a God, and hates Christians.  Did God fail his mother?  Did God fail him?

If you look at God as a genie in a bottle, then I guess sooner or later you’re going to be disappointed.  God is not here to take direction from US.  We are here to take direction from HIM.  He’s not here to please us; we’re here to love, obey and please HIM.   He can get along fine without us, but we’re in trouble without HIM.   I think too often people put themselves at the center of their universe, and expect God to be orbiting around them, answering their prayers just exactly how and when they desire.  In reality it is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of it all who should be (and is) in the center of it all.  He knows best, and we don't always know His reasons.

Every single one of us is assigned a number of days (Job 14:5).  Some of us have many days; some, few.   Our numbers were assigned with a reason and a purpose.  To be mad at God because our days are up is ridiculous.  In the case of the person mentioned earlier, well, his mother was going to have to die at some point.  We all do.  Would there have been any number of days that would have been satisfactory to him?  

What does God owe us?  What do we deserve?  Well, as someone who has known God’s word and deliberately disobeyed (plenty of times, unfortunately), I thank God that I have not gotten what I deserve.  I don’t want what I deserve!  In all fairness, God should throw up his hands in disgust and say, “Fine.  Have it your way.  Good luck.  I’m tired of messing with you.”  Instead of getting what I deserve, I got mercy and grace, and will get the same as I go through the number of days I have left, whatever that may be.

So, God did not, and will not, fail me, no matter what the future holds.  And He won’t  fail you, either.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Obedience

I was thinking about the way that we react when God commands us to do something.  Specifically, I was looking at how *I* react when God tells me to do something, especially something I'd really rather not do.   Sometimes I'll question if I really understood God correctly, or I'll figure out some way that I can "kind of" obey, while still doing what I want to do.  Sometimes I ask God for an explanation before I can proceed.  Or I'll just put it in the back of my mind and let the distractions of every day life cover it up.  And I realized that, looking at the Bible, I have plenty of company.  For instance -

"Jonah, get up. Pack a bag and head to Ninevah, I have a big job for you."
"But God, they're nasty people."
"I know, that's why I'm sending you there.  You need to tell them all hell's going to break loose if they don't stop it."
(covering his ears and uttering "lalalalalalala"), "Sorry God, I can't hear you... besides, I've already got plans somewhere else."

All this because he didn't like the people of Ninevah, and he wanted to see them get what he thought they had coming.  A bad storm, a near-drowning, and three days in the belly of a fish got his attention.  And then he went ahead and did what God told him to do, something he should have just done in the first place.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ananias, from Acts 9.

"Ananias, get up.  Head over to Straight Street where Saul from Tarsus is hanging out."
"But God, he's killed a bunch of us, and is on a mission to kill some more of us."
"I know, that's why I'm sending you there."

Never did God assure Ananias that he wouldn't be harmed, only that this is what He wanted him to do.  Ananias got up and went, and did as God told him.  He didn't pretend not to hear, or find an excuse to throw obedience out the window.  And look at what happened.  We got the Apostle Paul and a good chunk of the New Testament.

And Ananias didn't have to learn the hard way.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shootings - My Take

The number of mass shootings in recent years is absolutely alarming. Whether it's at a mall, movie theater, at school or work, it's hard to feel completely safe, and even worse, hard to feel comfortable when your kids and grandkids are out of your protection.  People around the country are demanding tighter gun control, and more help for the mentally ill.  But will this ultimately solve the problem?

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, you just didn't hear widespread calls for gun laws and restrictions, yet I can't remember once during my childhood ever fearing being shot at school, or anywhere else for that matter.   Everyone has their feelings on tighter gun laws, myself included, but I do think that guns are not at the heart of the issue - the real problem is a lack of hope.  People without hope do desperate things.

Life sometimes deals us "hopeless" situations - but those who follow Christ know that there's no such thing as a hopeless situation or a hopeless person.  Even though I grew up in a home where Christ was not part of our lives, society in general provided me with enough general knowledge of Jesus Christ and Christian values that when the tough times came around and I knew I'd done all I could for myself, I still had somewhere else to turn.  Society is different today - "progressive" people shun Christians and Christian values.  My heart aches when I think of kids in tough situations, and they aren't getting the assurance of an Ultimate Love from their schools or their neighborhoods or their grandparents like I did.  And it's easy to see how children without hope grow into adults without hope.  And it's easy to see how adults without hope grab guns and kill people.

JMHO.



Friday, May 30, 2014

He's Always There

I've been a little worried about a doctor appointment I had this morning - not so much worried about the appointment itself, but how I was going to get there.  The last couple of times it was a 6-8 block walk from my parking spot to the office, typically not that big a deal unless you have plantar fasciitis and difficulty walking distances.  I've been saying little prayers for a parking spot within a couple of blocks, and imagine my surprise when I found the closest possible spot open and waiting for me!  In a sea of parked cars, the very best parking place was vacant.  As I was parking, still not quite believing it all, I heard a voice speak to my heart, saying, "My blessings for my people far exceed what they can imagine or ask for."

In everyday ways, God is at work for our best, in ways we can't see.  How many unsuccessful and disappointing job interviews have given way to us getting the perfect job in the perfect time?  Or having numerous obstacles standing in the way of something we really want, only to find something far better on the detour we were forced to take?  Or hearing of people who have gone through unspeakable situations, and come out of them far better than they went into them?  The bad, the good, and the seemingly unimportant things of everyday life are all used by God to bless us, and to build our faith.  We can trust what He's doing, and if it's a difficult situation, we can trust that He'll walk with us through it.  He's there.  He's watching.  And He cares.

How much more will He bless us in our eternal needs?!

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.