Monday, March 7, 2011
"Your pain has changed me --- your courage asks me..."
Ultimately God wants relationship with us, He wants our thoughts to matter less and less to us ---- and His thoughts to matter more and more to us.
God knows that as long as we are caught up in our own ways of thinking, we will miss what He has for us ---- and what He has for us is good and right and pure and holy.
Have you ever known someone who lived their whole life ultimately wanting and trying to get ---- what they wanted? Oh they might not view themselves in that way -- they might have convinced themselves that they were "thinking of others", but ultimately, deep inside, this person is only really satisfied at their core, when things are working out as they want. Have you ever known someone who has not "died to themselves" in order to live for something greater than themselves?
We've all known someone like that --- goodness, we've all been that person (to varying degrees)---- because we all are born with that innate instinct --- to be self consumed, self focused.
And then God...
The most beautiful people are those who have recognized their "self" tendency and have actively sought to lay it down and pour themselves out --- for something more, something deserving, something worthwhile...
Ultimately --- that "something more" is our Heavenly Father.
He is the ONLY worthwhile reason to move and breath and live. He will always bring a good return on our investment in what He is doing. He promises the greatest retirement plan imaginable. He does not set about to do a work for the good of His own selfish desires (there is no selfishness in Him). "He knows the plans He has for us, and they are not to harm us, but to bring us a Hope and a Future." Jeremiah 29:11
In order to get us to "die to self, and live for Him" John 3:30, He will carry us on a journey.
John Bunyan wrote of it in "The Pilgrim's Progress" (1678). Hannah Hunard wrote of it in "Hind's Feet on High Places" (1955). Roy Hession wrote of it in "The Calvary Road" (1952). Catherine Marshall wrote of it in "Beyond Ourselves" (1961). Robert Keller wrote of it in "The Shepherd's Look at Psalm 23". Max Lucado writes of it in many of his books - one of my favorites is "Traveling Light". Peter, John, Paul, David, Moses, and many others wrote of it hundreds of years ago. God will use circumstances to draw us to Him. God will use our weakest moments to allow us to feel His great loving strength covering us.
Why then do we sometimes frantically focus on managing our personal realm in such a way that we do not allow ourselves to see or experience the painful aspects of this world. Why do we avoid or hide from the painful realities that will enable us to best see our Lord at work?
Would we ever truly appreciate the good pleasure of a warm blanket if we never felt the cold chill first?
Isn't the most beauty found when we SEE GOD --- and not our own managed realm?
God is not focused on our comfort, He cares much, much more about our walk with Him. Because He knows that during the journey of the walk --- He will be able to bring us into full bloom. He will be able to transform us from what we were, into what He created us to be. He knows that it's in the dying to ourselves, that we will be able to fully live in Him.
It's contrary to what feels natural to us isn't it? But if it were easy ---- then we wouldn't need God would we?
Sara Groves wrote a lovely song --- chronicling a transformation of herself in a portion of her journey. God can and will use pain, to change us. God can and will use suffering to transform us. And in the process of the journey we will see with our hearts and souls "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" even as our eyes take in the pain around us.
Allow yourself to be touched by Sara's words ---- they beautifully illustrate my journey as well. May God be at the center of it all...
Click here for Sara's song --- "I Saw What I Saw"
(please ignore the advertisement at the beginning of the music/video - I couldn't figure out how to remove it)
Pain changes everything. Suffering requires a response.
I love you all so very much.
"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction." Job 36:15
"He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem." Isaiah 53:3
"A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Photo taken by Steve of me praying with a crippled Turkana lady. She has been crippled for most of her life and crawls for miles to come to church. Notice the yellow container on the ground - it is what she carries her water in.