Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meet me here, Lord

I woke in the middle of the night once again gripped with fear.  Fighting frustrating feelings within myself for several weeks I have been trying to find comfort in the scriptures.  Comfort comes and then it quickly slips away as I take back the reigns instead of remaining in the yoke.  My emotions spill over, uninvited, and settle in as if they belong and are quite comfortable.  It is as if they are quite familiar with their surroundings and have their own key.  

Today I sat down with my Bible.  I prayed for God to meet me in my mess.  I decided to write a few words down in my journal before I began to read my Bible.  I decided to put on paper in single words my jumbled heart.


Writing down these things is hard.  My life is great.  I should be ashamed to even have these feelings.  So I write that down, too.  The list just grows as that line of thinking continues to take over.

I closed my journal and cried.  Then I opened to the balm of the Psalms.  The place where David and others poured out their heart to God.  The Psalms are honest, transparent, and leave nothing unsaid.
I turned to Psalm 27 and underlined in my Bible was the following verse:  "My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."  And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."  I turned back to the beginning of Psalm 27 and began to read.

The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? (v. 1)


And right there He began to chisel away the list.  The list is long.
Lord, do your mighty work in me.

Have Thine own way, Lord, 
Have Thine own way.
Thou art the potter, I am the clay
Mold me and make me, after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.  (Pollard Stebbins)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

His yoke is easy

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Why is it that we carry our burdens around until we are so weary we can hardly stand?  We become spiritually dry, physically worn out, emotionally drained, and the list goes on.  I think we often think of "casting our burdens on the Lord" to mean that we should give them to Him and go about our business as usual.  I'm tired of dealing with this, you take it, Lord.  Now I can get on with my business.  As I was reading this passage recently I focused on the phrase, "For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."  What???  Give me a burden?  But Lord, I am trying to give the burdens to you!  I don't want anymore burdens!  
I am realizing the older I get that this isn't what Jesus meant in this passage at all.  What is this burden that Jesus says is light?  The Greek word used in this passage is the same one used in the gospels when Jesus is speaking of marriage.  "What God has joined together, let no man separate." (Mark 10:9)  People even refer to being married as "getting hitched". If we are joined or yoked together with Christ, he promises that his yoke is easy to bear and the burden is light.  We have to take up our cross.  That is the burden.  The burden of sin we were once under is too heavy a weight to bear.  We will be crushed, bruised, and dead in our sin.  Picking up our cross, yoking ourselves to Almighty God, we are able to navigate the burdens of this side of heaven while "married" to our Lord and Savior.  He will never leave or forsake us. He will never divorce us.  He will never discard or overlook us.  He wants to teach me.  He could just do it all and never give me a second thought.  Instead, he humbles himself and is gentle.  He teaches me every step of the way.  I am stubborn and lazy and would give up if I were not yoked to Him for life.  Humble and gentle, forever teaching me despite my stubbornness and sin.  

Thank you, sweet Jesus for your gentleness.  You did not say there would be no burden, only that it would be light because You are guiding and teaching me.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Come and see

Angelika Kauffmann - Christus und die Samariterin am Brunnen
Can you remember a time when you were dead in your sin?  As one who has grown up emerged in the church and Christian faith I don't have an earth shattering testimony of my salvation.  I used to be reluctant to give my testimony because I thought others would think it boring.  I would hear tremendous stories of those who had been saved from horrible circumstances and rock-bottom places and I would step aside and think, "No one wants to hear about the pastor's kid who went to church in the womb, heard about Jesus every day and became a Christian at age 6."  Over time and through Christ continuing His sanctification process in my life I have become overwhelmingly grateful for my testimony.

I was reading about the Samaritan woman this morning.  I know that many people who are living without Christ are outwardly boastful about their self-sufficiency and lack of need for a Savior.  Then there are those who are so openly embarrassed by their sin they continue to run and hide in shame.  Both are running.  One runs through outward shame, the other because they don't want to be confronted with their sin.  The closer one gets to the Savior- to Holiness- the more we see our sin and unworthiness.  That's certainly not a place that anyone wants to find himself.   But what about the Samaritan woman's response to Jesus?

"Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!"  John 4:29a
What?  Come?  Come and see?  Actually come back with me and meet this man?  I was thinking that if a total stranger looked at me and point blank told me how many husbands I'd had and that I was currently living out of wedlock that I would run alright...run away and hide.  I thought about her response for awhile and came to the conclusion that this must have been the most freeing moment of her life.  Not only did Jesus actually KNOW her sin, he was a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman.  The whole scene is bazaar, but Jesus does not conform to society's rules.  So instead of running away, she ran to her people and wanted them to talk with Jesus, too.  Only someone who has experienced a relationship with Jesus would understand the freedom that comes from Christ knowing everything I have ever done.  The Bible tells me that I cannot hide from God.  

Psalm 138:8 says, "I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there." 

Jeremiah 23:23-25 says:

“Am I only a God nearby,
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.

There are days when I am so thankful that Jesus knows every single thought that goes through my mind.  Yes, I am ashamed by them at times, and the Holy Spirit immediately rebukes me.  I can confess these shameful things to my Savior who already knows everything I have ever done or will do.  He still loves me.  He is shaping me, growing me, molding me, and making me into something of use to Him.  My sins are no less grievous than those of this Samaritan woman.  Mine are as dark and worthy of death as the vilest offender's.  Jesus still wants to redeem me and make me into something beautiful.

Running away from God is what our sin and shame compels us to do.  When we see God and understand His holiness in the light of how much He loves us and want to redeem us through the blood of His son we are compelled to run to Him.  The realization of how much God loves us despite our sin should spill out of us in every part of our lives - seen and unseen.  When I am not walking closely with God, reading His Word, praying and seeking after Him I become complacent and lose my "amazement" and the Truth of who He is.  The Samaritan woman was amazed.  She was amazed and could not help but run and tell others.  And many believed.  

"Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!"  When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village."  John 4:39-40