I feel kind of silly because I so wanted to write daily and that lasted about a week. Best laid plans… I’m determined to get in the habit because it helps my focus. Hopefully, tomorrow?!?
This week is my last of graduate class homework! Yippee! I really don’t even have time to write right this minute, BUT I just had to give God a shout out!
Last week was one of those weeks…you know the ones so I don’t have to go into great detail, but discouraging would be a good adjective to describe it. Enough said.
I’ve been part of a women’s Bible study since the fall. I’ve been able to go only a handful of times because of family issues. It has been a very discouraging thing to me.
I NEED FELLOWSHIP!
Tonight is Bible study, and I texted all the ladies about 2 hours ago and asked them to pray that everything would go smoothly so I can join them.
They’ve all been praying. I so appreciate it.
I just received a text from a lady in the study who barely knows me, and this is what she said,
“Praying that we will see you tonight. Do you have a favorite tea? I’ll pick some up for you.”
I read that and tears sprung to my eyes.
Just a simple act of loving friendship, but what an indication of faith that God will provide a way for me to be there!
I love it.
I’m afraid lately I’ve been less than stellar in my faith. It used to be that I felt faith for the big things, and faltered with the little. Now it’s just everything.
I think after a while it’s easy to assume that nothing is going to go smoothly…mostly because the record of smoothness has been pretty abysmal.
My life has gone more like a ride through a ravine full of rocks that jolt and branches that whack.
And yet, God IS faithful. I do know it to be true.
I think I have always taken fellowship for granted. I’ve always had friends nearby. I’ve always had support, encouragement, and love from people around me.
Now, not so much.
And those precious few who live in my vicinity…poor ones…they get to be near the neediest of women. I could probably suck the life out of anyone at this point.
I have found that in the moments when I feel desperate or just down, the One I must turn to is God. As much as I want a friend to listen, encourage, help, and hug…God really does answer the needs of my heart better than anyone I have ever met, near or far.
I think I have had all these same feelings with regard to a husband. The longings to be a wife again…the missing of daily care and love of a husband…real things.
Real things that can be answered by a real God.
Amazing as that sounds. It is true.
I do not need to be afraid of loneliness, because my God understands.
In fact, He knows sorrow, grief, and loneliness much better than I ever could, or ever want to know.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:3-4
Sometimes (although I wish all the time…
I am in awe of what Christ did for us…for me. I cannot wrap my brain around it. This perfect man…this loving, kind, gentle, wise man…
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
And this is how awesome God is….
We have been studying Hebrews in our Bible study and tonight’s lesson is on Hebrews 9-10. These chapters are beautiful reminders of why the Cross matters.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14
When you compare the old covenant with the new, the differences are amazing! The one that really stuck out to me was that the old sacrifices purified the flesh, but Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself purifies our conscience. Our sins are forgiven…completely. Our sins are forgotten…completely. And that knowledge is almost too wonderful to comprehend. And in only grasping it a bit, we can approach our God and Father with confidence, trust, and faith.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23
When I read those verses I think, why does my faith waver so? Where is my full assurance?
And AGAIN, for the millionth time, God brings the gospel of grace RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE!
This seems like a great time to preach the gospel to myself…those times when my faith is not the firmest and my fear is taking hold…that is the time to remind myself that God is with me…that God chooses to be with me…that my mess can be meaningful in God’s hands…that the struggles, setback, and sorrows are not wasted when I have a God who loves me faithfully and perfectly…that Jesus’ sacrifice on that beautiful, scandalous Cross was so that I would be forgiven, so that I would be His forever. His love is amazing…His grace is overwhelming.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not be perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19
I can’t even remember what my point was when I started this blog…nothing new…my brain is a little mushy by the end of the day…and sometimes it is so fun to see where the Holy Spirit leads…well, actually it is pretty awesome!
And I feel so refreshed by the Scripture He put before me…so blessed by the reminder of His sacrifice…and so comforted by the knowledge of His love.
Yes indeed. I have been at this divorced thing now 3 years. It was sudden, unexpected and unwanted…For three years I have been writing my exes name in the margin of books and my Bible when there are sentences and verses that describe his sin…or That Woman’s sin. I continue to be so offended by their offensive offense to me…but…this lent I am on my face before my Jesus because when I read the red letters…its me. It’s my sin that put Him on the cross. He is impressing this on my heart because I am a sinner. I need grace. I need Jesus.
Yes, I was betrayed and abandoned and sinned against in so, so many ways…BUT so was Jesus and yet he loved, and forgave, and gave his life. This lent, instead of writing names in the margin I have been writing…”its me, its me, its me oh Lord…”
Every time an ugly thought of vengeance or anger seethe up in my hot head I simply say “Jesus”. He knows, he hears, he forgives, he comforts, he loves.
Thanks for sharing Sue…I am right there with you. (I have a 3 year old, a 15 year old and a 19 year old…we are living, loving and thriving by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth!).
Thank you for being real. Thank you for bringing us back to the gospel. The good news that we are forgiven and loved. We need both.
As you were talking about your discouragement about your faith, I first thought that we have really distorted what faith is, for the past 100 years or so in the western church. But that is me. This understanding is new, and not quite confirmed or solid, or tested through use. It seems like faith in the west is like grandma’s fine china. To be used only for big things or on special occasions. But I don’t think that is right. So, recognizing your need for faith every day, and recognizing that you can’t manufacture it is a good thing, in my opinion. After all, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2)
There is another faith passage that I like, and it is Luke 17:3-5. In verse 5 the apostles cry out to the Lord “increase our faith”. It is good to feel the need for increased faith, and rather than shrink back in shame, for not measuring up, just ask for it. That is what I do.
As far as things going smoothly, I don’t know when I stopped making that a priority. I have been divorced about 14 years. There is always a need for faith. And a need for hope too. In 1 Cor 13, three things remain, faith, hope, and love. I hear lots of sermons on faith, and love, but painfully few on hope. Like faith and love, hope is a gift, at least in my experience. And, I think that in the divorced, and single parent scenario it is easy to lose hope, or at least feel like it is lost. And we need not look any further than Ecc 4:9-12 for that. I often remind the Lord that it is not good for man to be alone. Yes, He can even keep me warm, but I also need to be real about my design. He has His purpose in keeping me single all of these years. Occasionally, I see it. It is humbling to think of how little I know of His design. But, all the same, I need to be as a child, and asking for what I think I need, trusting Him for the loving decision.
With all of this, I also want to affirm both you and “Mamachops”. I know that for several years after I was divorced, I wanted to be unloving, and keep score of wrongs suffered. I too had writen in the margins of books. But as I would read the psalms, I would see myself as often in the description of the enemy of the afflicted, as I would in the afflicted. The Lord is still bringing me to seeing as He sees. My ex at times was very negative, and very volatile. I felt that I was constantly cleaning up her messes. Recently, I had another major one to try to help our son through. As I wearily complained to the Lord about the hurt and hardship it was causing, He simply said “You can get away from it. You have rest. Imagine what it is like to be on the inside, and to carry it everywhere you go.” I have been so wrong, and so unkind, and so unworthy of His kindness (which is precisely why I need it.)
We will get through this. It will be awesome, because He is awesome. And we have no idea what love awaits us, just around the next bend.
This is a bit of an addendum, and correction. I was trying to “be there” with the comment that I no longer expect things to go smoothly. The Lord showed me the unvarnished truth. I am really ticked that going smoothly isn’t one of the options. No really, it is one of His options, just not one of mine. In being convicted of that, I found myself still wanting to play god, or at least give Him advice.
The Lord is taking me through a lot of change. I read the Nik Ripken book “The Insanity of God”, and came away greatly encouraged, but also with some real questions. The most encouraging part of the book for me was when he relates how he suggested to a pastor in Russia that the amazing stories of the Lord sustaining people through persecution should be preserved. The pastor responded “haven’t you read your bible” , that their stories didn’t differ a lot from the accounts in the book of Acts of the Apostles. It hit me that Jesus never stopped working through his disciples. There are no dispensations. No gaps. Just we haven’t been sharing what Jesus is still doing because we are uncomfortable with needing God so badly, and we (and I am including myself) are afraid of horrendous situations, because we (including myself again) know our faith to be weak. But in making God distant, we diminished our ability to receive His love, and it makes it harder to believe. So it really is encouraging.
And, I am also encouraged, because I believe that believers all over the world are being persecuted. If the aim of persecution is to hinder the spread of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then our form of persecution is just different. Here, I believe that if is false beliefs, intimidation and distraction (like the if God needs to be close, and if faith is needed every single day, then it is better to … keep quiet, not stand out, get a little while I can, get a lot if I can, and live for me …)
So the long and short of it is that I am not a living example of James 1:2-4
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”
But I want to be. And I believe that this is a reflection of Jesus image, so He is in back of my being conformed to that image as well. And I do understand that the verse doesn’t say that all life will be trials, but just that an amazing God can give us amazing grace when the trials come.
Great article Sue. So true! God Bless