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destruction

The prophet, Jeremiah, had begun his warning calls to repentance to God’s people.  In chapter 4, he gets into some specifics about what will happen because of their sin.

He begins urging them to “blow the trumpet” and “cry aloud” throughout the whole land.  Jeremiah wants to be sure the words he is about to say are heard, loud, clear, and by everyone.  And what are his words?

Leave!  Disaster is coming.  A fierce enemy is coming to annihilate us.  Mourn!  The Lord is angry with us because of our sin.

These are hard words for a people who have surrounded themselves with false teachers who have continually promised peace and prosperity despite their wrongdoing.  Yet, Jeremiah warns that all men – kings, officials, priests, and prophets alike – are going to be distressed and horrified at what is to come.

Kings and officials, or, those known for their courage, will cower.  Priests and prophets, or, those whose job it is to assure and intercede, will be confounded and shocked.  Their prophets had prophesied lies and false peace.  All alike will be appalled at the judgement to come.

Jeremiah goes on calling them to repent, for judgement is looming.  He warns that they will be surrounded by enemies because of their rebellion against God.  He pleads with them to “wash their heart from evil.” He tells them plainly, “Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you.  This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart.” (Jeremiah 4:18)

After this pronouncement, Jeremiah personally grieves over his vision of what is to come.  Once again he indicts his people saying, “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding.  They are ‘wise’ – in doing evil!  But how to do good they know not.” (Jeremiah 4:22)

Jeremiah warns of the complete and utter desolation to come.  He lets them know that God isn’t planning on changing his mind.  They will be evicted from their homes into caves and thickets.  Yet, still, they continue to pretend all is well.  They do not repent.  They put on their makeup and appear as though nothing is wrong.  Jeremiah grieves in anguish over their condition and they smile in pretense.

God hates their pretense.  The world hates their pretense.  All their false security and pride will be uncovered for the vanity it is.  “As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.” ~Matthew Henry

There’s not one verse in this passage that does not sound familiar in our present-day.  How many false prophets are pretending peace when judgment is looming on a nation steeped in undealt with sin! How foolish we are to lack the wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word when it is so readily available to us! How unskilled we are in doing what is good and right!  How learned we are in pretense and the vain covering of our own faces and lives!  How oft we laugh and play when we ought to be mourning and grieving our sin!  A nation cannot long stand if it be in rebellion to God and his Word.

Therefore, blow the trumpet.  Cry aloud for all to hear.  Repent!  Judgement is coming lest we wash our hearts, hands, and minds from evil.

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In Jeremiah 3 and following, God calls the prophet to preach and prophesy to His people.  God’s people consisted of (and only of) Israel and Judah.  Israel and Judah made up the twelve tribes of Israel; the chosen people of God; the Jews.

Israel accounted for ten of the tribes who revolted from David’s throne and the temple in Jerusalem.  Judah accounted for the two tribes that adhered to David and the temple.  Israel was named the “backslider” and Judah “treacherous.”  Judah was actually described as worse than Israel by God because they thought they were better and pretended repentance and reform while still steeped in sin.  That made them even more displeasing to God than even those who simply fell away from obedience and truth without pretense of goodness and piety.  Consider that.  Think on it.  Carefully digest God’s attitude about pretense and insincerity in religion.

Matthew Henry says it this way, “The treachery of those who pretend to cleave to God will be reckoned for, as well as the apostasy of those who openly revolt from him…Hypocritical and ineffectual reformations bode ill to a people.  We deceive ourselves if we think to deceive God by a feigned return to him.  I know no religion without sincerity.”

So what did God have to say to them?

The Lord begins by asking his prophet, Jeremiah, a question.  He says, “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?” ~Jeremiah 3:6

Have you seen what she did?  Have you seen it, Jeremiah?  Do you know why I’m upset?  Do you feel what I feel?  Do you see what I see?  Are you burdened like I’m burdened?  Do you care like I care?  Are you broken like I’m broken?  Do you hurt like I hurt?  Jeremiah, have you seen what my beloved has done?

In God’s question, we find that he is just like us.  God wants his grief, his anger, his sorrow, his feelings and his justification for them to be understood.  God wants to be understood.  He wants his pain and his sorrow and his righteous anger acknowledged, validated, and agreed upon.  God uses prophets not only as truth tellers and prophesy givers, but as advocates and intimate sharers of his sorrow, anger, and grief.

So what had “she” – faithless Israel – done?

Again, these were God’s chosen people – those he had set his eyes, his mercy, his law, and even his whole heart upon.  Israel is likened to his wife; his bride; his first and forever love.  But God’s love ran around.  She cheated.  She was never satisfied by Him and ever a whore with other loves.  She gave her best and her most love to undeserving, false others.  Did you see that, Jeremiah?  Do you know how I feel?  God is wrecked by pain and anger both together.  He loves, but he is just.  How can he reconcile his mercy with his justice on those he loves so much but who have broken his heart to the uttermost?

God, even after all of that, had hoped for Israel’s return.  Think about that.  Think about what kind of love that is.  God had every reason to leave these people and let them burn in hell.  Instead, he calls a prophet to call them back to him again.  Surely she’d come back after her sordid affairs.  He would forgive.  But, no.  Israel continued on and on into more and more deviance and disobedience.

So, he divorced her.  He punished Israel and led them into exile and captivity.  Judah did the same and then pretended to come back to God.  God called their efforts “pretense.”  He calls Judah’s pretense “treachery” and says it is even worse than Israel’s unfaithfulness.

The words of repentance God gives to Jeremiah are to return, acknowledge their guilt and disobedience, return, remove the idols, do not waver, break up their fallow ground, do not sow among the thorns, and circumcise their hearts.  Return, return, return, return.  He says it four times.  If they would not return to him, he promised his wrath.

What do these things mean?  What exactly was God telling them to do?  What is he telling us to do?

Firstly, admit you’re wrong.  Confess your sins.  Stop hiding your faults and pretending you’re holy.  You’re not.  Come to God in earnest and be honest about your failures.

Secondly, come back to God!  Come back into a real relationship, a real communion, a real dialogue, a real life on life friendship with God.  Worship him rightly.

Thirdly, stop worshiping false gods, people, images, items, and idols instead of God.  Stop giving everyone and everything your time, money, and love and start giving your most precious resources to him alone.  Get rid of all the things that take your away and distract you from God.

Fourthly, do not waver.  Do not compromise or flip flop your allegiance to God.  God wants a resolute obedience, not a half-hearted, maybe, sometimes obedience.

Lastly, break up the hard ground that is your heart!  Allow the Holy Spirit to plow your heart up and be willing to be broken, humble, and contrite over your sin.  Circumcise your heart and reinvest in keeping the law in your heart.  Circumcision was always meant to be the shadow of regeneration, not baptism!  Ask Paul!  (Romans 2:29)

If the Jews would do these specific things, God amazingly gave Jeremiah even more incentive.  He promised to give them shepherds after his own heart who would feed them with knowledge and understanding. Repentance was going to bring good leadership rather than corrupt, abusive, and dishonest religious pretenders.  Oh, Lord God, if only we believers in America would read these words and obey them wholly!

God also promised that there would be no more need of the Ark of the Covenant because the Lord was going to be present with them all in a whole new way — namely the gospel church.

God promises a pleasant land and nations blessing him together in unity.  Did they believe him?  Apparently not enough to obey.  Do we?

forget

In Jeremiah 2 we hear the prophet Jeremiah’s first sermon.  He calls God’s people to repentance and cites their many offenses against God and his Word.

Verse one informs us that the word of the Lord simply “came” to Jeremiah.  God spoke directly to Jeremiah and commanded him to share it with his people.  He did not do it by going individually, one by one in private to each person to tell them of their sin.  Jeremiah spoke the words of God “in the hearing of everyone.”

Here, the duty, call, and function of a man or woman with a prophetic gift or a word from God is inferred.  If there is ubiquitous sin within a community – especially of God’s own people – preaching the message of reproof to all publicly is the proper practice.  Likewise, such is the practice of all faithful preachers and teachers every time believers gather and sin is running rampant.  Preachers and teachers generally preach and teach more gentle and informational instruction regarding the how and whys of God’s word while prophets generally call men and women to repentance boldly and encourage bluntly with future promises or warnings.

God’s main issue with the people to whom Jeremiah was sent to preach was their idolatry.  God’s people had forsaken him for many false gods, forgotten his ways, and considered themselves self-sufficient.  Their wickedness was too obvious to be hidden and too terrible to be excused.

God remembers their beginnings before he gives his reproof.  He questions their reasons saying, “What wrong have I done?  Was I not good to you?”  Take careful note of those questions.  Only innocent people ask these kinds of questions.  The guilty know they will be met with a great deal of guilt if they ask what they’ve done wrong.  God’s questions are rhetorical.  God had done nothing wrong, and, in fact, had only done good to his people.  God was innocent, but his people were desperately guilty.

Jeremiah goes on to remind them that God had remembered the very little good they had done in the past, yet they had not remembered the great deal of good he had done to them.  In verses 6-8, he asks his people why they hadn’t remembered the good he had done to them.  Can’t you just hear his sorrow saying, “What about the deliverance from Egypt guys?  Wasn’t I your guide in the wilderness?  Didn’t I protect and provide for you and all your needs?  Didn’t I give you the blessing of the promise land?  Yet you all forsook me!  Priests, rulers, shepherds, and prophets alike – you have all forsaken me!”

God says, “Because of this reason, because you forsook me and forgot all the good I have done for you, I still contend with you.  And with  your children’s children I will contend.”

God’s not forgetting this one.  He isn’t just going to overlook all the evil, injustice, immorality, and rebellion of those he has done so much good for.  He vows to fight against them and continue fighting against them as far down as their grandchildren.  God’s not happy with the conduct of his people.  It’s time for a reckoning.

God goes on to rebuke them saying that not even the pagans trade their false gods in.  Even the pagans don’t forsake their false gods!  But you, you who have the true God of the universe forsake me!!  He calls nature itself to be grieved over their foolish rebellion!  Nature becomes his witness!

God makes it clear that they are to blame, not he.  He asks if they really profited from such behavior and promises a punishment for their utter lack of fear of him.  He set them free, they ran to idols.  He gave his best, they grew to be the worst.  They can’t take back their sin.  He indicts them asking how they could even think they were innocent!  He tells them they have lusted and run after all that’s forbidden despite his great love and care.  He promises shame.  He reminds them that their false gods wont help them.  He asks why they are fighting with him.

God goes kind of into a back and forth dialogue with himself, rebuking and sorrowfully regretting his goodness to them.  His pain is evident.  “In vain I have struck your children; you took no correction.” He goes on to say they killed the very men who God sent to lead them back to Him.  Listen to God’s sorrow in verses 31-32:

“And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord, Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness?  Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’?  Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?  Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.”

God is asking, “Have I been absent?” and saying, “No!  You have been absent!”  He continues charging them with their very plain and obvious evil deeds, yet they still think they are innocent!  It is absolutely surreal.  If you have ever tried to rebuke willful, unrepentant sinners, you understand the outrageously bizarre dynamic in this exchange.

God tells them he has rejected their leaders because they have all cheated on him.  He asks them if they think he should allow them back as his bride after they have whored after so many foreign lovers.  He tells them he will not bless them and adds that they aren’t even ashamed because of how in love with their sin they still are.  They claim he is their father but they continually spit in his face.

These are not good words, but they are from God.  Can you even imagine being Jeremiah?  God has called and equipped you to lead his people…only you have to say all the things no one ever wants to hear and make sure they understand that your words are from God himself.  Do you think you’d have some self doubt?  Maybe some heart- wrenching sorrow and compassion for those you love dearly but who refuse to repent no matter what you say or do; no matter how severe the very true and imminent the warnings are?  I bet you’d have some righteous anger at their resolute unwillingness to hear or listen or reform or even accept God’s true words you have been sent to share.  I bet you would grieve daily.   But that’s getting ahead I suppose.

Suffice to say that a prophetic gift is nothing short of amazing, but it is also desperately burdensome.  Correcting pagans is one thing.  Correcting your brothers and sisters is quite another.  Pray for God’s word to be heard and accepted and for his prophets who are called and commissioned to bring it.

What Jesus Wants

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Yesterday, I watched a play about Jesus’ life.  Later I watched a movie about a man who was struggling.  Coupled, they gave me a penetrating perspective of God and man.

In the play, we watched many excerpts from Jesus’ earthly life.  In the movie, we watched many excerpts from a troubled man’s life.  In both the play and the movie, we discover what these two men want most.  In the end, the brilliant man who could have any job or paycheck in the world wanted only a particular girl’s whole heart.  But what did Jesus want?

Jesus did not just want what Peter could do with his zeal.  He did not care who he would stand up or win a fight against.  Jesus wanted Peter’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want just a pure womb or a mother in Mary.  Jesus wanted Mary’s whole heart.

Jesus did not just want Martha’s hospitality or exhausting, endless labor.  Jesus wanted Martha’s whole heart.

Jesus did not just want a young boy’s two fish and five loaves of bread.  Jesus wanted a young boy’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want just the praise of the blind man.  Jesus wanted the blind man’s whole heart.

Jesus did not just want the testimony of the man exorcised of many demons.  Jesus wanted the troubled man’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want just the strength of the “Sons of Thunder,” James and John.  Jesus wanted James’ and John’s whole hearts.

Jesus does not just want the repentance of the prodigal son.  Jesus wants the prodigal son’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want the expensive perfume of the prostitute.  Jesus wanted the prostitute’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want the religious position of Nicodemus.  Jesus wanted Nicodemus’s whole heart.

Jesus did not just want the worship of those holding the palm branches.  Jesus wanted the whole hearts of those who held them.

Jesus did not just want the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  Jesus wanted Joseph of Arimathea’s whole heart.

Jesus did not want human being’s acceptance of Him.  Jesus wanted to be able to accept human beings.

It is not until we wholly, uncompromisingly accept the death of our will on earth that we have triumphed and surrendered to the Lord’s – both his will and his death.

  Trust is victory.  Each one of these people who interacted with Jesus proved – by their willingness to sacrifice that which was most difficult for them – that he indeed had their whole hearts.  It is not until we are content to be broken, burdened, rejected, silenced, hated, and excluded – actually or potentially – for his namesake that we are truly free; truly submitted; truly victorious and triumphant in his calling.

When his calling is first and foremost over all else I possess or lack, he has ownership of my whole heart – my whole heart in silence; my whole heart in fear; my whole heart in zeal; my whole heart in pain; my whole heart in work; my whole heart in giving, in praise, in strength, in repentance, in my possessions, in my religion, in worship, in trust – trust that his acceptance is enough when I am afforded no one else’s; trust that his love is enough when I am afforded no one else’s; trust that his mercy is enough when I am afforded no one else’s; trust that his way is enough when I am afforded no other.

Love.  My Heart.  Jesus loves my heart.  He wants my heart.  Jesus wants me and nothing more.  That’s why there is precious little doubt that I will indeed give all the more when and if he has it.

When and if he has it… When and if he has it I’ll give the zeal, the womb, the hospitality, the labor, the fish, the bread, the praise, the testimony, the strength, the repentance, the expensive perfume, the religious position, the worship, the tomb, the heart.  When and if he has my whole heart I will give my whole heart and all else that is in it freely to him.   I will.  

Do you ever look back and think my, how I struggled so poorly with the hardship I was given.  How often I suffered for the wrong reasons!  How faithless I presented when God gave such amazing privileges to suffer for Him!

I grieve.

Absorb the pain.  Accept the silence.  Jesus did.  Are you better?

ARE YOU BETTER?!

No, Lord.  I am certainly no better.  Truth be told, I am far worse than even I myself dare to imagine.  Far worse.  But because you have my whole heart, I trust in your salvation.

called
The book of Jeremiah opens introducing us to its author, the man Jeremiah.  We find that Jeremiah was both a priest and a prophet, and that God’s Word simply “came to him.”  In other words, when Jeremiah was called to speak on God’s behalf to his rebellious and idolatrous people, no human was involved in his instruction.  There was no religious authority giving Jeremiah directions.  Jeremiah was given the words and warnings for God’s people by God’s Spirit alone.  He was God’s chosen authority and his very voice to the people.  God’s Word for the people simply “came to him.”  That is the essence of the prophetic gift.

Prophets are called to warn, rebuke, encourage, and correct God’s people – including erring religious leaders such as priests, pastors, elders, and all professors of religion – both then and now.  Their words come not from human origins, but divine.  The term is “Propheta nascitur – non fit – from Latin means that a man is not educated to become a prophet, but originally formed for the office.  Jeremiah was literally formed in the womb  – not the temple – by God to carry out this call.

Though many today deny the validity and necessity of the prophetic gift today within the modern church, we ought to remind ourselves that there are indeed five offices listed in the New Testament Church in Ephesians chapter 4.  Those offices are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

Initially, Jeremiah objected to his call to speak to the people on behalf of God.  His refusal sounded much like Moses’ saying, “I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jeremiah 1:6)

Apparently, Jeremiah was young when he was called.  How many young people do you know raising their hand to go correct, warn, and rebuke older men in positions of authority?  When you were “a youth,” how interested would you have been in calling everyone around you including kings, armies, friends, and religious leaders to repent because God’s judgement was coming?  There are religious men who spend their entire lives avoiding ever having to say any words of rebuke.  The fear of man is great, but the fear of God must be greater for all who profess to know him.

God corrects and encourages Jeremiah for the very difficult and painful task his life is about to embark upon.  God basically tells Jeremiah that this is what he was made for.  He’s says, “Hey Jer.  You were born for this.  I created you for this very thing.  So quit your complaining and listen.”  God’s basic response to Jeremiah’s objection was, first of all, no objections allowed.  Then God said, go where I send you, say what I tell you, don’t be afraid, and I’ll be with you.

I think I’m going to carry a card in my pocket from now on with those instructions.  What if we all lived that way in regards to God’s leading?

  1. No objections.
  2. Go wherever I send you.
  3. Say whatever I tell you.
  4.  Do not be afraid.
  5.  I am with you to deliver you.Wow!  How would following that prescription for your walk with the Lord change your life?  When God’s Word(s) are in our mouths, we ought not fear any earthly reprisals.  Suffering is what we signed up for when we decided to follow the Lord.  Let us not forget that when we are cursed by men on account of God, we are blessed by God.

    Next, God asks Jeremiah what he sees.  There is no physical scene in front of him.  God is speaking to Jeremiah and showing him a vision in his mind’s eye.  Again, visions and dreams are given by God to his prophets in order to convey information, direction, wisdom, and insight as to how they are to go about speaking and warning.

    I often ask myself why God can’t just send us mail or something, but I believe a large part of the prophetic gift is the time one gets to spend discerning the mind of God in prayer.  The time we spend with God is where the power and courage to act and speak on his behalf comes from.  Void of that, we become cowards unwilling to oppose those who oppose God’s Word.  If there is one epidemic in the American Church today, it is cowardice.

    The first thing Jeremiah sees is an almond branch.  It was indicative of haste and God’s urgency and seriousness about the message he was about to deliver to the people via Jeremiah.  The next thing he saw was a message of disaster and judgment.

    Can you even imagine what Jeremiah was thinking?  Awe, God.  Come on.  Why do I have to say that?  Are they even going to listen?  Who will hear me?  They’ll hate me.

    Most of us know how it goes for the one known as the “weeping prophet.”  Jeremiah’s initial fear to acquiesce to his call was justifiable and very valid on a human level.  He had a hard row to hoe.  But God’s glory and obedience to his clear call trumps all objections and trials.

    The reason Jeremiah was called to speak hard words to God’s people was two-fold.  God had given a young king, Josiah, to rule at the time Jeremiah was called.  Josiah was just 8 years old when he came to power as king of Judah.  Josiah wanted to do right by God and turn the people away from sin.  God gave the king Jeremiah to aide his reformation and counsel him on how to lead.

    Secondly, and more importantly, the main reason for God’s prophetic message of impending doom was because of the gross apostasy and idolatry of his people.  The Jews had forsaken God by worshiping other Gods and idols.  Sound familiar? God tells Jeremiah he is going to make him “a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.”

    God is clearly making Jeremiah into an immovable, tenacious witness against the sin of his people.  Notice who Jeremiah is being sent to warn and correct.  The text says Jeremiah is going out against, “the whole land,” “the kings,” “the officials,” “the priests,” and “the people.” So. Um.  Basically everyone!  Jeremiah’s words of warning and rebuke were going out to everyone. Wonder how Jeremiah felt when all the other priests were condemning him for not being in community with them? Or submitting to the religious authorities he was called to rebuke? Or when everyone he knew began to hate him for telling the truth of God?

    God doesn’t bait and switch on Jeremiah, though.  He tells him up front that all these that he is called to go to will fight against him.  God assures him that they will not win, though, that He is with him, and will deliver him.

    So, just for the record, God calls a guy to correct everyone around him with true words, gives him a vision only he can see, tells him to oppose every person he knows from the least to the greatest, promises he will be fought against, and tell him he isn’t allowed to object, has to say everything he’s told, go everywhere God says, and not to worry.  Oh, and remember, this is what you were created in the womb to do.

    Are you seeing how difficult a prophetic call is to accept and to carry out? I am.  I feel like starting a movement. Hashtag love your prophets. Hashtag prophets still exist.  Hashtag save the religious.

Gosnell Movie Review

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“And this is the verdict: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” ~John 3:19

Most people would not call a movie about an imprisoned serial killer “light,” but I’m not most people.  The new release, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,  exposes the evils of an abortion-ridden culture, and it does so in some unexpected ways.  This movie shines a light on the last choice any woman ever wants to have to make, and it takes great pains to maintain the dignity of women who find themselves in a situation where they don’t feel they have any other options.

The Gosnell movie did not show us a lot of day to day business at the clinic.  We didn’t really see a lot of blood and gore or agonizing women in premature labor.  We saw only snippets of patients and procedures. The entire movie ran from the perspective of the police and the District Attorney.  I went in expecting a medical menagerie and got served a crime scene investigation/court trial.

What I saw in that particular type of portrayal of this horrific story was that, in a sea of thousands of people who saw and knew the evils being done to women and children in this case over the course of three decades, there were two or three who cared; who dug deep; who pursued justice at all personal and political costs.  In a world full of irresponsible authorities who avert their eyes when difficulty comes at a call of personal sacrifice, that, friends, is one of the most honorable, noble, and rare traits ever found.

The film provokes it’s watchers to consider whether unwanted people are still people; whether mistreatment, murders, and even full-scale massacres are acceptable because someone else requested and paid for them; whether women are really better off when they choose to eliminate their children; whether abortion is truly a liberating “choice” or whether it is a life sentence to an end of guilt, shame, or even, in some cases, death.

At one point, the film highlights what “normal” abortion clinics do for babies born alive, and, in that moment, we all are awakened not to how different it is from Gosnell’s procedures, but how tragically similar.  Though not on trial in a court of law, yet, all are indicted along with him in that moment.

The movie shows how biased the media is on this subject by depicting images of the courtroom void of news reporters and any media presence at all at the trial.  It teaches us how true it is that the problem with humans is not that we do not have enough light, but that we love darkness.  Even when darkness is clearly exposed, most simply pretend not to see.

“Gosnell” was not a story about abortion as much as it was a story about justice – justice for impoverished women; justice for living, moving newborn babies; justice for serial killers; justice for hundreds of millions of lives snuffed out under the guise of modern medicine.  As we saw Dr. Gosnell’s endangered pet turtles throughout the movie,  we are reminded that justice is both endangered and, all too often, quite slow in coming in our world today.  It will not be so in the after world.

In conclusion, Dr. Kermit Gosnell is sentenced to life in prison.  Did you catch that?  A man who sentenced so many to an untimely and unholy death was punished by being afforded life.  Life in prison is still life.  If there was one line that echoed loudly in my mind from this film, it was the concluding words scrolling at the end informing us that an administer of thousands of deaths was himself sentenced to life.  Life.  He was given life.  Guilty as the day is long, even the long arm of the law and worldly justice honors life in such a degree that they know better than to take it away from another.

 

tears

It’s the eve of my 365th day of my 38th year.  In one day and few sleeping hours I will be 39 years old.

Thirty-nine.  When I turned 34 I wrote a little ditty called “34 Reasons to Smile.”  You can read it here: https://lorirodeheaver.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/thirty-four-reasons-to-smile/

I was trying to focus on all that God had given me despite my nagging inner pain.  Somehow, I thought, if I could just grasp how very many beautiful things surrounded me, I would have no choice but to bask in daily joy.

Since then, I have tried.  Sometimes I succeed.  My failure is certainly not from lack of good things.  Still, I have tried and failed so many times.  I have tried to bury the pain of desperate loss; of crushing discouragement; of inner loneliness; of unwarranted rejection; of utter failure.

Somehow, five more years went by.  Time never did stop.  Blessings and trials keep coming down in crashing waves upon me like an unending storm of beauty and destruction.  Life is even more beautiful than it was then in so many ways.  So very many ways.  But at 39 I realize that it is far too late to make new old friends.  I realize that things really won’t ever go back to the way they were; to the way I thought they should be; the way I planned.  Every time I think of so many of those I hoped to grow up and grow old with, I see only a cemetery.  Alive, but dead and gone from my life never planning to return.  I think of them and I examine myself.  I think of them and I wonder just what makes me anathema; pariah; untouchable.  I wonder if it’s something I really could change even if I knew.  I wonder if it isn’t just who God himself made me that repels.  I don’t know.  But I think, always.  I think of them and I write.  I write because they are no longer here.  They didn’t stay.  I can’t send them a text.  They don’t want a call from me.  I am 39 and they aren’t coming back.  No matter how much I miss them, they won’t be returning.  But who really wants to talk about that?  I know.  It’s so last year.  I should be over it by now.  I know.  But I’m not.  And I’m not really sure I ever will be.

My paper, it listens. I write because I have to.  My paper has always listened.  It has never abandoned me.  So to it I talk.  My paper hears me when all others stop their ears.

I am not alone.  I have a mechanic in shining armor who loves me more than I ever thought I could be.  I have four beautiful daughters who like me a little even though they won’t admit it.  I have a good mom who’s always rooting for me and standing behind me.  I have a Savior who saves me from myself daily.  But so often, I feel alone.  Vacant.  I feel like a failure.  A fool.  A friendless follower of the only One worth being a friendless follower fool for.

And somehow it is OK.  It hurts like living hell at least once a day but it is good.  It must certainly be a better plan than all the ones I buried in my sea of bitter sorrow and sullen-faced surrender.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

I know, Daddy, but it isn’t the world.  It is the church.  I don’t understand why they hate me.  I don’t know why you made a girl who was born to be hated.  A lot of days I hate me, too.  Because being hated hurts.  But you know.  You were hated first.  You were hated more.  You were murdered by my own sin.  I know you know.

I don’t know how much longer I have here on the earth.  I know I’ll be 39 years old in 1 day and a few sleeping hours.  I know it is the eve of my 365th day of my 38th year.  I know I don’t have any more time.  I have no more time to grieve them, Lord.  I have no more tears.  I want to be done.  Please set me free from this grief.  Have mercy, Lord.  Lord, have mercy.  Kyrie, eleison.

“NO.  No.  No, daughter.  Love.  Love and expect to be hated.  Love, and be willing to be hated.  Love, and be broken when you’re hated lest your heart become hard.  Love, and stay loving enough to grieve over them until there is peace.  Peace, I promise.  One day, peace.  I promise.  Be patient.” 

Why, Lord?

“Because I did that for you.  Move forward, Christian.  Walk on.  Sling your Bible and leave them behind if they simply refuse to come.  You cannot wait.  You have more work.  Bring your tears and face forward.  One day all will be made right.”  

It’s my party and I have only one request.  It’s my party and I’ll cry if you want me to.  It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.  If these tears can’t be taken away, I just want to be allowed to cry and know these tears are not in vain. Because life is hard, it is good, and some things really are worth grieving over.  I think I’m old enough to know.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4