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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

trumoet

The people of Israel had been through hell and high water – literally.  They had been slaves in Egypt specially delivered right through the sea.  Finally, after forty years of stubborn, rebellious, complaining wandering in the desert, Joshua led them into the land God had promised.

In Joshua chapter 5, we find Joshua circumcising the sons of the Israelite slaves.  Mom and Dad didn’t make it out of the desert, but their children did.  The kids had been born on the way and had never been circumcised in accordance with God’s law.  Just afterward they eat their last provision of manna and remember the Passover and God’s deliverance and mercy.  Their new leader, Joshua, understands the order of importance when it comes to victory.  First, his men must be physically and spiritually obedient and prepared, then they must listen to the Word of the Lord.  Only after all of that is done do they begin to take what God has promised in victory.  It is not until they are physically healed and spiritually prepared that someone important shows up.  Joshua 5:14 tells us that the commander of the Lord’s Army comes and speaks to him about how to conquer the people living in the land God was giving to them.

Up until the point they arrive at the town of Jericho, all the people in the land have been in fear knowing what God had done for the Israelites in marching them through the sea.  Rahab the prostitute had even said as much to the spies Joshua had sent (Joshua 2:9).

They were afraid, but it did not cause them to obey God or befriend God’s people.  Instead, it caused them to shut themselves up inside the walls of their city.  The people of Jericho had resolved that Israel would not be their master.  No one could come in to their community and no one could go out to make peace or otherwise.  “Thus were they infatuated and their hearts hardened to their own destruction – the miserable case and character of all those that strengthen themselves against the Almighty.” ~ Matthew Henry

Those silly walls, as strong and mighty as they were, were no match for the Commander of God’s Army.  Those walls were destined to fall flat despite how fortified and exclusive they were built to be.

The angel gives some rather bizarre instructions for this first military conquest in the promised land.  He tells God’s people to take the ark of the covenant (symbolizing His presence), march around the city, and blow trumpets continually every day for seven days.  The seventh day they were to march around seven times blowing the trumpets and then shout.  That is what would make the walls of Jericho fall down.

There were several reasons why this was going to work and several reasons why God chose to do it this way.  It was going to work, firstly, because it was God’s sovereign will, but, from a practical standpoint, the blowing of the trumpets from outside the walls of this closed city served to intimidate those therein.  By doing so, God’s people were declaring war.

 “They proclaimed war with the Cannanites and so struck a terror upon them; for by terrors upon their spirits, they were to be conquered and subdued.  Thus God’s ministers, by the solemn declarations of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, must blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in the holy mountain, that the sinners in Zion may be afraid.  They are God’s heralds to denounce war against all those that go on still in their trespasses, but say, ‘We shall have peace, though we go on.’ “ ~Matthew Henry

The trumpets themselves were least impressive.  God loves to use the foolish things to shame the strong.  Good news for me!

Another reason this worked, from an earthly standpoint, is that, while they may have feared firstly, after seven days of this ridiculous, noisy parade and no attack, the insiders doubtless began to think it was all a laughable show.

“Thus they cried peace and safety, that the destruction might be the more terrible when it came.  Wicked men think God in jest when he is preparing for their judgement; but they will be convinced of their mistake when it is too late…The wall fell down flat, and probably killed abundance of people…That which they trusted to for defense proved their destruction…they became an easy prey to the sword of Israel, and saw to how little purpose it was to shut their gates against a people that had the Lord on the head of them.” ~Matthew Henry

We all know how the story ends.  The walls fall down flat at the shout of God’s people and Jericho is the city chosen to serve as an example to their enemies and an encouragement for the further conquests in taking over the promised land.

There were some practical and spiritual reasons why God chose to have his people conquer the city of Jericho in this way.

It made God’s glory known because only he can be credited with victory when a walled-in city falls at a shout.  This parading around also served to honor his ark as well as his priests who were carrying it and sounding the trumpets.

There is not too far any of us can get in spiritual victory apart from the presence of God going with us.  That’s why Jesus said, “…Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Furthermore, this was meant to test the faith, patience, and obedience of God’s people.  Wonder what they were thinking.  Wonder how they felt when they had to march around thirteen times.  Thirteen trips around this city with nothing but a promise and their dull and meager instruments.  Yet, the purpose of this slow going-round served to test as well as encourage them heartily when victory came.  This was only the first battle.  Many were to follow.  This was for them to look back on and remember how strong and wise their God really was.  He keeps his promises.

God is in the business of tearing down walls.  So many times we find ourselves building them up, though.  The weapons he gives have divine power to destroy strongholds.  Jesus himself came to tear down the dividing wall of hostility and make one man out of two.  He came to bring unity between God and man as well as man and man.  He came to demolish strongholds.

Pray. Fast. Repeat.  God will take care of the walls.  They will fall when he is obeyed and honored by his people.

“The God of heaven easily can, and certainly will, break down all the opposing power of his and his church’s enemies…Thus, shall Satan’s kingdom fall, nor shall any prosper that harden themselves against God.” ~Matthew Henry

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4

God lays out the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry

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The Louder Things

redtide

We were at a backyard party.  Daddy was playing in the band.  The host had roasted a pig.  It was the highlight of my five year-old summer.  Maybe I was six.  I don’t know exactly.  But I do know what color mom’s shorts were.  I remember her face as she began to cry in front of the whole company of party-goers.  I remember her awkwardly sitting in a chair outside as she sobbed asking no one in particular, “Why is this happening again?”  I remember the ladies gathering ’round to comfort her and taking her inside.  I remember not being allowed to follow.

 I was playing outside with my brother when Daddy told us he had to take Mommy to the hospital.  No one told us why.  Maybe it was the bits of conversation we overheard.  Maybe it was the cloud of disappointment in the air.  Those were the louder things one hears even when no one is talking.  Somehow we just knew.

This was not Mommy’s first miscarriage.  It was her third. The first two happened before I was born, and, even though it was never openly discussed, I still heard of them.

My mother had five pregnancies and only two children to show.  Like a darkness hanging over my womb, I always wondered if I would experience the same.  From the moment I became pregnant the very first time until the baby arrived I worried and wondered if I, too, would lose my baby before I saw her.

God did something else, though.  God gave me a beautiful, healthy baby with no complications.  And then another.  And another.  And another.  Four beautiful, healthy babies.  The thoughts and angst associated with mom’s history was almost nonexistent in my mind.  Nary a worry of what could go wrong or the chance that it would ever even crossed my mind until I saw my first sonogram with baby number five.

The doctor asked how far along I was and with shape to prove it I proudly replied, “Eleven weeks.”  Thirty seconds later an eleven week baby did not pop up on the monitor like the previous four times I had done this, though.  He told me he did not see a baby at all.  He called out the door in decibels that, at that moment, sounded louder than the voice of God to cancel my blood work.  He explained the probability that I had miscarried and sent me for another ultrasound.

I filled the next two hours with busyness.  When I saw my womb on screen for the second time that day, a very positive, childless technician assured me that everything was indeed present, that it all looked fine, and suggested that I had probably just miscalculated my dates.  She said I had a normal six week old fetus.

As much as I struggled to believe her and somehow rearrange what I knew to be the truth, I knew. I knew six weeks was not reasonably possible.  I knew she was wrong.  I knew something was wrong and I knew it was not my dates.  Still, reasoning that God can make the dead alive, I prayed that he would do just that.  I prayed and was prayed for over the week I waited for the next ultrasound.

I arrived expecting the worst and hoping for a miracle.  I watched each measurement with acute intensity.  “Is that the baby?” asked my husband.  I knew it was.  But, silence.  No reply at all from the technician.  I knew it was the baby, I knew there was no heartbeat, and I knew she was neither permitted nor comfortable saying it definitively without consulting the doctor.  But I knew.  She knew.  We all knew.  The silence told the tale without a word.

People tell you a lot of things when they want to help.  Their words are kind and encouraging, generally, but there are other things heard that speak much louder.

The doctor’s voice cancelling my preliminary blood work was louder.  The failure of my husband to continue announcing my obvious pregnancy to people we saw in public was louder.  The cessation of conversations about baby names and future family scenarios was louder.  The silence of the second technician was louder.  The spontaneous dialogue about what will happen if we lose the baby spurred by the passing of a large hospital was louder.  The voice of my gleeful seven year-old skipping down the fishing pier the day after I miscarried saying, “Look!  It’s just the five of us!” because she did not know and was counting the baby was louder.  The confusion of my nine year-old as she picked up the brand new addition to our window cling stick figure family that I bought the week before and never placed was louder.  The feeling that I shouldn’t leave the beach and go back home because I left my youngest baby there alone was louder.

The louder things lie waiting, revealing the truth.  They are the sounds that one hears somewhere between grief and grey matter; between fall out and faith; between denial and acceptance.

Maybe that’s why most who miscarry do not speak much about it.  Maybe they don’t have to.  The louder things speak for themselves.

He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ~2 Samuel 12:22-23

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fear

How could David decide and declare in his darkest days that he would fear no evil?  Surely his valleys were just as deep or even much deeper than our own.  Surely the valley of the shadow of death that he referred to was a terrifying place.  Surely David “felt” afraid when he fought the giant; when his life was so repeatedly threatened by those much stronger than he; when he sinned so grievously; when his darling child died.  Surely David has much to be fearful and worried over.  Yet, David says, “I will fear no evil.

Feeling fear is not wrong.  Letting fear dictate our actions, reactions, and lack of action is what is wrong.  The difference is where David felt afraid, he simultaneously turned his eyes to God, trusted in Him fully, and submitted his own will to faith rather than giving in to his feelings.  In the midst of great fear, discouragement, suffering, and even personal failure, David refused to be led by anything other than the goodness of his great and all-powerful God.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

I will not.

I shall not.

I must not.

I need not.

I ought not.

I should not.

I have not.

These, too, are often just what I do.

Still, God does something different.  He leads me somewhere different.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness…

He cares for me in every way I could possibly need or imagine.  His leading brings me to a place far too few ever find – peace.  When I am faithful to follow his lead, I find myself in abundance, stillness, restoration, and righteousness.  When I choose to put away want and look to Him, I find His peace; the peace that passes all understanding; the peace David was speaking of.

Nothing can take that kind of peace.  I fear nothing when I know that I know that He is with me, fighting for me.  I am comforted in Him despite any and all evil that might surround.  Fear is swallowed up by courage and confidence and it is all done for his name’s sake.  It is not just for me, it is for him, too.  Therefore, I am all the more sure He will bring it to perfect completion.

I know my future.  He awaits me in glory.  Therefore, I know my that neither my past nor the present can cause any want or fear to overcome me.  I know that goodness and mercy are what He intends for each and every day of my life, regardless of what valleys it may bring before me.

Therefore, I shall not want.  

Therefore, I will not fear.

Therefore, I am safe.

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

“Put fear behind you out of sight and mind, rebuke it as you do other sins –  it is one of the worst of them.  ‘The enemy’ may be a human foe, a bad habit, a false belief, or any peace destroyer.” ~Nora Holm, “The Runner’s Bible”

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courage

Sunday school commences and my big kid husband reads the parable of the talents.  Between giggles and coos my thoughts on God suddenly become impeccably clear.

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~ Matthew 25:24-30

The servant was “afraid.”

As the story was read, the main idea became crystal clear to me.  Fear is not and will not be an acceptable excuse to not invest in the things God has placed in our hands.  Fear does not justify us in sins of omission.

The servant who justified himself by claiming fear was judged wicked and lazy by his master.  R.C. Sproul notes that,  “The third servant was unwilling to do the work of investing the talent for the benefit of another.”

What, then, does that mean for those of us who struggle to use our hands, feet, voices, and abilities for God due to fear, worry, and anxiety?  What does the Bible teach us and how we are to overcome?

It means we must overcome fear.  The Bible teaches us that there is no fear in love.  When we love our Master, we do His will by investing ourselves and our gifts in His priorities – namely His people. We are to do this despite our fears. We are to do this despite our failure.  We are to do it despite our weaknesses, weariness, and worries.  When we love our Master, we do His will by investing ourselves and the gifts he has given to us against all odds.  Christians are called to be courageous.  Cowards, on the other hand, are listed among those who take their places in the second death.

When one fears God or men in an unhealthy way rather than loving Him and them truly, he will fail to serve either rightly.  That one will continually justify and excuse himself on the basis of fear.  Likewise, if we use fear as the reason for our lack of investment in God’s gifts and His people, we will be sorely judged on the basis of disobedience and unfaithfulness in what we were given.

We must overcome fear because we know that while it may indeed be a reason for our stagnancy, it is not and never will be a reasonable excuse for it.  The question we must cease asking immediately is then, “How can I justify my lack of investment?”  We must change our focus from the problem (fear) to the solution (Christ) and begin to ask rather, “How can I overcome my fear through Christ and begin to invest earnestly?”

The answer is found in believing and applying the promises of God and dismissing the reasons and justifications of the world’s wisdom.  Because courage is required of Christians on a daily basis, we must understand what courage looks like and how it feels.  Courage is not the lack of fear or anxiety.  Courage is being afraid and anxious but trusting more in God to do whatever He is instructing me anyway.  God did not place gifts, abilities, opportunities, and, most importantly, people, in our laps for us to hide from and avoid.

Fear is unbelief and distrust of the Master.  Though we may experience fear frequently, He has been faithful to give us the resolution to it.  Consider His many promises and be free from fear:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:3

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1

 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” ~Hebrews 13:6

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~John 14:27

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. ~1 John 4:18

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,“Abba! Father!” ~Romans 8:15

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me? ~Psalm 56:3-4

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident. ~Psalm 27:3

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:29-31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”~ Joshua 1:9

There are many more examples of our Master giving us hope and courage to overcome fear in the Bible, but I am going to be focusing on each of these particular scriptures  individually  in context over the next few weeks to explore exactly what kind of assurance He has given us despite our fear in this world, what kind of faith He is calling us to live out, and what courage in the face of fear really looks like practically.

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star

The night before I was called to repentance, my thoughts were on my earthly father.  I was playing softball as we always did when I was young and I had a moment where I felt as though he was actually there with me.  Thinking of him on my way home, I saw a street sign that read, “Lewis Dr.” Lewis was my maiden name.  At that point I felt that my father was with me, just like I did while I was at the ball field and I began to remember a particular memory where he and I laid in the grass outside and looked up at the stars together.  It is one of my favorite memories of my dad.

The following day the man who told me God wanted to heal me (the doctor) told me to repent of my excuses and take time to sit still and pray each day.  That night I took my shoes off, stood in the grass, and I prayed.  I sat down on the porch and watched the sky.  I realized, but not until this point exactly, that I was told by the doctor to do exactly what I had done with my dad so many years ago.  A few moments later, I saw a shooting star move swiftly across the sky.  My husband and I began to talk about the shooting star and I shared how the first time I had ever seen one was with my dad.  I remember it vividly.  My dad had been drinking.  He did not drink often, and even more rarely in front of me,  but on this particular occasion, he was drunk.We had been at a Halloween party and it just so happened to be my birthday.  My mom was driving which is significant because my mom never drove when my dad was in the car.  My dad always drove.  This time, my mom drove and me and daddy watched the sky.  A shooting star moved across the sky and we took note of the time.  It was 10:30 p.m. on 10/30 – October 30, my birthday.  The star fell at 10:30 on 10/30.  Maybe that is why I remember it.

After I talked with my husband for a few minutes and shared this story about how the first time I saw a shooting star was with my dad, and he was drunk, and all about the party and how I was dressed up as a clown and my brother a devil and how he drove us into the woods because he had had too much to drink, probably out of sheer curiosity, he picked up his phone to look at the time.  It was 10:36 p.m.  That star we saw the other night fell at 10:30 p.m.

At that very moment, I remembered how after I had left the doctor’s office that day – after being told to pray – I said a prayer in the truck before pulling out.  I asked God to speak to me and I turned on the radio.  I put on WORD FM to maybe hear a sermon but all I got was static so I changed it.  The song I heard first was , “Drunk on Your Love.”  The Holy Spirit came over me and I began to cry tears of joy.  I knew God was speaking to me about how much he loved me and I could physically feel his love and joy pouring into me in a way I have never experienced before.  This went on for more than 15 minutes or better and I understood it as God’s divine healing for me.  When I saw the shooting star later that night and was reminded of my father being drunk when we saw my first one, I felt my entire body freeze up in utter disbelief.  When I heard the song I did not know yet about the star I was about to see.  When I spoke of his drunkenness I did not think anything about the song until after Tim checked the time.  At that point I felt like I was in the movie interstellar where the father was talking to his daughter from light years away in space.  It was a surreal moment in which I almost felt afraid – not scared, rather, known and as one who had just seen something unmistakably supernatural.

I was listening to a song called “Invisible City” afterward and I decided to look up the meaning of what an invisible city was or if there was a legend about it.  The invisible city was a city who, when under attack did not move or prepare to fight, rather bowed and prayed, and sunk down under the water where their enemies would never find them again.

 Coincidence?  No. Confirmation.  God is calling me to be serious about prayer and he is showing himself time and again to strengthen my faith and so that I and those around me might believe.

 

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star

As I hid myself and my six month old in the church’s cry room to nurse and listened to the band rehearse over the speaker, I thought.  What a perfect place to worship.

How often do I come to church and speak to everyone but God?  How often do I come to His Word and write about him without talking to him first?  I mean, what if I came to your house twice a week but never spoke to you?  What kind of a friend does that?  Better yet, what kind of daughter does that?

A prideful one.  An arrogant one.  A full of herself fool does that.  A rebellious teenage-minded one.

For the past, well, I am not even sure how many years it has been now.  Let’s say four, maybe, although it may indeed be more like 6-10 if I get real honest.  For the past four years my relationship with my heavenly Father has been troubled.  Troubled because of trials. Troubled because of trust issues.  Troubled because of tiredness.  Troubled because of self-reliant trying.

I tend to go into self-protect mode and function as a selective mute when I am hurting; when I do not trust; when I cannot understand.  God is not a father who takes well to teenage talklessness, though.  God is a father who has a way of taking me to task when my pouting and pretense become terribly unpretty.

Familiarity breeds contempt.  God will not have me living under his roof without correction.

For two years I pouted and glared.  For two years I turned a cold shoulder heavenward.  For two years I attended church, Bible study, read and wrote on the Bible daily with nary much of a word or two sent up in faith.  I claimed I did not know how to pray.  I studied the psalms intensely.  I wrote on every single one searching for a supposed answer to my prayer problem.  A year went by and still no speaking.  Not to him.  Not about truth.  Maybe for you.  Maybe for food.  But not about the truth.  What I had was not a knowledge problem.  What I had was an obedience problem.

The truth was too terrible.  It was too terrifying.  I was too angry, too depressed, too discouraged, and too temperamental to talk to a God I no longer trusted about the truth in my heart.

Another year went by wherein I worked harder than I had ever done  to earn his favor – which I thought I had most certainly lost somewhere along the way.  I worked and worked and worked for the approval of his people who, in his divine judgement on me for my pride in self-sufficient works, trampled every last effort until they were all completely obliterated.

I was wrongfully, yet sovereignly, excommunicated.  I left the church.  I left my marriage.  I departed from the truth altogether for a desperately dark time.

Six months later I ran into an old friend who was now a pastor.   Since that time the Lord has been relentless on his mission to restore me.  He took me back under his roof.  He redeemed my marriage.  He restored my spiritual life.  And today, I fully believe he has finally closed the darkest chapter of my life.

A month ago I met a man who told me God wanted to heal me.  He told me to pray.  He told me unorthodox things like to stand in the grass with no shoes on and wait on and feel the presence of God.  He told me stop making excuses about stopping to spend silence with Jesus.  So I did.  Just two days ago, I did.  For the first time in a long time, I sat completely still.  I folded my hands.  I bowed my head and I prayed to God.  I listened and he spoke.  I spoke and he listened.

I put my feet in the grass, I looked up at the night sky, and I prayed.  He spoke to me as a father in ways whose explanation elude me almost completely.  With equal intensity, he placed a burning in my heart to tell someone – anyone who will listen.

I believe he may be calling me to write a book concerning the details of my journey of faith and faithlessness.  In the mean time, I am going to try to share some of the moments God has given me over the past week in the next few posts. He has been reminding me over and over and over and over again of my earthly father with many convincing proofs.  I believe he is reassuring me that HE is my Father who loves me, calling me to some kind of ministry, and giving me a gift.  I do not fully understand all of what God is doing in and through me at this time but I do know a few things for sure: it is real, it is God, and it is more amazing than anything I have ever experienced.  Praise Him!

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