Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Harsh, Ugly, Painful Truth

“And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.” (Jeremiah 45:5 (ESV))

Don’t seek great things? I am bringing disaster upon all flesh!? What!? That’s a little harsh don't you think? But then he says “I will give you your life…” OK what is this all about?

Now of course there is a greater context to this verse, but I am not going to explore it at this point. Instead I am going to share with you my mediation on it…

When I read this verse this morning two New Testament passages came to my mind:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven […] Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life […] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:19-33)

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

What do these three passages have in common? Well, the link I made this morning was: 

Seeking not the things of this world, that in the end will be destroyed, and instead first seek the Kingdom, give up what I want for and in my life, instead go full-on for what God has placed in my life, trusting not only that he will give me life but that in this abandonment of my life is where I will find true life, life to the fullest! As Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

I asked myself, and I ask you “What am I seeking? caught up in? holding on to? not trusting God for?”

The first thought that came to my mind made my cringe a little, because I thought, “Oh gosh, really is everything about this!?” But alas if I am striving to be an honest and vulnerable writer I must share the somewhat embarrassing truth that yes the first thing that came to my mind when I asked “What am I seeking? caught up in? holding on to? not trusting God for?” was: 

A husband and a family. 

Not that these are negative things to want, by no means! They are beautiful and I think God given desires… but never the less in the passage related to the above Matthew passage Jesus says 

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10: 37-38)

This can be a somewhat complicated passage to understand, but how I understood it this morning in relation to my desire for a husband and a family, is that I am loving and desiring for a husband more than I am for Jesus, sure I love Jesus and I want to follow him with my whole life, but I want a husband and a family to be a part of that life, and the fact that they aren't makes me angry towards God as I feel that he is withholding something from me, I feel that he is in that regard withholding the fullness of life from me, I do not trust that without a husband and a family  I can have a full life following Jesus…

That is the harsh, ugly, painful truth.

As I briefly explored my desire for a husband and a family I discovered that my underlining desires are to be loved, seen and heard, valued and appreciated, supported and cared for, and my fear is that I will be alone. 

I believe these are all totally legitimate desires and fears, in fact I think this is how we are hardwired, to be in relation not only with God but also with other people, as “the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’” (Genesis 2:18). I think that we are created to have some of these desires meet in relation with others…

Though “others” might not necessarily mean a husband and children. Maybe it means a rich and full community life. But that is a bigger conversation than I want to get into at the moment.

I will end with the question I asked of the Lord:

“Lord, how do I give up my desire for a husband?”

I felt him say to me:

“You don’t Maria, you give up the need to fulfill it…”

Me: “Huh?”

Him: “You stop trying to fill yourself and trust, as you seek first my Kingdom I will fulfill you, I will give you a full and abundant life.”

Me: “OK, makes sense, take my eyes off the wrong ‘prize’ and instead focus on the Way, the Truth, and the Life (aka Jesus, see John 14:6).”

Do you have anything you’re caught up in? Not trusting God for? Do you have anything you want more then Jesus? That you are seeking before the Kingdom?

No? I am the only one? Come on be honest, I am not even asking you to share it with the cyber world, just be honest with yourself before God, he already knows anyhow, and being honest, confession is the first step towards the full and abundant life Jesus came to offer you and me! Amen!

So let us “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A King?

Before you start reading this please take heed that these are just some preliminary musings, so please read them with a grain of salt, that being said come let us muse together…

The other day my dear friend was praying with me and she shared with me Isaiah 54 focusing on verses 11 and 12:

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones. 

Considering I have described my current situation like being on a roller coaster ride that I can’t get off of, and how much I love sparkles! These verses were encouraging and I made a mental note to read the whole chapter. 

Before I had a chance to read it, a couple days later Connally Gilliam (she is one of my new most favourite people, check out her book: Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect) was speaking on singleness. I have to confess I was dreading it, as being single is one of those storms that are lashing me at the moment, and the prospect of being single for life haunts me, so I thought here we go again someone going on about what a great blessing it is to be single, that’s great for them but I don't want to hear it, I don’t want to be single for life, did you hear that God!? Not me choose someone else, I don’t want it! Please… 

Connally was a breath of fresh honest air! She spoke from the heart with truths that she has had to wrestle out herself over the years of being single. She did not paint some idealistic picture of singleness but she gave a honest and realistic portrayal of how one women has come to a place of peace, and believe it or not, thriving in singleness. You might be wondering what does this have to do with Isaiah 54, oh right sorry I got side tracked. Connally read part of Isaiah 54, a different part then my friend had read:

Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord. 
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.

As she read, I thought oh there is Isaiah 54 again, oh I don’t think I like these words as much, I don’t want to be a barren woman who has no husband! God I want a husband and children! 

Despite my resistant, Connelly’s words sunk in deep and I spent the next day or so chewing on them. The next morning I even journaled “OK maybe single would not be the worst thing ever… but I still want to get married and have a family.” Haha progress! Finally a couple days after hearing Connelly speak I read all of Isaiah 54, and to be honest it felt kind of like a slap in the face: “For your Maker is your husband” (vs. 5). What!? No! I am sorry God but I want an earthly husband! I know in my head that you are better than any earthly husband could ever be, but other people get both you and an earthly husband, I want both too! Please?

OK this is where the musing comes in… promptly after writing that, the question came to my mind “am I being like Israel in wanting an earthly king?”

Do you know the story? Read it in 1 Samuel 8, the gist of it is that Israel wants an earthly king just like everyone else, even though they have God the perfect King, and God warns them of the troubles that an earthly king will bring, but they insist and so God concedes and gives them what they want, an earthly king, and although they do have some good kings they have a lot of really bad ones… 

This is by no means a perfect comparison, because a husband is not the same as a king, God does not warn us against getting married as he did with having a king, marriage is a beautiful union that is blessed by God ... buuut in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul warns us “those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this” (vs 28). Again I am not saying getting married is in any way a bad thing (I still want to get married!) 

My musing is that maybe I am pushing for an earthly husband, and God is saying to me (at least for the time being) but Maria I am you Husband, and in marrying you will face many troubles… maybe I need to stop fighting for what I think I need and trust that God knows what I need and that he has my best intentions at heart, and that he is not withholding good from me, as “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28)… Either way I am single right now, and marriage is not the be all and the end all, I need to chose to focus on who and what I do have in my life, and what and who is the be all and the end all…

“For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:38)

Do you have an "earthly king" desire or even demand in your life?