Monday, February 20, 2006

Bitter about the portions allotted they indulged...

“Bitter about the portions allotted they indulged in idolatry, gluttony, and sexual sin.”
--Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

I read this first last Tuesday, as I was traveling to Tuscaloosa. Of all the things the Lord spoke and showed me during my sort of retreat trip, this one quote has been pushed to the forefront and He has continued to stir and drill down deeper into my heart.

What I have seen has not been pretty.

“Bitter about the portions allotted they indulged…”

When I read that, I have to ask…what do I regard as my portion?

Is it singleness, childlessness, self-indulgence, family stress, a dead-end job? If so, then it is also a greater degree of freedom, limited amounts of laundry and dishes to wash, nieces and nephews and a job I can leave at the office every day.

But is any of this REALLY my portion?

In a sense…yes. It is the life the Lord has carved out for me right now. All that and more. That life also includes dealing with automotive issues, singing on the worship team at church, taking out the trash, baking for my co-workers, living alone, being able to meet a friend for dinner on a whim…and more still.

But again…is THAT my portion?

I would tend to say yes. These things comprise the life that has been given to me (or denied me depending on one’s perspective). My life would seem to be my portion. And, at times, I have a tendency to feel a little bitter about that…and indulge. But the Lord says this:

“I am your portion and your inheritance.”

So, if I am bitter about my portion…I am bitter that the Lord is my portion and not all the things I feel I should have or have been wrongly denied.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.—The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Daily Light, 2/14)

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; [He holds] my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

“I have a beautiful inheritance.”

I read all of that, repeat it and believe it, yet still the war in my heart rages. The whispers come, telling me that I have been cheated, that I have only remnants of other people’s lives (those bits they are willing to share with me), that I have a second-rate portion.

BUT THE LORD is my portion…how can I think that is second rate. He is my inheritance…how can I call that a left-over. He holds my lot…how can I call it anything but beautiful, perfect, good?

I can’t.

So I must then surrender again and again and again…each time bitterness tries to take root in my heart…and say:

“Take all I am, Lord, and all that I cling to
You are my Savior I owe everything to
Take all the treasures that lie in my storehouse
They cannot follow when I enter Your house

So I surrender all to You
I surrender all”

(I Surrender All – Sovereign Grace Praise)

That is the only response I can have, otherwise, bitterness will take root. I've been there. I've lived that and do not wish to go back again. So, while this is painful and has led to many tears, I am grateful for this and for the opportunity to excise yet more ugliness from my heart. I am grateful that the Lord has chosen to remind me of how easily I am decieved and tempted into sin. And I am grateful that He is chosing, also, to lead me out...and to give more grace...and comfort...and encouragement...and that He always forgives.

But I am most thankful, I think, that He always gets to the heart of the matter. While I am set to focus on what I think the real issues are and deal with them, He comes in and shines His light on the root, brings it out of the darkness and in so doing sets me on the path to repentance...and greater freedom.

So, as I wince and say "ouch" at this revelation of bitterness, I can also say "Isn't He good?!?!"

And, really mean it.

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