Behold the kindness of the Lord:
"What we have lost God will restore
When he is finished with his art,
The silent worship of our heart.
When God creates a humble hush,
And makes Leviathan his brush,
It won't be long until the rod
Becomes the tender kiss of God."
(John Piper from the poem "Job")
This past weekend I had a sort of confrontational conversation with a family member. I do not meant that it was heated or ugly, but I did have to confront this person that I loved and who was angry with some truth about their circumstances. It wasn't a flattering conversation and though I tried to infuse every word with kindness, I know some things I said hurt and were unwelcome. I also know that in trying so hard to be kind, I may have also somehow made the truth a little less glaring.
This is not the case with God. He alone has a way of saying things to us that cut right to the heart, are unvarnished, and seem as ugly as they really are and yet, as UGHly and painful as they are, somehow, He makes us feel completely loved. He rod becomes the kiss.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, the Lord has been revealing some pretty ugly things in my heart. He has also been shaking my circumstances. There has been discord in my family, many deadlines at work, schedules have been rearranged, plans changed, hopes left unfulfilled, finances stretched, etc. Through these I have seen some of the gunk that still lurks in my heart and have, at times, literally choked on it. Yet when I go to the Lord with this ugliness and pray or open His word, He ALWAYS responds to me in kindness. He reminds me of who He is and who I am to Him and that His plan is still moving forward. Though I sin He does not change. Though ugliness rears it equally ugly head, His thoughts are still precious toward me. I am poor and needy and He takes thought of me. He is good and does good...whether I do or not.
At one point last week, I was so overwhelmed by His response to me that I broke emotionally. I burst into what can only be characterized as "cartoon crying". The tears were literally springing up and outward from my eyes and hit my hands as I was raising them to my face! I've never sobbed that way in my life and as I did - though momentarily thrown off by the strange tear phenomenon - I cried out "Lord, you are breaking me and killing me with kindness. Thank you."
As much as I want circumstances to change, the truth is that it is moments like this, where everything is going "wrong" that God's glory is the most relevant and shines the most brightly in our lives. And the promise is that it will not be so always. The contrary winds will one day soon cease to blow, the rod will become the kiss, and the end it will explain. This is the way of the disciple: deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Him and die daily.
Praise our Father in Heaven that we have a God that kills us with His kindness and disciplines us with a rod that becomes a kiss!