Fear not Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great...And he believed the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:1,6)
I think there are times in every believer's life when we are called to forsake what seems good and right to us in order to have God's best for us. Often times, that best isn't readily apparent. Often times, it is a fight to see any good at all coming from our loss. We must stand on faith. He promises to work all things together for our good and to make all loss gain, and this is more true than any thought or emotion we may have. He also promises that He is our advocate, our intercessor, our defender and our shield.
Yesterday, I felt the comfort of that shield more powerfully and tangibly than I ever have in my life. I was called upon to forsake what I saw as a very good thing - my friendship with a wonderful, godly man - in the hope of God's best for me. My affection for my friend, and my desire to be more, had caused a great deal of emotional conflict and confusion. My heart and head were full of him and this distraction had begun to have a negative effect on my life and walk. I saw sin cropping up where it had not been, I cried a lot, I began absent-mindedly running red lights...I knew something had to give. Nothing and no one is worth hindering my relationship with the Lord...or dying in a traffic accident! After counsel from leadership at my church and much prayer and wrestling, I decided it was time to come clean with my friend about my feelings and end the friendship.
During my prayer and wrestling, I was filled with dread. I couldn't think about being rejected or never hearing from him again without sobbing. I knew he would be kind and that the decision to end our friendship would not be his recommendation...that wasn't what caused the emotion, it was the loss. I didn't want to lose this treasure, yet I didn't want to trample upon the Grace of God in my life simply to keep what I wanted, either. So, I obeyed, expressed my heart and the Lord kept anxiety away. Then, I braced for the pain of his response. When it came, my chest throbbed, tears fell, the hurt was real, but it was not overwhelming or devastating. I expected to fall apart, dissolve into a puddle of sobs, but I didn't. I was wounded, but not mortally so...I was ok.
I was amazed.
So when I read the verse above this morning, I couldn't help but put my own name in it: Fear not [Tina], I am your shield; your reward shall be very great...And [she] believed the Lord and it was counted to [her] as righteousness. (Genesis 15:1,6)
Believing the Lord that He is working out His best for me, though it involves loss and pain, is where I stand. His shield about me yesterday was His seal, His proof to me that I am right where He has called me to be. Nothing has changed. All is as it should be. His plan is still His plan and still playing out. This friendship was a problem for me, but Corrie Ten Boom says:God has no problems,only plans. When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) 'toward the goal of true maturity' (Rom 12:2 JBP). Believing God that this is truth is the first step to that maturity...and whatever else His plan holds for me.
I can't see a thing. When I try to envision where the road will lead now that this door has closed, I see barren desert wastes. But He says the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I am choosing to believe what He, my shield, says rather than what I see. His promise, His hope is my shield as I wait for my faith to become sight.
Until then, I walk, one unvieled step at a time, believing God, seeking His purpose, seeking to honor Him, trusting in His steadfast love. He says that none of His plans will fail, His purposes will be accomplished and that He will give me the desires of my heart. I think yesterday He saw that more than anything else, the desire of my heart is to walk closely with Him in fellowship, unbroken by selfishness or striving or sin. I pray that He is honored and pleased in that, though it has come with some pain and grief. I think he is. I think this loss was a way for Him to show me what the desires of my heart really are...and I am comforted to see that truth.
I could have chosen to hang on, hoping in a man, getting what I could from the friendship, enjoying whatever attention this man gave me, but by God's grace I didn't. I chose to forsake what was good for what is best. A Pastor friend told me "this was not only the right thing to do, it was the righteous thing to do." And in so doing - in the losing - God both revealed to me and gave me the desire of my heart...and a shield besides.
You have given him his hearts desire and have not withheld the request of his lips! Selah...you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the King trusts in the Lord and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. (Psalm 21:2,7)
The fears of death and of the grave
Are whelmed beneath the sea
And every heart, now light and brave
May face the things to be. --Frederick Von Hardenberg