Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whatever My God Ordains Is Right

Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

These words from the song “Praise To The Lord, The Almighty” by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), cut a tender wound in my heart this morning. The truth of them both deeply grieved and humbled me, and flooded me with love for my Lord.
He truly has ordered my circumstances to meet my needs and desires.

I desire companionship…He has given me friends and a roommate.
I desire, specifically, male companionship…He has given me many male friends who are like brothers to me, meaning they both annoy and entertain me and are willing to beat someone up for me, if necessary.
I desire to be a mother…He has given me nieces and nephews, and above-mentioned male friends, to care for and fuss and feed.
I desire a husband…my Maker is my Husband. He pursues and woos and speaks into my life, giving direction and wisdom. He loves me with a tender and abiding and everlasting love and promises never to leave me or forsake me…whether I am sick or well, rich or poor, fat or thin, loveable or wretched, faithful or not.

I have no reason to grumble or complain or rebel.

Whatever my God ordains is right
Here shall my stand be taken
Though sorrow, or need, or death be mine
Yet I am not forsaken
My Father’s care circles me there
He holds me that I shall not fall
And so to Him I leave it all

Whatever my God ordains is right
Though now this cup in drinking
Bitter it seems to my faint heart
I take it all unshrinking
My God is true, each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart

“Whatever My God Ordains is Right” (Rodigast/Winkworth/Altrogge)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Portion

YOUR portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfil the will of God, by moulding yourself to that of others. Happy indeed you are thus to bear a cross laid on you by God's own hands, in the order of His Providence. The discipline which we choose for ourselves does not destroy our self-love like that which God assigns us Himself each day. All we have to do is to give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in His arms as a loving mother carries her child. In every need let us look with love and trust to our Heavenly Father. -- FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FeNELON

This was part of my morning reading yesterday...and was very timely. That old foe of "Potential Spinsterhood" reered it's ugly head again and I did not greet it well. I spent most of Tuesday an emotional mess...but God. He intervened Wednesday morning and reminded me that my weapon against the real Enemy and his real goal - my self-love - is to suffer as Christ has suffered, arming myself "likewise with the same mind. (1 Pt 4:1)".

What was His mind?
Essentially, this:

The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? --JOHN 18:11

When we are fully delivered from the influence of selfish considerations, and have become conformed to the desires and purposes of the Infinite Mind, we shall drink the cup, and drink it cheerfully, whatever it may be. In a word, we shall necessarily be submissive and happy in all trials, and in every change and diversity of situation. Not because we are seeking happiness, or thinking of happiness, as a distinct object, but because the glorious will of Him whom our soul loves supremely, is accomplished in us. (THOMAS C. UPHAM)

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. (Psalm 16:5-6)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Succumb or Stand

Temptation can cause us to succumb, sink, sin, or stand. - William Ward

This weekend my church had a Church Covenant signing. I went into this service thinking, "I made my commitment to this church years ago, so this is nothing new or extremely significant to me." I thought it was a nice, sorta sentimental, idea...which was fine because I am a very sentimental person, but in my head the signing of the covenant was just restating a commitment I'd already made and been faithful to. However, as members of the church read the covenant aloud and people came forward to sign, I was overcome. This Covenant wasn't just about a commitment to a particular body of believers, it was affirming our individual and corporate covenant with the Lord. It was saying "We, this group assembled together, believe this about God and are committed to living as such, for the sake of His glory, the furtherance of His Kingdom and our mutual sanctification."

As we listened to the covenant being read and sang songs that proclaimed these truths, I couldn't help think about how I'd fallen short. The gravity of the reality that, in so doing, I'd broken covenant with God AND that that breech made those I was connected to vulnerable as well, was very, VERY sobering. I thought about the lives of those around me, lives marred and even destroyed by sin and was broken. I thought of the women and girls I know who compromised in relationships, who were married in secret because of sin, who live with regret after giving themselves to a man who was not as faithful as he promised to be, who are married to a man who wasn't what the deceitfulness of sin allowed them to believe he was, who have turned their backs on God for a version of Him that allows for the indulgence of their flesh, friends who continue to lean on drugs, alcohol or relationships instead of God. And then I thought, but for the grace of God someone could be grieving over the sames things in my life.

I am not so naive to believe for one second that, if the opportunity presented itself, I wouldn't succumb and sin with the hope of ending my singleness. I have compromised what I profess to believe to indulge my flesh in other ways...for things that do not promise to give me the one thing I want more than anything else on this earth: a husband and family. So, how can I assume that the line would somehow be drawn just short of fornication or adultery? I can't.

The truth is, that these "smaller" compromises and indulgences make me even more vulnerable. By God's grace, my compromises and indulgences are not habitual, but they do happen...and they happen more than they should. I am called to be holy as He is holy and anytime my flesh takes priority over holiness, I am on a slippery slope which can, might I even dare to say WILL lead to the "bigger and badder" sins.

I believe that none of the men and women I thought of in that sobering moment this weekend thought they would sin as they did. But I also believe that, long before that seemingly uncrossable line was crossed, there was choice after choice for the flesh over the spirit until that line was a hazy sliver in the rear-view mirror of their lives.

That is sad and frightening.

Lord, let it not be so in your church. Sober us. Put fresh fire in us for Your Word. Grant us the gift of repentance and Your Spirit that we might stand when temptation comes and go on to walk in a manner worthy of the Name of Christ, by which we are called!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kissing the Guilty

"And Hea'vs Peace and Perfect Justice Kissed a Guilty World in Love."

I turned off the car, got out and began walking to the door of my office, with that line from a song ringing in my head. All the while I thought, "Do I really get that? Does anyone? Is it even possible to understand the magnitude of what this is saying?" Thinking back over my own life and experience, I don't think so.

Not naturally, anyway.

I mean, I can hardly think of a time when I deserved a slap and got a kiss instead. Mostly, the slaps were given with great zeal and a strong feeling of justification...a feeling I know well from times when I was the slapper, too. Even when a kiss is warranted, I often hesitate to give it because I can't look past whatever wrong I felt, or push my own pride aside at wrongly feeling wronged. So, even my forgiveness is too often not so much a kiss as a patronizing pat on the head.

David says "Against you [God], and you alone have I sinned", not against Uriah or Bathsheba or anyone else, his sin and mine, no matter what form it takes and who it involves is against God alone. And He kissed us in love. More than that, I taunted and rejected and spurned the kiss, or behaved as if I had it coming to me, and He gave it anyway. Now, I can sort of imagine giving a forgiving kiss to someone who hurt me and apologized. But what about to someone who didn't apologize? What about to someone who hurt or killed or otherwise assaulted one of my niece's? I don't know. That adds a degree of difficulty.

No, I don't think I am capable of really "getting" this. It is one of those things that are too wonderful, too high. But I am thankful that it is truth, that my fully getting it has no effect on how real it is or on my daily experiencing the effects of this reality. He is too good!

Monday, August 6, 2007

"It is I..."

"It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20)

It is I; do not be afraid.
I knit you in your mother's womb
I know your frame and how you are made
And remember that you are but dust.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am the shade on your right hand
I walk with you along the way
I have drawn the lines for you in pleasant places.

It is I; do not be afraid.
Satan may ask to sift you like wheat
But I have prayed for you
I am your advocate with the Father.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and see all
I plan and purpose all
I work all things for your good and my glory.

All things.I am plotting for your joy.

It is I; do not be afraid.
When you seem to go astray
When you see nothing but darkness ahead
When you feel the sting of heartache or pain.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I will come like a firm grasp of the hand
I will make the darkness bright
I will again give you joy unspeakable.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I am in all and work through all
Around and underneath
I surround you with a mighty hand and outstretched arms.

It is I; do not be afraid.
No one can snatch you from my hand
That which I began I will complete
And not one word of my good promises will fail.

It is I; do not be afraid.
I chose you from the beginning
I love you with an everlasting love
I will never leave you or forsake you

It is I; do not be afraid.
Hope in God and His purposes
Count all other things as joyful loss
For, one who hopes in God will never be disappointed.

And no matter what you face
this you can know
of this you can be certain
It is I; do not be afraid.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Issues are with God

The issues are with God, and His servants know not the word disappointment, for they are incapable of reading His designs. Only this they know, that the slightest hesitation in obeying what they believe to be a divine impulse, produces a suffering more intense than any consequences which may accrue to them from the world. --Laurence Oliphant

I've been thinking a lot about my friend from Tuscaloosa who I miss very much...still. Like so much of what the Lord does, I have no clue what His purpose is in this. I know it hurts. I know I don't like it. I know I wish things would be different. I know my heart toward this man has not changed one bit despite these months of silence. But over and above my feelings, and more important than what I don't know yet, is this: I know that God is good and does good always. Whatever the outcome, however this looks next month or next year, I know when I get there, I will know that He meant this for my care for me, not to harm me.

I am so thankful for that abiding and over-ruling truth.

I want to make the issues mine. I want to know the design and purpose and plan and outcome NOW. But those are God's, mine is to obey, do what I know now, and watch and pray for the joy that is promised in the morning and the goodness and mercy that will follow me all the days of my life, and the Corn that waits for me in Egypt.