Patience for patience’s sake is no good

I do not know how to be patient merely for the sake of being patient. But I do know how to set my heart on Christ because I am impatient — and I cannot endure without Him becoming central to my heart — and watching patience supernaturally spring up from a heart that has found true and lasting contentment.

Tweak my dreams, Lord — You know they are the seat of my heart

Sometimes God tweaks our dreams. We don’t always get it in the beginning — He is questioning our loyalty to ideas that are very important; ideals that make up who we have been for some time.

But, maybe it’s okay to let them go to God if He has other plans. Plans that fit more with who I am according to my identity in Him than the more familiar identifications I have with things other than Him. Things I don’t need for life — either in the sense of existence or endurance.

Christ is essentially my life-support. I don’t have anything without Him, yet with Him everything I have is up for disposal. If you’re in the process, as am I, of God tweaking your dreams (what you thought you had to have) you may be wondering why He ever let you dreams these things in the first place — especially when you thought they were congruent with following God.

I’m asking God that right now. There are a lot of things that I don’t understand yet, but I know He’s wise enough to know things that I can’t understand on my own. I will trust Him to reveal to me what He knows in His time.

I can’t say what would make my life a success. I think I know indefinitely, and then God shows me His plan and what I’ve been thinking suddenly seems to have no place — even if it is more comprehensible to me.

But I don’t want to follow my plans simply so I can set my eyes on the outcome I think is best, I want to lay them at my Masters feet so that I can have room enough to hold His very heart in my hands. His heart is in His plans and I don’t want to miss. So, even while I don’t fully understand it all, I plan on diving right in so that God knows I’m set on finding out what He’s got to show me!

Pray, and then get busy waiting

So, I prayed. I told God what I wanted and how I would like to have it. Then I told Him I don’t really know what is best for me and I would like to have His best if He would give it to me. That was some time ago, but it’s still true. I am reminded quite often of new ways that I need to make this my prayer when I get impatient about it being fulfilled.

I didn’t used to think that waiting was much fun. In fact, I have often thought it would kill me — at least if it took too long to my thinking. But waiting has changed me. Knowing that God has good for me even when nothing appears to be changing on the surface has opened wide my soul rather than closed it. I need to be open to God who fills me with His goodness as apposed to being closed up and left to myself.

Waiting has made me anxious to know what God wants. I strain for my will until I nearly break — only then do I realize that I don’t want to be broken by what God doesn’t want for me. If I’ve asked for something good, and He tells me to wait, it not a problem unless I make it that. He is offering to build my character and enhance my ability to love and trust Him in all manner of conditions.

I’m not always willing to have this happen, so granted this work includes struggle and strain. But, I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was a blessing — one of the greatest that God has ever given me. I am forced to wait on Him, not because I am being held back from living, but because their is so much living to do from right where I am. I need to get to know my Father better, I need to cultivate a richer relationship with Him, I need to grasp with all my heart the reality that I am in my Savior’s hands and nothing can separate me from His love.

Now, of course, this is not something that can be accomplished in a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months, but whatever years I have, they will be devoted to this. I will wait on my Lord all the days of my life, for it is in Him that my delight and comfort will forever dwell. And while I wait I am not languishing over things that I don’t have, I am being challenged to drink deeply of the living water that I do have.

Waiting is not the same as wanting — there is a world of difference between them that cannot be fully represented by the substitution of a single letter. Waiting reduces my indifference and resistance to God’s ways. It opens me up to bigger plans than I have dared to live for — plans I wouldn’t consider if it weren’t for my God’s persistence. He does not do more to me than I can bear, He does not hold me back from more than I need; instead He sometimes chooses to straiten my circumstances so He can widen the circumference of my joy in walking with Him.

Why God makes sense

There is no part of life that God is not capable and eager to help us persevere through. There is nothing in our experience that He has not planned out, or chosen to work towards His purposes even if we have chosen what is contrary to His expressed will.

There is freedom in knowing the sovereignty of God is consistent with everyday life and its problems. There is peace in finding God unconfused and yet full of compassion for us when we are. There is joy in believing that we have hope — a hope so strong that it will hold us up even when we grieve the things we are unwilling to surrender to His Lordship.

I like to have joy in full, but not the suffering in full that often sets the backdrop. How unseemly it feels to me for my weakness to be so shamelessly projected through a trial. Unless I have the faith-filled sight that skips beyond this fact to a bigger one: a trial is a gift from God that is suited to Him in such a strong way that inclines us to be suited to Him too.

I don’t mean to be overly sentimental — but it is belief in God’s knowing-ness even while we know nothing that keeps us in exactly the vein we need to be to see all how good God when much in our life is just plain bad. God is not afraid of bad, instead He harnesses the fruit of evil and turns it into seeds that will bear out His patience with mankind.

We think it is horrible if anything has to die, but evil fruit must pass away to scatter the seeds of God’s own fruit. We can’t trust our own instincts when it comes to what must die because we are wired by sin to be unperceptive to what is evil. But God can absolutely be trusted to know evil and effectively deliver us — even allowing for the time that it takes us to surrender to His way and learn that it is best because it is without error.

And just why aren’t God’s plans supposed to work?

God has informed me about some of His plans — plans for me and my life; plans that make clear to me what He wants and how capable He is of steering my life in the way that is best for me.

I love these plans, but sometimes it seems like they are so good that they couldn’t possibly come true — not for me anyway, and not anytime soon. I don’t know why I feel the need to protect myself from what God wants to give me.

I look around at what I have and am amazed and grateful at what He has done to redeem me through struggles. Maybe my problem is that I would like God to guarantee that He will redeem my life along with me, but is this possible?

What comes with redeeming? Do think there is not pain in this? Do I think it has not been offered to me at a cost and received at a cost? Is this gift not worth sacrifice and grief? If it trumps what I could have without it; indeed, disables my pain by confronting it, can I not deal with the pressure that comes with it?

Do I think it  is possible for pain to be in God’s hands — to assault Him and then touch me through Christ — without a purpose? Is it not a weak deliverance if pain disappears as though it were nothing; as though God allowed it though it would have cost Him nothing to relieve us of it?

Maybe if relief comes to us His way we will have it forever as well as be able to enjoy it now. Could I enjoy relief — enjoy Him — if the pain He took upon Himself (our pain) were not so severe, so straining, so sobering?

If what He does in us were not so strange and impossible for us to pass through alone, would  we ever have a need to look at Him and discover how He first handled our sorrows and rejoice that He has reached the end of them?

Are good things allowed to feel bad too?

I don’t know about you, but I like when everything is exactly as it should be — at least as I calculate it. I am not too comfortable when there are obstacles and unexpected and painful occurrences. When I feel like I have everything in control, when I think I look like I am doing a good job at the work I have before me, this is when I think life is most worthy of that coveted “good” title.

Yet, there are plenty of days when these standards I have are questioned. Do I really need to have myself at the center of my understanding of God’s perfection in planning the life I live? Does my goals of personal perfection really have a place on the scales that weigh God’s mercies? Not unless my failure to promote God in them bears down on the side of my unworthiness.

It’s okay if God’s mercy makes me more aware of my own sin — what He did in displaying it wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t have any real reason. If my debt to Him wasn’t a reality, I would have no compulsion to return to Him whom I have tried to rationalize away my need for.

You should envy me the deadly life I live

I’m not much for dying myself, but at times it is necessary. I die because I want life. Alright, let me unpack that for you — I have not lost all my senses; rather I am gaining new appreciation for what can be experienced by them.

I want to be a living sacrifice — a person who is essentially holy and acceptable to God. To be a living sacrifice, I must permit God to acquaint me with death to myself for the purpose of Him unfolding life to God.

I willingly jump into the fires of trials without any life-preserving exterior except Jesus Christ. With Jesus I feel the flame, yet it cannot destroy me; I grow weary from the heat, but I am not consumed; I train my eyes on the light of the flame and do not abide distress over the blackness left behind by it.

I am not living so that I can avoid trials that are necessary for my faith; I am dying so that these trials cannot be deterred in the purpose God has committed to them. I am a person who has escaped from death to life — life that is eternal and incapable of being diminished — so I can embrace whatever trials or discipline mark the stages of this new life. Any part of death that I now face is a pitifully impotent force.

It has lost all power before Christ, and that is why I can go through it with Him. What can separate me from all I need in God? Nothing — but now what was once so fearsome has become the means of displaying God’s conquest in human terms. God knows not death, and because Christ has known it, we shall never more be subject to it but through Him.

We shall enjoy the fullness of God’s life even while our own human and mortally-bounded lives are being tempered by trials. Should we expect to take no thought of dispensing our own lives when we know we shall not have them forever? Can we put it off when we know that according to our need, striving to enjoy more of us impedes receiving more of God?

Is evil really a problem big enough to demand heart-work for life?

The indirect means of evil are worse in their capacity to divert us than the direct means. At least with the direct we can see — but how often all these things are too indirect to be detected by our feeble understanding of the difference between absolute holiness and absolute wickedness.

We know the difference between right and wrong, but when we turn away from executing this knowledge because of the pain it will cause our wrong desires, we forfeit the ability to benefit from this gift of consciousness. We grow dull to the ways of righteousness — the only thing we ought to know as men and women (old and young).

God uses the direct means to let us know evil exists (yes, He makes it difficult for us to pretend because He knows better than us the dangers this poses against us) and to lead the way to our confrontation of indirect means that thwart us in all we do.

We see bad things that happen in our world, and we are given the opportunity to see great displays of this that we might consider the deep wells from which this proceeds — ourselves so consumed by sin as we are.

I must be aware and learn to avoid what will destroy me. It is out there and I won’t miss it because Satan has the ability to plan his own life for me though he is yet under the absolute control of God. And what is worse, my soul will be in agreement with his plans unless I break this contract by accepting Christ. Then, once I am on His side, I will be instructed and supplied with every means of God to war against Satan with all my being.

I do not worry that he will repossess me after I am in Christ’s possession, but I go on the offensive that he may be routed in all his plans to publicly and privately oppose Christ’s rule. I can only do this if I am entirely submitted to Christ’s rule for myself.

If I live for my own way, I live for evil — evil that already abides within me and will incriminate and embalm me forever if I do not submit it to Christ once and for all. And once I am under the rule of God through Christ, how can I behave any longer as though I were not?

There is no such thing here as accepting Christ and then becoming neutral to evil. I have brought my heart under Christ in the form of a commitment, but that commitment now calls for consistent action to back it up. It is very possible for me to make a commitment to Christ, but never back it up because I am to busy holding on to my old life.

God is offended and grieved when I continue my association with sin, especially since Christ has done so much to get me free from these ties! God has brought an order of separation between me and the evil ways of Satan that have been my own. If grace means anything to me, if my sin is any trouble to me at all, if holiness has any attraction, then I will accept His judgment of my estate and abandon it for the one He offers me.

I will not insist on remaining in the ways of my sin while I have been freed from the constitution to sin. It is no longer a law in my being that I must sin if I am under Christ; instead, His law — which says I must not sin — is in my being. But, I must exercise this freedom in such a way that I would concede to Him as my Judge and Counselor rather than my own desires that are still very much in favor of going on with sin.

If He remains separate from sin, and I do not, then their is a block between our communion. I cannot keep God as the first priority in my life — a Person first before even myself — and learn to love what He loves, if holiness must take a back seat my continued rebellion against God. It would make no sense for me to claim to be a child of God if this were still the orientation I embraced!

I will be forever His kid if I invite Jesus to come into my heart, but it will do me no good in the present unless I act like it. We only boast about what we love or think is of considerable value, let us then seek God for the ability to love Him and value Him in the same ways He loves and values us. Then we will have turned from evil and embraced good.

Has holiness gotten a grip on you yet?

We understand everything when we see it as a means of obtaining more of Christ. Whether it is easy of difficult to deal with, God has purposed it to make us conscious of His greatness. He infuses life that perfects our soul, causing our entire beings to be delighted beyond the power of anything bound up in the life of this earth.

Wicked desires subvert my desires for God — so I pray that God would not permit them to be fulfilled.

We should not fear or question God’s judgment — it brings repentance and righteousness to mankind that we all so desperately need. Even if we claim to not be in the wrong, we are still blessed by the repentance of others.

Every ounce of it is the measure of God’s divine and uncompromising justice brought into contact with we who so desperately need its correction. We only learn the beauty and blessing of it when we see how much it is necessary.

Why is God’s justice so severe — why is He so intent on dealing with our sin? These are good questions, but instead we should consider a more pertinent one: Could we want anything less?

When we consider our sin and the destruction and devastation to body, mind and spirit — how it separates us from God — is it any wonder that God would condemn it and then send His Son to receive that condemnation so that we can live beyond it?

Our world is hard enough to live in with all this evil around us and sin within us — why should we feel like we have to defend ourselves against the One who has acted in love toward us because of His holiness and love?

When we are fully in the arms of God, nothing that comes up or will not cease but continues in our lives should be able to separate us from our one Chief Delight. Christ has saved us and makes us one with Him — do you see any error or devious agenda in that?

If not, then you should not worry for what would become of us in these things — God accepts all our brokenness as worship if we will only offer it to Him. Why should we try to hide from Him who we are? We need to Him to know us and act for us!

Father, set a guard over us and reveal to us all the things that we can’t believe (the lies we cannot act on as truth) because we follow You. For I forfeit all Your good and holiness if I choose evil.

God, come close. Come quickly! Open your ears—it’s my voice you’re hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
my raised hands are my evening prayers.

Post a guard at my mouth, God,
set a watch at the door of my lips.
Don’t let me so much as dream of evil
or thoughtlessly fall into bad company.
And these people who only do wrong—
don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk!

May the Just One set me straight,
may the Kind One correct me,
Don’t let sin anoint my head.
I’m praying hard against their evil ways!
Oh, let their leaders be pushed off a high rock cliff;
make them face the music.
Like a rock pulverized by a maul,
let their bones be scattered at the gates of hell.

But God, dear Lord,
I only have eyes for you.
Since I’ve run for dear life to you,
take good care of me.
Protect me from their evil scheming,
from all their demonic subterfuge.
Let the wicked fall flat on their faces,
while I walk off without a scratch.

Psalm 141