Why should I keep at this when it’s so hard?!

I feel tired. Worn down. Empty of anything to give. My words on God’s activity in me once sounded so grand, even eloquent. Now, what I wish I could tell, I can’t. This has turned into a longer journey than I thought it would be. One with few get-up-and-shout-in-celebration moments along the way. There are wonderful moments all along the way–don’t get me wrong–but they often spontaneously arrest me as spots of beauty and hope amidst an otherwise ambiguous journey.

These days those spots God nestles in my life seem less and less the substance of things seen. They are deep workings of God’s Spirit in my heart. The surprising thing, to me, is that what cannot be seen with the physical eyes can often be difficult to speak of as well. This makes these wonderful moments feel like a bit of a handicap when I consider them after they’ve passed. They worked well in connecting me with God, but they seem to do little in connecting me with others. Who will understand me with stories like these? I find myself asking.

It’s not just that what I would have to share is so crazy, but that no one talks about the things that I would like to say. I get the feeling, sometimes, that no one really goes that deep, and they would prefer that I didn’t either. I try my best to comply in a way that puts the interests of others above my own, but so many dreams of highly meaningful relationships must die as I do this. That’s why I love to write–or am learning to love writing–because I realize it is the doorway to greater possibilities than I often find in normal conversation. Here, as I write, I get to share the perfusion of my soul and find others who identify with the words these things compel. What a blessing!

Lately I’ve been identifying with Mary (the mother of Jesus), concerning how she once hid away in her heart the many astounding things that she was a witness to from the point of Jesus’ entrance into her life to the climax of His mission at the cross. I imagine the quiet wonder she must have daily been infused with as she encountered the rare operations of the Holy Spirit upon her and upon her Son. How it must have plagued her heart to not be able to share so many of the amazing things God was doing with the family, friends and townspeople that she would have grown up with! Her soul was blossoming all the time, while her friendships probably wilted–not for lack of care, but for lack of deepening identification.

I think there is a special kind of pain known to the disciples of Christ who go through many trials in His name. There are so many who sit on the sidelines and suppose that people so near to Jesus should not have to go through such horrific or continuous tests. Or else they wonder at why a person should make such a big thing of walking with God–as though it were an all-encompassing thing. They recommend a break from such things, a chance to get ones thoughts and life in order. What they really mean is find out how to escape the very things that God’s using in your life to mold you into the image of Christ. They attempt to encourage a sufferer to remove ones presence from the gifts God gives.

This discourages me. I wish there could be more encouragement available to those of us who walk through difficult seasons with our Lord. I wish there were more understanding, more rejoicing with us in the monumental things God works out of monumental pains. But so often there is either quietness or rejection to meet our attempts to share what goes on between us and God. Thus, my following Christ has become a quiet thing–something I pour my heart and soul into, but mostly in the context of private interactions with the Lord.

I want to give Him everything I have–even when I don’t always fully understand what He will do with it. This is something I wouldn’t take leave of or give up. I just don’t understand why so many of the side-benefits that used to go with this relationship have faded as my intimacy with God has deepened. I guess somethings don’t go with us when we commit ourselves to running after God. For one thing, we’re not plodding along in a covered wagon that pulls along all our belongings behind us. Some of us have left that behind to be able to walk and keep pace with God in a much more unhindered fashion. We have wanted nothing between Him and us. I guess it’s just that sometimes we forget…that comes with a price.

I don’t know how God can possibly change me enough to make me congruent with everything that He stands for. I’ve done all that I can do in giving my life over to Him and asking Him to do what He wants with it. Now, I must wait. I cannot accomplish the change that remains for Him to make: the change that transforms me into a person who delights in His will in all things and wants what He wants as though it was the only thing worthy of concidering. That is a great work; when I surrender, I do not perfect that. I simply invite God to begin the work that will deliver me to that end. I’ve never seen it in full, but I’ve seen some pretty fantastic glimpses! I don’t know how, but He will change me to match the experiences of my life that He’s allowed to change.

I’ve found, so far, that where God raises the stakes, He raises my expectation and perception of Him–and that’s worth everything He takes me through to get there. I will take this journey. I shall consider myself blessed to be given the honor of being raised to such glories in Christ. I will consider God as One bestowing blessing on me and not a curse. I will ignore my feelings to the extent that I will not let them rule how I see God. This is not easy. God will have to do it in me. But, I believe if He got me on this path, He can furnish the means for me to walk in it and trust Him all along the way. He knows each new doubt I face and how to bring it down, to bow before His majesty. I want Him to do it and He wants to do it more. Hallelujah!

 

A weighty blessing

I pray these words will bless you as they did me once my heart had been corrected by them.

Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
his miracles, and the verdicts he’s rendered—
O seed of Abraham, his servant,
O child of Jacob, his chosen.

He’s God, our God,
in charge of the whole earth.
And he remembers, remembers his Covenant—
for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word.
It’s the Covenant he made with Abraham,
the same oath he swore to Isaac,
The very statute he established with Jacob,
the eternal Covenant with Israel,
Namely, “I give you the land.
Canaan is your hill-country inheritance.”
When they didn’t count for much,
a mere handful, and strangers at that,
Wandering from country to country,
drifting from pillar to post,
He permitted no one to abuse them.
He told kings to keep their hands off:
“Don’t you dare lay a hand on my anointed,
don’t hurt a hair on the heads of my prophets.”

Then he called down a famine on the country,
he broke every last blade of wheat.
But he sent a man on ahead:
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They put cruel chains on his ankles,
an iron collar around his neck,
Until God’s word came to the Pharaoh,
and God confirmed his promise.
God sent the king to release him.
The Pharaoh set Joseph free;
He appointed him master of his palace,
put him in charge of all his business
To personally instruct his princes
and train his advisors in wisdom.

Then Israel entered Egypt,
Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.
God gave his people lots of babies;
soon their numbers alarmed their foes.
He turned the Egyptians against his people;
they abused and cheated God’s servants.
Then he sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron, whom he also chose.
They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland,
miracles in the Land of Ham.
He spoke, “Darkness!” and it turned dark—
they couldn’t see what they were doing.
He turned all their water to blood
so that all their fish died;
He made frogs swarm through the land,
even into the king’s bedroom;
He gave the word and flies swarmed,
gnats filled the air.
He substituted hail for rain,
he stabbed their land with lightning;
He wasted their vines and fig trees,
smashed their groves of trees to splinters;
With a word he brought in locusts,
millions of locusts, armies of locusts;
They consumed every blade of grass in the country
and picked the ground clean of produce;
He struck down every firstborn in the land,
the first fruits of their virile powers.
He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot,
and not one among his tribes even stumbled.
Egypt was glad to have them go—
they were scared to death of them.
God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day
and a fire to light their way through the night;
They prayed and he brought quail,
filled them with the bread of heaven;
He opened the rock and water poured out;
it flowed like a river through that desert—
All because he remembered his Covenant,
his promise to Abraham, his servant.

Remember this! He led his people out singing for joy;
his chosen people marched, singing their hearts out!
He made them a gift of the country they entered,
helped them seize the wealth of the nations
So they could do everything he told them—
could follow his instructions to the letter.

Hallelujah!

You draw praise out of me in every situation

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

You blow the whistle on godless nations;
you throw dirty players out of the game,
wipe their names right off the roster.
Enemies disappear from the sidelines,
their reputation trashed,
their names erased from the halls of fame.

God holds the high center,
he sees and sets the world’s mess right.
He decides what is right for us earthlings,
gives people their just deserts.

God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.
Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
tell his stories to everyone you meet:
How he tracks down killers
yet keeps his eye on us,
registers every whimper and moan.

Be kind to me, God;
I’ve been kicked around long enough.
Once you’ve pulled me back
from the gates of death,
I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs;
on the corner of Main and First
I’ll hold a street meeting;
I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air
with salvation songs.

They’re trapped, those godless countries,
in the very snares they set,
Their feet all tangled
in the net they spread.
They have no excuse;
the way God works is well-known.
The cunning machinery made by the wicked
has maimed their own hands.

The wicked bought a one-way
ticket to hell.
No longer will the poor be nameless—
no more humiliation for the humble.
Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting?
Expose these grand pretensions!
Shake them up, God!
Show them how silly they look.
Psalm 9