If I can’t trust God with my mistakes, I can’t trust Him with anything

The worries escalate, moment by moment. This is not how I wanted things to turn out. I feel a victim of my own choices, errors I can’t change. I wonder what God can do with what I’ve done.

I’m not really sure if I believe His recreating power can trump the mess I’ve made. It seems He’ll have to prove to me what He can do.

Maybe you find yourself in the same place today. You don’t know what you’re going to do with imperfections and transgressions that cloud your thinking with doom and threaten your faith with awful fantasies of condemnation.

May I encourage you that where your enemy is relentless in laser-beaming your focus on yourself, your Savior is all about lifting your gaze to Himself. He knows that you sin and make mistakes–none of that surprises Him–but His love is never trapped by the web of your misdemeanors.

Rather, He wants you to understand that He means for you to be caught up in the web of His love–a web so strong that nothing can penetrate it or cause it to let go of you. In this web you are safe, you can be still. But, what is even more wonderful than this: You can trust that the One whose love supports you is the One who presses in upon your heart, conforming it in every way into the image of Himself.

There is victory even in the bleakest of moments because victory doesn’t depend on you. All that is necessary is for you to depend on the One who holds the title deed to every victory from the cross to eternity. Will you trust Him today?

In what areas of your heart do you waver in trust? Where are you convinced that your sin is too big for God to recover the loss?

 

 

 

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Heart-valve adjusting and other things I trust God for…

When I wake up in the morning I like to say good morning to God. It’s not that He needs me to say anything to Him, it’s that I need to say something to Him. I have a depressed day if I’m not talking to Him. If I’ve avoided or neglected Him all day, I end up looking back, ask myself, “What was that all about? What was the point?”

How can you live a life that’s all about Jesus without it being all about Jesus?

I don’t know. But I sure have tried. And one thing I’ve learned through the trying (and failing) is that only Jesus can make it all about Himself for me. I really don’t know where to start on that because it’s impossible for me to finish up on it being all about me.

You see, that program is so lodged deeply inside me that the thought of me disengaging it is ridiculous! I don’t know how to shut if off because every operation inside of me is a direct result of it.

Somehow God’s got to get me off this system and on to another one. It’s just that simple…and just that impossible if it’s up to me. But praise God it isn’t.

It’s impossible for me because it is a job that He was meant to do and only He has the equipment to do it. I don’t have the ability to turn off my internal motivators. And even if I could, it wouldn’t do me any good because I then wouldn’t be able to transport myself to another spirit pump. It just wouldn’t happen.

So, praise God He turns off the valves that connect me to one pump and fastens me to another. I just need to trust the Master’s hands. When it comes to my heart and the handling of valves through which life-support is supposed to pump, I have no other hope.

Losing is winning

Do you consider yourself a loser today? Has the loss of something you have considered invaluable made you question how you will now get along?

Whether you are struggling with a new inability to trust the people in your life, or a painful distortion of your reputation or a devastating health-reversal, or a tragedy that wounds even your hope in God’s understanding, you are aware of possessing less than you had before.

Loss, unlike anything else in the legend of humanity, brings us into immediate acquaintance with the undeniable reality of our fragility. This position is uncomfortable. We wonder what will become of us when after all we’ve worked for, we have less to hold onto than we had expected.

Yet even with all we may be limply existing without, we must not fail to bring it into comparison with the greatest travesty of our lives — living without Christ; unconscious of  or unconcerned with our lack of the enduring, triumphant life we may have only in Him.

We are left with a decision here — either I cling to Christ though I may still not have understanding to complement faith, or I flee from the reconciliation of the broken to the Healer because I will not base my hopes on the steadfastness of Another.

God groans with you over your loss, but even more than that He grieves for every intimacy of life that you have not yet known. This is the heart by which He prepares for you a table in the place where you can make no provision of real comfort for yourself.

No matter what we lose, we are likely to think it unnecessary — a pain we really didn’t need on top of everything else. But maybe this is the place that we learn to deal with life — beginning with where we are; when we need life the most.

As paradoxical as it may seem, there is a place where death and life intersect. Death is not without meaning, and life is not without victory over our earthly end. When we meet Christ in our loss, we meet the One who is our only Hope because He is the only One who died our death and lives in us that we may always, always know life.

The finality of loss and death and poverty were able to pin their worst sensations and nightmare-realities on Christ. On the cross that would unite the whole world to God — reconnecting the dead with the Life — Christ bid death to steal over Him and drag Him down into the grave.

But, make no mistake here, He would mean nothing to us today — not in our exaltation and surely not in our sorrow — if death had been given permission to prepare Him for His own grave. We reach out to the life that He now offers us because He who had no reason to visit the grave (Himself having no grave marked with His own name that He should occupy) came to us for the express purpose of occupying our grave, fulfilling its demand for a body, so that He might then destroy its power over us with His Resurrection.

Therefore the grave for our physical bodies holds no terror for we who are occupied by the One who has already filled its residence-occupation for us. We now, even as we live, look forward to fully knowing the gift Christ gave us in His death when our final death to sin (that passing out of this life) grants us our first full glimpse of Christ.

Maybe the destruction the storm brought was necessary

Are the waves too rough to awe you?

Sometimes mighty waters are too rough for us to recognize the wonder of them. The destruction they bring upon us seems too devastating a mess to be attributed to anything but a serious mistake.

Yet, even with all of our complaining neither the winds nor the direction of the vicious current turn away from us. Mercy doesn’t come to us in the way that we would expect.But, maybe calm does not come to us because we are at odds with the Master of the Malaise.

Perhaps understanding and peace would come if we would turn to God and let Him teach us to reverence Him when it would really change who we are — storm or no storm. After all, wild water is many times the only thing that can touch, change or move substances that refuse to budge under the power of anything less than this wet and widowing wonder.

But, this is no reason for us to be intimidated or disheartened, for the heart of Him who winds the seas about us knows what He is working at when He tests us; knows the parts of our soul that need a calm that can only be discovered after the storm about us has expelled the tremors from our within us. Arduous tests pave our pathway to the heart of God with reformed interest and understanding.

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.

The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”

Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we’ll be on high ground, untouched.

God’s my island hideaway,
keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.

Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:

“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track.”

God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.

Celebrate God.
Sing together—everyone!
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

Psalm 32

Rest is lost on the racetrack

If you are struggling because you seem to be missing God, do me a favor: Sit down, be quiet for a few minutes, and don’t move. Don’t be rigid, but rest.

God Himself has been watching your every move, ready to meet you, but unable to get your attention long enough for you to consciously slow down and move in to hear what He has to say to you.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes God can feel far away even when we have been peaceful in our anticipation of His revelation.  But, if that’s where you are, and you’re growing impatient, know that the story isn’t over. You can’t write up your disappointment report until God moves, speaks or reaches out to you.

The question is not, will God respond? but will I like how He responds? God never fails to return the attention we give Him, but we must learn how to interpret the aspects of that return.

If God takes longer than we think He should to answer us, is He wrong? If He says no, when every happiness in the world pointed to yes, has He deprived us unfairly? If He says yes when we were desperate for Him to relieve us with a calm no, has He lost His compassion; can we no longer trust Him to do good on our behalf?

Before you try to make those judgments, I wonder if you have realized that God never said that any of those things were not good. And if I may now go one step further, I am curious if you know that He is adamant that they are good so long as He has chosen to give you this response to prayer. This is true because everything that God does is good — absolutely every time.

Now consider that God grants half of your wish: you ask for peace and happiness and He gives you peace. Do you judge His response as soon as it comes, or do you turn to the Lord in a spirit of humble submission and offer the Lord your worship even in your momentary ignorance of the beauty in His plans?

Let me tell you that God wants the latter, but not just for His own sake. Take this into account:

More than anything else, our prayers teach us what we value and show us where we need to grow. He is working to make clear to us, in every instance that we seek Him, just how we are missing the heart of God. But He does this not for the purpose of finding fault with us. He does everything with the intent of bringing us closer to Him, and bringing our character into greater conformity with His.

This is not a punishment, but an opportunity in everything we do to be like God and full of God. There could be no greater gift: God, when He is known for who He truly is, proves in us, that He is nothing short of everything we live to know and experience.

Do we vaunt pride more than patience; do we value power over persistence; do we seek prestige to the neglect of persecution? Then we are missing the point of living, the object of seeking God.

No matter what He says, I want to be able to show off God’s answers to my prayer, especially the ones that show His glory in contrast to my sin. For, how can He appear more faithful, more purposeful, more compassionate and merciful if I deny that I need all these things? And if I do not realize and proclaim that I am in debt to Him in all these ways, I will absolutely revert to believing that I am deserving of everything that comes to me from Him — and then, even more than that.

So, the keys to hearing, and more importantly relating, to God are resting and waiting. And the way we rest and wait is summed up perfectly in James 1:4:

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Recognize that God’s ways are above your own. Rather than grumbling, use your responsive efforts to praise Him for that — knowing that the end will make clear His wisdom that is mysteriously in play now. Let us not meet that end and be grieved that God’s only offering from  us was anxiety and displeasure.

It is impossible to have regrets with God when we trust Him. When we rely on Him with our whole being, we will neither look back with disappointment at His behavior toward us, nor remorse for our behavior toward Him.