Monday, October 7, 2013

I walk by faith, and not by sight....

"I was in need and I needed a friend
I was alone and I needed a hand
I was going down but someone rescued me....
I walk by faith and not by sight
If things go wrong, it'll be alright
Cause someone greater is watching over me
My God cares too much to say
His mercies are new everyday
I get down to pray and then help is on its way....."
-Hillsong, Friends in High Places

The medical bills are coming in.  Joe is still home due to the shutdown of the government.   And I am a Dave Ramsey fan, who likes to make all the numbers add up.  But that worship song has been going through my mind today.  Today, in our family Bible time, the kids and I read in Numbers 20:1-12:
Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there.  Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron.  And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?  And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”  So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”   So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him.
 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”   Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Time after time, given the opportunity to trust God, the Jewish people we read about in the Old Testament instead chose to worry, murmur and complain against Him.  They would even choose to paint their slavery in Egypt as a desirable, wonderful place in comparison to the place they were in.  Time after Time, God met their needs.  Not only that, but he was actually taking them to a BETTER place.  It's just the journey there was challenging, and full of opportunities to trust Him and to grow in their relationship with Him.  Often, opportunities to trust God are disguised as trials and tribulations.  And all of humanity has the same tendency to respond in fear instead of faith.  

The other thing I see here is that obedience MATTERS.  God told Moses exactly how he wanted him to bring the water forth, and Moses deviated from that.  Even Moses messed up sometimes.  It's a real temptation when we think we see an easy solution to a problem, to just do whatever is expedient and seems right to US.  But when God gives us instructions about something, he wants his people to listen carefully and take his instructions seriously. 

In my quiet time today, I read John 10 and 11.  Within those chapters is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  And Lazarus wasn't just a little dead; he had been in the tomb for FOUR days.  He SMELLED of death.  It's hard to contest a resurrection like that one.  Here are the verses that jumped out at me today, though, in John 11:5-6:

  "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was."

Did you catch that?  It was precisely BECAUSE Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, that  He DELAYED coming to his aid for two extra days!  In other words, Jesus knew exactly what he was doing.  He knew that Lazarus was going to die, but that was okay because he knew the end from the beginning, and he knew what a testimony it was going to be when he raised him from the dead.  And he knew what a faith building thing it would be for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus if they experienced not just his healing power, but his RESURRECTING power.  

Now I don't think it's a coincidence that these were the scriptures God brought to me today.  I see a whole picture here.  It's the picture of an unchanging, sovereign God, who knows the end from the beginning.  And even the pain he allows in my life has purpose.  Nothing is wasted, and I can trust if he allows it in my life, he has a plan for it and he's going to use it for MY GOOD and HIS GLORY.  

Now, I have the freedom in that to choose my response in the moments that I can't understand the plan.  Will I be like the children of Israel, who murmured, complained, and judged God unfairly?  Or will I rejoice in my tribulation, not that I enjoy pain, but because I know God is faithful and he is going to bring me THROUGH them, not abandon me IN THEM?  The second kind of person is the one I want to be, though I often fall squarely into the first camp of fearful Pharisees.  Yuck.  

The other encouraging thing to me was Jesus' response to Mary and Martha's mourning; he wept.  That tells me that it is healthy and normal to cry when we hurt, and even though Jesus knew what was going to happen, he still identified with Mary and Martha's pain.  It's not a response of unbelief to cry or to mourn.  God doesn't expect his people to act like robots when they are going through painful trials.  I am thankful for that as well.  

So it's not that revolutionary, but this was the word the Lord gave me today:  to bear up under the weight of suffering, trusting that He has a good purpose and plan, and that my deliverer is going to meet my needs in his time, and he will do it in the way of HIS choosing, and not my own.  

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