You’re Not Home Yet

I am reminded that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. When I find myself in a place I don’t want to be, I whisper to my soul…you’re not home yet.

When the day feels troubled… when pressure mounts…when I feel lost and I am losing my way…when I suddenly am overwhelmed and anxious, I run to you, Father.  I ask for Your help, and You listen to me with a heart of love.  I make a conscious choice to turn to You.  I don’t turn to others first when I am in distress, but I am crying out to you, my dear Father.  I feel urgency rising,  my request is pleading and fervent.  I need rescue from liars and devious deception.
You are my God and my Father.  I am your child running to you for help.  I need you.
hope with ink swirleys

My head is full of questions.  What else does the blazing distorter of truth want?  What more can I do for the artful manipulator and shameless liar?  Deceptive, false words are like a sharp & pointed arrow dipped into the fiery poison of hell sent to destroy.  I feel helpless and frustrated.
C.S, Lewis made for another world

I do not belong here.  I feel full of self-pity as I look upon my circumstances.   All of this pain reminds me that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. I find myself in a place I don’t want to be.  I am only a sojourner in this land of rage & upset.  I pursue peace, but they persist in inflaming controversy and stirring up trouble.

Father, as I give you this heart of angst, I remember that I am not home yet.  You give me fresh mercy every day, but I live still in this alien world full of hate. I need You, Father.         Every.  Day.  Not Where I BELONG

One writer reveals the tension well, “the new humanity that is created around Jesus is not a humanity that is always going to be successful and in control of things, but a humanity that can reach out its hand from the depths of chaos, to be touched by the hand of God.”  Father, I am humbly grateful that You are near to the broken who are living in the land of Chaos.

Rescue me from the lies of advertisers who claim to know what I need and what I desire, from the lies of entertainers who promise a cheap way to joy, from the lies of politicians who pretend to instruct me in power and morality, from the lies of psychologists who offer to shape my behavior and my morals so that I will live long, happily, and successfully, from the lies of religionists who “heal the wounds of this people lightly,” from the lies of moralists who pretend to promote me to the office of captain of my fate, from the lies of pastors who “leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men” (Mk. 7:8). Rescue me from the person who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit. The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions of falsified data. But they are lies all the same because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God. They talk about the world without telling us that God made it. They tell us about our bodies without telling us that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. They instruct us in love without telling us about the God who loves us and gave himself for us. — Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 23.

(I wrote this post as my own paraphrase of Psalm 120.)

 

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Love Found Me in Murky Waters

“If what you believe is the truth, and indeed you care about knowing the truth, why should you be afraid of challenging it? If the evidences backs it, your truth with be justified, and if not, why do you wish to continue believing a lie?”

I grew up in the south which used to be considered the Bible belt of the United States.  I was raised in a conservative church environment that focused primarily on sovereign grace doctrine and even more heavily on the external behavior of a person, rather than on the heart of a person before God.   barn with hailI have experienced a great deal of pain from wrong teaching and a legalistic subculture, but I cannot say that about God. For awhile,  I became very distrustful of pastors and most churches because of those experiences.
But, God never changed.

Confusion and real questioning left me in murky waters for an extended period. I did read the Bible, but what I heard from the pulpit did not match what I read alone in the quietness of my own home. Slowly, I began to understand that the focus on externals was nothing more than trying to legislate morality in an attempt to find continued acceptance from God. It was a tiresome treadmill of trying to do better and better that left me exhausted, defeated, and finally bitter toward the split personalities of hypocritical lives. During this time, I began to realize that even if my outward actions were deemed good enough to climb the ladder to God, my heart would betray me. How do you conquer motivations that are self-seeking? I began to “see through” those around me that talked the loudest about our duty toward God. There were holes in all the religious did or said. Life became a fish bowl.  C. S. Lewis correctly pointed out seeing through everything eventually leads you to see nothing: “You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ forever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it…If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.” (The Abolition of Man, p.81).   I could not “see through something” to see.  Brown's creek
I remained stuck in the muddy creek bottoms struggling in murky water, unable to see; for there was a great disconnect between my life and the presence of God. And that was the one thing God wanted me to “see through” to more than anything…
4x4 mud tyres
Disconnected.  I did not understand His incomprehensible Father love toward me, nor did I know how to be his child. You see, the gospel itself teaches clearly that God never did expect me to climb the ladder to get to Him, but that He was the Deliverer who was willing to come down to the skull mountain with radical redemption in order to restore a broken relationship with me.

Love was missing.  old country church
Empty religious performance creates the phony facade that everyone eventually sees through.

But, God’s love is not phony. It is the one thing to be remembered.

When I started asking God to see His love, He made Himself real and tangible to me in such full-disclosure and heart intimacy that I am left convinced and stupefied at a love so compelling and incomprehensible. I just flat out cannot deny the irresistible presence of God. The Scriptures were now streams of light piercing through the roily, high waters of confusion.  Where before it was merely academic knowledge acquired, now the words are God-breathed to my soul, keenly powerful with the scarlet thread of His love deftly woven  from page to page.  So, although I identify with the struggle, the questions that come…I have been convinced by His irresistible love.

Love was the critical angle
where light passed through

the murky, clouded waters.  
refractionUnderstanding who God really was and what He had done for me was slow…there were a lot of working errors that had to be stripped away.  I had misunderstood so much of the Bible having been taught it as a manual of how to measure up and “be like Jesus.” I can never be like Jesus; it is impossible, for purity cannot be corrupted. Our planet has never been home to a person so pure save the holy child who was born Lord at his birth.   God never asked us to climb a ladder of do’s and don’ts to become accepted and loved by Him. No, God sent His Son down to us. It took “God here with us,” Immanuel, to satisfy justice and open the door to a Father-child relationship. So, the Son of Man, with a perfect life, came to satisfy the law’s demands. For if each of us are honest, there is no one whose heart does not deceive, who has never committed a wrong, and who is not indicted for anarchy against the Highest King. Yet, it is God’s very holiness that also transcends in love that ordained this sacred redemption. The Son of God emptied Himself of all privilege, made Himself nothing, and offered His body as bail; so that, justice would cry no more against us. “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” (Colossians 1:13-14). There is no one that loves like that–there is no greater love. There is no one that can love me unfailingly, laying it all down in order to attain intimate relationship with someone who had turned from that love.  There is no one whose presence is so tangible that I cannot deny it, even if I wanted to, whose love will never be dissuaded, and whose daily song over me is His love.  There is no one who will never break a forever promise, never ever abandon me, but remain eternally true.  Jesus is a strong lover of my soul.

It isn’t about what I do that makes Him love me.  No, it is all about His love performing change in me. His love infused me in such a authentic way that it is my final evidence for reality. No one has to make lists for me on how to live this life any more…there is a spilling out of what is now inside…love God…love each other. It is a spreading goodness.  I continue to ask questions, but I am now regularly amazed at the answers found in the Book. The murky waters are moving, clear waters now, flowing freely from the Eternal Fountain.
falls of spreading goodness

It is written that God has “created all things for His pleasure.” At first thought that sounds selfish, until one realizes that His pleasure is that of giving His all. He’s not looking for something to get from us to fulfill His desires or to please Himself, but rather His pleasure is to give.   –Christopher Bernard

“If you remove the enjoyment of God from faith, it ceases to be faith. 
If you remove enjoying God from everyone of the thousands of acts of obedience, it ceases to be obedience. If you remove the enjoyment of God from life, it ceases to be life. ……It is remarkable that God has made joy the central point of those pieces.”   ~John Piper