Saturday, May 24, 2014

Christians Are NOT Perfect!

"What feelings do you have when you hear of Christians today who lose their jobs, are thrown into prison or are martyred for Christ?"

This was the question I faced in my morning devotions this last week. I admit, I crossed the median on this one -- the question referred to martyrs for Christ, but the "Christians who lose their jobs" struck a nerve with me, and this is the result:

My instantaneous reaction is that “God doesn’t work.” I think to myself, “We’re all doomed. None of us – Christian or not – is safe.” I wonder what hope there is for me. If we’re “doing the right thing” we should be safe, right? We should get some kind of reward, a little relief at least! What is the point of tithing, losing good sleep on Sundays, being thought slow-witted or fascist (at the least!), and dealing with all kinds of church drama for nothing!

Optimism weighs in, at this point. I think God gave this to me (THANK HIM!) to set me back on track. It’s really not my love for Him. I don’t love Him that much, yet, but I’m praying. Maybe that’s why I do go through so much, always drawing me to His throne. Nonetheless, stubborn fool that I am, I resist His great love for me and instead think, “It’ll be OK; it’s always  OK. I might lose something today, but I’m strong, I’ll get through it, and God will give me something back later.” And while that may be true – look at Job – I definitely do not believe this is what God intended.
 
Let’s do that; let’s look at Job. What did he lose? EVERYTHING. Children, possessions, his home. All he’d worked so hard to get. His little piece of happiness he’d carved out, despite how rotten and unfair life can be.  Add to that, along the way he found out who really had his back – no one. Not on this earth, at least. His friends wanted to blame. His wife wanted him to quit. And he searched desperately for an explanation. But it was steadfast love for God that kept Job trucking.
 
How much, really, could I lose before my optimism lost its mojo? What types of tribulations would send it packing? If I’m relying on the optimism I was given at birth, or developed along the way, am I truly relying on God? If I have concocted some explanation as to how life works, or how God works, am I trusting Him, or my explanation? Am I letting God be God?

Maybe I'm checking out, denying my pain and disappointment, putting up walls against surrender and simply “keeping on keeping on.”
 
I’m pretty sure this is not what God wants. I hurt. This is tough. Do I really think I can hide that from Him? Why don’t I honestly say how disappointed I am? Why do I hold my breath and ride it out? How often do I pray for myself -- wholeheartedly petition God for what I need, or even what I want? I pray for others. I feel sad for them. But come clean before God and break down, bearing my very soul?
 
Is that it? Am I so afraid of feeling sorry for myself, descending into a pit of despair that I will not get out? Or, worse, I will lose control? What if I lose my faith, my relationship with God? You can’t “lose” God anyway, right? It’s not supposed to be about me or what I do. So, I should just let it fly?
 
God wants us to be honest with Him as well as with everyone else. How can I tell my children I don’t like their behavior, or tell my husband I don’t like his approach, but I pretend before my Father God? Yeah, like He doesn’t know. That is the relationship I should value most! Why would I never entertain the temptation to be false to those I love within my home, but I am habitually false to the very One within my heart?
 
So, here it is. My final answer. Sometimes things get so bad that I cannot take another minute of being broke, invisible, used, minority, looked down upon, harassed, or trapped. I hate knowing my son is playing me and faking his way through life. I hate the fact my daughter doesn’t pay any attention to anything I say, and never talks about how she feels. I can’t stand the situation with two of my step-children; I can’t stand seeing my husband lose his children because they have been lied to and threatened regarding me. I hate to see Olivia functioning as two different people because she feels she must in order to please everyone. I hate hearing that folks stood up for what is right, and were severely, humiliatingly, and prejudicially put down; I hate keeping quiet because I fear that for myself. I hate having to deal with people who would spit on others simply because they can. I hate evidence that seems to indicate morals and biblical truths are a dying breed. I hate yearning for 50 acres of land in Western PA, craving simplicity and privacy, and being stuck in a house farm with people on top of me, trash in my front yard, and the smell of filthy asphalt during a summer rain.
 
And that, my friend, is where the rubber meets the road. All these situations have their opportunities and advantages; it’s the “stuck” part that vexes me. Who is God to stick me where I don’t want to be? Who is He to allow my children to ignore Him? Who is He to make sure the bills keep rolling in and the jobs do not? Who is He to play God with my life and not bless me? You know, I work hard. I surrendered my life. Everything around me should be different now! How can He say He loves me when He keeps letting all this stuff happen?
 
 Ephesians 1:18-23

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength  he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
 
God wants me to know hope in Him. Not in myself or some power of positive thinking mantra. My inheritance is now, in me. The superficial vs. the eternal. He enables me. He knows how I feel; He knew how I would feel. And He enables me with a strength that raised the crucified Lamb from the grave! and exalted Him above all this nonsense -- eternally! God does have control. And he does love me. And maybe, just maybe, if I’m honest with Him about the way I feel, He’ll tell me that Himself!
(Job 38-41)
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