Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Welcome to Friday! Started off super this morning with one little one taking the ash from the wood burning stove and pouring it down the staircase. I got the broom and dustpan, vacuum, and went to work, still in my pjs. While I was pretty much just spreading the ash all around the house (it wasn't cleaning up all that well) another little one got into the pantry and began eating paper cups and then... wow, the little kiddos got into a lot today already!
Yes, now it's somewhere near 11am, I am still not dressed, and I am still going from mess to mess - or from grace to grace, actually.
Ever asked the question, "Why is God doing this to me?"
I am tempted to ask the question, just like anyone - but it loses it's power when I remember that this Lord, into whose strong hands I committed my life, HE is engineering a universe of unimaginable (incredible!) proportions and complexity. How could I possibly understand all that He must take into consideration as He deals with it and with me, a single individual!
I do not get lost in the shuffle. Nothing in my day is a surprise to Him. Even ash covering the staircase at early morning hours.
Elizabeth Elliott wrote: "...He choreographs the "molecular dance" which goes on every second of every minute of every day in the every cell in the universe. For the record, ONE cell has about 200 trillion molecules. He makes note of the tiniest seed or sparrow. He is not too busy to keep record even of my falling hair..."
(Wow, and I know the number of fallen hair is a large number for me!)
Somehow though, in our darkness - we think God has overlooked us.
Somehow I think I don't need to be pruned. If I am to bear fruit I MUST, yes - I really must be pruned. This is a painful process.
But suffering is not for nothing. It's not just an opportunity to try and trust God. There is something glorious that He desires to produce in us through our sufferings.
Pruning combines two things:
Cutting away that which is superfluous and cutting away that which even appears as good "stock."
Why do I become so confused or baffled even when God cuts away good things from my life?
We're baffled because we don't understand God's purposes for suffering. We become bitter because we don't understand the gospel. We stay unbroken because we assume we know better than the God who created our galaxy (and the other billions of galaxies out there) and holds it all together.
Even as a daughter of God, chosen of Him, consecrated by the blood of Jesus Christ, YES - EVEN WITH ALL THAT - I still need refining. My faith must be tried. Gold is gold, but it still has to go through the fire.
And faith is more precious than gold. It too must go through the fire. Our faith will always, always, have another test to stand. You get through one suffering, there will be another.
I may get through this morning, stairs full of ashes, paper cup eaters, glass breakers, mud stoppers, and children to love and feed and so on - but there will be another day, and another day of my faith being tested.
If it's not one thing, it will be another. Some to lesser or much greater degree, the suffering is promised me. My head will spin, my emotions will reel, my feelings will fret, and my heart get mad if I walk through life not understanding what God's Word says about suffering in this life. I will react, my "faith" will not stand the test. Because, the suffering is what reveals whether my faith is true faith, or just fake.
What I forget is that this life here on this planet is not what I was made for, not really. What does it mean to have "eternity in my heart?" It's realizing that what God does during this short time while here has everything to do with my salvation for the later. It's the "working out my salvation" time - this doesn't mean working for my salvation, this doesn't mean doing good deeds to earn my salvation - this means this is the period of time that God uses to work out salvation, His salvation of my soul, through the pruning and refining. It can come no other way.
How I respond in faith, or lack of, to suffering - shows whether I am truly His child, or not. Whether I have true faith, or superficial religion and a bunch of head knowledge.
In Diary of the Old Soul, George McDonald writes:
"But Thou art making me, I thank Thee, sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou knows't well.
And I will help Thee; gently in the fire
I will lie burning; on Thy potter's wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel.
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire."
"How shalt thou bear the cross that now so dread a weight appears?
Keep quietly to God (hold fast! understanding His purposes for suffering), and think upon the eternal years."
God, help me today, and everyday, to keep my perspective about suffering from being skewed. It's easy to get off track. It's easy to think I could be god. As if I could create a galaxy? yeh. or even understand a "billion light years away." I ask "why?" to You because I am like the pot that contends with it's Maker. I ask the Potter what in the world He is making.
'Cause it doesn't feel good to be made into Your image.
You know exactly what You are doing. Please help me remember two things today:
1. I am clay. You are the Potter.
2. You make beautiful, amazing, perfect-in-Your-sight creations. Bitterness, questioning - they dissolve when I remember the kind of love in which you have loved me. YOU GAVE YOURSELF FOR ME.
It's not wrong to ask You "why???" - Cries of desperation, spring out of me in all humanness. . .What is sinful is resentment against You and Your dealings with me. My questioning should bring me back to Your purposes. My questioning brings me back to my "clay-ness", and You being the Maker. I don't need to tell the whole world my questionings about God - they can't take it. But You can. You listen and today, once again, out of Your mercy, You have answered right here through Your Word.
Sufferings don't have to be mystery. And here is why (without understanding the following verses, suffering will continue to be a mystery and continue to eat at my soul):
"Beloved (*look what He calls us!*)
do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes up on you to TEST YOU
(there's the reason - to test our faith)
as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings
(another reason, to share in His sufferings)
that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed
(another reason for suffering - for rejoicing in the future!)."
1 Pet. 4:12-13
"...More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance
(good reason there - to produce fruit in us that is good fruit such as endurance)
and endurance produces character
(suffering is to produce character - and exposes lack thereof)
and character produces hope!
(who doesn't want hope! suffering produces hope, yes, can you believe it?!)
and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us
(and through sufferings God's love is poured into our hearts!).
"For my grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
(grace takes on a whole new meaning in suffering. God's power is perfected in us when we respond correctly to our sufferings. When we do not understand God's purposes in suffering we do not have the power to endure or get through without bitterness and resentment towards God.)
2 Cor. 12:9
Jesus said in John 14:31 that the reason that He was doing what the Heavenly Father commanded of Him (going willingly to the cross) was so that the world may know the love of the Father. When we experience suffering, we are also sharing in Christ's sufferings - so we too, know in a deeper and fuller way the Love of our Father!
In Romans 8:16 it talks about being a child of God - and right there in the next verse, verse 17, we've got the word suffer. It says, "and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him..." The glory of God is displayed through that which He suffered. So it is with us - the glory of God is displayed through our sufferings.
As christians we often say our purpose for living is to "glorify Him and enjoy Him forever." We can rattle this off by memory typically. But do we understand what this means and that it involves suffering in order for God's glory to be known in our lives?
In Colossians 1:24 Paul talks about how he glories in his sufferings for the sake of the church. When you read all the sufferings Paul went through - wow - and yet, he had the right perspective on his sufferings. He knew they were from God and they were what made him the man that he was, that wrote all that he wrote and has effected so many people throughout history! I can't tell you how this excites me! That my sufferings, as hard as they may be at times (though don't light a candle to Paul's) are for the sake of the church, His people.
They are what make me who I am, define me - even give me a way in order to reach out and love others in whatever it is they might be going through. Our afflictions are for the sake of the body of Christ. I don't know that I've ever thought of this before until right now as I am looking at these verses and writing here! This makes me really excited that my sufferings can be used of God to give of myself to others for the glory of God!
John 15:8 - "This is my Father's glory, that you may bear fruit in plenty and so be my disciples."
Well, it's lunch time and I hear much commotion. I'll finish with this:
"...difficulty opens our eyes to pleasures we had taken for granted..." (Elizabeth E.)
I am grateful for all the mornings that ash is not covering the staircase.
My soul stay still, and remember God's Word concerning sufferings and difficulty. There is hope. There is a way to go from grace to grace. Cleaning ashes to picking up the pantry. From rocky relationships or financial woes or accidents or death or abuse. . .
There is a Potter who loves His clay so very much that He cares enough to mold, refine, prune, and shape. Praise God He does reveal to us His purposes in hardship - the that the purpose is good and right and wonderful. And eternal.
If we have God's perspective on suffering it will change the way we live, the way we love, the way we pray, the way we view others. The way we view God. It's not popular. Never has been, and never will be. But there is no peace, no calm, no stillness in our souls until God reveals to us these truths and they become us, our foundation, our conviction - and we begin to LIVE it out in our daily lives, in our daily relationships, in our daily sufferings : welcome true life.
When we do not have God's perspective on suffering in our lives we run - we run to all sorts of things to quiet the pain of the sufferings. We run to people, to addictions, to finding our identity in this world, to human words and affirmation, to blogging, to motherhood or careers, to meds, to hobbies, to pregnancy and having more babies, or having less babies, to ministry, to shopping, to porn, to our children, religion, or lack of religion, celebrity status, legalism, homeschooling, money, a good name, sex, feminism, man-hating, women-hating, child-hating, religion-hating, christianity-hating, people-hating, parent-hating. . .
anything to deal with the sufferings in this life - to try to quiet the noise of reality.
God don't let me run. Unless it's to You. Continue to open my eyes to Your purposes in the sufferings that have come in the past, and are now, and will come in the future. Set my eyes on the HOPE. Because it's there and it's glorious!
| ||Posted 7/23/2010 12:57 PM - 1435 Views|