Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perspective. It Changes Everything.

My kids are away this week. 
All of them. 
Visiting our beloved Mommer and Papa. 
And I'm at home. 
It's.... weird. 

I never realized my house was this quiet, and noisy at the same time. I'm hearing noises I've never heard before and our chickens (both hens) are actually quite loud in the morning. Who knew? 

And truthfully, that has nothing to do with what I'm posting about today, that was totally free of charge.  

**** segway **** 

The past several years, the Lord has made me aware a specific sin area in my life that I continue to consistently struggle with. I have bad seasons and better seasons, but rarely not-at-all seasons. I've prayed for the Lord to remove it, I've prayed for the strength to just overcome it all together.... and yet the temptation is still there. 

On one hand, I realize that my awareness of the temptation to this particular sin is hyper-sensitive (which I'm grateful for), I never "accidentally" fall into this sin. When I stumble, it's with awareness. 

The Bible tells me that I have the power to say no, to resist. So I find it frustrating that I not only fall back into the sin, but that I've been struggling with one particular temptation for such a long time. 

This morning I was reading in Psalms 44 where the people of Israel have just faced some sort of terrible defeat in battle. The first 8 verses are a recognition of God's provision and sovereignty to His people in establishing them as a nation (in the past). It's a beautifully written acknowledgment of God's faithfulness and power, if you have time, you should definitely read it. The last half of the chapter is a crying out of confusion. They're not sure of the "why" but they still acknowledge God's sovereignty. 
Verse 22 says "Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 

Reading this verse at first, it didn't sit well, and I don't think I was fully understanding it. And then I noticed that this verse was quoted by Paul in Romans 8:36 --- reading the verses surrounding Paul's quotation of it, brought me a bit more understanding and peace. 

Romans 8:32 
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? 
Who shall bering any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of For, who indeed is interceding for us. 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 
As it is written, (here's our verse)
"For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 
No, in all these things, we are more than conquers through Him who loved us. For I am sure 
that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, 
nor height not depth, 
nor anything else in all creation 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

I am certainly NOT saying that God is tempting me, however I am saying that God is sovereign and is fully aware of my temptation and my struggle. And ALL things that I am going through - regardless of the circumstance or struggle, whether it be temptation or trial, God is aware and He is there. Nothing can separate us from Him - even if (from our perspective) it can feel that way. He is not holding out on me. He has not ever, nor will he ever "let me down." 

While it's easier for me to acknowledge God's sovereignty and ability to save, it can be a whole different matter to acknowledge His goodness through it all. I know that in all things, God is good, but once my feet leave the coziness of the warm blanket in the morning and land on the hard reality of the day, that truth can be a little harder to sense. 

It would be "easier" to be set free from the long-term-temptation we struggle with, or to not serve in the capacity that the Lord has called us, or to only give 70% instead of 110; but it will never be better. 

Matt Chandler in his book "Recovering Redemption" wrote:
"... Christians are certainly not above experiencing the occasional face plant, sometimes one right after another. The difference, however, is that the son or daughter of God "rises again" (Prov. 24:16), even on scraped hands and scuffed knees. We may only be crawling by that point, barely getting back to our feet. But our eyes are pointing forward, and our intent is to press on, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:2) 
And the more consistently this happens - this again-and-again pursuit of Him - the more clearly the Spirit will bear witness "with our spirit" that we truly to belong to Him, that we are indeed the children of God."  
It changes everything. 

And it gets even better, because this is about more than just one temptation, or one day, or one hardship it's a truth that is intertwined throughout ALL of our life. The temptations, the struggles, the callings on our lives, the day-to-day perseverance, the sacrifices we're called to make, the trial we're meant to endure, the tragedies we face - all of it! All of it somehow falls under the banner of His goodness. 

Tim and I are currently going through a devotional by Paul Tripp together called "New Morning Mercies" (very good book) and I this morning I read: 
"When hardship comes your way, will you tell yourself it's a tool of God's grace and a sign of His love, or will you give in to doubting His goodness?" 
Hmm.... okay Lord, I get it. 
But of course He didn't stop there. Because He knows, even though I think I "get it" - I probably don't. (It's like He knows me) 
"If you are not on God's redemptive agenda page, you will end up doubting his goodness.... Here's the bottom line. Right here, right now, God isn't so much working to deliver to you your personal definition of happiness. He's not committed to give you a predictable schedule, happy relationships, or comfortable surrounds. He hasn't promised you a successful career, a nice place to live, and a community of people who appreciate you. What he has promised you is himself, and what he brings to you is the zeal of his transforming grace. No, he's not first working on your happiness; he's committed to your holiness. That doesn't mean he is offering you less than you've hoped for, but much, much more. In grace, he is intent on delivering you from your greatest, deepest, and most long-term problem: sin. He offers you gifts of grace that transcend the moment, that literally are of eternal value. He has not unleashed his power in your life only to delver to you things that quickly pass away and that have no capacity at all to satisfy your heart.... when you are tempted to thing that God is loving you less because your life is hard, he is actually loving you more.... these hard moments aren't in your life because God is distant and uncaring, but rather because He loves you so fully.
It isn't about what I'm feeling today.
It isn't about my comfort.
It isn't about my idea of happiness.

It's about more than just today.
It's about eternity.
It's about His glory and my good.

I'm sometimes tempted to think He couldn't possibly understand, when in reality, I'm the one who doesn't understand. 

It really does change everything.