Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting out of the Pool

I am sure every parent knows the drill.  If you have ever taken your children to the swimming pool for a day of fun in the sun, you understand what it is to be misunderstood and under appreciated.  I don't mean your kids don't love the fact that you took them to the pool, but at some point you have to tell them "It's time to get out of the pool."  This is rarely very well received.

Picture it with me.  The day started fine and fun.  As the afternoon has moved on you have seen the growing clouds in the distance.  You have felt a few small drops of rain and the breeze growing ever so slightly stiffer and then it happens.  You see the distant flashes of lightning.  The time has come.  You say to the kids "It's time to get out if the water, dry off, and get in the car."

The children come to the edge of the pool with a great deal of disappointment because fun time has drawn to an end.  In their little minds it seems so arbitrary, you are the reason fun has stopped.  If they were upset at the edge of the pool wait until they get out and feel that "ever so slight" stiff breeze.  Now they are freezing cold and shivering and very unhappy.  They had been playing hard which had distracted them from the knowing hunger in their stomachs and now their misery only draws attention to the fact that they need immediate nourishment.  They are not having fun, they are cold, they are hungry, they are tired and you did this to them.  You can try to help them understand the reasoning behind your decision, but they are way past making any sense of it.  It's time for the noisy ride home.

In the Bible we read the words of a "now much wiser" king Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4:34-35  "At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;  (35)  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?""

The rest of the Bible agrees with Nebuchadnezzar that God is providentially in control of all things.  The Bible is not unclear on this doctrine, but I think the implications of this truth make it hard for us to want to believe.  One of those difficulties is the suffering that comes into our lives.  It is hard for us to imagine that God could stop the hardship if he wanted to but he allows it to happen.  This feels arbitrary.  It feels unloving.  And yet the Scriptures remind us Rom 8:28  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  Not everything that happens to us is good, but God is working all these things for good.  Even what other men "mean for evil" God "intends for good."

Let me encourage you to recognize that God is good and loves you.  He is wise.  He is powerful.  He may take you intentionally through a season of life that feels like the kids getting out of the pool.  You get hungry, cold, tired, and your not having fun any more.  Trust God.  Trust him whose eyes are on the distant lightning that he is taking you through this season for your good.  He is accomplishing something!  Trust that he is not arbitrary or unloving or powerless.  He is blessing you in the midst of hard things.  If you can trust God through suffering you may say with Job in Job 42:5  "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you..."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Me On My Best Day

God often reveals things to me through my children.  I am sure I am not alone in that reality.  As I strive to teach my children about their perfect heavenly Father through their relationship with their flawed earthly father God takes the opportunity to teach me about my relationship with Him as well.  I experienced a great and humbling example of this last night.

After returning from church and getting the kids through the routine of snack, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas (which are only going to come off within minutes of getting sent to bed anyway), praying together, and getting in bed I heard a tremendous commotion.  My four year old daughter had sneaked into my medicine cabinet somewhere in the process and helped herself to a cough drop.   This is obviously a big no no in our house.  I had no idea however.  But as she was making her bed her older brother smelled the cough drop and asked her if she had taken one.  She immediately burst into tears. Down the stairs she came with all the melodrama of an over tired four year old.  She was sobbing deeply as she crawled into my lap and I could barely make out her confession through the chest heaving sobs and tears.  I was trying to decide how to react, she had offended one of our big no no's and yet hear she is obviously broken about it.  As I was thinking she laid hold of my face pulled me to look square in her eyes and said, "Dad please forgive me, please do you forgive me?"  I hugged her close and said "Yes darling, I forgive you."  After a few words of caution about the danger of getting in that cabinet she went up the stairs laughing.  The laughter betrayed the fact that she actually knew our relationship was unhindered.  Nothing remained between us.

I looked at my wife across the room who had been watching all of this in silent amusement.  Then it hit  me.  That encounter is my relationship with God on my best day.  I want to live a sinless day, but I know that I do not.  I am plagued with inner pride, lust, desires, selfishness, and this list would get very long to be exhaustive... Even as God grants me growth in all of these areas I still have them in my life on a daily basis.  On my best day I am really broken about them.  On my best day I come confessing and weeping before the Lord and seeking forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  On my best day he looks me square in the eyes and says "yes darling, I forgive you."  On my best day I rise from the encounter filled with laughter because I know Jesus did everything required to deal with my sin.  Nothing hinders my relationship with God.  This is my best day!

I hope that you know God this way.  I hope you have the confidence when you cry out to Him that in Jesus Christ you are forgiven all your sin.  I hope you are walking in the joy of that relationship!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blessed to be home.

So I am picking up on the blog again after weeks away.  There was the time away in India, which was awesome ministry.  In addition there was the time away recovering from the food poisoning or bad stomach issue I contracted while in India.  Then there was the time away from blogging as I caught up on the rest of life from the first two times away.  At any rate I am blessed to be home and back blogging. God has been very good to me.  I am thankful to be home and eager to return to Mumbai if God will grant me that privilege.

You can check out the ministry we worked with at their website and I hope you will.  These are men and women who are ministering a midst tremendous needs.  It is incredible to see Jesus moving in the middle of incredible spiritual darkness and intense poverty.  In the middle of all of this Jesus shines brightly.  I am again reminded that there are not political or ideological solutions for this level of need, but it is the gospel that is "the power of God for salvation to all who believe."

I hope to share more posts in the days and weeks to come.  I hope to share more boldly.  I hope to share more humbly.  Thanks for reading.