Well, well, well.
“Why all the pain, the difficulties and trials?” Meanwhile God sees a good run, and a healthy stride and all the toys from Wal-Mart he wants to put in our baskets, the (nearly) invisible ones headed to heaven, waiting at the narrow check-out line. (Jesus as the checker!)
“For where your heart is, there will be your treasures also.”
“Store up treasures in heaven.” (Gospels)
“Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines, and scourges everyone he considers a son.” (Hebrews)
“Consider it all joy brethren when you face trials of various kinds...” (James)
“I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul” played on the radio two days ago (go to Youtube and listen to it!) and I just cried because for my entire life I have been held in bondage to security in money and God has been working on me for so many years and it feels like the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt at the time of Moses – not an easy thing and not in one fell swoop. Four hundred years of bondage and no knowledge of how to live free. I wish He moved faster and I feel like He has been working this in me through especially these past few years, but really all my Christian life.
About two and a half years ago I repented that I had wanted Him to fix my financial issues more than I wanted to know Him. It is hard and doesn’t it make you swallow hard? “Lord, more than I want my finances in order I want to know you.” There, said. For twenty something years it was, “Do this, do that, do this, do that.” Not, “Whatever Your will, just give me You.” I am the man who will aim to be the one with the six or seven towers of grain stored up for years and is content with that. If only I can store my grain I will be fine! Ha! I am the Lord’s and I am not my own and I cannot do the things I want! God is seriously my God! He takes His job serious.
Let’s jump-skip to two days ago, so I was driving and thinking. Earlier in the day I had asked God to speak to me in the verse I was going to read. Exodus chapter 9: God tells Moses, “Go tell Pharaoh to let My people go so they may serve Me.” And that’s what I want. I want to be free to serve God. So I prayed, “God, set me free so that I may serve You.”
Ordinary, you’re a Christian and you sound like an unbeliever or a new believer. What is all this bondage that you are talking about? All I can say is all I see around me in me along with everyone else plagued and held in bondage to so many things and really very little is free. That is why worship is so good because it releases us into the other realm. All I can say is, “oh well, I’m messed up. God found a real project when He found me! Thought He could really do a work - might need two hands (of course not).
So now it is hard to explain, but just as I sang the song, “I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul” I thought about the ties I have to the world and to finances. Not the whole world, not losing my soul, but the point of money tying me to this world and forfeiting spiritual perspective and blessing because of the ties of money.
Tobymac sings in the song, “Lord help us from being consumed by the things of this world that fight for our love and our passion” and the background voice says, “Yes, Lord.”
So I was thinking about wanting God to let me go so I may serve Him (Exodus 9 verse) and I just cried as I drove down the 80 freeway and it was raining outside and inside and my whole gut just felt so intense like I was going to throw up. And I praised Him.
I am reminded of the the twenty pairs of panty hose that I put in the washer that got also wrapped around each other and a bathrobe belt and some miscellaneous red threads from the bathrobe and ended up in a big ball. It is the mess of some of my problems and they aren’t going to be instantly miracle-ized into 20 new pairs neatly folded back in the original packages resting on top of my dresser for me to use. There is a moment-by-moment asking God for wisdom about what to do next and the strength to go back and look at the entirety of the whole mess and the grace to ask God for direction for the next step.
Subject shift - Here is a little story I wrote from my experiences of working at the jail. God is teaching me compassion:
“I worship You, oh Lord
I worship You in the songs I’m going to sing
I worship You in the bills I’m going to pay
I worship You in the sights I’m going to see
And in the words I’m going to say
Let all of me exclaim “glory” to you
Let my presence radiate - Your sufficiency
I know the truth
That in me lies no good thing
I know the reality,
Yeah, I’m all messed up
I know my inward parts are disorganized
And there are pieces of me missing
Every day I cling to You
Every hour I wait for You
Like a girl at a bus stop
I have no ride but You
I will get on no other ride
I will wait for You
You will come and get me
And will not let me down
I don’t understand Your ways
And sometimes by the things You allow,
You seem cruel
Other times - too harsh
And I don’t know why
You let things go
When others are in pain
And lives are messed up
But I don’t need to apologize for You
Or say things really aren’t so
And give a theology lesson
Because pain is pain
And sorrow is sorrow
And we’re really all the same
And little lives destroyed is tragedy
And the ones who do it
Live inside of me
Because I’m the problem present in all the people
Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone
You became one with us
You are the One
You are the replacement
For the evil that lives inside of me
And we are a mess
Humanity is an image marred
Molested by sin
But not destroyed
For You oh God are the Redeemer
My Redeemer who ever liveth!
You take residence up in my flesh
You are pleased to dwell in me
When only I let You in
By Your blood and sacrifice
You clean me up
And once is enough
But come in again and wash all of me,
Peter says and so do I
“You’re already clean,
You only need your feet washed.”
You are an amazing God
And I worship You with my life
And all I do
And all I know
Is only a few more lonely days to go
And face to face we will be
My Savior and I
Body to body
and a new body indeed!
Yet still You wash anew
Whenever I want You to.
I am fresh again
In love with You
Free to worship and to work
Free to love and to serve
With all of me alive and nothing held back.
So we will buy up these opportunities
For this time is indeed short
Fill our carts up high!
Sky high to overflowing!
And we will wait for our reward is with You
It is in Your hand
We have your Spirit now
As the deposit inside us
The Truth of all we are going to be
As You live inside
And breathe out through us
Help us to run hard
And to stride fine
Never looking to the right or left
But out to the horizon
Where our Savior lives and coaches us on
We move by faith
We are filled with all measure
We are carried by Your love
And give everything else up.
With Blessing and praying you be filled with His love in ever greater measure and presence,
Thank you for letting me share my heart and life with you.