Friday, March 15, 2013

I was afraid to change, and the silence that followed my inaction.

I think back to that time. Our life has changed over and over again, as life is apt to do, but that time it seemed to turn on a dime. We had allowed roots to sink, we had accepted where we were, and within a blink of an eye everything was different.

There was no horrific tragedy, nor impossible nightmare we had to walk through. It was a change we worked hard to embrace and saw as a gift from God, and yet it was change, and it was sudden, and it was unexpected.

This time seemed to bring changes in many aspects of my life, some I am still healing from. This time was not what I thought it would be, nor a horrible moment I look back on. If I were to define this time with one word it would be "silence."

We don't really expect God to be silent in our lives, do we? We expect direction, guidance, light for the next step. We expect love, grace, mercy, and comfort. Because God is all those things. His word says we will receive those things from Him. He is love. His is full of grace and mercy. He is our comforter. And we expect that we will always know He is there, strong and sure, helping us along each step of the way. Until we don't.

Now, I fully know we can't be separated from His love. I fully know He doesn't forsake us. But sometimes life gets silent. Sometimes we stumble in the dark. Sometimes even when a change is seen as good, things change in a way we don't expect and don't know how to handle, and God seems silent. So what then?

All my ideas, plans, and strategies for the next five years (I didn't have that many, but still) were thrown out the window. All my friendships were put under a strain I didn't imagine would happen. My relationships were tested and tried, in good and bad ways. Make no mistake, I was loved and helped and supported and encouraged. I was. But there was also silence in a way I never imagined and it was hard. I suffered through, I blamed, I cried, and I learned so very much.

I was redirected in a huge way. Our entire family was, but within my own heart there was redirection. It was good for me, and it has helped me to be where I am now, but it was hard. I was scared and felt so alone. But God never left me, and once I stood up and picked my face up from the ground I saw He was with me all along. I simply had to let go of the fear in order to see. It simply took me a long time to start letting go.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The fear of redirection

Matthew 17:7
But Jesus came and touched them.
“Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”

Have you ever worked so incredibly hard on an idea? Maybe you had something plant into your brain, a seed, a hopeful thought, an idea with promise, and you worked so incredibly hard to make it bloom into the beautiful thing you thought it should be. You spent hours, days, maybe even years working on this project, only to come up short. You thought you were doing what you should be doing. You were sure this was the direction you were meant to go. But suddenly, before you were even ready for the idea to be presented, you realized you had been stopped in your tracks.

I can only imagine this is how Peter felt when God spoke to him. Poor Peter who simply wanted to do what was right. Peter, who wanted great things for Jesus. Peter, who was full of passion and determination. Suddenly he found himself on the ground face first, terrified out of his mind. His idea was to build something for the three who stood before them. It would have been an act of kindness, worship, glory, but God said no.

The three disciples were frozen in fear, and had it not been for Jesus they may have stayed there for a long time. But Jesus came to them. He touched them. And He spoke comfort and encouragement to them. “Rise up. Do not be afraid.”

Sometimes we get stuck in our own way of thinking, and as we chug along thinking we are doing what we are meant to. Then when something happens which shows us clearly we were facing the wrong direction, we often freeze up. We often fall down afraid to do a thing. But this is not the response God is looking for. No, He doesn’t want us to stop. He wants us to listen to Jesus and walk with Him. Then we will head in the right direction once again.

Maybe it’s simply all about not doing? Maybe God was saying in His infinite wisdom, I will glorify my son. You just listen to Him. How difficult and how easy all at the same time. But let’s work together to walk in the direction He is leading us, and not be afraid when we become redirected.

Question 1: How have you responded in the past to redirection? Did you become fearful, hurt, angry, frozen? All of these are understandably normal reactions, but is it possible for us to have so much faith and trust in God that when redirection comes we take it as coming from Him? Can we simply listen to and follow Jesus at these times?

Question 2: Do you spend too much time trying to do for Christ? When was the last time you simply stopped and spent time with him? Maybe now is a good time to listen and hear what He has to say.

Dear Father
All our best efforts are nothing
compared to what you do
Help us to stay close to you
Listen to you
and follow you
As we go through our days

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peter, James, and John's fear

In Matthew 17 we find Jesus taking three of the disciples, Peter, James, and John, up to the top of a high mountain. Once they reach the highest point Jesus transfigures and Moses and Elijah can be seen with him.

The disciples must have been blown over. They must have been nearly speechless, but we can always count on Peter. He offers to build them shelters, and why wouldn’t he expect them all to stay? Some say the very fact that he offered them shelters, but didn’t think anything about himself and the other two disciples speaks to his humility. I also read that Elijah represented the prophets and Moses represented the law. However, the shelter question was not addressed.

No, before Peter could even get the entire question out God was having his say. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Whether this meant the law and prophets were now gone and Jesus was the only one to refer to now, I don’t know. Did this mean that only God could fully glorify Jesus, and our mean tributes were worthless, I am not sure. It would be easy to almost vilify God at this point of the story. The big mean uncaring God scared the itty bitty disciples, but Jesus came to the rescue. I have a hard time with that, however.

I don’t think God was belittling Peter’s idea, I think He was simply letting Peter know he was headed in the wrong direction. From the beginning of time we humans have not always responded the right way when God speaks to us, and here the disciples fell down on their face terrified.

matthew 17 7

Matthew 17:7

But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." (NIV)
But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise and have no fear." (ESV)
But Jesus came over and touched them. "Don't be afraid." (The Message)

Matthew Henry's Commentary:
* Chris graciously raised them up with abundance of tenderness. Note, the glories and advancements of our Lord Jesus do not at all lessen his regard to, and concern for, his people that are compassed about with infirmity. It is comfortable to think, that now, in his exalted state, he has a compassion for, and condescends to, the meanest true beleiver.
* Note, though a fear of reverence in our converse with Heaven is pleasing to Chris, yet a fear of amazement is not so, but must be striven against.
* Note, It is Christ by his owrd, and the power of his grace going along with it, that raises up good men from their dejections and silences their fears; and none but Christ can do it.
* causeless fears would soon vanish, if we would not yield to them, and lie down under them, but get up and do what we can against them.

IVP New Testament Commentary:
* The disciples fall on their faces, afraid. As he often did, Jesus crosses barriers and communicates his kindness by touching. He then speaks words of assurance customary for divine and angelic revelations.

John Gill's Commentary:
* The disciples were at some little distance from Christ, but he observing the fear and surprise they were in, came to their relief and assistance; which he did not disdain to give, notwithstanding the glory he was covered with; but acts the part of a mediator between God and them, and lays hold on them to raise them up, whom the majesty of God's voice had cast down.