Another Confession

Emboldened by my confession of fearing the dark, I’m here to make another one:

I really want to finish well-and I’m afraid I might not.

Foolishly perhaps, I had imagined the years on the other side of the Great Divide of fifty to be ones in which I could coast a bit.  As one sweet lady I knew used to say, “It’s great to be over the hill-that means it’s all downhill from here!”

And in some ways I am coasting.

I no longer struggle with the angst of being comfortable in my own skin. Since I’m not in the market for cosmetic surgery I have made peace with the fact this body is the only one I’ll have (until that wonderful day when I get my glorified body!).

I’ve decided that as long as I am kind about it, I am entitled to express my own opinion, even if I’m the only one who holds it.  I don’t have to receive affirmation for my convictions to be true.

Doing the regular chores of life come naturally and I can accomplish them without toddlers or teenagers undoing my work in one room while I’m making progress in another.

But on the spiritual front…well, that’s another matter entirely.

Losing a child has forced me to re-engage questions I thought I had settled long ago.  It has made me less certain of some ideas I once held tightly with both hands.

And it has made plain that these last years are going to be just as hard as the early ones in which I dug deep in Scripture to sort through what I had heard or been taught and compare it with what the Word actually says.

I am learning that God is not as easy to comprehend as our Sunday School tag lines make Him seem.  I am coming to understand what Job declared:

“I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, But now my [spiritual] eye sees You.”

Job 42: 5 AMP

Knowing now, by experience, that the road ahead may be just as hard and just as bloody as the one I leave behind, it would be easy to give up.

In my family, quitting was never an option.  My dad used to say, “You can do anything you want to do if you want to do it badly enough.”

But in this battle to keep going, I am too weak to continue by myself-too beaten down to make it to the finish line in my own strength.

I want to be faithful until the end.

I am purposing to refuse simple explanations and easy answers that tickle my ears but may not reflect truth.  And I will admit that I often just don’t understand–that I am wholly dependent on the God Who made me to keep me.

I want to let God mold me and shape me until I am a prize He is pleased with.

I want to present Him to others as the One Who has upheld me and keeps upholding me, even in this struggle to finish well.

So I go directly to Him. I go straight to His Word.  I will lean on, rely in and place my full trust in Jehovah:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

Job 42:1-6 MSG

Truth out of Balance

A  wise pastor I know made a profound statement that has stuck with me through the years: Heresy is truth out of balance.

I read my Bible.  I have been in church for most of my life.  I’ve heard sermons, participated in Sunday School lessons and listened to teaching on tapes and the radio from sound expositors of the Word. So it is unlikely that I would fall headlong into chasing after a wildly twisted theology that bore little resemblance to biblical truth.

But, I can be seduced into taking tiny baby steps away from the straight line of doctrine and look up one day only to realize that I am miles from where I thought I was headed.

The Pharisees clung tenaciously to the Law until they excluded grace.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he addressed the opposite extreme, answering the argument that if grace was so abundant, then perhaps one should sin more so that grace could be made more evident:

Now what is our response to be? Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God? What a ghastly thought!   ~Romans 6:1, 2a Phillips

Grieving the loss of a child, I am forced to face and balance questions that I thought I had once settled firmly in my mind:

  •  Is God good?
  • Is God in control?
  • Is there a heaven?
  • Is the blood of Christ sufficient to cover all sin?
  • Why does God save (physically) some people and not others?
  • Why do bad things happen to “good” people?
  • What, exactly, does God want from me?
  • Does God love me?

And if all I do is roll them around in my mind, depending on my own reasoning , I am at risk of answering my queries in a way that may seem right but which might actually be far from the truth.

There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, But its end is the way of death. ~Proverbs 14:12 AMP

Or if I look to other people and their lives, I am limited by what I see–which is never the whole picture.

So I must meditate on the Word and balance my interpretation in light of the whole counsel of Scripture as well as being honest about my own feelings and experience.  I must ask God through His Spirit to “lead me into all truth”.

And when I find it, I must cling to it with all my might and refused to be uprooted by the winds of sorrow and pain.

“Make them ready for your service [Sanctify them; Consecrate them; setting them apart for service] through your truth; your ·teaching [word] is truth.”

~John 17:17 EXB