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Monday, March 26, 2012

I Want to be Like Linda!

What does being long suffering really mean? It isn’t pretty, that’s for sure. It is living in that place where the people who are suppose to love you, instead judge you, use you, or forget that you are a child of God yourself. It’s standing in the waiting line for years and waking up and asking yourself if today is the day He’ll answer your prayers. Or perhaps, it is that awful moment when you think, "Maybe God has forgotten me!"

Maybe, just maybe, all of those promises you jumped on in His Word weren't really all that personal, not really meant for you. You put a date next to them in the margins of your Bible because you found yourself weeping over the words one morning and you thought God was speaking to you. You were moved beyond words. But years have gone by. You’ve seen other people’s prayers answered, just not your own. 

Sound familiar? If you are still seeking God, still hoping, and still believing even though you have, by now, set up shop in the valleys, then you are living out the definition of long suffering. 

But what about all of the well meaning Christian messages I hear about how I must have some hidden, unconfessed sin in my life that is hindering my prayers? God can’t bless me because I am living in disobedience. Sorry, but it doesn’t ring true. My God does not say that perfection is required. Those people I told you about who had their prayers answered? Guess what, they are pretty sorry folk, too. I also can’t really believe the lies the devil whispers in my ear about how I must be the worst sinner on earth because God doesn’t grant or hear my petitions. Nope. I’ve been at this game way too long for that!

Sure, I’m not immune to that pied pipe of, “you’re the BIGGEST sinner of all.” I just know it isn’t true. Break one law, your guilty of the WHOLE law. Uh oh, here we go. It’s like going full circle. If this is true, then why am I so hopeless? Why, despite the facts of God’s Word, do I allow myself to be dragged around by my literal emotional collar?

Because God doesn’t make exceptions—even for me. There is a very real reason why I must be in His word every day. There is a very real reason that I am reduced to hanging on His every promise. All the great men of God did! I am ashamed to admit, but I thank God that David didn’t actually become king for 12 long years after God told him he was anointed king. No. His is the testimony I need to hear. His is the testimony that isn’t, “I gave Christ my life, and He waved a magic wand over my mess and blessed me.”

Geez, Louise! No. David is the hope I need. David hid in caves, fought, killed, conquered, sinned, and still blessed God and refused to get ahead of Him, even with two opportunities to kill Saul. David is the man!

Interestingly, God told David that he was a man after God’s own heart. You don’t get this kind of heart living on easy street. People who possess this type of heart aren’t pampered, petted, or spoiled. They are, instead, heartbroken, weary, battle worn and torn. 

In fact, like David, Naomi (and Linda Hamilton) I, too, lived a hard life, so I can so relate to Naomi's sad, sad statement when she returned to her homeland of Bethlehem with Ruth. She told them, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)

I am sure that at one point Ruth, like many of us, thought she was walking on the right path. She had a good family, did the right things, and honored God. She found her man, got married, and had two sons. Then the famine came and she had to leave her family and all things familiar to her for the unknown and heathen land of Moab. No matter, she must have still felt blessed. She had her whole future ahead of her and she was a child of God, she was an Israelite.

Yet, life was not kind to her. When she returns to Bethlehem after the famine, she is broken and a little bit bitter. She is now a widow and her two sons are dead in a day and time when women could own nothing. No, this women wasn’t getting her mani-pedi every other Friday night and lunching with the girls. She had very real pain and loss in her life, yet it was through her that God chose to bring us the Savior of the world through the lineage of Ruth and Boaz.

Still, if I fail to pull these scriptures out and read, read, and reread them, reminding myself of how God worked in David and Ruth’s lives, they have no benefit to me. No matter that God is renewing my mind, which I do believe He is, I am still like the man (or woman) who looks at herself in a mirror, I walk away, and I forget what I look like. And predictably, the devil yanks my emotional leash and off I go.

So what is long suffering? It is hiding out in the wilderness, in the caves, and going hungry. It is trying to file off the rough edges of your pain while you mediate on God’s word. David hid God’s word in his heart. He mediated on it all of the time! You don’t mediate on God’s word when everything just falls into place. No. You mediate on God’s word when you have nothing to hang onto but God’s promises. God promises to never leave us or forsake us, to complete the good work He began in us, and to never allow those of us who hope in His word to be ashamed.  All I can say to that, as I get ready to face another day of believing without seeing is, amen! And God, if it isn't too silly, I want to be more like Linda!

After all, you must be preparing me for something really, really big, like the end of the world or something!

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