You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘glory’ tag.
Then they will rebuild cities that have been in ruins for many generations.
~Isaiah 61:4 CEV~
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I’ve been and how it is that I got to where I am now. A scene from one of my favorite movies, Eat, Pray, Love, reminded me that it was in those times of devastation that I began becoming the person I’m destined to be. In the movie, Julia Roberts’ character, Elizabeth Gilbert, is sitting in Italy looking at the remains of the Augusteum and she says something about how ruin is a necessary part of our growth. She’s marveling at how the place has withstood so much chaos and destruction, yet remains standing. In this scene she is processing her feelings for her might-as-well-be ex-boyfriend. I believe she is trying to decide just how much damage has been done as she finally comes to the conclusion that the relationship has run its course.
We do this in life. Ponder the damage. Consider the negative impact. Decide whether to settle or break free. For some it takes longer than others, but eventually anyone who feels that their life has become stagnant comes to a point where the need to be more overwhelms them overtakes the comfort of familiar mediocrity. God did not create His people to settle for less. He did not intend for His people to shrink back into obscurity. On the contrary, He made us to reflect His awesome power. He equipped us with all that we need to not only weather the storms of life, but to emerge from them even stronger than we were when we were confronted by them. If our inclination is to move through life seeking shelter from every storm, but never learning to build that safe place using the tools that He has given us then we miss the point.
God is our shelter. He is, of course, our strong tower. But somewhere along the way, He hopes that we will gain enough strength and momentum from the knowledge that we can always call on Him that we are secure enough in all that He has shown us to lead others to that shelter as well. It’s not like we are to run for the nearest safe haven each and every time we hear a rumble of thunder, screaming, “Every man for himself!” But to be honest, that’s what many of us do.
As I did some walking through my own ruins, I realized that no matter how much I’ve been hurt over the years the fact is that I am still standing. In fact, I’m standing much taller (in spite of my short stature) than I was in the past. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve moved past destructive tendencies; my own and those of others. I can say now that I am deserving of God’s love, His mercy and His grace because I’ve started listening to what He’s been trying to tell me all my life. I am His child and He loves me without end. And because He loves me, He stands back and watches me figure things out when it’s time for me to learn. He steps forward and comforts me when I’ve been broken. As the song says, He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own.
So, like Nehemiah was determined to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, I am determined to rebuild the walls around me that have sustained damage in these many storms. And I know that just like in Nehemiah 4:17, my God will give me the strength to stand with one hand on the sword of the Spirit and the other one putting the stones back in place. He will lead me, He will provide for me, He will protect me and when I need Him to, He will heal me. And these walls, though weathered by many storms, will be an object of beauty that will reflect His glory long after I’m gone.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
~Isaiah 61:3 NKJV~
The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days-deeply distressed.
~Ezekiel 3:14-15 (NIV)~
From where I sit, it is easy for me to say that God is in control and that there is a reason for what happened in Boston yesterday. It is easy because I didn’t lose someone. I didn’t lose my sense of security. I didn’t have the rug jerked out from under me as I attended an event that was intended to celebrate the endurance of the human spirit. The impact of this tragedy for those directly involved in it is in no way diminished by the fact that I know my God and how powerful He is and that I’m sure He has a plan for every single thing that happens in this world; the good, the bad, and the horrific. This fact only makes it easier for me to cope with hearing about what happened. But for those who were a part of it, God’s presence and involvement in the thing can be very confusing.
As it happens, there are many horrible things that happen outside the boundaries of my bubble of faith each and every day. People experience pain and loss and try to make sense of it from where they are at the time of impact. Sometimes they are at a place where they can trust that God has it in His hands; sometimes they cannot fathom how God could ever let something like this happen. It really depends on our perspective and on what we have come to know about Him and His desire for us when the thief shows up to kill, steal and destroy.
There have been many tragedies in my life; some that I have brought on myself and some that I was involved in through no real fault of my own. Through these times, I remember asking myself why these things were happening to me. I remember being very confused about why God would allow these things to happen to me. I also remember that these questions came at times when I had put such distance between He and I that it was as if I had entered the Witness Protection Program. How could I ever expect Him to find me when I spent much of my time and energy running away from Him or putting up roadblocks wherever I suspected that He was pursuing me?
When I came back to Him, I found that the things I had once blamed Him for and even hated Him for were actually quite necessary to bringing me full circle in my journey. Had I never experienced that grief and pain, I never could have appreciated the grace and mercy. I never could have seen the blessings that He had bestowed upon me even in my darkest hours. The very fact that I woke up every morning was no testimony to the life that I had lead. It was all due to the magnificent grace of an ever-merciful and patient God who wanted nothing more than for me to gain redemption. His tolerance of my inability to accept the salvation that Christ died to give me is unparalleled. And if He has been so forgiving for just me, what does that say of His willingness to wait for the whole of humanity to come around?
There are many things which we cannot know; we cannot see the reasons why things play out in the manner that they do without acknowledging God’s hand in all things. Yes, He wants us to be happy. Yes, He wants to show us His love. But by the same token, He expects our devotion to Him and He is angered by the lack of that devotion that He sees in this world. Undoubtedly, we are approaching a time in which there will be many unexplainable events that represent God’s wrath on a disobedient nation. But His wrath is reserved for the ungodly; for the evil that exists in this world. It is not God who seeks to destroy us. And for all who are caught in the crossfire between good and evil; know that He will protect His children. For those beautiful spirits who are lost in the darkness, He seeks to bring you out by any means necessary. If this be through grief or loss, then please know that this is necessary and that He will bring you beauty for your ashes.
My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones yesterday. I pray that you find comfort in the arms of the Lord and that you not seek to blame Him, but to see and understand Him in all of this. That you take solace in the fact that your loved ones are in God’s hands and that He will avenge your loss. To everyone who has witnessed yet another act of violence at the hands of the wicked, I say that it is time we start to see these things for what they truly are; signs of end times. Not so that you would lose hope; but rather that you would run, full throttle into the arms of Jesus and accept Him as your Savior. Because our tendency is to commiserate with one another when there is any sort of threat or attack; but in reality, the more effective thing to do would be to accept those things as a call to arms. It is time to rise up and fight against those things which permit evil to thrive in our society. He is waiting patiently for us to turn back to Him and allow Him to take us all home. All we need to do is trust Him.
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—
~Romans 9:22-23 NIV~