Sunday, February 27, 2011

If I had said

There is a verse in the Bible that has been echoing through my mind continually. It's from Psalm 73:15 and the part that has been playing over and over says, "If I had said, 'I will speak thus,'” It stuck so clearly in my mind. I was familiar with the gist of what came next, but I finally had to go look it up to remind myself exactly.

If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.


I have been struggling so these past few days. Old hurts have been nagged at again, hurts that I continually battle to put behind me, and repeatedly rise to the surface. The words that came to my mind today were, "I close my eyes to worship You, and all I can see is the injustices before me." It sums up so well the struggle of my heart.

The battle has been exacerbated by both the difficulty of circumstance and the silence of God. In my heart of hearts, I long to serve, to be faithful, to be used, and to use my gifts to honor Him. But there are a long list of unanswered prayers. My pastor spoke recently about "no's" and "wait's" as answers to our requests before God, and in our growth group at church, we talked about how hard it is to discern whether we have been told clearly no, or if we are just in a season of wait. It is a difficult place to be. At times, it is a painful place to be, and when you feel as though you have been there a very long time, weariness sets in.

Just a couple of nights ago, I spoke "thus" to a dear and trusted friend of mine. I told her I was ready to give up. I was ready to walk away from all the things I believe the Lord has called me to do. I am no longer certain about what God has asked of me. I no longer know what it is He wants me to do. He told me to write, and I have been obedient in that for nearly three years, and most days I feel more concerned with people tiring of my sharing than I hope for it to actually be used of God. Even those closest to me don't read most of what I write, and in my heart I suspect most people have gotten to the place of disregard when I write and share.

Words. They are both a gift from the Lord and a curse to me. I know the Lord has given me a talent with words. My mother used to say I could paint pictures with my words. I came from a family of actual artists, and that word "picture" aptly described what the Lord has enabled me to do. When I speak about spiritual truths, the Lord shows them to me in my mind as a parable, and then I get to do the same with others. It's a blessing.

Recently though, a friend came and sat along beside me and asked me if I new the latest gossip on a matter. She came she said because she was certain I would have heard something, and she was right, I had. It has both haunted me and convicted me since. My intention is never to be the talebearer in that way, but my talent for words sometimes works against me. "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 10:19. A scripture I know well in my mind, but not always well in my actions.

These fast few days, however, I was doing my best to restrain my lips. Because what I wanted to say was "I give up. There is no hope or promise for the dreams in my heart to come true." I wanted to quit writing, no blogs, no Examiner, no book. I wanted to walk away from the gift of the words God has given me. What I wanted to say was "Hope has become too painful, and I don't want to hold onto it anymore." What my heart was screaming was to abandon ship, let go of the dreams I have hidden in my heart for so very long, because I do not believe my God for them anymore." However, if I had, Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. So for the sake of those around me, I kept my mouth shut.

I once had someone tell me that when I express fear or doubt, it scares her. She made a statement along the lines of, "If you are afraid, how can I have faith?" I thought to myself, "how did I ever get up on this pedestal?" Why would she think I never have doubts and fears? The fact is, I'm full of them. And in the last few days, the depth of them got so deep, I thought I might drown in them.

Then I started thinking about another verse from the same Psalm that warned me about speaking out the pain and confusion in my heart. In verse 25 it says, Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

As much as hope hurts for me, and as much as my dreams and gifts feel more like a burden than a blessing these days, how can I abandon them when they were given to me for the purpose of serving the Lord, and hopefully bringing Him glory? And the truth is that in my denial of their purpose, I was denying both His sovereignty and His power.

This morning as I was leaving church, the Lord showed me a word picture. It's a popular picture actually, I saw a backpack I had been carrying, but instead of the traditional rocks of sin, mine were rocks of offense against me. I have had some hard hurts, and the truth is, the source of them probably won't ever change. I seem to have a lot of people in my life who by power and position don't have to acknowledge or can even justify harms they have inflicted. But the truth is, the only one carrying the offenses is me. And I felt like the Lord said, they have weighed me down so severely that it is time for He and I to sit together and unpack every offense, one at a time and lay them at the foot of the cross. It's the only way when I close my eyes to worship Him, I will only see Him. It is not going to be easy, the Lord may have to pry some of the hurts right out of my hands, but I must determine not to let them hinder me anymore.

This morning before church, I was praying and asking the Lord what he requires of me. This verse came to my mind:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

What I realized was that I have been loving justice. I have been waiting on Him to show me the justice I desire. And what occurred to me was that I need to love mercy. Not only the mercy I receive, but also the mercy He bestows on those who have hurt me. As for justice, well, it is my job to do it, not expect it. I hope that revelation is part of walking in humility.

This morning at the end of his sermon my pastor was talking about exactly this, he said, "God's mercy has frustrated believers for generations," and it's true. I would dare to say His sovereignty is also exasperating at times. Waiting on Him and believing even when hope hurts is hard, but what else can we do? The Lord is.

And I am not.

My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26



Please don't stop. We need you.

Sheri Payne said...

Mercy triumphs over judgment!