Freedom! I am beginning to experience freedom from an addiction. Over the past year and a half or so, I have become addicted to living in the past, wanting to go back. I have been dwelling in my past life, mourning over what I've lost, rather than being thankful for what I have gained - a closer walk with God, and a deeper appreciation for His blessings. Some of us are particularly hard-headed (and hard-hearted) and don't learn our lessons well the first time, and so we necessitate more difficult and painful chastisement. God knows exactly what we need in order to live fruitful, Christ-like lives; He knows far better what's good for us than we do (contrary to our natural inclination). He sees the big picture - we only see our present suffering. We can't see the future, and we too easily forget the past. (One of our church fathers) once said, "Thy hand is heavy upon me, Lord, but I rejoice that it is Thy hand, and not another." What a jewel of truth! I praise my all-wise and beneficent Father that His hand is upon me, rather than leaving me alone. "For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:12 "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently." Proverbs 13:24 Thank you, Father, for loving me in spite of my failures, and for not leaving me alone.
When I read in Exodus about the children of Israel grumbling against Moses (and against God!), even after so many miraculous manifestations of God's providence, and again in the Chronicles and Kings about God's people turning away from him, again and again, to go back to their idolatry, I wonder how they can so quickly and easily fall away. How could they so easily forget? How could they do it over and over again? What foolishness! But then I look at myself - I fall over and over again in only a matter of months or weeks (sometimes days!). Israel's backsliding was over the span of decades. In the wilderness, the children of Israel wanted to go back - back into captivity! - because they didn't have faith to believe that God would take care of them. I wanted to go back too - back to the "security" of what I had known, because I didn't know anything about life being single. Why would I want to go back? Back to being unloved, back to idolatry, back to not knowing God? Lord, please deliver me from wanting to go back. Forgive my unbelief!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I am sitting outside on my little porch I enjoy so much, and while it isn't warm, it is - with socks, my jacket, and a hot cup of coffee - pleasant. It's not exactly a sunny day, but the clouds are thin, and I can see patches of bright, promising turquoise through the holes. I can enjoy the patterns of sun and shadow as they move across the view of my hometown that this perch affords me - on the third (and top) floor of the tallest apartment building situated on the highest hill is this complex. I enjoy this view. I love the wide expanse of sky, where I can watch the wonder of God's majesty unfold around me in every weather pattern that moves through this part of North Georgia, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. From this vantage point, I can watch the sunrise in all its glory of color and warmth. Although I can't see the sunset in the evening, I am blessed with the flood of color, the richest the day affords, that highlights every tree and rooftop and cloud in my line of sight. I can hear life going on all around me - children playing and shouting, cars, a small prop plane crossing the sky. Birds are singing today, one of my favorite of all God's gifts - a token of the coming spring, a promise of the certainty of life again after the chill grip of winter. I enjoy the breezes that caress me and bring to life music from my windchimes (and sometimes send my papers flying off the table and me scrambling after them). I appreciate the brightness and serenity of this day all the more after the dark, churning tumult of the last few days (or weeks, or months...?). Much of the gloomy and weighty uncertainty has been lifted from me - not so many "when"s and "how long"s and "why"s to frighten me and steal hours from my sleep and years from my life. Well, I do still deal with some "why"s. But my Father - the great Creator of all the beauty around me - is sovereign. Not only is He sovereign, but He is good. I know that the trials and the storms He sends us are for a purpose, and I can rest content in the knowledge that His purpose is for our good. If every day were sunny and warm, I might grow weary of them, or at the very least, cease to appreciate them. The dark days give contrast to the bright ones, and make us prize them all the more. The times in my life when all has been easy, I too quickly grow callous to God's goodness. I become complacent - fat and lazy. Then is when I need the storms to drive me to the refuge of His sheltering arms. For a season, He allows the waves to toss me, to batter me against the shore, to drag me under and threaten to engulf me. Then in the tempest He directs me to the Rock, and I cling to that Rock for my very life. There is no strength left in my fingers for clinging, but He holds me there. His presence brings warmth and life back to my failing spirit, and He revives me. With His help I can breathe again. And eventually, to my joy and delight, I can appreciate the exquisite beauty of the calm after the storm. Have you ever seen a storm spend itself and give way to the unquenchable sun? The glory of that sun shines even brighter as it is reflected on every glistening, freshly-washed surface. The sunset is not as beautiful on a clear evening as it is when there are breaking clouds in the sky. Then those clouds reflect an astonishing and miraculous array of colors as the sun sets. God's goodness and faithfulness are revealed anew to us, and we rejoice in His majesty. I praise God for the sun and the rain, and that He knows exactly when to send each of them into our lives.