Look What God Has Done

Look at what God has done–
He has given me a son.

Look at what God has done–
He has given my son oxygen.

Look at what God has done–
He has delivered Caleb from the evil one.

Look at what God has done–
He is the Strong and Might One.
He is the Ancient of Days, the very present One.

The Lord contends with those that contend with me.
He will save my children.

The Lord plants my son by the waters.
The Lord pours His Spirit out upon my son.
The Lord is my Son’s strength.

Look at what God has done–
He has given me a son.

In recent weeks I faced a struggle feeding my son. While toddler feeding battles are nothing new, for us it is particularly hard given our history. In some way or another I have struggled on and off to feed my only child since his first hour of birth starting with the inability to nurse correctly due to his undetected tongue tie. This has been traumatic for both of us, with feeding, breathing and swallowing difficulties that seem to manifest in so many different ways. An extreme sensitivity to textures, flavors and to the experience of the spoon or the cup is common in tongue tied toddlers. For me the trauma of everything we have been through creates an emotional tangle and a world of weariness that is hard to get out of when I face yet another fight in determination for my son to continue to thrive which is in accordance to God’s will. To continue to eat and to drink. Something so simple can become so hard.

Sometime during the twilight of this battle I heard or I read the verse in Psalms “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desire of my heart was for my son to eat and for his gut to be healed with GAPS so he can eat all the foods God has given to him to be blessed by and to eat in abundance without fear or trauma. I have to admit I have spent a lot more time raging at how something that should be so simple as eating has been so hard and how it stole the what was supposed to be a delightful newborn away from me and so forth…When Lazarus died Jesus wept. Even though He had known Lazarus would die and He knew Lazarus would raise from the dead He still wept. He wept as He saw Mary and Martha weep. The brokenness of death. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this in the beginning. The curses we live under, including death, they create sorrow, they create anger and rage because they aren’t supposed to be that way. We know when something is wrong. When it isn’t right. However, God has convicted me that anger and vengeance belong to the Lord. I suspect that God is angry too every time a newborn baby struggles to breathe or to eat because of a tongue tie. Every time a mother becomes trapped in a swirling vortex of a screaming, projectile vomiting, sleep deprived nightmare this is not good, this is not a blessing, this is not from God. When my little one was about 6 weeks old is when I realized this was not from God and I sought deliverance versus just trying to cling to Him to get me through. There is a difference between enduring and escaping. Jesus was trapped on the cross so we could be set free, by His stripes we are healed. He became a victim so we could have victory. When I “woke up” to the need for deliverance versus endurance is when God revealed to me that my baby was not sleeping because he was hungry and that he was hungry because he was cutting off my milk supply. God provided the special needs bottle that Caleb needed to thrive. But the anger, the vengeance. They belong to God. Judgement belongs to God. When I take the anger into my own hands and rage at my situation then I become guilty because righteous anger and judgement belong to God. He alone I feel can “rage” in perfect love and perfect judgement.

Anyway, I need to spend more time delighting myself in God. No matter what. No matter how the day went. I am to delight myself in God. Well I finally spent time delighting myself in God after two weeks of struggling to just try to get my now toddler son hydrated enough each day, and God provided. He showed me a way and Caleb started to and praise God has continued to eat again. Life is not perfect and I have to spend time every single day delighting myself in God, without him life is certainly to harder than it should be, and there is much to delight in.

Martin Luther once said “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer”. I used to think he was exaggerating, or that just ’cause He was Luther he could somehow have a prayer life like that, but I am starting to realize that Luther got it. He truly got it. He got that the more he had to face, or the more he had to surmount that day, the more He needed the Holy Ghost. The more He needed to move and groove in the Spirit…He needed God’s very present help. God taught me a long time ago, when I was just a teenager how when I would sacrifice something in order to spend time with Him, especially when it required faith to give up that time to pray and also be able to finish a research paper or something…God always helped me to get everything I needed to get done on time, but when I skimped out on God and chose not to walk with faith or sacrificially in prayer then I truly struggled! We can get to the finish line, but Jesus said His burden was light. We make it heavy and burdensome when we don’t delight ourselves in Him. I seem to have faltered in that die hard commitment to sacrificial prayer somewhat. I have been staying up into the wee hours or all night pumping, cooking, cleaning, doing everything within MY power to get me son’s situation straightened out…But the thing is –MY power is never going to be good enough and quite frankly is waning thin into weariness. I don’t need to and should in fact be intentional to not spend all my time on MY power, I need to spend time with THE POWER, the ONLY power that really will help, to spend time with God. He knows the way. Just like He knew how to get Caleb back on my milk when I was told it would be like winning the lottery. God knows how to heal Caleb’s gut and how to get him to eat. God’s way. God’s leadership. Me spending time with Him.

Whether the desire of your heart is for your baby to eat and to thrive or something else just know this, God loves you and desires to bless you and your children. Spend time with Him. Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. When we delight ourselves in God He transforms us by the entire renewal of our minds and our desires come into alignment with His and His will is able to manifest in us. When we delight ourselves in God we are no longer fighting against the goads. We cannot successfully hold up the rage or the sorrow in us, railing and fighting and shaking our fist in confusion and at the same time be blessed. We need to release everything to God. We need to let Him be our Shepherd, including letting Him use his staff to fight our enemies on our behalf instead of running between Him and the bear bleating in fear. Let Him fight your battles.

So I realized I needed to start being intentional about “delighting myself in the Lord” but wondered exactly how I should go about it, this intentional practice during my time with God. Then I heard the answer in passing on the radio (ok God is so awesome in His grace to answer my heart’s query like that isn’t He!?):

“How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.”
Psalm 111:2

So there we go: ponder the amazing deeds of the Lord.

Delight myself in Him.
I delight myself in Him as I ponder how He:

  • Gave me a baby boy to grow within my womb after 5 years of unsuccessful attempts at conception.
  • I delight myself in the Lord for giving Caleb the breath of life after his first intubation failed at birth, hallelujah!
  • I delight myself in the Lord for gifting Caleb an Owlet oxygen monitor through an Instagram contest right before He was born ’cause God knew his oxygen would be affected by his tongue tie!
  • I delight myself in the Lord when I reflect on the velcro swaddles God gave Caleb through the same contest because He knew the struggles we would go through trying to get Caleb to sleep as a newborn, God knew ahead of time.
  • I ponder with great amazement and eternal gratitude that God provided a professional grade oxygen and heart monitor that literally saved my son’s life, waking me up with it’s alarm to audibly hear and find my son choking on his back in his bassinet, then again in his rock ‘n play.
  • I delight myself in the Lord as I ponder how amazing it is that He healed Caleb at 12 weeks of age from whatever it was that was specifically causing the low oxygen, whether it was narrow airways, or whatever, God healed Caleb!
  • I ponder in amazement and immense gratefulness that God revealed to me that my son was tongue tied after many medical professionals including a lactation consultant and ‘feeding therapist’ missed it! God showed me, I kept on praying and He showed me after generations in my family have suffered on a spectrum from this in one form or another, the veil has been removed!
  • I rejoice in the Lord and remember that God told me not to give Caleb omeprazole. Even though I did, God warned me. He warned me, even though He knew I would disobey, He still took the time to warn me…
  • I rejoice in the Lord as I reflect on how God provided a free hospital grade breast pump to me even when my insurance referral was rejected time and time again.
  • I rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for prodding me forward to keep on pumping even in the middle of the night for 40 days and 40 nights without my baby drinking any of the milk because it turns out my milk has essentially “saved my baby’s life”.
  • I rejoice and give thanks to the Lord as I reflect and remember on how He led me to an online retailer for grass fed grass finished water processed lamb that would ship all the lamb we need for Caleb to Alaska for only $7.50, for real!!!!
  • I give thanks and rejoice in the Lord for providing free ready to feed alimentum to get Caleb through the time when I was pumping and storing.
  • I give praise and delight myself in God for revealing and showing to me that my baby had food allergies and intolerances at just 12 weeks of age even when a medical professional scoffed at the idea until my son’s oxygen improved the rest of the way and his lips turned red and then he tested positive for corn and a trace for wheat.
  • I delight myself in the Lord for giving Caleb shoes as a newborn through a gift that have turned out to be the only type of shoe we own so far (without having special ordered) that fits Caleb’s feet and his orthotics and keeps his feet warm at the same time.
  • I rejoice in the Lord and give Him eternal praise for providing corn free soy free goat kefir grains for breastmilk kefir, which has turned out to be a MAJOR key for healing Caleb’s gut.
  • I ponder with great thanksgiving and wonder that amazingly God has provided some corn free soy free goat colostrum for when his body is ready to handle it in order to further bless his immune system healing.
  • I rejoice in El Roi, the God who Sees who showed me that my son needed the prebiotic in my breastmilk to defeat the pathogenic bacteria in his body.
  • I rejoice and give thanks to God for increasing my milk supply with the hospital grade pump and for helping me to wake up and cluster pump etc. and still have energy to cook for Caleb’s gut healing diet and for therapy.
  • I rejoice and give thanks to God for showing me the GAPS diet when Caleb was just 5 months old to heal his gut and to reverse all allergies and intolerances as well as neurological sensitives.
  • I ponder in amazement that 7 years ago when we purchased our home in Alaska from Okinawa, Japan that we purchased a home without a smart meter attached to it and in a bit of a dead zone for a meter given our city location. This is a blessing of providence. There are so many examples of God’s providential love that I could continue to think of them forever and write them down.
  • I reflect in amazement and thanksgiving on how God has give me and Caleb life, in the image of God himself. I now choose to walk humbly before God in holy stewardship of this image of God that I reside in.

I delight myself in God for giving Caleb everything He has ever needed. For healing my son. For being our strong and mighty Shepherd through the rocky, craggy, high places. He is leading us to green pastures where we can rest and thrive. I rejoice and I delight myself in Him.

Hallelujah.

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Vengeance in the Wilderness

Even when we walk faithfully with God in the wilderness, the wilderness is still a hard place to be. Darkness and confusion seemingly surround us and we are being tested and refined to live by faith. One of the hardest things to do in the wilderness is to resist the temptation to take vengeance into our own hands. In the wilderness when others hurt us it is compounded because of the pain we are already going through. To love, to forgive, and to spare in spite of what a situation or a person says or does takes the strength and the love of God. It is too great in our weakness for us to do this on our own. It requires supernatural, it requires faith. The only way to give grace is to learn grace, and learning grace is hard because it is undeserved. Having mercy is hard because it is undeserved.

It may also feel just downright wrong. The enemy will try to get us to believe so many lies to justify our hatred, our anger or our vengeance. What we have to remember is that no one is “getting away” with anything. When we exercise love and forgiveness we first must exercise faith in God. It requires for us to trust Him. The Lord’s Prayer begins with two very important words: “Our Father”. God loves His adopted, we are His children, and His love for us is more fierce and more passionate than the love of any parent–as hard as that can be to imagine. We are precious in His sight. When we choose to love and to have grace in a situation where it is not deserved we are choosing to trust God with the situation. We are releasing the people and the circumstances to the authority of God. We are reserving the right for justice over to God. He is perfect and we can trust Him with that.

Even in our daily lives this is difficult. It doesn’t take extreme wilderness circumstances to have to face difficulty in releasing anger to God in exchange for love. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can do it-and we must do it. God commands us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. He commands us to not keep a record of wrongs. He commands us to forgive. He knows this is to hard for us without His help – and He longs to fill us with the Holy Spirit in order to perfect His love in and through us.

Think about David in 1 Samuel 26. Talk about being in a wilderness on the account of another! Filled with jealousy and bent on preserving his line as the rulers of Israel, Saul was in pursuit of David’s life, acting in direct defiance of God’s will. David ended up in the wilderness, hiding out as a fugitive because of this. In 1 Samuel 26 David and a companion stood over Saul as he slept in his camp with the perfect opportunity to kill Saul with his own spear. His companion even offered to do it on David’s behalf so the blood wouldn’t be “on David’s hands”. David absolutely refused however. What if you are in a situation where the stars align perfectly for you to get back at someone who has hurt you and even to not have to do the dirty work yourself? Would you consider that to be divine providence for vengeance or would you steadfastly reserve vengeance for the Lord – biting your tongue, refusing to harm the other person in any way…? Furthermore David had been directly anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel – with witnesses, and the people loved him! In the eyes of man David could have walked away from this with every justification necessary–but not in the eyes of God. David understood that vengeance belonged to the Lord. In I Samuel 24 David had spared Saul’s life. then in Is Samuel 25 David was tempted to execute vengeance for himself and his men against Nabal, but God used Abigail to stop David with wisdom and then God executed the justice on David’s behalf. Then in I Samuel 26 David faced another perfect opportunity to take Saul’s life. By this time He’d learned it didn’t matter if two, if a hundred perfect opportunities to execute vengeance presented themselves, even if was seen as justice in the eyes of men – vengeance belonged to the Lord.

There was a time in my own life when I was wrapped up in bitterness, hatred and anger, so deep and so wide that it took the supernatural help from God to love those that had betrayed me and to forgive the unforgivable. But God commanded me to do it and He planted a love in my heart that I did not and could not have mustered on my own. In addition to helping to forgive, God also manifested restoration and healing. Just because we forgive someone and have love and grace doesn’t mean we have (or should have) a restored relationship with them. However, if it is God’s will (well really it is, but if the other person(s) is in resistance to the will of God it may not be possible)…Restoration it is so delightful, a wonderful gift from the Lord! God desires to heal each of us. To make brand new that which has been tattered and torn. No situation, no wilderness is beyond the hope and the help of God – Miraculous, Wondrous, Wonderful God. Our Father. Trust in Him. Release vengeance to Him. He is faithful.

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Strengthened in the Wilderness

Yesterday I posted about staying faithful to God in the wilderness, even a wilderness that comes upon us because of the sins of others. We are to fully follow God–whether He tells us to go back into a wilderness or to go forward into the Promised Land. Not every wilderness is the result of another’s sin. I’ve suffered in the wilderness because of my own sins (see my post But, there is a Redeemer) and I’ve suffered in the wilderness simply because we live in a fallen world and there is a curse of death upon our bodies (see my blog series starting with 5 Years). No matter how we end up in a wilderness though, if we humble ourselves before the Lord and recognize His authority by submitting to Him then God will provide for us in the midst of the suffering.

Think about Elijah, when Ahab and Jezebel brought suffering upon Israel because of their sin. The land was parched with drought, and on top of that Ahab and Jezebel were out to kill Elijah. Jezebel was out to kill all of the prophets of God in fact. It was a dangerous and perilous time to be a prophet of God–but God provided for Elijah. Elijah was faithful to God in the “wilderness” season of his life and God in turn transformed the actual wilderness into a safe haven for Elijah:

“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” I Kings 17:2-6

One of my favorite verses in Exodus is chapter 15 verse 27:

“Then they [the Israelites during the Exodus in the wilderness] came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.”

God had created these 12 springs of water, one for each of the tribes of Israel, way before the Exodus. In His providence He created a safe haven for them, a place to camp at. Interestingly, and importantly they were tested directly before this provision with a time of wondering where there was no water, and a time where there was only bitter, unfit water.

Whether we’ve brought the consequences of sin upon ourselves, or whether we are suffering because of others or even because of the way we were born–God longs to be tender and affectionate towards us in the wilderness. He longs to provide for us supernaturally and providentially. God is able. Sometimes we find ourselves in a wilderness all of a sudden, and sometimes, just like Caleb, Joshua and Elijah, we need to obey God when he tells us to enter into the wilderness.

It is in the wilderness where God can teach us and refine us. It is in the wilderness where God chooses often to show Himself mighty and strong. It is in the wilderness where God delights in magnifying His love and His provision to His faithful ones. It is in the wilderness where you suddenly become aware of how much you have to rely upon Him. It is in the wilderness where He opens up the Rock and nourishes us with Living Water.

He is all that we need.

Childbearing Hips

As one negative pregnancy test led to the next and to the next, each cycle became less of an exciting wait and more of a dreaded encounter, hoping against all odds that this would be the month, only to have those hopes dashed be a single pink line and those telltale cramps. Agonizing cramps that seemingly mock me from within my own body. Taunting me that I have the body parts but that I’m broken, that I don’t work, that I might look like a perfectly fine woman on the outside-but that I’m not. Cramps that I still have to suffer. Suffer every month for what-for nothing my mind cries out. The frustration at “being broken” can feel overwhelming at times. Questions of “why was I created to be a woman if I don’t even work” flit across my mind as cruel reality brings jarring pain to such a crescendo that my infertility cannot be ignored–not today. I can go for a few weeks acting like everything is normal, but then the cramps, then the reality. The empty womb crying out at me–”don’t you dare forget!”– a war between my body and my mind, between my hormone levels and my desire to be a mother.

The identity crisis of being a woman with infertility is real and it was unexpected. It caught me off-guard when I began to feel trapped in my body, a body that didn’t work. A body that looked like it should work-but wasn’t. My childbearing hips were helping me carry in the groceries, or a box up the stairs, but that wasn’t what they were supposed to carry. They were supposed to help me carry a baby, my baby. Like I’d carried brothers and sisters growing up. Instead here I was all alone with no baby and these childbearing hips. Watching the diagnostic ultrasounds of my womb, finding out the exact measurements of these body parts that remained vacant, lifeless. I felt like I was useless, like I was defective. Betrayed by my own body it felt like there had been a mistake. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be a mom. My dream of raising children, homeschooling, making homemade bread, my body didn’t match up. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

Something is wrong. Things are broken. There is sickness. There is disease. I’m not the first person to feel trapped in, or betrayed by their body and I won’t be the last. In the end our bodies will fail each and every one of us, expiring to return to the dust because of the curse of sin that is upon us and all of creation. A curse that we’ve inherited and that we perpetuate. A decay that renders our ability to stay young, strong and healthy out of our control as time marches forward until we breathe our last. And when we breathe our last it will surely matter what or who we identity with and as. It matters because if your identity is founded only in the life that you spend in this body then you are guaranteed to be disappointed, to be betrayed by your body and by your idolatry. But, if your identity is rooted in Christ Jesus then you are guaranteed life eternal. Whenever I feel frustrated with my body, whenever the sorrow washes over me I cling to Jesus and I remember that my identity is in Him. I am His. I belong to Him. I am His daughter. I am His bride. He satisfies me with His Living Waters and comforts me with His strong arms. He holds me and He sustains me. He is my confidence. He is my Rock. He is my salvation. He is my hope. I will never be disappointed when my eyes are on Him, and they will be on Him forever–for when I leave this body I will be going home to a place that He is preparing for me. A place where He is the Light, where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more shame.

I refuse to agree with the lies of Satan that seek to take my eyes off of Jesus. I speak the Truth of God’s Word over myself. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am carefully made by the hands of my loving Father Who knew me in the womb, Who knew me even before He formed me. God made me a woman, God has given me the heart of a mother and I am so thankful for these things. I rejoice because of His tender love, He is my Victory. I am so incredibly thankful for my body. I am thankful for every part of my body. Yes this creation may be under the curse of our sin, but God is the Redeemer and He is making all things new. God is my Redeemer! He is my “dream-come-true-Boaz”, He has paid the greatest price so I can be with Him forever and ever and I gladly give myself over to Him, to His authority, to His will. He can–and is–making something beautiful out of the mire clay. I am free to dance in joy as He lifts me up from the ashes. He has brought me into His glory and I look forward to be taken into the full measure of His glory. His strong arm upholds me, His strong right hand defends and protects me.

I need thee every hour Lord. I need Thine Righteousness to revive me for Thine power to course through me, for You Holy Spirit to wash and cleanse me, for Your Word to lead me. For every part of me to be enveloped in Your presence, under Your guidance and authority. Every lie, every doubt hold no power over me-for I sit down under Your shadow with great delight and Your fruit is sweet to my taste, You bring me to Your banqueting House and Your banner over me is love. You satisfy me and embrace me, You come leaping and bounding over the mountains and hills and lead me into the Cleft of the Solid Rock, through Your pasture among the lilies. (See Song of Solomon 2).

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.  2 Corinthians 10:-6

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  I Thessalonians 5:16-24

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:1-8

Burn the Plow. Roast the Ox.

fire-1568645So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
1 Kings 19:19-21

When we repent and accept Christ as our leader and director then we leave our old life behind. In fact we don’t just turn our back on it, but we are spiritually born, no longer dead in our transgressions, but alive in Christ. From that day forward when we wake up every morning the Holy Spirit within us cries out for Christ, for righteousness. A sign of a true believer is someone who denies the desire of his flesh nature, this is called dying to oneself.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24

You see Christ was made sin on the cross, even though He had not Himself sinned, as a payment for the debt we’ve racked up with our sin before God. However, the transaction is not complete until we offer up that sin in repentance. Burning it like Elisha burned his plow. When we repent and die to ourselves. Then and only then will Christ’s righteousness is imputed upon us to protect us from the wrath of God. We are purchased by the blood of Christ, protected by His righteousness.

The Christian life is one of continual repentance and dying to oneself, not because we lose our salvation every time we go to sleep, but because we have set our hearts and minds to accept Christ as our Rescuer which can only happen when we submit to Him as Lord. Submission means dying to self.

When Elisha was called to serve God he burned His plow, killed His oxen and ate them for a farewell dinner. He got rid of them for good, no turning back. We must burn our plows, our old life must die under the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit. While it is painful to die to ourselves it will not be as painful as it will be to come under the eternal fire of God’s judgement.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

Just like Isaiah cried out in terror when He saw a vision of God’s throne and His mouth was purified with a coal from God’s holy fire, so must our tongues be purified with the fire of the Holy Spirit. If not, our tongues will be scorched and parched for water where there is none.

And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.

But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us. Luke 16:23-26

God’s purifying fire consumes all unrighteousness. Will it only be your works consumed on judgement day (1 Cor. 3:10-15) or your whole body?

Something Has to Die

So I’ve just been thinking how you’ll hear “I’m just letting whatever God’s will is be done”, but the person behind that statement is living in blatant sin. I find this statement strange and unsettling. Why? Because there is a difference between choosing to live in sin with indifference towards God, vs living in submission under God’s authority and therefore denying sinful desires. One is called obedience the other is called rebellion. It is not God’s will for us to rebel but to repent.

It is as if we were told by our mom not to hurt our sibling, and then we just slap them up right in front of her and then say “I’m just trusting my mom for her will to be done because she loves me”. It was not her will for you to hurt your brother or sister, and even though she loves you more than life itself, you will suffer the consequences. If you really trusted her you would’ve known that, and feared that, and obeyed. The only thing is we have all done this before God. Blatant or not before men, it is all blatant before Him. The consequence of thumbing our nose at the Author of Life? Death.

But, God loves us in spite of who we are and so He gave His perfect and innocent Son to take our punishment so that if we are sorry and turn from our sin then when God looks at us He will see the blood of Jesus paying the price of our sins, no matter how many or how great. The thing is we must repent, we must be sorry for our sin, we must cry out to God for His help. We cannot keep on thumbing our nose, we cannot keep on living according to the desires of our flesh.

Something has to die, either it will be our soul, or our sinful desires. He has provided Himself for atonement, and He provides His Spirit to strengthen us to obey. Plus that means we get the greatest, most satisfying thing of all, Him. Call out to Him, cry out to Him, we all need Him.

But, there is a Redeemer

God is a master redeemer. He specializes in redeeming (or making something new and beautiful out of) the messes we are so good at making in our lives. From time to time we’ll find ourselves feeling like we don’t have a purpose, things may all seem to be going nowhere, or just plain going all wrong. The plan that God has for us may seem hazy, or even maybe a complete mystery. It’s time likes these that its good to stop and remember that God didn’t make a mistake when He knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, we are placed into space and time, into this specific point of space and time, with our unique abilities, appearance, personality, and everything about us for a reason.

The problem with being human is that we often mess that up, taking our eyes off Jesus and follow/worship something else that promises to satisfy without having to say no to the desire of our flesh. Sometimes we make life altering decisions that are disobedient towards God and we violently hurl ourselves off of the tracks God laid for us when we were just a babe.

We’ve been doing it since the beginning. Before the fall of mankind in the garden, God’s plan for us was being perfectly fulfilled. We were perfectly glorifying Him and in perfect fellowship with Him because we were free from sin. It would have gone on forever, except just as we do today, Adam and Eve took the gift of freewill that God gave humanity and used it to throw the muck of sin all over God’s masterpiece. We messed it up so royally that it could never go back, the darkness of our sin was so deep that it could not be scraped away to reveal what it once had been. The curse of sin (death) hovers permanently over all of us, the darkness of that original free will rebellion spans the centuries, dooming us to separation from God.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Each of us does the same thing that Adam and Eve did. Although we are born into a life leading to physical death because of the original sin, we are born with a clean slate for our souls. We each have the choice to either live in obedience to ourselves, or to live in obedience towards God. It doesn’t take us long in life to start sinning though, satisfying the desires of our sinful nature and dooming our souls to the second death. As we grow we begin to make decisions that affect the trajectory of our lives here on earth; and the thing is, every decision we make is either one that is God Honoring, or one that is self-honoring and each has its own set of consequences. It doesn’t take us long to start using our free will to not only coat our souls in sin, but to also hurl sinful decisions into the path of our life, altering the direction and our future. We derail ourselves. There was no undo in the garden. There is no undo here and now.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Some of us can look back at our lives to the specific age, place and rebellious decision that threw us literally off the tracks. We can see how this decision of disobedience marred the masterpiece that God had intended for us into something that we could never go back to. We can never go back and follow those tracks that God had laid out for us. We are left crashed into the dirt, stuck in the mar of our sin, with a feeling like we have no purpose left. That one decision becomes the greatest regret, the regret that hangs heavy on us, weighing us down deeper into the mar as we begin to rust.

Some of us look back at our lives and we don’t see a single moment, we see a whole life where God’s intentions or plans for our lives were a mystery. A life where we’ve done nothing but serve our own desires, and yet here you find yourself feeling lost and without purpose. All that is left is disappointment, and the futility of grasping satisfaction that all too quickly fades away into emptiness.

Whichever it may be, we have used the free will God gave us to mar the original masterpiece of a plan for our lives. We’ve allowed ourselves to think for a moment that the brush was in our hands, when in reality the Creator simply allowed us to sink our hands into the darkness of sin and to throw it all over His handiwork. We think we are triumphant in overrunning God’s authority, taking control, but really we are not in control, we are being allowed to sin, allowed to use our free will to rebel. We’ve given birth to sin, and the wages of sin is death. Death of our bodies, of our souls, of relationships, of dreams, of purpose.

But, there is a Redeemer.

The beauty of our complete brokenness is that we cannot mend ourselves. Sure we can choose to go our whole life spinning our wheels in the mire of sin until we sink into the grave we’ve dug, sealing our eternal fate. But because we have free will, God gives us the option on this side of eternity to stop living in regret or rebellion and to set our eyes on Christ. The Redeemer can become our Redeemer.

The Redeemer builds something new out of what has been destroyed in death, a new set of tracks in an impossible situation. Although we cannot go back and undo that one decision, we can move forward today. Although we cannot go back and give our lives over to Christ when we were but a young one, we can today.

There is a Redeemer.

The beauty of that deep sense of regret, of the groping in the darkness of our sin, is that it allows us to be deeply acquainted with how much we need a Savior and it leads us to repentance. God doesn’t give us a magic redo at life, He doesn’t take away the consequences, He uses them to lead us to our true purpose, to the reason why He created us: to be Redeemed by the power of God, for the glory of God, through Christ. To be satisfied in God through Christ, passionately in love with Him, bringing glory and honor to Him through the Holy Spirit.

We have each disobeyed God. We have lied, we have dishonored God’s name carelessly or even as a curse, we have looked at someone we aren’t married to with lust, or even acted out those thoughts, we have coveted what belongs to someone else, we have all sinned. When we stand before God when we die, we cannot hide our sin behind good deeds, there is nothing good enough that we can do to hide our sin from God. There is only One who Has the power to redeem our soul and bring it from death into life, Jesus. Jesus, took on flesh, although being fully God, faced temptation and through the Holy Spirit’s power did not sin. He took our punishment on the cross, obeying God and allowing Himself to be separated from God by our sin. All of mankind’s sin from all of history was heaped upon Christ at Calvary, cloaking Him in darkness, separating Him from God the Father. But Christ, in the power of God overcame death, and was resurrected. All who trust in Him, who repent of their sins, and follow Him instead of themselves are saved from the second death. We, the redeemed, are covered and protected then by His righteousness, just as our sin covered Him on Calvary. In Christ we become new, our souls are reborn in Christ our Lord. Our hope is complete in Him, knowing that our born again souls will not have to taste death and can be in perfect fellowship with God in Heaven. The Redemption of each us, for all who say yes to Christ here on earth, becomes the Redemption of humanity after the fall.

There is a Redeemer.

Stop looking back, stop spinning your wheels. Turn to and follow Christ. Look to Christ and rest in Him. When we put our trust in Him and obey Him, He lifts the burden and the weight of our regrets. He builds a new path for us in the wilderness, a path that leads us to Him. The Holy Spirit strengthens and transforms us, who belong to Christ, and empowers us to do God’s will in peace. So seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness. Be transformed by the entire renewal of your mind and fulfill your purpose: to know Christ and to make Him known.

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34:22

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I Corinthians 1:13-14