Monday, November 14, 2005

Wonderful, merciful Saviour
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would've thought that a Lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost our way
Oh, we've hopelessly lost the way

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for


The original title idea I had for this post was "Disappointment." I wanted to detail a bit of what I have learned over the last week regarding disappointment. But as I sit down to write now on my rather late lunchbreak (due to a mistake at work), I find that through everything that I was going to write about, God has shown me something more of Himself that goes far beyond mere disappointment and a wrestling match with the question of His goodness.

Last week, I started suspecting that I might be pregnant, which both terrified and elated me. For three days, Pete and I rode a roller coaster of "We want to hope, but do we dare, because we might not be pregnant, and we don't want to get our hopes dashed..." And when it all came down and I wasn't pregnant, I cried in the shower and Pete got quiet. Disappointment rather set the tone for us that day. All I could think was that I didn't want to start doubting God again. Even if what I had come to want didn't happen, He was still worthy of my praise. We had a gorgeous day to second that sentiment.

Disappointment has been a pattern in my life over the last few years, I think. I let my hopes climb to the heavens about a circumstance or a situation in the here and now, and when it comes crashing down in disappointment, I find myself questioning God, wondering if He is just playing with me.

But this weekend, something happened in a situation that has been ongoing for years, a situation that has, in fact, caused me more disappointment than nearly any other situation I have ever faced: the nuclear fission of a group of my friends. It wasn't anything anybody would have noticed; it happened in my heart. In a couple of hours, God swept into the disappointment that had stopped my prayers for reconciliation and changed my disillusionment into praise.

As Pete and I were driving away from the encounter that God used, a song came on--the one I've copied above. For years, all of us in this group have longed for love, but our love became a competition of who loved more. For years, all of us in this group have longed for unity and healing, but unity and healing could only come in those of us who were *right* moving on. For years, we have tried to understand the grace of God, all the while passing judgment on the others as if it is our right to withhold His grace.

As we drove, the words of the chorus went deep into my spirit, bringing tears that hadn't been shed, and a realization of how full God has made my life, all the while I was worrying about my own losses and disappointment.

"You give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for..."

He has given me His healing and with His grace has freed me from my own condemnation. How? He spent Sunday reminding me that when He looks at me, He sees Jesus Christ. Why? Because I'm so good, and I always do the right thing?


Maybe not.

He sees Jesus, because that is why Jesus died. He made Jesus to become my sin, so that I could become the righteousness of God in Him. He made Jesus to bear my griefs and my sorrows so that I could be a minister of His reconciliation, where His love covers a multitude of sins.

There's a new Casting Crowns CD that has a song about Jerusalem, who will go down in history, because it had no room for its King. The emptiness and failure in the song shook me until the Lord reminded me of something. No. Jerusalem has the promise of God. Jerusalem will one day be restored to her God, and He will walk upon her streets with His people. Can you see His redemption? That is the hope He gave in Jesus Christ. Nobody is a lost cause. God will complete the work He has started--perhaps not until heaven, but He is faithful that has promised!

Our hearts are so hungry for the fullness of heaven now that we often try to manage our own little "heavens" here, creating idols for ourselves that fall so far short of His glory. But only He is the one who gives that healing. He is the one who gives us the grace to fail, all because of His Son, Jesus Christ.

And the point is not that we failed, or even that He failed us, but that He gives the grace. Always faithful.

"To tell you the truth, Philip, I didn't feel any disappointment with God."

I was startled. Douglas, searingly honest, had always rejected easy formulas like the "Turn your scars in to stars!" testimonials of religious television. I waited for him to explain.

"The reason is this. I learned, first through my wife's illness, and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life. I'm no stoic. I am as upset about what happened to me as anyone could be. I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and to vent all my grief and anger. But I believe God feels the same way about that accident--grieved and angry. I don't blame Him for what happened."

Douglas continued, "I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, 'Life should be fair because God is fair.' But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life--by expecting constant good health, for example--then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment.

"God's existence, even his love for me, does not depend on my good health. Frankly, I've had more time and opportunity to work on my relationship with God during my impairment than before."

There was a deep irony in that scene. For months, I had been absorbed in the failures of faith, having sought out stories of people disappointed in God. I had chosen Douglas as my modern Job, and had expected from him a bitter blast of protest. The last thing I anticipated was a graduate-school course in faith.

"If we develop a relationship with God apart from out life circumstances," said Douglas, "then we may be able to hang on when the physical reality breaks down. We can learn to trust God despite all the unfairness of life. Isn't that really the main point of Job?"

....Suddenly Douglas glanced at his watch and realized he was already late for another appointment. he put his coat on hurriedly and stood up to leave, and then leaned forward with one final thought. "I challenge you to go home and read again the story of Jesus. Was life 'fair' to him? For me, the cross demolished for all time the basic assumption that life will be fair."

~From Philip Yancey’s "Disappointment With God"


Undeserving said...

The Casting Crowns song that you mention brings be to tears every time I hear it. But it is thought provoking as well: do I yearn for my future home, my Father, my Savior, as I should? Do I make room for MY King in my own life? Sadly, the answer is often no.

"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading."

Izzy said...

I just read your blog posting on disappointments...I know the feeling of scared-ness/excitment over the possibility of a pregnancy, and then having it crash. I am praying for you! I am glad God encouraged your spirit

Will said... said the truth so beautifully. Thanks.

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