Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 65 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families)! I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"I Will Build My Church" - Part 3

Note: I find it interesting that I started this article as a draft in March of last year. But it wasn't time for it to be finished. Through the months I have watched God begin to work on this area in a deeper way than ever before--both in my life and in the lives of others around me. I am watching with awe as God continues to get us ready. For what? I believe He is getting us prepared to walk as a mature church. He's working to build us as "living stones" into a "glorious church without spot or wrinkle." His command, "Let the Bride make herself ready," has gone out. Are we responding?

As this series develops, it seems that it is a group of thoughts like a pre-flight checklist. I know many of us are eager to fly, but we are understandably not eager to crash.—Some of us have crashed before, or else we've seen others crash and we want no part of it. How have we responded to those fears? We have wanted God, even hungered for Him, but at the same time we have kept Him and our brothers and sisters at arm’s length because of pride, unresolved anger or fear.

To allow God to build His church in our midst, we must hear His heart. There is a call going out today for God’s people to become “real.” We have kept Him and others at a distance by “keeping our masks on,” by not letting others in enough to know what’s really going on in our lives—and let’s face it—things are harder than they used to be…or the trials simply have not ended like we think they should have. They are either longer in duration than they "ought to be" (by whose standard, ours or the Bible's??), or they have ended "badly." In other words, God has turned up the heat, and things are not looking pretty.

One school of thought regarding not letting others in is that we need to “keep God from looking bad.” That theory maintains that we are hurting His cause when we are open and honest about some of the trials He allows us to go through. The thinking goes something like, “If I let on how hard this is, how badly I’m hurting, or that I feel trapped or cornered, I make God look like He’s absent or doesn’t care or doesn’t keep His promises.”

The answer to this is that God will go to any lengths to work with His people. He is not at all concerned with His reputation in that area. He can defend Himself. No, He doesn’t want us taking praise for what He does, but neither do we have to defend His actions and dealings with us. As a parent, He can take the heat!

The flip side of making God look bad, is that we don’t want to look bad, and if we are real, that can happen. When I am real, I am not only sharing the hard times I am going through, but I am also risking you seeing how I am responding to those hard times (and let’s face it, sometimes the way I respond stinks!). Adverse circumstances, by their very nature are designed to show up, highlight my weaknesses and flaws so that I will give them to God for Him to work on them. But many times I am too close to myself to see my reactions—all I know in hard times is that I hurt. However, my brothers and sisters in Christ can very easily see my flaws—if I am real. I have to trust they will not judge me but will confront me if I need confronting in love, will encourage me if I need encouraging, and either way will always pray for me.

In adverse circumstances I also see and get tested regarding my attitudes about God. When I don’t understand Him (which is often) and why He allows certain things in my life, instead of drawing closer to receive more of Him, I tend to draw back. I don’t want to acknowledge it, but in my heart I am accusing God of injustice (it’s not fair!) or not caring (if You cared You wouldn’t make me go through this!) or even betrayal (You led me into this situation, You knew how it would turn out, and You didn’t use Your power to stop it!). When I draw back, I don’t want to be near my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I know they will pick up my coldness, fears, and anger. When I am alone and see those things in myself (try as I might not to) I tend to draw still further away from my only hope and help. However, when I refuse that course of isolating myself and confide in the mature friends God has given me, they can pray for me, and help me take my sin to Him. With His help through them, I stop that hot/cold cycle and grow.

Brothers and sisters, God uses trials for many things on the road to maturity. He shows me where (or if) I’m loving Him because He blesses me—and what happens within me when things aren’t going well. When I see where I serve Him for gain, and repent, He strengthens me to say from my heart, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” as Job says in good old King James English. He confronts me with my conditional love for Him and calls me deeper, for He wants me with the help of the Holy Spirit to love Him unconditionally. That is the only way I will get where He wants to ultimately take me. The real question is, will I let Him take me through this process? Will I truly yield to the “instruments of death” (Romans 12:1-2) He has ordained for my life to conform me to His image? The ball is in my court…

1 Great Ideas:

Blogger Bunny said...

Hi Barb,
Thanks for the very good article. It was thought provoking, and enouraging as well as most hopeful to all who read it. I esp. liked the part about our Father God being able to "take the heat!" PTL! How big and how AWESOME is our God? There are not enough words to adequately describe Him. I am filled with JOY just thinking of the many many attributes our God has and uses on our behalf; most of all His unending GRACE and unconditional LOVE. Blessings to you, and please keep up the writings that so encourage all who read them. Love in Him,
bmercier4

February 16, 2008 7:16 PM

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