Monday, September 26, 2011
Mom Fast Day 3
Today is the last day of our fast. I’m feeling pretty good physically, but still no major spiritual breakthrough. But I do know that God is moving, whether I can see it or not. There are so many people praying about our situation, and I know those prayers are not falling on deaf ears.
Yesterday, we couldn’t bring ourselves to put on our happy faces and go to church. So we visited a church pastored by an old friend. His church is not in our town and we knew we could go in and not see anyone we knew (other than our friends, the pastor and his wife.) And guess what the sermon was about… Courageous, a movie about fathers stepping up to the plate and doing the courageous things they need to do to fight for their kids, wives and families. The sermon was not just aimed at fathers, but also mothers or anyone else who had settled into complacency, but needs to move into the courageous.
One of the phrases of my friend’s sermon that hit me right between the eyes was this, “You’ve followed all the rules and ended up against insurmountable odds.” Is that something like me saying to God, “I HAVE trusted and look where it’s gotten us!” According to my pastor friend, a complacent believer says, “Obstacles mean I must have done something wrong, so I quit.” But a courageous believer says, “Now I see what I must overcome.” Yes, God was speaking to us yesterday.
Another important message I heard this weekend was at an Old Testament Conference I attended. It was on Saturday, when I was feeling so sick, but the lesson that stood out to me in the fog of a major caffeine headache and nauseous stomach was about Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I’ve claimed that verse and others like it for years, but there was always one nagging question. Most of the promises of God like Jeremiah 29:11 were made during times of persecution and martyrdom. The trials our family have had are not as a result of persecution for our faith, but of the bad choices we have made. So can I still claim God’s redemption? According to Sandra Richter, the teacher of this conference, the answer is a resounding YES! According to her, the context of Jeremiah 29:11 is this: Jeremiah is standing in the devastated city of Jerusalem (I think). Israel has been defeated, the city destroyed and the blood of the Israelites is flowing freely down the streets. All this devastation occurred because the Israelites refused to obey God. And yet in the midst of all this chaos, brought on by their own bad choices, the prophet of God proclaims that God still has a plan, and that the plan is for good, and that they still can have the hope of a great future.
I hope I’m not misinterpreting anything Dr. Richter was saying, I think I got it correct. If not, someone correct me. But what I heard was, yes, I can still claim God’s promises as I seek deliverance from an impossible situation brought on by our own bad choices. I’m not sure what that deliverance looks like, and I know it’s not going to be about my own comfort and success. But it is going to be all about God’s plan for redeeming broken people.
We have learned so much through the last ten years of struggle, and I know we’re not done. Learning that God is not my giant “Santa in the Sky” who will never let anything bad or painful happen to me is probably the greatest lesson I could learn. I have learned that my life is not my own and that it’s not all about me! I have discovered that even in the valley of the shadow of death, I can have hope for a future. And even though I still don’t know for sure what I am doing tomorrow, I will face it with courage and not complacency. And that is my Unswerving Hope!