The Journey 2011 - Though He Slay Me

12:21 PM Edit This 5 Comments »
Hello, friends! Welcome to Day 10 of The Journey 2011! How’s it going for everyone?

Every now and then I’m going to pop in with these special blogs just to talk about some of the awesome things that I’m finding in my reading. I’m twittering a lot more often about fave verses, too, so follow me at http://www.twitter.com/abeautyglorious!

In the chronological Bible reading plan (which you can find here: http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/esv/cjan01.htm), we’re reading through the book of Job right now. I don’t think I’ve read Job since high school, and even then I don’t remember paying much attention. It’s not an especially fun book, because of the enormity of Job’s suffering, and also because it can be difficult to understand when the friends are actually speaking truth vs. when they’re just playing blame games, and also when Job’s actually speaking truth vs. when he’s just blowing off hot air. But in between all that, there’s some mind-blowing stuff that really challenges the way we respond to tragedy.

In the first two chapters, Job loses everything he values: his wealth, his children, and even his health. He still has his wife, but she’s no help. (“Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. Gee, thanks for your support…) And yet what’s his first reaction?

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
–Job 1:20-21

Wow.

I notice that he’s not pretending it’s no big deal. The guy is deep in mourning. But somehow, he still keeps his eyes on God. He still recognizes that God deserves his worship, no matter what.

We sing a lot of songs about this. We sing “Blessed Be Your Name” in the “land that is plentiful” and when we’re “found in the desert place.” We sing “Desert Song,” in which my favorite lines are “All of my life, in every season/You are still God/And I have a reason to sing/I have a reason to worship.” But really, when tragedy strikes, how quick are we to take up that banner of praise? Do we really act like we believe that NO MATTER WHAT, God is still God and that in and of itself is reason to worship?

How resilient is our trust?

Just over a year ago, my aunt died very suddenly. It hit our whole family hard, and I by no means got the heaviest of the pain. But still, I found that I had a choice to make. I could either close off, pull back, and try to protect my heart from a God I didn’t understand, or I could press in and choose to love him regardless.

I didn’t write in my journal for several days after it happened. I didn’t know what to say or how to deal. When I finally did open up my journal, this is how it came out:

“I hate having to write this. What do you say when the biggest prayer you ever prayed was denied? When a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt breathes her last and enters the glory realms, leaving behind a broken family… I don’t understand. I don’t know what good this will serve. But I do know that she has no regrets. Her soul is satisfied… God, I am still here. The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you.”

I chose love. And I am proud to say that so did my family.

When things like this happen in our lives, that’s the choice we have to make: worship or bitterness. It’s okay to mourn; it’s even okay to be angry, but if there’s not some worship in there too, you’re putting yourself in a bad place.

After all, when life collapses for you like it did for Job, who do you have left but God?

The verse I wrote in my journal that day was this:

“Because of this, many of Jesus’ followers turned back and would not go with him any more. So he asked the twelve disciples, ‘And you—would you also like to leave?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
--John 6:66-68

Peter chose love. He recognized that sticking with Jesus, even when nothing made sense, was the only thing that did make sense. He had crossed the point of no return; he was so consumed with love that Jesus was his only option. He couldn’t even imagine leaving. David expressed something very similar when he said, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25)

Job chose love. He made the most incredible statement in Job 13:15:

“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

This is a verse I absolutely need to memorize. I find it incredible because even though Job didn’t understand and felt absolutely crushed by God, he still chose to place his trust in a God he knew was essentially good.

Good? After all that destruction and despair?

Yes. God is good no matter what, because it’s his very nature. It’s who he is.

Job couldn’t see the bigger plan. He didn’t know that God was going to restore his joy and then some; he didn’t know that Satan was betting against his faithfulness and all of heaven was watching him; he didn’t know that his story would end up in the Bible to encourage people for thousands of years.

But he knew that God was good. Period.

The last line of that journal entry, “The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you,” is actually a line from a song called Rock of Salvation. (You probably aren’t familiar with it; a guy from my school wrote it and we’ve been singing it in chapel for several years. I’m including a music player below for you to listen to it.) For me, that line is my vow to God that despite the strongest force of opposition, whatever that “heart of the ocean” may be, I will not be moved. Like Peter and Job and David, I have passed the point of no return, and God is my only option.

I choose love.


Rock of Salvation by Paul Stephens


Do you have a favorite verse from your reading? Post it in a comment to share with us!

Delight

8:41 AM Edit This 2 Comments »
I have a confession: sometimes I think I have a pretty good understanding of God’s heart for me. He loves me unconditionally, he calls me his beloved and his favorite one, he wants to use me to change the world, I get all that. Or at least I think I do. Every now and then, though, God reveals a whole new dimension of love to me, and I can’t help but be overwhelmed all over again.

There was a time a few months ago at a youth leadership meeting when the pastor asked us to take a few quiet minutes to imagine in our own minds what God thinks of us. What came into my mind was, “God is delighted in me, but he is eager for me to grow.”

The pastor then asked us to actually ask God what he thinks of us. I didn’t think God’s answer would be much different from mine, but he surprised me. What I believe God told me was, “I am delighted in you, and so I am eager for you to grow.”

I was floored. There’s a huge difference, isn’t there? I had been feeling like God was saying, “I love you, and the way you’re living now is a good start, but not quite what I had in mind. You’re still not quite measuring up.”

But that is so NOT the truth! What God really says to me is more like, “I LOVE YOU! I’m so proud of you, you’re doing great! Keep it up, I can’t wait to take you further!”

I mess up, I do stupid things, and I don’t do what I know I should be doing, but he still smiles when he looks at me. He is still so excited and proud when I keep trying!

I don’t understand this. My tendency is always to imagine that God is up in heaven somewhere shaking his head and saying, “Oh, Caitlyn, Caitlyn, Caitlyn. You sure blew that one,” and then I have to go him like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs to repent so he can stop being disappointed in me.

I’m not trying to say that sin isn’t a big deal; it is. And I’m not trying to say that repentance isn’t serious and important; it is. But my sin never surprises God. It doesn’t shock him, and it doesn’t disappoint him, as if he had his hopes up expecting me to do the right thing and then I let him down. He already knew. The day he wrote my name in his book, he already knew exactly how many sins I was going to commit over the course of my life. He already knew exactly how many sins his blood would cover. He didn’t say, “Ah, Caitlyn looks promising! She could be pretty awesome if she doesn’t screw this up.”

He already knew. And still he chose me just the same.

Because here’s the deal: he sees me through the veil of Jesus’ blood--his holiness. He looks at me and he sees the person he made me to be. That’s what forgiveness is all about. He knows he’s still helping me work through my junk, but since he sees all times at once, he can look at me and see who I will be a thousand years from now, when I am in heaven and not struggling with all this anymore. Isn’t that a crazy thought.

What blows my mind is this: My failing and struggling and trying and falling does not lessen God’s delight in me. Let me say that again:

My struggling does not lessen God’s delight in me!

I thrill his heart! Even when I’m all tangled up with my junk and I’m so frustrated at myself, he still looks at me and calls me beautiful. That’s a miracle, right there.

In fact, it’s the struggle that he loves! He loves it when I don’t just give up and give in to sin but keep wrestling with it, because that struggle proves my love for him. I screw up far too often, and my love might be shaky at times, but God knows that it’s genuine. He gets so excited when I come back again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again because that’s me reaching out for him. It would be so much easier to just write myself off as a failed Christian and just decide to live however I want, rather than trying over and over and over. It’s hard to try over and over and over! And God loves it when I do the hard things for him.

Here’s the kicker: God’s not just putting up with me. Nor is he giving grace just because he’s God and that’s what he does. It’s true, grace is part of God’s nature, but there’s more than that.

He wants me. He actually wants to be with me. Not only does he love me, he really likes me! (Have you ever said about someone, “I may love him, but I don’t have to like him”? Not God.) He is completely infatuated with me. He dances over me. He loves to hang out with me. He wants to hang out with me for all eternity!

I make his heart smile. I make God’s heart smile, just by being me!

And that is a truth that will keep me coming back, again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again.


These thoughts were pretty directly inspired by some things I’ve been discovering through Misty Edwards, particularly her prophetic song “I Knew What I Was Getting Into.” Below is the video and the transcript.

 

(starting at 1 minute)

Listen, my beloved
Listen, my beloved
Listen, my beloved ones, in whom I am well pleased
Listen, my beloved ones

I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And I am not surprised with you now
I knew what I was getting into you
When I said your name
And still I said it just the same
I know you better that you do
I knew what I was getting into when I chose you
I chose you still
I knew what I was getting into
I know you’re afraid
And I remember that you are but dust
But I know where this is going
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
I don’t regret it
I am not shocked by your struggle
I am not put off by your struggle
I am not disgusted or ashamed of you
No
I knew what I was getting into when I chose you
And I said,
“He is my vessel, he is my chosen one
She’s my vessel, she’s my chosen one
You see, it’s not about you
It’s all about me
I chose you and that’s enough
And I’m gonna bring you forth in love
I’m gonna bring you to the end
I’m gonna bring you to the end in strength
Cause I see strength in you
When all that you can see inside of you is your own weakness
Oh, but I see the end from the beginning
And I know where this is going
And you’ve barely just begun
But you see, you see,
So few will ever fight the good fight
At least you’re fighting
Even when you feel you’re losing
So few will ever enter into the battle
But you refuse to quit
And this is all I ask
This is all I ask
So few will ever look back at me and say,
“I really want to love you!”
But you say it every day, every day
You say, “I really want to love you!”
And you cry
And you say, “I’m so sinful, and I’m so full of compromise!”
And I see your confession and it’s real
And I still believe those vows you make, you break
You make, you break
I still believe in you

I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And I called you just the same
I knew what I was getting into when I beckoned you
And I still beckon you today
I am not surprised by your struggle
No
I am not disgusted by your discovery
You’re the one that is surprised
In your pride you thought that you were better than that

Listen
I see the seeds of righteousness in you
I’ve clothed you with the blood of my Son
And its enough
It’s enough, it’s enough
Why are you trying to get in a room you’re already in?
You’re already in
I am not surprised
I know you better than you know yourself
And you say “yes” and so few do

Who is this, who is this, who is this who’s beautiful as Tirzah
Awesome as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners?
Who is this?
Lovely as Jerusalem
Beautiful as Tirzah
Who is this?
Look away from me
Your eyes, they overwhelm me
Yes, your eyes, your eyes, they overwhelm me
I sympathize with you
I know you’re in a dark night of faith
And yet you still have faith and so few do
You are my favorite one
You're the only one I see
You’re the only one, my favorite one
You’ve ravished me
Dare to believe
I know you’re disappointed with the way your life is coming down
And bitterness is trying to bind you like a plague
But you fought
And you fight
And you press on
And you push
And you long
And you reach
And you mourn
And you hunger
And you thirst
That’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
Do you know the way this moves me?
You’ve ruined me
You’ve ruined me
Nothing can overwhelm me, but you overwhelm me
Your eyes are like doves’ eyes
Your eyes are like doves’ eyes
You think that you waver in your vision
Oh, but you come back again and again and again and again
You didn’t give up, you didn’t give in
You didn’t let shame pull you down
You didn’t just hang up and say, “I can’t do it; it’s too hard.”
You didn’t accuse me of being too hard, no
You said, “I wanna try again.”
You got up again and again and again
You repented again and again and again
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
Just don’t give up
And don’t give in
If you don’t quit
You’ll live

Angels, oh angels, gather round
Angels, oh angels, look and see
Through that dark night of faith she’s still choosing me
Angels, oh angels, oh angels, gather round

As he spins around wildly rejoicing
Rejoicing
As he spins around wildly singing

She said yes
He said yes
She said yes
He said yes
He said yes
Again and again and again and again and again
He chose humility when he was overlooked
He chose humility when he was misunderstood
He chose humility when he was falsely accused
She chose humility when she was disappointed
She said no to bitterness
And when she was so afraid, she got up again
Look, angels, look
Angels, angels, angels, look and see
Oh, the way they move me
Tell them the way they move me
Hephzibah
Beulah
Tell them the way they move me
Hephzibah
Beulah
My delight is in you
I’m married to you

It’s more than just mercy
You’re not a project to make me look good
There’s more than only mercy working here
I don’t just feel sorry for you
I want you
I want you
I want you
I want you
I want you
You’ve ravished me
You’ve ravished my heart
I want you
I want you
I love you
I like you
I delight in you
You’re the object of my affection
You’re the center of my world
You are the apple of my eye
There’s more than just pity
You are the apple of my eye
You’re the center of my world
You’re the only one
You’re the favorite one
Who is this who’s beautiful as Tirzah
Lovely as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners?
Turn your eye away
Your eye has overwhelmed me
Who is this?
Beautiful as Tirzah
Lovely as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners

I see strength in you
You see your weakness
I see strength in you
I know the end from the beginning
I know where this thing is going
You do love me
I know you love me
I know you love me even more than you know you love me
I know you love me
And I was not surprised by you
Oh, no, no, no, no, no
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And still I called you
I knew what I was getting into when I beckoned you
And still I’m beckoning today
I knew what I was getting into
And I knew this would work in you humility
And humility is of greater value to me than even your perfection right now
Humility is the only way to perfection anyway
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
Still I call you
And I am not shocked by you
I’m not disgusted, no
Quite the opposite
You’ve ravished me
You’ve ravished me
Oh

Will you marry me?
Will you take my name?
And all that’s yours will be mine
And all that’s mine is yours
Will you marry me?
Will you take my name?
And all that’s yours is mine
And all that’s mine is yours
It’s yours

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
--Philippians 1:6 ESV

Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
--Isaiah 46:10 ESV

You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awesome as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me,
for they overwhelm me
--Song of Songs 6:4 ESV


You have captivated [ravished] my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.
--Song of Songs 4:9 ESV



Behold, you are fair, my love; behold, you are fair; you have doves' eyes.
--Song of Songs 1:15 AKJV



The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
--Zephaniah 3:17 ESV


Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight" [Hebrew: Hephzibah] and “The Bride of God," [Hebrew: Beulah] for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
--Isaiah 62:4 NLT



Like a young man taking a virgin as his bride, He who formed you will marry you. As a groom is delighted with his bride, so your God will delight in you.
--Isaiah 62:5 GNT