Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Disappointed Faith

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I’ll be honest with you. Being a Christ follower hasn’t always panned out in ways I would have expected. There have been seasons in my walk with God that I have been disappointed, frustrated, confused, and even apathetic.

Why?

Because I am human. And because my finite intellect only allows me to rationalize and understand a fragment of who God is and what He is capable of.  I don’t intend to keep Him in a box, but I do. I simply lack the ability to understand Him outside of measuring Him against myself.  

And there in lies the problem.  I have stripped Him of all mystery, omnipotence, sovereignty and glory because I have attempted to contain Him and shape Him by my limited imagination into what I know best: my own limitations.

There were two avenues that led me to this realization on Sunday.  The first avenue was during the worship portion of church service. I don’t remember now, three days later, what song it was that we were singing, but there was  a line in it that had to do with the forgiveness we have received. So I began to repent and ask forgiveness for various things until I heard the Lord say,

I have already forgiven you of those things. Stop repeating your requests and thinking I didn’t hear you the first time. I can’t move on with you until your forgive yourself.  What’s it going to take to let go? What’s the hold up?

Huh… that was not the response I was expecting.

The hold up is me… again.  It’s all my pride attempting to dictate when I have finally paid my penance.  What a shameful waste of time.  And what an obvious root of frustration. My pastor once defined frustration as “unmet expectation.” 

Finally, dots began to connect themselves. Any frustration I had with the seeming stillness of God was simply me keeping Him at bay and then blaming Him for not answering when I called. Same song, second verse, and what a tragic tune.

The second light bulb lit up when my pastor began preaching his sermon entitled “Disappointed in Jesus.”  In Luke 7: 19, John the Baptist sits in prison, awaiting a sure death, and in the midst of what seemed to be likely uncertainty, sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He really was who He claimed to be. Was He “it” or should they look for another?

John the Baptist questioned in the final moments. John the Baptist, the forerunner and literal cousin of Jesus, wavered beneath the weight of his circumstances and asked the question so few of will ever admit to: “Jesus… are you really who you say you are?  If I did all that you asked, how did I end up here?”

And how did Jesus respond to His beloved?

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22). 

Typical Jesus. No direct answer.  Instead, He quotes Isaiah and challenges John, and us, to recall what we have seen Him do because in His actions alone, is proof enough.

It’s no secret that I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and doubt. A lot. But why I continue to is beyond me. The only evidence I have in my life of God is His hand at work orchestrating my every day, providing for my every need, and revealing Himself clearly when I choose to look. And still, I find myself disappointed or frustrated that it didn’t pan out just how I imagined because I have days, like the rest, that are hard.

But I haven’t sat on death row before, like John. I honestly can’t imagine the disappointment or perhaps even disillusionment he may have felt as he sat there trying to rework the equation of his life’s work.  How was this the sum total of his efforts? 

My pastor quoted Gene Edwards, author of “The Prisoner in the 3rd Cell.”  In his book, Edwards concludes,

Die, my brother John, in the presence of a God that did not live up to your expectations.

The question I walked away with was simply this: Do I believe God enough to trust that should the rest of my life bring nothing but suffering, He would walk beside me, ordaining each pain for His glory and my good?

I pray that tomorrow I answer with a resounding yes. I hope the same for you, friend.

Waiting on the Kingdom

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I used to be a waitress.

I can honestly say that I not only enjoyed it, but I miss it from time to time.  It’s one of the few things I have come across in my life that came very naturally and easily to me; I did it well. 

Waitressing, for me, was never really a job, it was an outlet.

Talking and listening to people feeds something in me that I can’t quiet describe. I jump at opportunities to serve people because I like to feel needed.  I like to do for people what they can not do for themselves and waitressing seemed to supply that environment for me.

I couldn’t have asked for a better setting either. Whitefish, Montana is one of the most breathtaking places in the United States.  Something about that place beckons people to come and be a part of it. It invites and then transcends every expectation.  And tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock there every summer to witness it for themselves. 

Rumors of its beauty, tales of its grandeur, and pictures that attempt to capture its essence compel people to go and see if such a place exists.  It demands, and rightfully deserves, to be experienced personally.

Waiting on tables of visitors that had just come from Glacier National Park always brought a smile to my face. They were exuberant.  The views there will do that to you.  The air will leave you feeling exhilarated. The breeze will woo you and the fragrance of wildflowers will intoxicate you.

Back to waitressing.

Tourist and locals alike seemed to always come into the restaurant after their adventures famished. Exposure to that much beauty is exhausting.  Many weren’t prepared for the altitude adjustment.  Others didn’t hydrate properly to compensate for the dry climate.  Still others didn’t prepare for the hiking to be quite as exhaustive and so they didn’t eat enough.

They all came looking for sustenance. They needed to be replenished.  They needed nourishment. They needed rest. It’s not that they couldn’t have gone home to cook for themselves, it’s that they didn’t have the energy.

Being a waitress reminded me a whole lot of church.

Isn’t that what people come looking for? A promise of God that will quench their need for assurance? A truth that will satisfy their hunger for hope?  A bench to sit and rest on with others who are travelling the same road?  And a waitress (or waiter) that will be happy to accept them, serve them, and bring them love enough for the next day’s journey?

We’re all waiters. We are all called to serve what we know: Grace. Freedom. Forgiveness. Joy. Hope. Peace. Life. Love.

Some of us are openers. We meet people before they have ever even heard of this place called church. We give them directions.

Some of us are scheduled for the mid-afternoon lull. We have the opportunity to pay careful attention to the customers who come in alone and stay long.

And some of us are closers. We’re there for the evening time rush.  We have seven tables instead of three.  We get to serve the customers with complicated orders.  And we’ll stay there as long as they haven’t paid their bill.

All shifts are equally important, all serve a necessary purpose.

So whether you open, close, or keep the old company in the corner booth after the lunch hour, never forget you were scheduled for your shift for a reason.

Delayed, But Not Too Late: One Word 2011

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My blogger-ific friend, Josh Miles (yep… I went there) recently posted a blog that inspired me to copy his idea completely.

And he was inspired by another blogger named Alece who is challenging readers to drop the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead focus on just one thing, one word to be exact, for an entire year. 

Somewhat unintentionally, as 2010 came to a close, I had been thinking about what word I would use to describe perhaps the most formidable year of life.

Lonely.

I know it sounds depressing; it felt that way at times.  Last year was filled with new ways and  areas in which the Lord emptied me of a lot of things that weren’t Him.  For all the reasons that I am grateful to have been shown how off-center I was in my affections and attention, it wasn’t easy to see things and people I care for stripped away.  

Lesson learned: God is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, in Him.

So with last year now (finally) behind me and with new perspective, my word for this year is… *drum roll*

Behold.

With the things that obscured my vision now removed, I want to behold the Lord.

Behold His grace on me and over others.

Behold His purpose, plan, and provision in each day I am granted.

Behold His continual forgiveness of my sins and His faithfulness to renew His promises to me every morning.

Behold His the lavishing of His love over me that I may overflow onto others.

Behold how expansive His grasp over all creation and how exclusive His grip on my heart.

Want to join in on the adventure?

One year.

One word.

Countless ways to be changed.