Sin and Sovereignty

Well, the Holy Spirit has used this blog to share His story, His word, and His love to many people throughout the world. And in order to use me as the typist, He found me in my hard, roly poly shell and convinced me to uncurl it. It was scary to show my belly, but He brought so much love, joy, and encouragement from that exposure that I covet the memory as one of my lifelong bests. Yet, over time as the crises and attention were diverted; I rolled back up. Whether it was intentional or not, I have struggled with being open and vulnerable toward God, not just on the blog. I realize now that I blamed receiving the terminal diagnosis, especially that last time, from Dr. Litton, for killing off part of me. But now I recognize that it wasn’t what was done to me–I’m not the victim, I’m the villain, but if I cling to Christ now, He will mold me into the victor.

It began a few years ago when I realized, and boasted, that everyone I had heartily prayed for had been healed. Please recognize that my stomach aches as I recognize the pride in that statement. I was on a faith “high”, and all five of the terminal people I had prayed for had been healed. All cancer gone. No cancer here. Total remission. Cancer free. No evidence of disease. He healed those people! I should never have claimed some sort of credit for that by attaching my prayers to His work. I desperately want to defend my arrogance, to sugar-coat and explain it away. But, I belittled the God I serve when I took credit for such healings (He had me pray for them, He answered those prayers. It is about Him, not me.). Like when God told Moses to speak to the rock for it to yield water, and instead Moses (pasted below, Numbers 20:8-13) said to the congregation, “shall we bring water for you?” and struck the rock. Moses had the same end game as God’s plan, which was to get the water to the people. But he took the credit with his statement and took the glory. For someone who desires to live in order to give God glory, stealing it from Him is the worst sin I can imagine. And, yup, I do believe He rescued me from certain death specifically so I can glorify Him in word and deed. In other words, Mission: Failed.

Proverbs 16:18 is true–pride and a haughty attitude come before a fall, and I guess that was where I tripped big time. I’m sure there were little things leading up to it that I’ve forgotten about. But after my boasting He stopped answering my prayers. People started suffering more and dying all around me. In fact, two of the people I had believed were healed have since passed away. Of course, my faith wavered, the truths He taught me seemed confounded, the deadness within me grew and I felt unable to control it, but too distracted to care.

Until yesterday that would have been the end of the story. I had deep questions for God and had been praying for Him to help me “feel” again, but I didn’t think there was any unrecognized awesome thing He had done. But now He is showing me this and I’m really, really grateful that the Holy Spirit blocked me from trekking further down the dark road I was on… Proverbs 2:13 says wicked men “have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways”. He saved me from straying toward a life away from Him, where I would lead His sheep astray. He cares so much for His flock that He protected them from me. And me from me!

God showed me all this in the last hour. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to outsiders, but He has been preparing me, cultivating this revelation for a long time coming, yet I had no hint of what was going on. I never thought about my pride in that context, just felt like He had abandoned me. And since then I couldn’t really “feel” anymore. And I didn’t always mind. I was wrong. I was wrong to be prideful. Wrong to embrace the ensuing numbness. Wrong to refuse to face my feelings of abandonment. And in all those wrongs, there was One who was right. All along, God was right! How many times do we tell ourselves, “He has a reason for everything…maybe one day in heaven I’ll understand”, with no expectation of ever “getting” it? He reveals Himself to us on EARTH, if we just ask, and keep asking, and keep asking, then ask again! He did not abandon me, He protected me! He didn’t do it just as a discipline or a test, but for the good of His people. Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t let sick people die to teach me a lesson, He aligned the timing of all that would happen for the sake of all those touched by it. Every one of us is learning, struggling, being challenged, and growing, simultaneously. He put those people into my life and heart to pray for so I could experience the blessings and lessons from unanswered prayers. And He blessed countless others in praying for the exact same people with the lessons and experiences individualized for them.

THAT is our God. He will not ever leave us nor forsake us. He is closer than a brother. He knows your name and the hairs on your head. He loves you. He loves me. Not in a distant, bored, “dead-inside” type of way. He loves you with the raw and jagged emotion that is sensitive enough to want better for you. And to not overlook your sins and struggles because it would be easier in the short run. Hallelujah to Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lived the perfect life, suffered more than we can ever understand, and carried our burdens and shame. He dragged my pride along with the cross and I was forgiven for it at Calvary. Because after He rose from the grave He ascended into heaven where He intercedes for me. He was already punished for every one of my sins, and loves me anyway! He accepts me, even though it’s hard to accept myself these days. I am not worthy of His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, or His company. Even if I finally get it together and become closer to perfect, I will need a living sacrifice for when I fall short. Before Jesus came, the priests who atoned for the sins of the people walked back and forth all day, offering the sacrifices to the Lord, because the sins were endless. Jesus did it once, and nothing can be added or taken from that. All we can do is accept it. No matter how awful or great you are, you need a living sacrifice, and He is waiting for your prayer! The angels rejoice when a sinner turns to Him (Luke 15:10). If you aren’t sure that you’ve ever made those angels sing, do it now–ask Him to be your true Lord and to dwell within you. And ask Him to alert the angels!

Numbers 20:8-13 (referenced in second paragraph)

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4320K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4321L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>from before the Lord, as he commanded him. Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4322M" data-link="(M)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>“Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”,  And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4323N" data-link="(N)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4324O" data-link="(O)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>you did not believe in me, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4324P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”  <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4325Q" data-link="(Q)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”
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