In light of a heart that is struggling right now (see previous post) I was able to listen to a couple more great sermons this weekend. I am really thankful. Through these sermons I was able to process a lot of things I haven’t been able to recently.
Yesterday afternoon I listened to another Tim Keller sermon called “Praying Our Fears”. It was really good and ministered to me. In Psalm 3 David is being sought by an army and he prays to God. At first glance you may read “God, I know you won’t let bad things happen to me.” He is actually telling God that he is scared but that he knows God often takes him into danger.
It talked a lot about God shielding His children through the bad/hard circumstances in life. How the current pain is actually God’s protection. God letting hurt in today is because He is trying to save me from a greater hurt tomorrow. What you do have to consider is that the shielding and protection God provides only works going forward- in obedience. That no matter how bad things get God promises to shield His children. He won’t necessarily shield me from bad things rather He will shield me in the midst of them.
So now, even though my heart is slow to desire obedience to a few callings God has over my life right now, if i run away from this the shielding is of no help. I only have two options:
1- Obedience. And….this is hard, difficult and confusing. Yesterday I mentioned that I haven’t really ever faced a situation where obedience was hard. I think I was being dramatic and wrong:) It has been hard many times. Relationships ending, starting jobs, quitting jobs, staying at jobs, moving across the world, respecting authority when I didn’t want to….etc. etc. But because the Lord was faithful in the midst of those and I am on the other side it all seems as if those things were not hard because I am living in the reward of the obedience. So I find obedience hard right now. Even though I know obedience is the option I want to choose it comes with much grief and heartache because in this moment it feels hard.
2- Disobedience. Basically continuing to walk in disbelief of the truth I know and not fighting with faith and hope. This has never been my desire but as an exhausted human it is my default. God’s protection does not work here.
What I learned from David is that he tells God he is scared. I have been stuffing it and not processing my feelings.
Tim Keller read out of some book that talked about a girl that was in danger. Her grandmother gave her a ring with a string tied to it and whenever she was in trouble she could pull on it and it would guide her back to her grandmother. One night she felt unsafe so she followed her grandmother’s instructions. She gets excited because it immediately takes her out of her room! She then expected it to take her one direction but it took her the exact opposite way. She had to keep telling herself that she knew it would take her to her grandmother- to the place of safety. But, it continued to take her deeper and deeper towards what was most scary. At one point she felt abandoned. She wanted to go back because she was too scared but when she tried the string was not there…moving forward was the only option for her. The story goes on but you get the point.
That is where I am. In late 2011/early 2012 God laid very specific things on my heart for the upcoming year. I wrote about it here. Man…he is delivering!!! In ways I expected and ways I didn’t. Through suffering I am offered so much favor and blessing. I am receiving it ten fold but through suffering more than I expected. In the midst of the suffering I have been thinking about Ruth. She went through the death of her husband as well as the death of her father in law and I think brother in law. There was no one left to care for her and for that time in history it is as good as dead for a woman to be that vulnerable in society. She followed her mother in law to another city and she worked within the social welfare system to provide for her mother in law. During that time a man came into her life that had kindness towards her and favor over her as she worked on the land he owned. He allowed for her to be protected and shielded in the midst of difficult and dangerous circumstances for her day. One evening she approached this man to ask him to be her husband. To take her out of the vulnerable situation in society. I have no idea if there was romance in the midst of that. Honestly, I think it was probably logistics. Like, hey…sir…I need you in my life because if I don’t have a husband and I will be shunned in society, I will be left to die, my survival is not looking good. Can you just take me in and call me yours to alleviate some of those things. In the end Boaz did. He took her as his wife. It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus. As humans we are broken, shunned from God, apart from Jesus we will not survive and be left to die. When God sent Jesus he took care of all of those things and became our covering.
One of the most beautiful things about the story of Ruth and Boaz that rings through my head often right now is the night she approached Boaz. Many women use that as a “green light” to approach their crush. I have no comments on that right now:) But, what is happening there historically and in context is that Ruth approached Boaz on the threshing floor. The threshing floor was the place where the wheat was brought in from the fields. It was sifted through and the good was separated from the bad. There, she found her covering. That’s where I am. On the threshing floor. As God lead me to expect a season of favor and blessing through Isaiah 54 it talks about being stretched out and that was my prayer. That the Lord would stretch me and make me more like Christ. That He would take me to the threshing floor to sift the bad from the good and prepare me for mobilization and future callings I know are on my life. On the threshing floor is where I am prepared for the blessings of God. It is where I am made into the image of Christ and receive my covering. It is the place of obedience that you continue to walk forward. It is the string that takes you to scary places but you know that you know that you know it will take you to a good place. PRAISE HIS NAME.
I am encouraged to hear this scripture taught and that God would teach me and minister to me. At the end of the sermon Keller has an amazing insight to this and speaks on the connection of the Psalm to Genesis 15. Do yourself a favor and listen!!
I am thankful my heart is seeing these things. Obedience is really my only option as a daughter of God. The Lord is drawing me in. I am thankful He is patient, gentle and kind with me.