In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:18-22, ESV
I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried…
God is truly amazing. Powerful. Purposeful. Merciful. Obsessed with the small things that mean so much to us. Glorious.
This is how today’s sermon at FBC began:
I will return again to my place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
and in their distress earnestly seek me.
Hosea 5:15, ESV
Speak much to my blog post yesterday and His revelation to me? You bet. 110%. The whole sermon could have been copied and pasted from yesterday’s post. I was floored. Don’t believe me and His awesome ways?… Read my post and listen to the podcast for yourself. And be amazed.
What sweet assurance from my Father.
I heard Him. I understood what He was trying to tell me. His voice whispered through the stillness to speak truth to me.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. Amos 8:11-12, ESV
Have you read the book of Amos? I haven’t. Maybe once, but I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the OT book from memory. I know that it was written by the prophet Amos, and I’m guessing it declares the LORD’s justice on a wayward Israel…but that’s my best guess. I ask because I was led to those unfamiliar pages today, and I was floored by the revelation He gave to me through those verses…
I have been ‘stuck’ in an interesting place. For the first time in a long time, I have felt an eerie silence in my soul. When the week comes to an end and all items are crossed off of the ‘to-do’ list, I find myself sitting in a silence that is too quiet and despairing. It is when my thoughts, and my actions, and my priorities have ceased that I realize that I don’t hear my Father’s voice. The place where His presence would fill my soul with exuberant warmth now feels empty and quiet. What a terribly horrible feeling. I think I have been attributing the ‘distance’ to a lack of quiet time in scripture, time for uninhibited prayer, and a down-right feeling of tiredness that keeps me from seeking His face wholeheartedly. I have been overwhelmed by doing the things of God for Him, but I have misplaced my priorities and dejected He Himself. I have mislaid my intimate relationship with Him somewhere along the way.
I feel like a grape that was once deep in the heart of the vine, but I have somehow slowly crept to the outermost edges. I miss my place close to the Father’s heart.
This gnawing feeling from the Spirit has pushed me back into the scriptures–as all good reproof from the Father does. Yet something has still been missing… His voice is still so quiet. So, so quiet. Why?…
I think He told me why today.
There are a few notable areas in my life where I have been a wayward Israel. I have heard His voice speak–LOUD and clear, time and time again–and yet I still do not obey His commands. I have heard His opinions on the topics, and I have chosen to ignore them. I have chosen to follow my own thoughts, beliefs, reasons, and actions. I have removed Him from the thrown of authority and chosen myself to be my very own god. How stupid of a thing to do. After years (yes, years) of rejecting His voice in these areas, I think He has chosen to step back and let me live as my own god. If I choose to continually reject His voice, perhaps He will eventually stop begging my heart to comply. (Not quite to the same extent of Romans 1:18-32, but eerily similar.)
Losing the Spirit of God is one of my largest fears. Although, I know that I cannot lose Him. I am His, and He is mine. Eternally. Although I cannot lose His presence, I am now receiving one HUGE revelation that I can wound His heart and reject His presence to the point of creating an expansive distance between my heart and His voice. This relationship of ours is a thriving, living, active thing. I can wound it by selfishly neglecting it. Think of it from the Father’s point of view… How much does the Father need to say or do to convince us that His voice speaks truth that should be followed? I need to be obedient to the only One who is worthy of wholehearted devotion. Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby describe it like this in Experiencing God:
“I encourage you to review on a regular basis what you sense God has been saying to you. If God speaks and you hear but do not respond, a time could come when you will not hear His voice…If you hear the Word of God and do not apply it to produce fruit in your life, your disobedience will cost you. Make up your mind now that when the Spirit of God speaks, you are going to do what He says.”
I am being neither faithful nor righteous. I am not seeking His face. I am not rejoicing in the infallible hope of His promises that He has sworn to me, patient in my temporal afflictions, or constant in prayerful communication with Him. I have accepted a spirit of resignation. I have dropped my armor. I have forgone the truths of God for lies. I am slowly being pushed/pushing myself further and further to the outskirts of the vine. What a terribly beautiful revelation.
Praise be to God for saving us from ourselves. Praise be to God for revealing our downfalls to lead us to repentance. Praise be to God for being the greatest Fighter for Love that I’ve ever known. Praise be to God for being Abba… the Father misses each and every one of His wayward children and perfectly works to bring them home to right relation with Him, who disciplines them for their own good and His glory, who loyally withstands their disobedience by way of His long-suffering love… Praise be to my God, the LORD, who loves like that. My wandering heart wouldn’t survive the fiery trials of this life with a god any less loyal or loving.
thank You for speaking through the silence to whisper truth to my hard heart. May your voice continue to grow inside of me again as I demonstrate renewed obedience to your Word.
As always, I pray that the transparency of my wrestling matches with the Lord are beneficial to those of you reading this post. Who knows whose eyes will find this text out on the big ole world wide web. Whomever you are, please know that you’re not wrestling alone. Most of all, let these posts bring glory to You. You are worthy… oh so worthy.
I didn’t write a single post in the month of April.
I think my absence on here is a good reflection of the busyness that has overwhelmed my life as of late. Despite the recent craziness, I feel a though things have finally begun to settle down… I seem to have a ‘schedule’ that is free of those unpredictable popups and mishaps that come with big life transitions. Free time finally exists! I’m in dire need of some Jesus Time to dig deep, pray, reflect and write. I can feel it in my heart, and I can see the effects of its absence in my life. To be honest, I’ve missed a lot of things since my move to TN. Moving away from all that you’ve ever known will certainly do that to a young lady. But, I’ve missed Him amidst the whirlwind the most. I’ve been busy with the things of God, but I’ve somehow unknowingly distanced myself from the person of God. Not a great feeling…
I’m ready to fall down at your feet again, Abba.
Spring has sprung, and I witness the blooming of new life each day as I lead Gracie on our afternoon walks. I think I enjoy those peaceful walks as much as she does, lol. There is something new and exciting budding in each flowerbed and patch on any given day. Life is changing and growing. Just like me. So, here’s a whooping “Cheers!” to a new stage of life with lots of blooming to be had of my own. May God be gracious and ever present!
One week in TN is over. One day of work is complete. One church has been found. One mild heart attack has occurred, yet one Wellspring of Hope has been reaffirmed within me. One puppy is happy in her new home. One life yet to be lived anew with purpose for my One and Only. Please take one moment to pray for me… 2 Timothy 1:7.
Have you ever taken the time to read the book of Hosea? You should. The bold and jarring words of the OT prophet are striking. It may just be the current state of my own heart that was impacted by the book this morning, or it may simply be the nature of the text itself.
God uses Hosea to vividly describe the wondering heart of His bride, and He also offers an incredible glimpse into His own loving heart. Warning: Hosea uses variants of the word “whore” quite a bit throughout the text. A bold word, for sure, but so incredibly accurate to describe Ephraim, Judah and Israel at that time. He paints an authentic and detailed picture of the the early church’s wandering heart and dishonorable actions of faithlessness. Once again, the bride has wondered away from her loving Groom. And the Groom is hurt. He is full of justified anger and wrath, and He is also full of relentless lovingkindness. God states His fair share of ‘fire-and-brimstone’ verbiage, but He also offers small snippets of sincere emotions that give the reader insight into the state of His heart. I couldn’t help but become teary-eyed when I read these sections of verse. Here is a Father who is left with holes in His own heart where the intimate relationships with His beloved sons and daughters should reside… a Groom that is overwhelmed by His wayward bride’s continual acts of disobedience… a Shepard who longs to be reunited with His defiant flock. His heart was torn and aching, and it breaks your heart to read of it.
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
(Hosea 11:1-4 ESV)
My people are bent on turning away from me…
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
They shall go after the LORD;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west…
(Hosea 11:7-10 ESV)
But I am the LORD your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.
So I am to them like a lion;
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open.
He destroys you, O Israel,
for you are against me, against your helper.
(Hosea 13:4-9 ESV)
Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take with you words
and return to the LORD;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.
(Hosea 14:1-8 ESV)
Let us all run back to the open arms of the Groom. In case you need it, a little word of encouragement from Him:
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
(Hosea 14:9 ESV)
Years of schooling and months of preparation have led me to this moment… NBCOT boards are tomorrow morning. 09:00. 5 hours of brain-wracking testing. 1 strong cup of coffee.
Times like these bring me back to the truthful gems of verse that I have found in scripture over the years. Those truths and His Spirit within me have soothed my fears and calmed my anxious thoughts time and time (and time) again. What would I do without Him? Once again, I’m clinging to those mighty words of His for dear life. They truly are health to my bones, strength to my soul, and peace to my heart.
As always, Abba… not my will, but Thine alone.