Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Than I Can Handle...On Purpose

Yesterday I saw someone respond to a fb post about a current struggle a family is walking thru. I only know that this person recently lost their mother to pancreatic cancer. However, judging by the content of the post, it would allude to the idea there may be more added to that recently. 

The post was one that questioned God. Not uncommon in the least after experiencing the death of a loved one. Especially a parent. I've had many days that I question Him. And I think that's a healthy routine. If you never questioned God, I feel as though you might remain drinking the milk instead of digesting the meat of His truth. 

Questioning is not the same as doubting. When you question, you incur or wonder. When you doubt, you make a statement. A definitive decision to say, "God, I don't believe You."  And I've only recently discovered, in my questioning, that He ANSWERS me. I think He likes when we question Him. It's an opportunity for Him to pour out of Himself and into our lives. When we question, we are seeking. When we doubt, we are sinning. 

The response I was troubled by was an all-too common phrase I picked up myself along the way. "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." That used to sit well with me when I gave that one-liner out to people. It made me feel like I had the answer. However, when I was on the receiving end of that statement, I was superbly irritated. I'd think, "are you nuts!?! How can any human possibly handle the death of someone they loved??!? How??"

Heres the answer; they cannot. I can't, with clear conviction, say that God created us to handle...ANYTHING! We would have absolutely no use for Him. 
He would be reduced to a taxi cab, hailed by a desperate businessman in a suit late for a meeting.  Caught in a severe downpour. With only a newspaper covering his head. 

God...beckoned only when we're caught in a torrential downpour. 

If we humans could handle anything, it might be spreading peanut butter and jelly over a piece of bread. 

But certainly, we could not handle coming to terms with the realization that a loved one has died. If it were true that God doesn't give us more than we could handle, Jesus would've crawled off the cross on which He was crucified. Saving Himself from death. Even Jesus, while being fully God, was also fully man. Fully human. Like we are. Jesus relied on His Father for EVERYTHING! 
Jesus even talked to His Father about not dying the shameful death that He did! JESUS did!!!! Why? Because God gave Him more than He could handle. No human, under their own strength, could endure what Jesus did. 
Jesus didn't handle death. God handled it. Jesus, being fully human, had the choice to say, "Father, I choose not to do this." and He had that freedom. Just like we do. But Jesus chose to endure more than He could handle bc He knew Who was going to handle it for Him. His choice, no doubt, didn't come without pain. But He saw the bigger picture. 

Even Jesus needed a hero. It was His Father. Whom is also our Father. 

If we could handle pain, disappointment, depression, death...Jesus's death was in vain. We would be our own God, therefore negating a reason to have Him in the first place.

We need Him because we CANNOT handle everything that comes our way. We just can't! Saying that God doesn't give us more than we can handle dumbs Him down & implies that we are the ones that make it thru every last tragedy with great triumph. 

And that is absolutely untrue. Life isn't easy. It isn't fair. People die and we wonder how we're ever supposed to make it thru. How do we 'handle' that? We don't. Death never gets handled. It remains a milestone on a timeline. A permanent dent in your heart. A memory of a life once lived.  But it's also an opportunity to allow God to heal the void. And after He's handled it, His fingerprints will remain. 

I would confidently say, after much of my own experimenting, that the way God handles things is FAR better than the way I handle things. Oh my goodness! If I actually believed I could handle something without Him, I've completely extinguished one of the greatest characteristics of God; His faithfulness. Even in my unfaithfulness, HE REMAINS FAITHFUL!! Because that's who He is. 

There's no verse in the Bible that says God does nFot give us more than we can handle. It's a verse emphatically misquoted;
1 Corinthians 10:13; No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

I found the following description the best way to put into words my own personal thoughts; 

"When Paul writes that God will not tempt us beyond our ability, he means that we are never in a situation where we have no other choice but to sin. In a situation where telling the truth will damage your reputation, for example, it’s much easier to give in to the temptation to protect how people see you and lie, rather than do the right thing, which is tell the truth. That’s why there’s no such thing as a “white lie”—one that you tell to protect the feelings of someone else. We never lie to make someone else feel better, only to avoid discomfort ourselves. It’s just easier to lie and not deal with the consequences of telling the truth."

God continually (and does continue) gave biblical characters more than they could handle. Jeremiah was plotted against and beaten. Even his own family questioned what he was doing. And the apostle Paul...perhaps the greatest example of one that was always given more than he could handle. Why? So that he would become and remain absolutely dependent on God. He boasts about his weaknesses so that the faithfulness of God was ALWAYS exalted above his own ability to handle things on his own. 

Our dependency results in His faithfulness. He wins every time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Resisting A Rest

see what i did there?

it's been 2 months to the day since my last post.  i spent a greater portion of 3 months sharing heart-heavy details about the news of my dying grandma.  She's since passed. it's been the most grueling past 6 months of my life.  i dare say there is a pain so great as experiencing loss.  and now i've discovered the mate to this pain; it's struggling to come into the rest of God.  how does one 'strive' to 'gain' the rest of God? Striving and gaining are action words. you have to DO something.  You can't TRY and rest.  i think it just happens.  as you continue, please allow me the luxury of sharing my struggle.  as hard-headed as it sounds (and really is). 

I've been walking in a sesason of unrest. I've been battling, struggling, fighting, rebelling, wandering.  When i think of 'rest' what is the first thing i think of?  I first think, why. why can't i rest?  this is why.  I've never really entered into a season of rest. to me, it speaks of laziness. landing in a season of rest scares me because i have no idea of what it would look like.  And if I'm resting...nothing is going to get done! But when i peel back the final layer of my heart, i find why i really cannot rest.  It's because in my heart, i've decided God is not enough.  God can't do it, so I have to.  This is rebellion.  When you're in rebellion, there cannot ever be rest.  it's constant toiling.  and fighting.

Am I tired of fighting? Am I tired of being tired?  I'm way past tired. Exhausted. Weary. Am I tired of fighting? My physical body literally reflects the current state of my spiritual battle.  I cannot sleep, i cannot rest.  I cannot rest in Him becuase I do not trust Him.

I'm nearing the end of the battle though.  Coming to the close of the fight.  I've gone 11 rounds...and i'm certain i've lost every single one of them. And come hell or high water, i'll go the 12th and final round knowing it'll wipe me out, completely wreck me, absolutely overwhelm my defenses. Finally take me out. Indelibly incapacitate me and all my feelble attempts to fight God...and win????

In the end, He'll win my hard-fought surrender.  Because of my stubborness and my 'you know what's' to even have the audacity to set foot in a ring against the Almighty, Ive raised my sleeves, wiped the sweat from my brow, shrugged off my rebellion and backhanded my tears and said, "I'm gonna go one more round, God." And He's faithful even in the fight.  because He fights back with His relentless love for me. Kiling me with His lovingkindness, strong-arming my rebellion with His ever-abundant, constantly flowing grace. 
Which is free...but I think I need to earn it.

My angst, my unrest, my fight and my rebellion are my weapons.  But God's weapon of love and grace and peace will always pin my disgusting efforts to control my own life. I've not surrendered....but God will soon get His glory in my surrender. I can't even surrender without Him! I'm fighting the rest He has for me. I'm arguing His strength isn't as great as mine. I'm placing myself on the cross.  I never would've come back from the dead on the cross of Christ.  Because it's not my cross and I'm not the Savior.

Round 12 will be a battle.  It'll be hard-fought, with 2 wills charging one another and only one winner will emerge.  I'm foolish to even enter the last round, but as the bell is rung to signify the start of an inevitable knockout, God already has the victory.  In the end, i'll collapse into His arms. I'll ask for mercy and His grace to begin to heal the self-inflicted wounds.  And He'll do it. I know He will.  But i'll still fight Him.  Until the end. 

Until, finally, my rebellion is kissed away with forgiveness and I am left a dependent.  Severely wounded by my own hands of rebellion and distrust.  Silenced by the peace of His presence. Healed by the scars on His hands.  And finally and fully, surrendered into the rest of God.

Fighting doesn't come without a cost. And these are the steps that will ensue when God delivers the final punch;

 (my)  Surrender     requires  Repentance
 (my)  Repentance  brings     Forgiveness
 (His)  Forgiveness  fosters   Healing
 (His)  Healing         restores Trust

...and Trust is Rest.