Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

How's that for a title? I have been talking to my husband about his recent post. You can read it here. I have heard him preach on this at Ember and I loved it then but something about his post rubbed me the wrong way. I felt for others who were reading it and not taking it the way he may have meant it, so I thought. I mean, he couldn't have really meant what he said...I MUST have been reading it wrong and he MUST CHANGE IT!

But, then we talked. I shared my heart. I basically told him how annoyed I was with his blog post that is going 'viral'...not really, but God is using it to really speak truth into peoples' lives...chalk that up for me being even more annoyed.

I knew, like every time I know, I would eventually hear his heart and he'd hear mine and we'd be a-okay. But until then, I am not one to just smile and nod at everything he says (but I will brag on him a bit and say God really does pour wisdom and understanding into this mans heart and he's gracious and it makes it easier to follow and trust him. So these kinds of 'tiffs' if you will, are fewer and farther between...praise, Jesus!). I have to understand it from my own heart and a lot of times this means playing the devil's advocate and fighting for, "Well what about those people! Or is it bad if I...." kind of thing. I want to know what he's saying and understand for my own self so I can apply it into my life and hopefully into others' as well!

He's a pretty smart guy and I describe him as a "fighter-of-the-truth" so I can ask these questions honestly knowing he isn't going to judge me and that his passion to expose who God really is and who Jesus really was as he walked this earth is at the core of what he writes about and the things he preached about at Ember and various other speaking engagements.

So in this particular case, I was annoyed that in his post, there didn't seem to be any redemption other than heaven. And so I immediately went to our epileptic son (who is doing particularly bad today) and said, "Why are you basically telling everyone to embrace our lives, find God there because they only thing we have to look forward to is heaven??! I thought we were in this together, believing for Zeke's healing and praying for a miracle here in THIS LIFE! What about praying for God's kingdom to come down NOW!"

If you read the post, which I strongly urge you do, his point isn't "if your life sucks, it will always suck" or "if you're in a trial or 'in the valley' you always will be so suck it up and find God."

But it's almost what he meant. For my heart, I needed to hear this: If you're in the valley, there isn't a promise that you'll get out of it. We are not promised success in ministry or financially or any other thing you can think of that you're striving for. You can pursue those things but not before you've found God where you are. Because when you've found Him and you get to know God on a deeper level, you'll see that success or fame or a popular ministry (or...not having those things) are just details. They are not what can truly bring you happiness or joy. God doesn't measure out his love for you because of these little details.

If you're in the valley, he isn't on top of the hill looking down and waiting for you to come up and be with Him. No. He's in the valley with you. You will not all of a sudden follow God more by being given success. It's harder when our lives our going well to remember our need for Him. We tend to get these, "I got this" ways of thinking in our heads and forget.

I also needed to hear (as I was advocating, so I thought, for those of you who are not necessarily suffering or in the valley) for those whose life maybe isn't going so bad. For those of you who have a healthy family, you are financially secure and you feel good may not need to be told to find God where you are, although that truth stays the same but maybe you need to hear, "Don't be afraid to loose it." Whatever 'it' is.

The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments:‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God!25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enterthe kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[b] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Because Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Andy and I were talking tonight and we've lost so much and yet, we're more content and have more peace than ever before. We truly feel God near. We feel comforted. We feel safe. We do not fear Zeke's death or how we'll pay the next bill. He is constantly taking care of us. Praise be to God!

In the life you've been given right now, that is where you need to find God. He's already there. Where he is NOT is in this ideal life you've drawn out for yourself in some futuristic time that doesn't even exist. Married with 2 kids, a successful business or ministry, a bigger/better home in a nicer neighborhood, more church attenders, a happier marriage. He hasn't promised you that life you've mustered up, HECK, we are NOT promised tomorrow!!!

Find him now. Find him here because we've been given one life to find Him. And when you find this eternal treasure, do not let go. We must not let go when the pressures of life let up and we are not so desperate anymore. Learn to find Him then, too.

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