Sunday Thoughts: Matthew 18:6-9

If you were to see us not in our Sunday best, but in our spiritual armor, in our TrueSelves, what would you see? A congregation of beauty? Coiffed and pampered? Polished plate, gleaming and shiny? Our swords sheathed and our guns holstered? Maybe clean, on parade soldiers, unsoiled and unspoiled by war?

No, my dear friend, no.

You would see a congregation of scarred, maimed amputees. You would see intense listeners, leaning forward in their seats. We fight our exhaustion. We push through distraction. Our swords are in our laps, blades bare, guns drawn and ready.

Row after row after row of bone-tired warriors with missing eyes, fingers, arms, and legs, gather together. We wear dented, miss-matched armor covered in blood and gore. We’re broken, weary to the point of tears, hungry, and never out of the fight.

Look deeper. Look at our gossamer souls. Do you see the holes? Do you see the daily deaths we die to ourselves for one another? Over there is a battle with sin not going so well. Up front is a disfigured saint still gnawed at by a particular temptation. Back there is a weeping soul who fell yet again into the same trap. They bend under the weight of the battles they have waged this week. They stop their ears to lies and unbelief.

Do you see the dreams sacrificed? Do you see the wants set aside? Do you see the here and now given up? The prayers prayed during the dark of the night? The trials, great and ordinary? The hatred of sin? The suffering endured? The pain of refining? The constant ruthless severity with which each saint turns blade and bullet on his own heart and flesh to rend and fight the corruption within?

This isn’t clean.   

This isn’t pretty.

This is war.

Battle.

Look at us on the path to heaven. We have sacrificed beauty and ease here for glory there. We are the scarred, amputated, broken, weary warriors. We are the ruthless.

We are the loved.

Quote of the Weekend

Speaking of New Covenant Worship and the People of Christ:

“Neither David nor Jesus have in view a privatized faith that ignores the assemblies of God’s people, the church. Whatever value private devotion has, and it certainly has great value and is a necessary part of Christian experience, both Palm 22 and Hebrews 2 place the spotlight on corporate worship.  Corporate worship, hearing the Word from faithful ministers and signing the praises of God, both in the context of the real presence of Christ, is at the center of Christian experience and necessary to a vital Christian life.” – New Covenant Worship by Donald R. Lindblad  found in By Common Confession.

Job’s Hope in My Infertility

Happy-Not-A-Mothers-Day-to-Every-Woman-Without-Children

A friend of mine recently shared on her blog her difficult journey through secondary infertility, how the Lord used that in her life along with lessons from the book of Job, and the happy conclusion to this specific trial.

I’m so thankful for RJ’s open honesty about her battles during this trial and the goodness of the Lord that she experience. Her testimony got my own wheels turning and, as us writers do, I decided to share my own thoughts on the hope found in Job as someone else struggling with infertility minus the happy earthly ending.

How do I process watching someone struggle, find a place of contentment, and then have their desires fulfilled, when I have had many of the same struggles, come to a similar place of contentment, but haven’t had my desires fulfilled?

Funny enough, I do the same thing that helped me find a place of contentment first. I go to the Scripture.

Here is Job enduring great suffering, enduring bad advice from his friends and his wife, coming face to face with God, realizing God is the creator and he is the creature, that God is in control and God is good, repenting in dust, and having all he lost restored above and beyond.

Is there hope for me there? Of course.

Two Kingdom theology is so helpful here. It teaches that Job was in the time of the Old Testament when promises and blessings were very earthly. I live in the age of the New Testament, the New Covenant, when the Kingdom is no longer a physical nation, but a heavenly nation. That means that my life, from birth to death, is the time of Job’s suffering. My restoration, my blessing, comes after death in the next life. My blessing is something of faith and not sight. I don’t look around for earthly physical blessings as something to be expected, though God is materially very kind to me and others. I look to the future and at the church by faith.

The Lord has seen fit not to give me children. At every point of moving into adopting, He has shut the door. Instead of despair, instead of heartache, instead of bitterness, I have hope.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3/ 33-35)

The church. The church is where I find familial comfort here on earth. The older believers are my mother and father, others are my brothers and sisters, and younger are sons and daughters. We may not be tied by blood, but we are tied stronger and more deeply by the baptismal waters of Christ.

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

(Galatians 4/26-27)

The story of Job teaches me that I can’t see all that God is doing in my suffering. It shows me how I’m to view others in their suffering, and how not to view them. It shows me the creature/creator difference so that I can have hope in God’s goodness and God’s glory. It teaches me to repent of the ways I don’t cling to and trust Him. It reminds me to be faithful in the midst of sufferings and trials. And last, oh hope of my heart, it shows that God will restore my fortune to me. He is worth waiting on. He’s worth suffering for. He has given me a hope, not in this life, not in this physical earth, but in heaven to come. And while here, he has given me pilgrims to walk beside me, young and old, as the truest parents, siblings, and children a woman could have.

So, while God chooses to bless one sister with an end to her infertility and chooses to leave another in that particular difficulty, He has not changed. He is still in control. He will use this to bless His church and glorify Himself. He is still Good!