Really, Lord? Roots and all ~ even what I cannot see?
Characters live to be noticed. People with character notice how they live. – unknown
This past weekend was our clean it out, move it around, rearrange it, find the hidden surfaces, make room for something different, let’s get ready for winter weekend. I do this every once in a while; I get to a place where I just can’t stand the clutter any longer and I NEED to find flat surfaces underneath all the stuff and dust and boys just moving it all around from place to place but never really dealing with it.
While raising the kids on my own and going back to school, there have been a number of lean years – we’re talking the, “Okay, Lord, I have no idea how the provision is going to come or where it will come from, but I am banking on the truth that YOU have promised to provide ALL our needs in Your way, Your time, according to Your plan. Sometimes that provision has taught me a great deal of humility, to remember that life is not always about the best or the flashiest. Furniture has definitely fallen into that category. Oh, to have something to sit on that is not literally falling apart! Oh yeah, maybe the old rickety furniture has something to do with four boys by birth and an almost uncountable number of chosen sons ~ ya think?
Anyway, I’m a visual person. I need to SEE things in order to really “get it” and live by it. Early on in my single parenting, I was struggling with how we would ever survive. For me, moving away from Lynden and back to Georgia was just simply not an option. I needed the sense of safety and my own well-being that the distance provided. Those of you who really know me, know what an act of God that took ~ any hint that I was better off NOT near home, was a real shocker and took some getting used to. But the financial and physical ramifications of the idea of moving my entire household on my own were also a big part of that realization of my need to just stay put.
While trying to figure out just what was happening and if there could possibly be any chance of reconciliation, there were no funds coming in. The kids and I were living on limited savings and the generosity of our relatively new church family and friends here in the area. As I watched the bank balance dwindle further and further, the temptation to fear and uncertainty began to raise its ugly head. How would I be able to survive on the street with six young children? How would I feed them and give them a sense of security and provide covering and protection from the elements?
There was a time when I began to doubt we would be able to make it. How could I possibly keep making the mortgage payments and the utilities and buy groceries and gas and everything else? I thought we would surely lose the house and then what? As I was literally “crying out” to God and laying before Him my concerns and fears, He graciously gave me one of those “pictures” I needed to be able to walk in hope and faith.
Depending on what personality profile test you use, I am an otter and a dolphin straight from the heart of FUN country! So even Yahweh knows the quickest way to reach my heart ~ through humor ;-). With that little bit of information, on to the picture He gave me. As I was saying, I was crying out to Him, feeling more than just a little fear and uncertainty and possibly just a bit abandoned by Him in my situation, and I was letting Him know just how I felt (trust me, I could never be a good poker player, I don’t hide well).
As I was in this somewhat one-sided conversation with Yahweh, He interrupted me and caused me to stop in my tracks and start rolling on the floor with a great big belly laugh! All of a sudden I could just see Him – silver hair, beard, long flowing robes – pacing back and forth along the golden streets of Heaven with a look of consternation on His face, suddenly stopping, grabbing a handful of that silver hair on each side of His head, His eyes growing positively huge, and crying out, “Oh, no! Lauree! I’ve forgotten all about Lauree! Now what am I going to do?” Now, if that picture doesn’t make you laugh hysterically, there is something seriously wrong with you. There is nothing but pure, “poor me syndrome” popping humor there! Every bit of it.
So, I did what I had to do. I laughed right along with Him at the preposterousness of such a vision. And the lesson hit home. My Father, my Papi, has not ever, has not now, and will not ever forget about me or any one of His children! He is in perfect control of every situation. Even the ones the enemy means for evil and harm, Yahweh is already at work to bring about His good, His plan, and His purpose for each and every one of us who follow Him.
Now, does that mean that I never return to moments of doubt and uncertainty when I am faced with what looks like an unsolvable problem or an overwhelming situation? No. But now, I do have that visual in my mind and heart, and it comes back quickly and frequently whenever I need it. And through that picture, He is weeding out the doubt, throwing out the uncertainty, and culling out the sin that could so easily sidetrack and derail my journey of faith. Many is the time when I have gone to Him well aware of my failures and my sin and my shortcomings ~ my lack of faith. How, O Lord, does all this junk ever get cleaned out, weeded out, sorted out – completely OUT of my life?
In Matthew 13 we are given a series of parables having to do with seeds and weeds and fish and harvesting and sorting it all out as Jesus spoke to the multitudes. He really wants us to get this. In every one of those parables, it is not the job of the seed, or the plant, or the fish, or the soil, or the workers to get the “junk” out of the “fruit”. It is always presented as God’s job. We are to look to Him, to trust Him, to know that in the end, it is always about His grace and mercy and the COMPLETED work of the death of His Son on the cross. HE and HE ALONE provides our righteousness. HE and HE ALONE is the light that overcomes the darkness. In HIM and HIM ALONE is found truth and forgiveness and the complete cleansing of all that is not of Him.
Again, He gave me a visual that brought that home in a fresh new way. I love to be in the garden. And I love the beauty of a freshly weeded patch of flowers – vibrant colors contrasted against the deep browns of the freshly turned soil. No unsightly weeds to distract the vision. But my garden and my yard and the fields are all full of dandelions. Ever pulled up dandelions? They have the most massive root system – the main taproot grows deep and all the secondary roots and the tertiary roots and all the little rootlets spur off and continue to invade the whole area around the taproot – forever and ever, it seems. It can be very discouraging.
Sin, bad habits, corrupted self-talk, discouragement – all these and more make up the root system of our old nature. Yes, once we come to Jesus and accept the payment He provided for the forgiveness of our sin and the restoration of our relationship with the Father, we are at once cleansed – He pulls up the dandelion by the root and we are fresh and clean – and weedless in His eyes. But what about in my own eyes, and in the eyes of the world and my family and friends and fellow human beings?
He says, leave it alone. He doesn’t encourage us to continue in our sin, in fact He tells us to sin no more. But He does tell us that the complete and total cleansing is HIS work. He will sort it out. It is our job to confess what we do know and to walk in the light, HIS light, our focus on Him alone. He does the purifying. In God’s eyes, it was done once and for all on Calvary. In our experience here on earth, it is done over the entirety of our lifetime as His cleansing touch reaches down to the very depths of our souls and begins to pull out all the remaining secondary, tertiary, and little rootlets that trail and weave through our history and our choices and our pain and our joys and our memories and heart.
John puts it this way:
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:5-9 (NIV)
Do you get that last statement? HE will forgive our sins. And HE will purify us from all unrighteousness – everything that is not of God in our lives. He takes care of the main taproot. And He takes care of all the secondary roots with their little veins and tentacles. ALL of it!
Keep the main thing, the main thing. Focus on Jesus and let Him deal with the rest of it! Not only He is able, He is absolutely faithful. And, He is not pacing the streets of Heaven in a panic because He forgot all about you and is now in a quandary of how to get you out of trouble. HE IS IN CONTROL AND PERFECTLY TRUSTWORTHY, even if you can’t see the truth of that right now.
So, what do you choose? Jesus or ….