Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Lord's Presence

Psalm 27:4

"One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple."

This awesome and familiar verse can be so frustrating, especially on this journey toward healing.  As you know, we have been wholeheartedly seeking the Lord for my healing for...well...5 years now.  We've really been believing him for miraculous healing for at least half that time.  And even though two point five years is nothing compared to the years Caleb waited to inherit the mountains, the years Abraham and Sarah waited to have Isaac, the years the world waited for Jesus, it's enough time to go through some wrestling with God. 

But at some point during the last few months, I stopped wrestling with Him.  And that's not good.  I came to a place of bitterness.  It was the kind that sneaks up on you and everyone around you.  You don't wear it on the surface, but it taints everything you do, think, feel.  It saps the joy and emotion from prayer and worship.  It causes you to live shallowly, getting by with half-true emotions because the REAL emotions are too ugly to let loose.

I got to the point where I didn't actually care about "dwelling in the house of the LORD" to simply "behold the beauty of the LORD."  Why would I want to dwell with a God who promises healing but doesn't deliver?  Why should I be so enraptured by Him when He subjects me to such physical pain?  (I don't believe that the Lord actually causes sickness, but these are the honest thoughts I can think when I am losing the mental battle that goes with being sick.)  "Let's face it people, I'm only sticking with God so that I can get my healing.  But until He delivers, I'm gonna be bitter."

I didn't know these thoughts were so strong in me until I had an unexpected flare-up about a month and a half ago...right before VBS started.  Nothing had changed treatment-wise, and yet, one day I woke up in more pain than I had felt in months.  All of a sudden, it looked like my VBS experience would be tainted or worse--stolen--by my sickness.  So I let God have it.  I thought things toward him that I would never have the courage to say out loud.  

A few weeks went by and I told people about my struggles, and several prayed for me.  But I hadn't really been healed of that emotional damage...probably because I hadn't truly repented of my sin. Then we had another prayer meeting at church, to pray for God's healing power to take hold in our church.  And as I sat there getting ready to prayer with those dear friends, I knew that I just couldn't.  If I had prayed for God's healing power to move in our church so that others could be made whole and His glory could be known, it would have been hogwash.  I didn't care about that, I was just sick of being sick.

Eventually as the group started worshipping and praying, one Scripture became so true to me: "the kindness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4).  It was as if suddenly I felt the weight of my sinful heart, and I actually FELT sorry.  I wasn't just forcing repentance.  I FELT it, and I suddenly knew again that NOTHING--not even healing from Lyme Disease--was sweeter than communion with the Holy God, who gave Himself to make a way for me to play at his feet in the Holy of Holies.  And I had been living as if He were an idol, formed by my own will to do my own bidding.

And suddenly, I wanted to be healed, but not more than I wanted to be with God.  I wanted His presence above all else, because everything is worthless--even healing--if God is not in it.  And I am so thankful that, in his kindness, he led me to repentance.  He has been healing the wounds in my spirit, and the wounds in my family, ever since  

I don't know why repentance came at that moment, or why it came when I wasn't even looking for it.  But isn't that like our God, who, when we were still sinners, died for us?  We weren't looking for him, and yet he snuck into our world in the night, only to forever change everything we had ever known.  This indeed is our God.

 Exodus 33:15-16

"If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.  For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people?  Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?"

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Matt... This is such a great description of how God's kindness leads us to repentance. It's refreshing and inspiring to share in your journey. Self-pity and dissatisfaction and bitterness are black holes that are trying to draw each of us into death. It's helpful for me in my own struggles to get a glimpse of how the Lord is keeping you from that emptiness and hopelessness. Keep it up! We're cheering you guys on...

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    1. Yeah, sometimes it's so easy to fall into those things. It's amazing how such lame emotions can seem so appealing and actually feel good in a weird way. Thank you for ALWAYS encouraging us!

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  2. Awesome post Matt. Thank you for sharing openly. You are not alone in those feelings but we fight...we MUST..."for the joy set before." You are truly an inspiration - you AND your beautiful wife.

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