When God Doesn’t Make Sense


This post was originally published in 2012.  However, since our Lenten service last night focused on Abraham sacrificing his son and the corresponding sacrificial Lamb of God in the New Testament, I thought it was appropriate to post it again…

Blessings to you this Lenten season,
Lori Lynn

After all this, God tested Abraham.  God said, “Abraham!”

“Yes?” answered Abraham.  “I’m listening.”

He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”  –Genesis 22:1-2 (The Message)

Don’t you wonder sometimes what went through Abraham’s mind from the moment he first heard God make this command until the time he followed through in obedience?  We read it and think, “Abraham knew God.  He was a giant of the faith.  He didn’t struggle.  He just did what God told him to do.”  But as I ponder this passage and think of the incredibly difficult decision I am faced with in my life right now, I can’t help but wonder, “What really happened in that white space between the end of verse 2 and the beginning of verse 3?”  It’s the instructions written in invisible ink in that white space I could use right about now.  The ones that tell me how to get from  point A (listening) to point B (obedience).

I have found over the past few years (more than a few actually), that I have become quite adept at second guessing what I think God may be telling me.  I can believe I hear very clearly God telling me one thing; but over the course of a few days, I have completely tied myself in knots wondering if I heard right.  And then begins the tug of war… “Did God really tell me that, or is that the devil trying to trip me up?  I am certain God told me that, but it just doesn’t make any sense.  I could see how God could use that (and work good from it), but it doesn’t seem like it goes according to what I know from His Word.  No, that CAN’T be God.”  Then I find myself right back at the starting point, continuing to stay stuck in a rut of indecision, paralyzed by insecurity and doubt.

Isn’t it interesting how God gave Abraham three days to think about things after he decided to obey God.  Three long days to travel to Moriah.  Three excruciating days to torment himself with thoughts of what God was telling him to do.  Unlike Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus and began to quickly sink amidst the crashing waves on the Sea of Galilee, Abraham continued steadfast on the path God was calling him to follow.  He did not waiver in his obedience.  He remained calm amidst the storm of his emotions.  He kept his [spiritual] eyes on God and kept his [spiritual] ears tuned to the radio frequency of God’s voice.  If we did the same, how much different would our lives be?

I often think of the analogy of the clenched fist.  If we are desperately holding onto something we can’t bear to part with, how can we expect God to bless us with anything?  Our hand will be too tightly clenched to receive the blessing.  In order to receive something, we have to let go… either by holding out our hands, open, with palms up, or by reaching out with an open hand to grasp onto the hand of God and go with Him to the place He can’t wait to show us.  Then, and only then, can God give us something that we may find is a much greater joy than we could ever have imagined.

I’m going to challenge you in something.  Over the next month, pay close attention to what God is telling you.  Listen to the message He puts deep within your heart.  Pray about it, asking God to reveal His truth regarding the particulars of whatever it is He is telling you.  Now here’s the kicker… FOLLOW THROUGH on what He is telling you.  I’d love to hear how He has blessed you through your obedience.

Walking in faith,

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD… just as You blessed Abraham through his acts of obedience, we pray that You would bless us.  May we be willing to unclench our fists and let go of those things that are hindering us from receiving the best that You want to give us.  Through this letting-go process, we pray that You would use our obedience to bless others as well; and through it all, may You be glorified.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

Life Lesson #3: Do the Right Thing


The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

–1 Kings 19:11-12

One week ago, God pierced my heart with a gentle command that made me cry out with a loud, “No!”

I realize that sounds like an oxymoron… piercing with a gentle command… but that’s how it was.  God nudged me quietly, but it struck me to the core.  I thought to myself,”If I do what  God is asking me to do, I won’t be able to go to grad school.  I don’t want to give up grad school.  I’ve worked too hard for this!”  So I prayed, “God, if this is something You really want me to do, please don’t let me talk myself out of it, and don’t let others talk me out of it either.”  You see, I’m really good at bouncing things off of other people.  I think I am hoping they will either talk me out of something or tell me what to do.  I never seem to trust my gut instinct; but I’m learning that when I don’t, I wind up making poor choices.

Sure enough, within a few days, I had a number of people tell me not to follow through on what I thought I was supposed to do.  Pretty soon, I had just about talked myself out of it, too.    A few people suggested that perhaps I could partially follow through; but when I contemplated that, God always laid the passage about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) before me.  It didn’t take me long to know that partially following through wasn’t an option.

In the meantime, God continued to nudge me.  I opened up my Matthew Henry’s Commentary and studied the passage I had been reading when God commanded me the first time.  The more I read, the more He continued to nudge me that what He had originally commanded me to do was still what He wanted me to do.  Yesterday at church, the passage I was struggling with was one of the readings of the day.  I’ve walked with God long enough to know that when Bible passages show up more than once within a short period of time, it is something I am supposed to notice.  So today I followed through.  I know that if I did what God truly was asking me to do, He will bless it in some way.

On one hand, I am happy that I did follow through; because I know I am right with God.  On the other hand, I can’t say it makes my heart more tender towards other people who are involved and who will benefit from what I did.  I didn’t do it for them; I did it because I wanted more than anything to obey God.

Can you relate at all?  Do you have a nagging sensation in your heart that just won’t go away.  Do you “know that you know” that God wants you to do a particular thing, but you keep dragging your feet?  What’s holding you back?  What would it take to step out in faith and do whatever it is God is telling you to do?  Are you like me?  Do you go back and forth wondering if you’re hearing correctly?  Do you bounce it off of so many other people first that you get talked out of following through with whatever it is you’re supposed to do?

If you do, there are a few things that will help you learn to hear God’s voice and pay attention to it:

  • Get alone with God where it is quiet.  You won’t hear him in a room full of noise.
  • Pray–Ask God for guidance.  Be specific.  Say, “God, I believe You are telling me this.  If that’s true, please show me how to follow through on it.”
  • Be patient–God oftentimes won’t show you the whole path up front.  He will light your way one step at a time.  If you want to know the next step, you’ve got to follow through on the step you’re on currently.
  • Pay attention to what your heart or your gut is telling you.  We can’t always rely on our feelings (as they oftentimes lead us astray), but God will speak through His Spirit within us if we just take the time to listen.
God doesn’t want us consulting with a bunch of other people to follow through on what He is saying to us.  He wants us to listen to Him alone.  He wants us to seek Him and question Him about our doubts and fears.  He wants us to spend time in His Word and down on our knees in prayer.  He wants us to get to know Him on a more intimate level.  Other people always have the potential to let us down or lead us astray.  God will do neither.  He loves us, and He wants what is best for us.  The only way we will come to understand what that is is to come to understand Him better.
 
Seeking to know Him more…
 
Lori Lynn
 
Father… teach me how to tune out the distractions and noise of this present world and heed Your gentle whisper.  Help me to trust Your voice more than the voices of other people in my life who have the potential to lead me astray.  Keep me focused on Your Word that I might know You better.  I want to do the right thing.  I want to be right with You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

 

What Happened


Well, if you read my last post, you probably think I am happily ensconced in Massachusetts continuing to thrive in my obedience to the LORD.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened…

 

 Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?

Matthew 14:30:31 (MSG)

 

In June 2009, I helped my husband move out to Massachusetts.  The plan was that the kids and I would join him at the end of the summer, after our house sold.   I had my eyes on Jesus.  I was walking on water.

Problem #1

The house didn’t sell.

It was the summer the housing market turned sour.  Prices plummeted.  Houses for sale were a dime a dozen, and it was a buyer’s market.  Our house had been on the market since February.  People who viewed our home loved it, but there was always one little thing they didn’t like… the neighbor could see into the kitchen, the blinds didn’t keep out enough light, the yard was too small…

By the time school started and our house still hadn’t sold, I was in a different place emotionally.  There were many outside factors contributing to this, but suffice it to say that I no longer had my eyes on Jesus.  I was looking at the waves crashing around me, and I was beginning to sink.  I knew in my heart that I could not move.  Massachusetts represented so many negative things to me.  It wasn’t that Massachusetts itself was bad (I actually have some lovely memories associated with Massachusetts); it’s that the life I had there as a young mother with three small special-needs children, no family nearby, and a husband who worked all the time was anything but rewarding.  I was so overwhelmed, and I felt so alone.  The idea of going back there was traumatic.

Problem #2

I spiraled into depression.

My depression turned out to be a blessing.  It forced me to seek outpatient treatment at a Meier Clinic.  Those three weeks of treatment were life changing.  The first thing I learned was that EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING.  I was not alone.  I was able to acknowledge a pattern of victim thinking which, in turn, opened my eyes to how the Enemy likes to play with our minds by feeding us lies.  It reinforced in my mind that we do indeed have choices in life.  We can choose to let our circumstances control us (passively sitting back and thinking there is absolutely nothing we can do about them), or we can choose to control our circumstances by changing our perspective on them.  I kind of liken it to a person who is severely myopic putting on their glasses and getting a fresh view.  Without their glasses, everything is very distorted; nothing makes sense.  When they put their glasses on, objects become clearer; and it is easier to focus on reality.

I’m still not excited about moving back to a place that holds so many difficult memories; but when I came back from the Meier Clinic (with my glasses on), I started to view things differently.  I no longer felt like I had to let life happen TO me.  I told my husband on one of his visits home that I did not want to put our house on the market that next spring.  I simply was not yet at a place (emotionally) where I could move, and I wanted my son to finish out his 8th-grade year at the parochial school he attended.  I then applied to graduate school in Boston.  I figured if I had to move out there, I needed something to give me a sense of purpose.  I was blessed enough to get accepted into the program, and I was doubly blessed that the college granted me a deferral until next fall allowing me time to get our house back on the market and, hopefully, sold.

I wonder, at times, if my acceptance into grad school isn’t part of the reason God is moving us back to Massachusetts.  I had just been accepted into the program the year before my husband and I got married but had to quit after we got married due to lack of finances.  I see it as God giving me a second chance to finish something I should have finished a long time ago.  I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill that will allow me to make a difference on God’s Kingdom Calendar.  He gave me a voice so I could speak, not shrivel up into a corner like a wilted flower and die.  Through His watering of grace and mercy, I am slowly coming back to life.  With His tender loving care, I am hoping to bloom wherever I am planted.

Can you relate?  Have you started out in obedience to the LORD only to find you’ve been blindsided in some way?  Did you fall into victim thinking or fall into the arms of Jesus?

Lori Lynn

Help me keep my eyes on You, Jesus.  When life gets too rough, reach out Your hand and grab me until I regain my strength in You.  Water me daily with Your Word, tend my wounded soul, and replant me where I can glorify You.  Amen.