Clear As Mud!

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There are Christians who say, “God told me,” as casually as I might say, “I saw that on the news.”  My own faith walk includes much more uncertainty. Sometimes what God is up to is as clear as mud, to be honest.  I am not talking about the ordinary things that can go wrong, and do. Computers that don’t work, cars that break down, traffic that backs up … this stuff happens.

The things that leave me wondering are those life-altering things that hurt so badly for which no cause can be determined.  When I do my best and find no apparent results, I wonder why. When people break our hearts and become unyielding opponents, the pain is awful. When our hopes and dreams crash to the ground in spite of our prayers, faith is tested. Genesis tells a story and I understand the words but what I find revealed there about God’s willingness to try us makes me shudder!

After waiting a lifetime for his dear son, Abraham wakes up to this one morning. “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:1-2, NIV)

The details are spare, but Abraham was a real man and there is no doubt in my mind that the 2 day journey had to be the longest walk in his life!  Was he screaming inside, “Who are You, Lord? What kind of God demands this? How can you can one day and take the next?”  By the way, Jesus, the Perfect Man, felt that kind of conflict, too.  His anguish before the cross was profound, deep, and breaking!

Reflecting on the account of Genesis, I learn several things that can help us when the reasons for what is happening to us in the will of the Father are elusive.

God expects obedience.  The Bible says, “The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac. Then he chopped wood to build a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place where God had told him to go.” (Genesis 22:3, NLT)   There was no stalling, no negotiation. Abraham moved towards obedience. Will we?

Abraham clung to hope.  Though he had no idea how this terrible drama was going to work out,“He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5, NIV)  Hebrews (in the NT) tells us that he reckoned that God could bring the boy back from the dead! Sometimes hope is just a flickering candle on the horizon; sometimes it blazes like the dawning sun. But, we have hope in Christ. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:38-40, The Message)

Ultimately our faith rests, not on an answer that works for us, but on radical faith in the person of God. “Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.   “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:7)

When we feel abandoned by God, when His purpose are as clear as mud, we must lean hard on Him.   Even Jesus, could not discern the Presence of His Father and He screamed that faith-filled phrase that claims relationship even as it confesses feelings of loss!  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Paul, near the end of his life, wrote this affirmation of faith to Timothy.  “If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13, NLT)    Abraham trusted in the faithfulness of God and in this most intense trial, at just the critical moment, God revealed Himself as “Yahweh Yireh, the Lord, my Provider.”     Remember the story?   Just as Abraham was about to take his son’s life, he looked up and saw a ram caught in the bushes, a substitute sacrifice provided by God, Himself.

Are the purposes of God as clear as mud for you today? Lean on Him! Grow quiet and pray for obedience in the present, for strength to go steady on.

Repeat the eternal truth with the Psalmist who sang,
“Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop your anger! Turn from your rage!
Do not envy others— it only leads to harm.

For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”  (Psalm 37:7-9, NLT)  Amen.

___________

King Of My Heart
(let Him love you as you listen and worship)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my song

 You are good good oh
You are good good oh
You are good good oh
You are good good oh

 Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my song

 You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on
When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on

John Mark McMillan | Sarah McMillan © Meaux Jeaux Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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