Tuesday, June 3, 2008

as trusting as a whale

The cry of my heart tonight echoes in this song by Kathryn Scott:

Hungry I come to You
For I know You satisfy
I am empty but I know
Your love does not run dry
So I wait for You
So I wait for You

I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus You're all
This heart is living for

Broken I run to You
For Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know Your touch
Restores my life
So I wait for You
So I wait for You

I'm exhausted in every way possible. I feel like I can't keep going. When I went searching for the secret of keeping and maintaining faith tonight, I read about the bigwigs in the "Hall of Faith" (Hebrews 11).

While reading, I saw how dangerous it is to be a person of faith. BIG faith requires BIG RISK. Among other things, the people mentioned in that chapter risked public humiliation, wasted time, being laughed at, losing secure homes, the lives of loved ones, huge hassles, years in prison, false accusations, persecution, disappointment, and death.

But to risk all you have betting on God is THE sure win. Why don't more people do it? And why isn't it easier? I mean, people go skydiving and bungee jumping and car racing. Rock climbers place their faith in safety harnesses, and everyone who flies or drives places their faith in computers, machines, and crazy people on the road. I even know one person who would ride a bike on the berm of the highway if it was legal. Why do we risk so much on this earth when the payoff is small and uncertain at best? Why not fully place our lives in God's hands who promises to work all things for the good of those who love him?

The answer, I think, is the final 2 verses of Hebrews 11--
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39-40

We don't get all our rewards now. Faith pays off for those who wait on the Lord. It's the waiting "without" that's the problem for most of us. We need our rewards instantly, at least I do-- the thrill of the chase, the rush of adrenaline, the flush of endorphins, the goal in sight-- when we don't see that quick reward follow our faith, in fear we sometimes back away. In disappointment and anger, we blame God. "I was faithful!" "This is how you repay me?" "How long will you punish me?" Relationship with God is not an easy ride. It requires something from us in return: To love him and trust him as the perfect Father, even when we don't understand what he's doing.

I saw a clip on TV recently that involved a whale rescue of some sort. People were in the water for hours trying to untangle and free a small whale that had come in too close to the harbor. With many failed attempts and the whale showing signs of distress, the rescuers were left with no choice but to lift the whale out of the water and transport him to safety in the back of a pickup truck. Of course, as an objective human, I relaxed because it was easy for me to see the whale was going to be just fine once he got into open water; however, my view of the situation changed when one of the rescuers turned to the camera and said something like,

"I wish we could somehow communicate to it that everything is going to be ok while it's on this truck. It must be pretty scared not knowing what we're doing."

When I heard this, I immediately thought of how the whale couldn't see man's plan to help, and was afraid-- just like we often can't see God's plan to help us, and feel he's somehow stopped caring. The truth is: God is on a massive saving effort for mankind. We're groaning under the stress of being caught in a net of sin, and we can't free ourselves from the ugly consequences of this sin-infested planet. Disease eats at our bodies. Depression, worry, and stress eat at our joy. We look around, unable to comprehend that we are being offered a way out, but that it will take time, and it will get scary before it gets better.

We're lifted out of our familiar waters when we begin to follow Christ in his suffering, but instead of feeling safer, it can most surely feel like he's hauling us away on a flatbed truck to our demise. What could this rescuer be thinking!? All our senses say he is not the loving helper. He tells us with words that can only be interpreted through the Spirit of God that the future holds safety and freedom that we can't imagine. The way is hard, and though we don't fully understand the twists and turns of this rescue effort, we can trust Him. He'll sit in the back of the truck with us on our long ride to open waters and whisper to us as he scoops water over our hot skin. He will gently lift us up once more, and this time, we won't ever be caught in the traps of sin, disease, or death. We will swim free with him forever.

Hear his whispers of hope in these verses:

2 Corinthians 4:16
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Romans 8:18-19
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."

Isaiah 64:4
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

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