Wednesday, May 30, 2012
When God Presses
God can out-wait anybody. He is the King of Wait. But when He wants us to hurry up and "get it" He presses us and allows us to feel the discomfort of our own sin. He has a set schedule to keep, of course, and we must be prepared and ready for the blessing - because, my friend - there is an appointed day for His visitation. Imagine, if you will, that you and your sibling are both in your room and Dad comes in to check on you before bed. He pops his head in the door and lo and behold, Dad catches one child doing something that requires discipline and the other being obedient, chillin' and just minding his own business. Who is going to get the reward and which child is going to receive correction with no reward? This is kind of a picture of what happens when the day of God's visitation rolls around. You never know exactly when Dad is going to pop His head in the door and check on you, but you need to be ready at all times.
Look for signs. The Lord doesn't want to catch us off guard. Remember when your dad would call out, "I'm coming to check on you in five minutes!" Well, our Father so wants to bless us, He gives us little clues that He is on His way! "And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes will see your teachers, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.' (Is. 30: 20,21)
"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." (Is. 59:1,2)
Many people have been in a dry place, a time of darkness, confusion and frustration. They have not necessarily understood why, but sometimes the length of duration can cause bitterness. Hope deferred makes a heart sick, the scripture says, and a sick heart - an offended heart - always looks for someone to blame. An offended heart turns into an accuser, and the spirit of accusation will accuse God, too. An offended heart is critical of others. It is one of the most destructive forces that spreads into the minds of people across the land. The spirit of back biting, fault finding, or digging up weaknesses and pointing them out to others can become an unbreakable habit for some if they don't repent and renounce that addiction. But criticism never upgrades one person by downgrading others. It doesn't score points with God, either. As a matter of fact, that spiritual pride will cause God to resist you. These are only some of the things that God is dealing with in people. He is going deeper than He has in the past and dealing with heart conditions. Things that people might have gotten away with in previous seasons isn't going to fly anymore. He is examining character, testing our integrity, and bringing many things up to the surface that people may have thought were long over with. There are things that sometimes we earnestly do try to "take care of business," but maybe we tried to do it without real sincerity; we just wanted something uncomfortable to be over. Many people have deeply rooted issues from their past that they've tried to overcome, tried to forget about, but way down deep inside they still aren't healed from whatever may have happened. God wants to heal that breach. It is God's mercy that doesn't let us bury the pain indefinitely. Unhealed wounds and offenses fester and turn poisonous to our spirit (and sometimes our flesh). It is God's mercy that presses us to be honest with Him about our feelings. He doesn't want us to have just a surface relationship with Him. He wants access to the deepest issues of our heart. Many people seem to resist giving God their pain and offenses because they already know what He will require - forgiveness. They prefer their judgments over His mercy, making idols of their judgments, forgetting that this same God has been merciful to them.
It is God's mercy that allows us to experience the frustration of waiting. It is His mercy that allows us to feel the depression from our own sin. It is God's mercy that allows us to feel the unrest in our soul, because a troubled soul seeks relief. Many people seek relief from false substitutes like shopping, gambling, alcohol, drugs, or other external sources. Whether it is a need for approval or validation from others, materialism, other outward displays of success, or maybe something else, nothing will satisfy the desperate soul for very long. It is in fact how many addictions are formed. But if you like your sin too much to quit, you will convince yourself that you can't quit. And if you convince yourself that you can't quit, you will eventually rationalize that your sin isn't even sin at all, and if it's not sin, then you will convince yourself it has no consequences. That's a dangerous road to be on. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, feeble excuses and a lot of denial. Wake up! The longer one stays in prolonged sin, the more it is asking for God to turn up the heat and make life really, really uncomfortable. You don't have to suffer. You don't have to feel that pain, anxiety, fear or depression. People try to cover their pain, depression, lack of fulfillment and lack of fruitfulness with anything they can to plug that hole in their heart. People are so eager to be doing something that makes them feel validated, yet this void is something that can only be removed through repentance, and filled with the Spirit of Christ.
Genuine repentance lifts the burdens, the weights, the depression and the unrest that people experience. People with bi-polar disease, depression and many other forms of emotional illness struggle with emotional instability when a great deal of their suffering - perhaps even all of it - can be alleviated with prayer and renouncement of certain sins. God teaches no easy lesson. How often we want the learning curve to be shorter, the road easier to travel on this journey called life. These are the lessons our Father teaches because He knows that we are more apt to remember the experience and have our heart genuinely transformed through the process. So He presses us, allowing the discomfort we feel to nudge our conscience towards self examination. It's the thing people often resist the most, but the unresolved sin is what keeps people from true fellowship with God. It blocks prayers, locking people in darkness, confusion and frustration until they are so uncomfortable being stuck that they become motivated towards a real change of heart. Genuine repentance is what unlocks a flood of peace, joy and renewed fellowship with God. Then, and only then, are we ready for something new.
I thank You for loving me so much that you encourage me towards a clean heart. Let a right spirit be renewed in me this day. I give You permission to change my heart, my attitudes, or whatever needs to change so that I can receive whatever revelation I need. Forgive me for being stubborn or resistant. Let my soul breath again, O God. If there is anything I need to see differently, please show me. If I have a wrong belief about something that You say is sin, show me so that I can repent. In Jesus name, Amen.