Thursday, 29 December 2016

Frustration as a Divine Invitation

      What if sometimes our frustrations with daily life situations, with the world and with brokenness, were actually part of God's divine strategy to force us out of complacency and into a place of yearning for His return and reign on earth? If we would respond to them rightly. 

      What if God out of His mercy allows us to experience frustration, pain and hardship because He's so jealous for us to walk in all the fullness He has for us, that He will at the cost of temporary pain expose brokenness and anything less than what He has for us for what it is? Not for the sake of causing us pain or discomfort, but for the sake of His mercy and desire for us to walk in fullness. What if feeling frustration in life was a sign of God speaking, and an invitation to respond to Him? What if the feeling of frustration was a divine invitation from God to experience more of Jesus in our daily lives and in our world? How would we respond differently?  

     Our emotions were created by God to give us the capacity to experience and connect to His heart. They are designed to challenge us to go deeper in God and to encounter Him in our daily lives. But I think all too often they get twisted and if we aren't careful they will end up distracting us from Him. 

      I think for me, when I feel frustrated it's tempting to view that frustration as a bad thing. As a negative because it means things aren't the way I think they should be. It's tempting for me to feel like I'm the victim, and I'm the one that's losing out. I often find myself stuck in cycles of self pity. Or I try to fix things in my own strength, and usually just end up making things worse because I do it out of my own strength. And my strength is not sufficient. But lately God's been speaking to me about viewing frustration as a indicator that there is something in my life and in my heart that isn't in full agreement with Him. As an indicator of dissonance in my life and His heart. So instead of responding to frustration with self pity or trying to fix things in my own strength, I need view it as an opportunity to surrender more of my life to Christ. I need to use it as an opportunity to quiet my heart before my Father and pray to give Him control of my life and of my emotions. I can choose to believe that His strength is sufficient for me even in my weakness. I can choose to rely on His strength above my own and express my utter dependence on Him. By humbling myself in that way I'm learning I can invite the Lord into the situation that's frustrating me, and allow Him to work all things together for my good and for the good of those who love Him. So instead of it being a negative emotion in my life, I'm finding my frustrations can become an open invitation for deeper communion with Jesus. While also using it to cultivate longing for the fullness and righting of all wrongs that won't come until Jesus returns and reigns in Jerusalem.



Monday, 15 February 2016

Scriptural Musings

                                                       David Counts the Fighting Men
                                                      2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21

I've struggled in the past whenever I would read the story of David counting the fighting men. Why should 70,000 men die for one man's sin? Sin is serious, yet shouldn't each die for there own sin? Yet in 2 Samuel 24:1, we see God Himself (some translation say His anger) incited David against Israel to count the fighting men. If God Himself incited David, how then was it sin? Yet later in 1 Chronicles 21:1, it credits Satan with inciting David against Israel and into counting the fighting men. So was it the Lord, was it His anger, or was it Satan? Or was it the Lord through Satan? Was it God inviting David into dialogue and a place of intercession?

When I asked God why He would slay 70,000 for the sin of one man, I felt as though His answer was also in the form of a question, "Were they themselves without sin? Could they not have died for their own sin?" What if they did die for their own sin? What if David's sin was a reflection of their (the nation's) sin and rebellion, and David's coming into agreement with it? And therefore he stepped out of the gap, out of his role as an intercessor, and therefore God's wrath was released? Was David's sin not just his own, but a reflection of what was going on in the nation? "Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel." 2 Samuel 24:1a.

Would God incite David to step out of his role as an intercessor? Would God incite David through Satan to step out of his role as an intercessor so that His wrath might be released? Was the Lord's anger an invitation for David to intercede for them? And David dropped the ball by coming into agreement with the wrong spirit, and counting the fighting men? Was the Lord obligated (can I use that word with Him?) to go through David first to pour out judgement on the sin in the nation? Since they were under his spiritual covering (which I'm not really sure what spiritual covering means, but it's something I'm delving into to learn more on)? And the Lord could not pour out His wrath as long as David was standing in the gap? Even as He had to tell Jeremiah to not pray for this people, nor plead or make petition? Did the Lord allow or incite David into acting on the sin that was in the heart of the nation? And was Satan inciting the sin of Israel, and therefore David's sin too?

In 2 Samuel 24:17, David saw the angel who was striking the people, and he stepped in as an intercessor. "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." (A truly bold prayer, and a testament to his heart as an intercessor). The Lord sent God who told David what to do, and David bought the threshing floor and offered burnt offering and peace offerings. "So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." 2 Samuel 24:25b.

What if the Lord chose to work through David's spiritual authority and act of sin, so that there would be an intercessor in place when His heart was moved to relent from His destruction and outpouring of wrath? What if He worked through David so that he would be able to hold a place of greater intercession? David did not see the angel who was striking the people (in verse 17) until after the Lord saw Jerusalem and relented from destruction (verse 16a, "And when the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough, now restrain your hand."). After the Lord relented, then David saw the angel and interceded for the people. Had the Lord poured out His wrath apart from it being through David, would He have then had an intercessor in place? Would He then have had a means of mercy? Can He show mercy without an intercessor? Could He have poured out His anger apart from David? Or no, because David was standing in the gap? Could He have judged the nation while they were under David's spiritual covering and he was standing in the gap in a place of intercession and holiness? These are just some of my thoughts, but what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, please comment and share!

   *Disclaimer, a lot of this is written in question form to provoke the reader to further thought and dialogue with the Holy Spirit (Whom the Scriptures say will teach us all things), and not meant to be taken as doctrine or solid stances.       

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