Monday, June 2, 2008

Water From The Rock

I was saying last night, I've been pleading with God to show me what His will is in a way I can recognize, because I think I'm so caught up in what I want that I can't tell what He wants. Even after a few pretty obvious signs yesterday, I think my heart wasn't in the right place to internalize them.

We went to church tonight, and the message was focused around being involved in their series of outreach projects during the summer, which is called Go. Todd, the church's lead pastor, was telling us why we give ourselves away. Sometimes in our lives, we get so caught up in what we're doing that we completely lose sight of the plot. It's easy to forget the reasons why. His example was going to church; we go to honor and praise the Lord. So we go for an hour and a half each week, and we spend a lot of it singing songs of worship to Him. But the real worship is not as much in song as it is in life. When we reach out to those who are struggling, forget our own worries and comforts and details, and focus our energy on helping someone who needs it more than we do, we are worshiping Jesus in our actions. It's easy to go through the motions. We experience actual growth when there is love and praise behind them.

He talked about how easy it is to be so directed on figuring out ourselves from the inside that we can't even hear God when he speaks to us. Sounds familiar. We can spend so much time and energy scrutinizing every one of our thoughts and misguided actions and wondering what on earth it is that we are supposed to be doing, when the answer could be sitting right in front of us, staring us in the face. It takes a tremendous amount of faith and submission to trust that the Lord sees even when we can't, and to stop trying to plan everything for ourselves. It really spoke to me.

He first referenced Psalms 95:6-9, describing a flock of sheep; a species of animal that we know is 100% dependent on being guided and taken care of. There are so many factors out there that would threaten their wellbeing that sheep couldn't survive in the wild on their own.
Neither can we.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me,
though they had seen what I did.

He explained that Meribah and Massah were alters that Moses had set about as he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It was custom to set up an alter at a place where the Lord had done something incredible. But Meribah and Massah were not the common alter; they didn't honor God. They represented a spot where the people had quarreled and doubted God and tested Him when their own earthly needs were not immediately met.

As Moses was rescuing the Israelites from Egypt and lives of slavery as the Lord had led him to do, they became thirsty walking through the desert. Though they were assured that there was a much better life up ahead, they lacked the faith to believe that. They complained to Moses, to a point of wanting to turn around and go back to being slaves in Egypt, where at least they had water to drink. He asked them, "Why do you put the Lord to the test?" (Exodus 17:2) And when Moses cried out to Him and asked what he was to do, God showed him a rock that he could strike and water would pour out for them to drink. Even after such a miracle, these blind wanders asked him, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)

The first thought, of course, is how could the Israelites stand there and witness such incredible miracles, and STILL doubt the existence of God and all the blessings he had in store for them? Todd described how they could still be so skeptical as spiritual Alzheimer's. It goes beyond a loss of memories from specific events and to a broader way of being where one's loss of faith becomes so all-consuming that no matter what they see or hear, their heart is too hardened to be able to witness it. They are constantly demanding Him to "prove it." No matter how much lays ahead for them and what plans the Lord has for them, they are of so little faith that they would rather turn and go back to their own Egypt (which could be anything from an empty heart, bad habits, unsuccessful relationships, substance abuse) than to submit themselves to His will and trust that He will lead them to something immensely better in the long run.

I felt as though something had woken up inside of me.

On my drive home, I was listening to The Fish 95.9 as usual, and when a song I love came on the radio, it occurred to me that I never listen to all the lyrics.

I'm waking up
The world is turning

The sun is shining again
I'm holding on
To things I shouldn't
It's time to let them go
I've been on a losing streak
Hit so hard I couldn't speak
But when I hear Your voice it fades away

And I can hear You say
It's a brand new day
The pain goes away
I'm headed for the door

And I'm going home

Your love, it burns

Away my darkness
You guide me when I'm blind
You are the light
That shines inside me
Showing me I'm
So much more
When I've been on a losing streak
Hit so hard I couldn't speak
But when I hear Your voice it fades away

Take me into Your arms
My home lies within Your heart

After the message tonight and hearing that song, I realized I really am holding on to things I shouldn't. I've been trying to go back to my Egypt because it seems safer than blindly following where God leads me. I was so set on having it my way that I wouldn't let God speak to me. There's one thing I've been milling over in my head, though; how it could really have been only meant for a short time, yet we had all this amazing chemistry and connection?

I'm still going to have sad feelings, but my focus has shifted. It isn't where He is leading me. I want to devote my energy and my heart to being a servant of God. He will take care of the rest.

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