emarkthomas

Trying to live love well through the power of the Everlasting.

Further up and further in.

[Update: this post should be read and filtered through the 24 October 2011 post, “Life with the Living God: Two Parts.” Reading only this post is like reading the first half of one of the depressing psalms, and then stopping without reading the part where the good news comes. In writing this orginally, my perspective was off. My bad.]

Papa answered countless prayers this week.

I got a job. Outside of the farm, I mean. A new job. A job that will enable me to begin paying the bills I haven’t been able to pay, to start knocking down more than just the interest on the student loans, to begin to get my feet back under me. Many people have prayed for this for a long, long time.

I received a “word” from a man at church on Sunday. During the worship time, he was standing across the aisle from me. He’s a deacon. He’s well known for giving words, or messages, to people from God. I thought, as I glanced at him sideways, “Papa, why has he never given me a word? Someone like me, with my well known history? Where’s my word, hmm?” Yeah, my heart wasn’t exactly in the right place. I chastised myself soon after, and asked for forgiveness for my judgement and bitterness.

Then, after worship, he turned towards me and gave me a message. I was kind of floored, and also kind of disappointed – it was a message that I had heard many, many times before. An idea that I had genuinely encountered and wrestled with more times than I can count. I felt like I was jogging, waiting for  help on how to begin running, when I received instruction on how to begin walking. I’ve already been there. What’s with the back-tracking?

I was disappointed because I expected a word from God to correspond to my relationship with God. Still, I was rattled by the fact that I spoke to Papa about it, and it happened fifteen minutes later. What was that about? A wrong answer to a sort of prayer?

Several other things happened as well, but these two stick out to me as I type now. God answered prayers. In his time, in his way. I should be thankful. I should be grateful. I should be full of praise.

I am not.

What is going on here? I’m not thankful. I’m disappointed in the way the prayers were answered. You see, the job seems just as out of place as the deacon’s word for me. I was waiting back for word regarding a much better job, working with an old friend in a place with lots of room for promotion and raises. I had excellent references from current employees on the team. Whether I ought to have been or not, I was counting on God answering the job prayer with this one. I didn’t get the better job.

Whether I ought to have been or not, I was banking on a certainty that, should God ever give me a message from any deacons or church pillars, it would be one of intimate knowledge and communication. It would be a message commending me for the tremendous growth and desire to live and love well. It would provide some sort of clue as to the next steps of my life. It would finally bestow upon me the respect and admiration of brothers and sisters in the church; would finally allow them to see me not as the creature with a lying and spiteful heart but as the redeemed and renewed man with a passion to love and spread reconciliation and hope that the Spirit is making me to be. I didn’t get any of those things from this man’s words.

So here we are. Two disappointments, and I’m moping around for the last few days. Like the Israelites, I have watched God act mightily many times over many years, and now I am grumbling about my current circumstances. Even now, as I type, I know that God’s doing something, and whether or not it works out for me it’s gonna be good. He’s trustworthy. He’s God. I know these things – intimately – having learned them through times of fire and darkness, being purged and tested in the crucible. Fire and darkness as most people I know haven’t had to experience, and that also upsets me. Why are they being blessed so with so much and so little trial, and I am put through fire after fire and have not the relatively small blessings I ask for?

Why is everyone else extended the grace of the gospel in their communities, and I am denied it?

Why do they prosper, and I am abandoned?

And in the midst of these thoughts over the past few days, my heart broke -again- and I said yet again, “You, Papa. You are holy. You are God. You are big enough. You are doing something, and even if it doesn’t work out for me, you can be trusted. There is no other. Even though you slay me, yet will I praise you.”

I’ve been here before, I reminded myself, and I’ve not yet perished.

Papa, I need you to be big enough to handle this. I thought we’d dealt with this, and then you brought to light a deeper layer with a stronger fortress in my heart. Not the first time, is it?

I’m sorry that I keep treating you like you’re me. I’m sorry that I keep rationalizing that since I love you and strive to be more of what you ask me to be, you would begin to act like a Genie. I’m sorry I keep approaching you through manipulation and a system of points, as if I could acquire enough to cash in somehow.

I’m sorry that despite it all, I still get hung up on what the world values and expect you to show your love and faithfulness to me in that manner.

I’m sorry that all of these things were lessons that I had learned well at one point, and lost somewhere along the way.

Put me through the next crucible, Heavenly Father, until all this newly found junk is also burned away. Allow me to trust you more than I do today.

It’s amazing how far I’ve come, and yet how far there still is to go…

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