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I believe that the…

October 16, 2007

Bible is absolutely relevant for my life everyday. I have staked a great deal of my life–where I spend my time, how I choose my priorities–on that very belief. I have lived previously in a darkness so black and inky that the tiniest hope seemed a hyberbolic optimism. Into all darkness comes the light and life of God, breaking the bondage of sin, healing the brokenhearted, convicting and forgiving the sinner. That light and life came through the cross and involves a cross. Avoiding the cross is the road to greater darkness.

What I’ve come to realize in giving my life to teach the Bible is that God will and does use the events of my life–sin, victory, trial and joy–to drive home the very points that the text of the week is at my desk to be studied and taught. It would be significantly easier to just be able to read a text, research some commentaries, type an outline, throw in some anecdotes and speak the part. God, however, demands that His people live His truths. A teacher is not exempt from taking the test.

This morning the waves of testing crested on my beach life. Last night I wrote about Jesus’ first temptation where the devil tempts Him to use His divine power to provide a physical need for Himself–to change some stones to bread. Jesus was truly hungry after 40 days of not eating, and the need for nourishment is on all fronts reasonable and practical.

But the crux of the temptation is in the doubt that Satan infuses his statement with in the two letter word “if”. “If you are the Son of God…” The devil desires that at any point and all points that Jesus would simply choose any way but God’s way. For the first temptation, the devil wants Jesus to choose to use His power to provide for Himself, shortcutting God’s will that in this time Jesus be hungry.

God could have sent a raven with bread and meat–He did for Elijah. God could have sent manna and quail–He did for Israel. God could have…..you, fill in the blank. But He didn’t. So this is where Satan lays his attack: If you are really the Son of God and God says that He cares for you and that you have all this power and can do so many great and wonderful things, then prove that you are who you are by this teeny tiny little thing.

Back at my beach front. I’ve been feeling physically crummy the last two days with a chest cold and cough, but life must go on. My dad has some unexplained health problems right now that are keeping the family wound tightly until a clear diagnosis can be made, but life must go on. There are some pressing professional decisions that have to be thought through and dealt with, but life must go on. Today is the 12th anniversary of my first son’s death, but life must go on.

Into all of this life going on though, I woke up with the regular heaviness that the death anniversary brings, plod through a morning routine hacking, sniffling and croaking hoarsely when I receive a phone call from my mom that dad is in the hospital because of more concerning and unexplained symptoms.

It’s then that temptation comes like a whispering yell, “If you are a child of God, then why is He making you deal with all of this today? If He really loved you, then why did He let James die? Why is He letting your dad be ill? Why doesn’t He just step in and solve your problems? You’re not fit to teach and lead your class today because you can’t prove God’s power in these situations.”

All I could do through the tears was remember and repeat, “It is written.” For it is written in God’s Word. The weapons that Jesus had against temptation are available to me today–the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God. On my knees I prayed, “Lord, it is written in Your Word and only in Your Word. Every one of Your promises is true. You are a faithful God, looking to all of these needs and sustaining where I am completely empty.” I called out to my Father for sustenance from His Word. In the mercy of God, I turned to Ephesians 13:14-19:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

This is a prayer that Paul gave for the Ephesian believers. I’m not from Ephesus, but in God’s sovereignty the words and the truth, the very intercession of Christ in this prayer, was penned by Paul, given for the canon and is for the sustenance of His people. Into my life today God’s written Word is spoken that I might resist the temptation to despair, and instead be strengthened to cling through faith to Christ, to trust in God’s timing of this trial and His timing of any solutions. The test is not about proving myself a strong and mighty Christian, the test is yielding to my weakness to know a greater strength of God.

This is the relevance that must be taught and learned and embraced by the people of God. I’m no superhuman. I’ve practically gone through a box of tissues today in tears, experienced incredible emotional weakness, and still have very real challenges to face in the day and days still to come.

But IT IS WRITTEN, and I can read IT, I do believe IT, and I strive to live IT, utterly dependent upon the grace of God.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2007 1:55 pm

    Amen.

    I’m praying for you today.

  2. Rabbit permalink
    October 16, 2007 2:24 pm

    Elle…lifting you in prayer for His sustenance and comfort. Much love to you.

  3. October 16, 2007 4:27 pm

    Oh, that “whispering yell.” That is so true. Your posts through Matthew are excellent!

  4. October 16, 2007 8:41 pm

    Praying for you tonight! God is wise, perfectly holy, utterly loving, and infinitely merciful. These are truths I am clinging to today.

  5. October 18, 2007 8:59 am

    Sending all my wish-I-was-there-to-hug-you love with prayers.

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