Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sure of What I Hope For/Certain of What I Do Not See

Let Thy Goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee...

Familiar? This line from one of the latter verses of the hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing has been sung as a fervent prayer by me many, many a-time. And, over the past several years, the attribute of God which has been most brought home to me is... His goodness. His absolute, undeniable, unquenchable, all-encompassing, every-life-invading goodness.

And recently, as we sang this song in a worship service, I realized that my prayer had been answered with a resounding, "Yes!" You see, it is the goodness of the Lord that causes me not to despair. Life may be ugly sometimes, awful sometimes, achingly painful sometimes, and most times completely unlike what we thought or wished it to be. But God's goodness is what keeps me hanging on.

So when, as I asserted in my last post, I am in 'backwoods Sinai,' please don't let that mislead you to thinking that I despair. In fact, I am anything but despairing. I wrestle, I struggle, I press in to hear His purposes and to see my Savior's hand. And I seek to understand because I know God HAS a purpose.

And His purpose is GOOD, because HE is GOOD!

So, with that in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of God's good purposes--at least the ones I have eyes now to see--from over these years in backwoods Sinai. This sojourn so far has been almost a dozen years. Life went from full-speed-ahead to go-directly-to-Sinai-do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 in about a millisecond. Or so. But the monotony of this place has taught me...

*I've learned what it is to hurt emotionally in ways I cannot pass over nor can I solve. And I've learned what it means to survive on His strength alone.

*I've learned to walk under the heavy burden of long-term physical pain. And, I've seen my Savior miraculously, instantly heal me--Praise His Name!

*I've learned not just to wait, but to wait on the Lord. 'Them's' two different beasts, I can assure you.

*I've had God call my bluff--when I didn't even know I was bluffing--and lived to tell about it. And even enjoy the journey beyond it...without ever understanding the "why" of it.

*I've learned what a spiritual battle looks like...and how to lose. And blessedly, also how to win.

*I've had my perspective on the Church, on Ministry, on Grace & Mercy, and on myself completely and utterly re-written. In very, very necessary and good ways.

*I've learned that when I'm banging on heaven's gates, begging God to, "Do something," He often is, just in ways I cannot see.

*I've seen God take places where I was shackled by sin and doubt and fear and set me free. In entirety. In ways that others had to acknowledge, to His glory!

*I've been disciplined for my lack of faithfulness...and then given another chance to serve Him.

*I've discovered the joy of offering God my pain in worship. There is a beauty in that offering that is unmatched by any other, I think. Worship through tears--to the praise of His glorious grace.

*I've learned to increasingly "entrust myself to Him who judges justly."

*I've discovered what a complete "patootie" (Southernese for one's hindquarters) I have been at points in my life (and possibly today), and thus, I have discovered how MUCH grace has been granted to me by friends and family. (I thank you all!) And more so, by my Savior.

*I've fallen in love with Jesus. I was His a long, long, long time before that was true. But praise His Name, it's true now!

*I've been deeply wounded by the Body of Christ, and in His grace, I've been healed so deeply that I can again love Her without reservation.

*I've begun to truly discover that I am utterly, every-fiber loved by a Holy God. THAT will change you!

So despite the disconcertion of my previous post, my Good God has had Good purposes in this, the 'stalled out' portion of my journey. I just wanted you to know that I knew that.

And you know what? I believe so much in His Goodness and His Good purposes, that I really do believe the best is yet to come. So I choose to wait on Him. For 'the fullness of time' never came when the story's characters thought it should, but it always came when the Master of time had perfectly planned for it to do so.

God teaches us in ways that are perfect for each of us. Some people learn best through the rigors of daily life, some through fiery trials. Some must have a thorn in the flesh, some prosperity. I, apparently, need long periods of monotony. Long, looooooong periods of monotony. ;o) But if that's the only way I can look more like Jesus at the end of this thing, may the monotony never end. (But just for the record, I'm hoping there are other ways, too.)

Hopeful at Sinai,

P.S. How about you? What do you 'have eyes to see' of God's work in your journey?

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? ...Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. ...I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. --Psalm 27:1, 3-5, 13-14, NIV

1. Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise His Name I'm fixed upon it
Name of God's redeeming love.

2. Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has brought me to this place
And I know thy hand will bring me
Safely home by thy good grace
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Bought me with His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.
18th century Methodist pastor & hymnist Robert Robinson
--this version: E. Margaret Clarkson, 1973

1 comment:

Allison said...

Yes, yes, yes! God is good, and He only gives good gifts. That means that the gift He has given--in our cases, the absence of something for which we long--is good for us. Having those things has not been good for us. I cling to that, and I believe it with all my heart--even when my heart aches.

We've begun singing in our worship services a fourth verse of Come Thou Fount, written by Bob Kauflin:

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Full arrayed in blood-washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Bring Thy promises to pass
For I know Thy power will keep me
'Till I'm home with Thee at last.

I first heard this verse on a recording as 5,000 pastors sang it congregationally at Together for the Gospel 2008. They practically shouted these words! It brings tears to my eyes to listen to it.