I just got back from the Canadian wilderness this past week. That’s two trips in within 2 months. Either I’ve lost my mind or God keeps calling me back to a place where He is the only one in focus.
It’s quite possible that both are true.
It’s customary for these trips to have a section of scripture that we memorize as a group. This trip was Hebrews 11:39-12:1-6.
These words hold new meaning for me after looking at the context of this part of scripture.
Hebrews 11 is often known as the “hall of faith.” [I didn’t make that up, I promise]. It lists a number of people, who through their great faith in God received incredible blessing. But verse 35-37 begins to show the other side of the coin. “Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.”
And verse 39 says this: “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised.”
The gospels are peppered with stories of Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, and performing miracles. But we don’t think about the woman who was next in line to offer up her sick child to Jesus in order for him to be healed. We don’t often think about family that ran to hear who this messiah was, preaching the good news of salvation that just missed Jesus. There are people next in line that don’t receive the blessings that God promised.
But that doesn’t change a thing about the character of who He is. Do we only feel blessed if we receive a “yes” to our prayer?
Jesus is still a healer, He’s still loving, gracious and compassionate. Our Heavenly Father is still our father looking out for his children. When a child asks his father if he can have cotton candy for dinner and dad says, no – that doesn’t mean the father doesn’t love his child. It means he knows that’s not the best choice for him right now.
I’m currently reading a book called “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet” by Sara Hagerty. I’m not finished with it yet so I can’t endorse it fully – but up through page 98, it’s totally solid.
As she shares her struggles of not being able to conceive, losing her father, and falling into huge debt through a business mistake – she keeps crying out the same thing: the character of God is something to be enjoyed; adored. It’s something to dig deep into. We should explore every crevice and fall deeply into the arms of a caring, tangible, and loving Father.
Lately I’ve been a witness to so much hardship. Whether it be friends having financial troubles, waiting to conceive a child, job issues, family quarrels that don’t seem to leave. And sometimes I wonder what I can do or how to pray for them.
Sara Hagerty writes, “Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory, of knowing His name and His nature. Sometimes, instead of leading us up and out of those very fears, big and small, He lets us live them. He gives us over to them. Because it’s in this giving over to our fears that we find the perfect love that frees us from them. Forever.”
For my husband and I – we’ve had a pretty good start to our marriage. Only being married a little over 16 months, I think we are still considered “newlyweds.” When I hear of stories, especially dealing with trouble starting a family – my heart aches. So as we dream of the future and one day possibly having a family or taking risks with new business ventures or following our dreams – I don’t want to live in fear. Maybe we will be the next person in line and not get our “yes” from God. But I have to believe that God’s love for us is deeper than the things He gives us. It’s more about trusting a Father who has our best interest in mind. When we turn to God to enjoy Him, who is His and sit in adoration of Him – our lives become more than reacting to the conditions of life that he presents us with. As we shuffle through our days, weeks and years – and bring our big prayers and big requests to God – I’m [currently] learning to say, “I want to love you more than the series of externals you give us.”
Hebrews 11:39-40 – “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”