Monday, April 30, 2012

He Said That?

I don't listen to the radio much, but a few weeks ago, I was without my iPod so resorted to the local stations.  Somewhere along the way, I landed on a Christian station and a song came on that made me frown.  I'd never heard it before, but the lyrics went something like this...

He said
I won't give you more,  more than you can take
I might like you bend, but I won't let you break
Oh, I'll never, ever let you go
Don't you forget what He said

Really?  He said that?  When and to whom?  Hold on to those questions for a moment and read this...

I hear religious-minded people say all the time with good intentions, "God will never place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot carry it."  Really?  My experience is that God will place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it alone.  He will break your back and your will.  He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load.  All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him.

This paragraph comes from Greg Lucas' book, Wrestling With An Angel.  The stories that tug your heart in this book are birthed from Greg's struggle as the father of a disabled child and its many parallels to the spiritual realm.  It is a deeply moving tale that forces its readers to wrestle with the nature of God and how He chooses to mold us and make Himself known.

Now, let's bring it all together.  My guess is that the authors of this song and those who offered comfort to Greg fell prey to a commonly misinterpreted verse.  I Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."    This verse is citing deliverance from temptation.  But temptation and hardship are two utterly different worlds.

You see, I've also had people tell me that God never gives us more than we can handle.  It's a comforting notion and I searched for the passage of Scripture that says so when I was diagnosed with cancer.  But I couldn't find it.  The fact that we have Christian artists claiming God said things that He actually didn't say  just makes the mess even more difficult for struggling believers.  It's true that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:8).  But as far as giving us more than we can handle... well that's a different story.  Time and time again, we see stories in Scripture of people who face odds so unbearable that they cannot possibly do it without God.  Moses had to lead Yaweh's people out from one of the most dominant empires on the planet.  A young shepherd boy named David had to deliver the nation of Israel with a few smooth stones.  Job had to put his money where his mouth was as his entire world literally crumbled around him.  The apostle Paul encountered so many trials and tribulations that the Lord finally said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."     

Those are His words.  That is the truth that you can cling to and even stake your life on.  This last year of my life has made me realize more than ever that God uses the events in our lives to keep us in a state of constant dependency.  I think Greg would agree (read his story to find out).  He will give us more than we feeble humans can take and it might even break us at times.  But in that brokenness, He is there walking right beside us.  He is ready to consume us with grace when we have realized that we cannot do it on our own.  It is then that we get a glimpse of His total sufficiency and power.  

That is what He said.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beside Still Waters

Lately, I have found myself in a constant state of stress about the future.  Like a nagging ache that won't go away, I haven't been able to shake it.  To keep this long story short, I'll just share the remedy.  If you are dealing with any amount of stress, anxiety, or worry (or even if you're not), I highly recommend this.  It is just a simple reminder from Scripture that will fix your eyes back on the truth. 

1.  Find a quiet place and rid yourself of all distractions (technology included).
2.  Take a few moments to confess life's current struggles and stresses to the Lord.
3.  Play this song while lying flat on your back with eyes closed.  Afterwards, don't get up right away.  Just rest in solitude beside the still waters...

There is no greater assurance in life's "shadow of death" than being saturated in the truth, spoken in His word.  Jon Foreman just so happens to offer a very soothing and accessible way to do it.