Our women's bible study has been doing "Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver. We studied her two other books, which I blogged about last year, and we just finished this book. Sadly I was sick for most of this 8 week study so I wasn't able to attend many of them.
But I made it back for the last chapter and boy howdy, did it really hit me. I have read the chapter twice since the lesson last week and I'd like to share some of it now. Hopefully this will translate to you, but I also want to write this for me, I want to remember what I learned and what God is trying to show me.
This semester has been really hard for me. I've went through alot of hard health issues, struggles, I've seen people I love lose people they love, there has been so much pain and suffering that I admit, I have asked God why. Why do these Godly people seemingly have horrible thing after horrible thing happen to them? Why do I have to deal with this constant health issues that I feel all alone in and that no one understands. I've cried out to him many a night with no answer.
Until this chapter. It was like a huge bright flashing light going off along with the loudest obnoxious alarm you could dream of. Needless to say I'm a big hard headed and when God gets my attention he REALLY has to get my attention.
It came to me in this chapter that I've been living life all wrong.
I've been living life. Just thinking of life.
Not the eternal life that is to come after our time on earth. I've been so focused on what is happening to me, and to the people I love, I, embarrassingly, have not even thought about what God is doing in it. What God is doing in ME. And why he is doing it. I was being so selfish asking him why we are all suffering, without thinking of the Eternal effects.
Quoting the book
" If we focused on living in the light of eternity, understanding that there is a glorious lifetime in a perfect world to come, I think we'd learn to hold onto this one more loosely and the ones we love less possessively. God wouldn't always have to do what you and I think is best. We'd see eternal possibilities in everyday troubles. We'd more easily surrender ourselves and those we love to God's plan rather than our demands. Most of all I think we'd learn to live with an open hand rather than a clenched fist."
That really got to me. We'd see eternal possibilities in everyday troubles.
What would happen if we gave up our ideals of our perfect world on earth and what we thought should happen? Would we have the "sweet underlying sense of okayness that surpassed happiness (which tends to rely heavily on happenings).
I don't know about you but I would LOVE for that to happen in my heart. Even this morning as I sat at work, something annoyed me. And poof. Right out the window went my happiness. Why? because I let it rely on happenings. What's going on at the moment. To be totally honest and transparent I have a very hard time with that. I am a pretty happy person but if something happens or I see something that I perceive as wrong, I can and will let it affect my mood and happiness at the drop of a hat. Or a frown so to speak.
I like how she talked about the Pollyanna gospel, that nothing bad will happen to good people. But that's wrong
"Scripture never shies away from the reality that bad things happen to good people. That God doesn't always come running to the rescue, at least not in the ways and in the timing we expect Him to. Love does tarry at time. And there are moments when Love seems to actually take a step back, allowing things to happen that we'd never dream of allowing ourselves"
Looking back at this year I wouldn't have thought or picked for it to start out with my precious Nephew in the NICU. The heart wrenching and horrible time that my brother and sil had there, with my family 4+ hours away. Me in the hospital at the same time as my nephew. I wouldn't have picked My Mom to get pneumonia out of nowhere, or my Dad to narrowly escape death by a 700 lb steel tubing and instead break his ankle and have an ongoing infection and struggle for months upon months.
I wouldn't pick for me to have three surgeries in one year, and to still struggle with my health. I wouldn't pick one of my closest friend's father dying merely days after she gave birth to her third son. I wouldn't pick caca's hubby's mom dying while he was deported. and the host of other pains that are too personal to share. I wouldn't have chosen any of that. But God in his infinite wisdom did. And honestly it's been a struggle. A really big struggle for me.
Until last week. When we had a Come to Jesus moment in the second floor of Kossuth Street Baptist church. Courtesy of Joanna Weaver, and Jessica Berger :)
"I'm starting to wonder if one reason God allows difficulties in our lives is to wean us from this world, to cue our addiction to temporal things that will never satisfy. Because it seems that the times we come face to face with pain and death are the time's we're reminded best that this world is just a shadow. A crude drawing and a mere outline of the beauty that awaits us in a world outside this one. An alternate reality so magnificent and incomprehensible that we often forget it's there."
(Right now would be the part in the cartoon where the character gets hit over the head with something large and hard and see's stars.)
Elisabeth Elliot describes it as
"Heaven is not here, it's THERE. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to himself and his still invisible kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for"
A few years ago my bff Kim came to visit me for my birthday. It was after midnight and storming so my Mom had graciously driven down to the airport with me. I was riding in the passenger side of her explorer, and all the sudden there was a blinding bright light. So bright that all I could see was light. In that second I thought Jesus was returning. I had the most incredible feeling. I still can't describe it.
Joy and excitement seem like such small words compared to what I felt. Even thinking of it now I get a little teary just remembering how EXCITED I was, I was just filled with joy indescribable. When I realized it was just a very close lightening strike I had this huge sense of sadness. I was ready. I was ready to go to Heaven and be with my Saviour right then and there. And I was a little bummed when I realized it wasn't time.
How often though do we think about that? We get so caught up in life. Day in, day out. Someone cut me off in traffic, my coffee spilled on the front seat of my truck (totally happened this morning) the line at Target was forever long, awww man they're out of my favorite drink in the vending machine. We just get so CONSUMED, we are CONSUMED people, (and I am too so don't think I'm calling you out) we all are CONSUMED with this life on earth.
Which would be good if we were consumed with witnessing to people, with studying the word and drawing closer to God, with feeding the hungry and caring for the orphans and widows. But let's be honest here. That's not what we're consumed with. Not at all. We are consumed with our own selfish desires and interests.
Joanna wraps it up succinctly
" We may call Jesus our friend. We may even declare Him our most prized possession, saying that He is more than enough. But if we fail to think eternally, chances are we'll tend to hold tightly to everything we can fit in our overcrowded arms for fear that this is all there is and we had better get what we can get while the getting is good.
But this isn't the life we were made for. In fact, it is no life at all. It's just another tomb. Better wallpapered, perhaps, with finer furnishing. But still just a tomb."