Friday, May 15, 2009

Chapter 8 - On the Old Sea Wall

In this chapter, Much Afraid offers the contents of her heart upon the altar. What might an offering like that include if it came from our hearts? For some of us it might include some pet sin that we secretly don't want to give up yet. Or maybe one of the things that we might offer on the altar would be some desire or dream. Several years ago I broke my hip, and the break was quite serious. It altered a number of things. I experienced grief as I had to let go of things that I had begun to take great pleasure in. I had to offer what was in my heart to God and live in the tension of the loss. I know people who have experienced the loss of the dream of a perfect family - children have gone astray, children become ill or die, husbands leave, wives die, husbands are permanently disabled, the perfect career turns out to be a perfect storm, or if one is single, maybe the offering would be the dream of a family and more. We all live with the loss and disappointment of seeing dreams delayed or dashed.

Probably within each of our hearts there would also be something called our "will" that would need to go onto the altar as well. Maybe it is our determined desire to have the grand home, or an important job, or even a meaningful ministry. What is in our hearts that needs to be offered? Whatever He requires of you, please remember that if He requires something or if you offer him the contents of your heart as a sacrifice, you will never be disappointed. It's like trading dirt for gold, less for more, stagnant water for bubbling streams.

Why is the offering important? For one thing, He is Lord. By the definition of Lord, our hearts belong to Him. Another reason - He is all wise and knows best how to finish the work that He began in me. A third reason is that He is loving and is tenderly aware of who I am and how he wants to get me from here to the finish line. And of course, He is sovereign and knows where He is leading me, and He intends to make sure I get there.

But for my own selfish benefit, it is important to let Him have what is in my heart because it helps relieve the grief of the disappointments that I experience and it allows me to live. If HE has it, then IT is in good hands. No - it is in GREAT hands! It gives us a sense of release and growing promise. We let go of the dream and agree to live fully again in the reality of the power of God in us and in his vibrant, colorful intentions for our lives. Paul lived a vibrant colorful life, but it was laced with trials, tribulations, and pain, and I KNOW that if you could give him a call, he would tell you that he does not regret any of it and that he would have borne more if he had known what he knows now in the full awareness of God's glory and majesty. Let's all join Much-Afraid by giving the Shepherd of our Souls the contents of our hearts to heal, deliver, save, resurrect, empower, comfort, enable, and hold.

Here are some questions to consider from Chapter 8.

1. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12 All of us have areas in our lives that need healing. We often experience victory in our lives, only to face the same trouble, sin, or circumstance again, and we are disappointed or heart sick over the fact that we haven’t conquered the “whatever.” When has your hope been deferred much like Much-Afraid? How did you react? Pretend like you are giving Much-Afraid encouragement. What would you say to her?

2. How did Much-Afraid get victory over Self-Pity and Bitterness? What promises did she cling to and shout at the waves and the roar? What is the best remedy for our self-pity and bitterness?

3. “This further delay is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified.” Taken from John 11:4. Sometimes when we hear that “this” is for the glory of God, we couldn’t care less. In many ways Much-Afraid’s offering involved more than just giving up the idea of a quick resolution of the situation; it also involved her acceptance of the fact that the glory of God was worth the suffering that she had to endure. Where would you rate yourself concerning the glory of God in your present suffering, sorrow, and/or circumstantial sadness on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “not worth it” to 10 being “worth it”

4. What do you think the offering of the contents of her heart might mean? What was she in fact offering?

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