I didn't really know what a fetter was until I starting reading Pilgrim's Progress with Chris.
A chain. In my mind's eye, it's an unbreakable iron chain.
After seeing this amazing picture of a fetter in the book, singing Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing had such a different impact on me. I've always loved this particular song and now, I love it all the more.
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 for Thy courts above.
After that last post, and particularly after the whole of last week, I will always be eternally grateful that I am chained, bound, shackled and stuck to a God whose goodness and love never diminish or fail.
Thank you for your encouraging thoughts and words of love. I know you've been praying for me too. And thank you for praying for sweet K. and her family. Chris said the funeral was beautiful, a wonderful celebration of A.'s life and a reminder that her life continues on in a greater way, in the midst of the never ending Light. Please continue to pray for all those left behind, waiting for that great reunion in the sky.
There is so much I would like to share with you. I spent a lot of time deep in the pit of sadness. And you know, if it had just been a pit of sadness, then I don't think I would have written that last post. It was more than sadness. It was fear. Fear and worry...fear and worry that I dwelled on for days. Fear and worry that intensified anger and doubt. I spent hours questioning God, wrestling with God. Did you know that Israel means 'wrestles with God'?
I don't think we're not supposed to wrestle with God or never question Him, but I do think we can be disrespectful and dishonoring to the God who made an everlasting covenant with us, the God wrestlers.
I wish you could have been at my church on Sunday. The sermon was on peace; the peace of God. It was a much needed reminder of what it meant to the world when Jesus was born. It was a fulfillment of the promise that no, God has not forgotten His people and one day, He will return to make all things right.
Things suck right now. Really they do. And they have since sin entered the world, but the promise of a Savior, a King, the One who comes to redeem His nation, has not been forgotten.
I was thoroughly convicted at the end of the sermon when our pastor asked,
'Do you care that Jesus has come and is coming again? Do you embrace the offer of rescue but shun the idea of submission? Perhaps, you simply don't care that Jesus is King. Why? Because it goes back to why we need a King at all. The King is the one who brings peace, so the Kingship is tied to your experience of peace. If you've already created a measure of peace in your lives, why do you need a King?
You may believe that life is manageable. And up to this point, maybe it is. The problems aren't too big, the occasional rewards or benefits you receive are enough to keep you going. In effect, you've become your own king, you've created your own kingdom where your own definition of peace is at work in that kingdom.
If that's you, then the kingdom you've created- that's an illusion. Your kingdom will eventually collapse. Our brokenness runs much too deep. The best spouse, the best family, the best children, the best vacation, the best friends, the best job won't be sufficient. It wasn't sufficient in the Garden...it isn't sufficient now; particularly in the midst of horrible brokenness.
Even if those things are strong and good in your life, we're not free to create and live within our own personal vision of peace. That is what Adam and Eve did; that was the ultimate act of rebellion...rebellion is exchanging God's vision of peace for your own. The question is- are you in this kind of passive aggressive mode of rebellion against God?
...Are you angry with God right now? Are you angry at what God is doing in your life?...The source your anger towards one another is not the other person, the source of that anger, the source of your inability to forgive or to be kind, is because you're angry at God and your anger at God is going to destroy those around you. God is calling us to repent through this story (Matthew 1: 18- Matthew 2:12)
...submit yourself to King Jesus and the peace that He offers, confess your sin of anger, forgive, give up wanting to be right, repent of your lack of charity towards others, and offer the peace of Jesus (the same peace that He's offered to you) to one another.
Jesus is the King who offers us peace and He invites all people to worship and experience the peace that He brings. Jesus is for anyone who sees the brokenness of this world, who sees the brokenness in their own lives, that sin and rebellion at a very deep level, and have come to the conclusion that they in their own strength can do nothing about it.
Thirty years after the visit of the wise men, Jesus makes this offer to all who seek his presence... 'Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light' (Matthew 11: 28-30).
There will come a time when everything in this world will be as it should be. That's why we're celebrating Advent, we're waiting for the arrival or the coming of Jesus again. And when He comes again, it will not be in weakness and suffering, it will be in power and glory and His peace will completely recreate our lives in this world (see this in Revelation 21).'
Okay, so when I started transcribing this sermon, I didn't expect to write so much, but seriously, it's a great sermon. If you want to hear the whole thing, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll send you a link so you can listen to it on iTunes.
The former things will pass away. No more death. No more tears. Complete peace.
I have to admit that the anger I struggle with is something I don't think I can be 'victorious' over in this life. It's a constant struggle to submit to God's will and repent of my sin. I know that the anger is wrong and I know that His will is perfect and good, but in this fallen world there is so much to point at and say, 'God, where are you? Are you really good? Do you really care?' There is so much temptation to sin. Our flesh constantly battles with the Spirit in us...
But He's here and He's good and He loves us.
Confess, repent, believe and move forward. We are going somewhere. Somewhere good.