There are different styles of praise and worship music (lyrically speaking). Some songs are simple descriptions of the Creator’s majesty, like Indescribableor Majestic. Others tell of His (Son’s) great redeeming power by His work on the cross, such as Jesus Messiah or Love Song. Then there is my kind of worship lyric, which speaks in first-person of the brokenness that He has transformed, healed, and repaired.
“Whatever You’re Doing (Something Heavenly)”
It’s time for healing time to move on
It’s time to fix what’s been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It’s time to find my way to where I belong
There’s a wave that’s crashing over me
All I can do is surrender
Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there’s peace
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see
but I’m giving in to something heavenly
Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Reevaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender…
Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I’ve wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears
Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You’re up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
It’s time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out
BibleGateway.com’s ‘ Verse of the Day’ today is Psalm 103:17-18. Part of it hit me strangely:
…the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep His covenant and obey His precepts.
What this seemed to be saying was “The Lord’s love and righteousness result from covenant-keeping and precepts-obeying.” Two things struck me. First, this certainly sounds like the keeping and obeying is required – a prerequisite; and second, ‘love and righteousness?’ The actual question I asked myself was, “What exactly are love and righteousness worth? What do they do for me, even if they are from God?”
I’m pretty sure that throughout Christendom there is a constant struggle with – or a lack of understanding of – which comes first, God’s love for only those who fear Him or the awe and reverence that is felt as a result of knowing God’s blessings. I know works don’t come first, right? But those are verbs in the passage, indicating action: fear, keep, obey. The phrasing certainly makes it sound like only those who do these things will get the ‘reward.’ And why can’t we get something really useful to people in this world, like silver and gold, or free food and shelter?
I decided to look further into this, and googled “verses love and righteousness”.
The top returns clearly backed up God’s reputation as always good:
The Rock! His work is perfect. For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
…Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne.
(He is) righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.
Wait a minute. “Kind in all His deeds??” Then why do bad things happen to good people? “…Why do bad people have it so good? …” (Jeremiah 12:1-4) Is this God not being faithful, righteous, and just? Or can it be that somehow He is acting with love, acting for our good and the plans He has for us – to prosper and not harm us? (Jeremiah 29:11)
It seems very contrary. A kind of divine oxymoron or something. In fact, even God’s response to Jeremiah goes right back to
Then if they (Israel) will get serious about living my way and pray to me as well as they taught my people to pray to (other gods), everything will go well for them…
I had to go deeper. Another hit on my search was Isaiah 45:21:
…there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior. There is none except Me.
God’s name is “I Am.” He is. He is what is. Consider this world, at this time. The earth has rivers. It benefits from them, even when they flood – floodplains are the most fertile land. Flooding is what is – and it is good in the long term.
How does that translate to us? If life is a river, there will be floods. We will have trials. God’s people learn to have faith, in spite of the floods. How will I face my troubles? How can I prosper?
I found the beginnings of an answer in Romans 5:3-5, with an additional point God makes (in verse 12:5) right after Jeremiah asks why bad people have it good:
…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah’s impatience, saying] “If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions ] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan?”
Do you know the verse about discipline not being pleasant while it is happening but beneficial in the long run? I think this is similar. The difference is that discipline is the result of something that is done wrong while rejoicing in suffering is a reaction to the storms we will face. We learn from both. We learn how to live; how to stay alive.
Why is that important? I think it has to do with developing hope, something we cannot get up and go on without. And what does God do? He answers that question Himself:
I live in the high and holy places,
But also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed,
And what I do is put new spirit in them,
Get them up and on their feet again.
It’s God’s love and righteousness delivered through the Holy Spirit which gives us the ability to continue to live, to push through the troubled times. He gives us hope. And we have to have hope, to make it to that future without troubles which is promised to us, for a time that will come, a time when
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
And death shall be no more.
Neither shall there be mourning,
Nor crying, nor pain anymore,
For the former things have passed away.
The big “why” is that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Things will get worse before they get better. Before that final glorious time, the most difficult time is coming, and we must be prepared and able to stand throughout.
And we know that for those who love God all things (the good and the bad) work together for (overall) good…
This is a post about being able. Being able to give. I think.
My time today took me all over the Bible, from Chronicles to Psalms to several New Testament books. I have a dozen verses that seemed relevant to what I was discerning – that is, what I was thinking on and hearing from that quiet voice which connects me to the Creator, Spirit, and Savior.
So, I say, “I think I know what this post will be about.”
It’s not just about giving. It’s not about wanting to give. It’s more about realizing what I have been enabled to give. IOW, what I have been given to give. And, yes, it has sadly taken me a long, long while to figure this out. (I’m still not fully convinced I have figured it out!)
Certainly, it’s not money! Lol! I have no money to throw around. I do, however, have confusion about the role finances should play in how I give what I have to give (because, well, I’ve been given it, I have not been sold it to resell like some distributor.)
Did I pay for what I have? Well, I’ve suffered some but despite a calamitous life, I can’t claim any credit for where I am, what I have today. (Responsibility for where I ended up at my worst moments is another matter!)
So, I’m talking about being able to give, about knowing where and what my bountiful gifts and blessings are, and proceeding from there. First and foremost, works don’t come first. I definitely have something to give, yes, but it’s nothing that was my idea or of my doing. That is to say, first I received it and then maybe I developed it a tiny bit. I made it presentable. I dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s because I was taught that much.
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from you, and from your hand we have been given.
1 Chronicles 29:14 AMP
Maybe a good analogy is the fire brigade – y’know, a line of people passing buckets of water one to the next to get water to where the fire is. I’m like one of those people in the middle. I don’t have any special skills. I didn’t have anything to do with making the water or the buckets. I’m not even sure from where either came. Nor can I see the fire (although maybe I can smell the smoke.) I’m not on the front lines. But I surely do feel that motivating sense of urgency to stand and pass, stand and pass, to keep the buckets moving.
But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I receivedfrom the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life.]
Acts 20:24 AMP
Okay, we’re digging into this subject now. First was what Jesus has given in response to the mess we all make (our anti-good-works, if you will). That’s grace, the good news, precious and undeserved. Second, although I feel the urgency, I feel joy, too. I’ve been told – promised – that this fire’s fiery thirst will be quenched. Third, I’ve come to (mostly) accept that my place in the brigade is important but not vital. I’ve been placed in that specific spot for a reason. I’m upstream (to receive from) and downstream (to pass on to) the people I need. They represent my sphere of influence, my family, friends, and contacts.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 AMP
That ministering I am to do has two parts. One is sharing the good news. The other is about my responsibility for worldly care. One’s more obvious (and easier to do) than the other (but it’s not always the same one! Lol!)
You know personally that these hands ministered to my own needs [working in manual labor] and to [those of] the people who were with me.
Acts 20:34 AMP
There is some work to do. Work that must be done. That only I can do? Perhaps, but only in a small and unique way. My story is just one chapter in God’s story, and it’s relevant to some few that He has chosen. Only He knows. Some of this work has to do with stewardship of whatever amount of material assistance He provides – my physical stuff.
But (verse :33) it’s not about having a desire for silver or gold or fancy clothes.
Let’s go back to Christ Jesus for a moment.
Who gave himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
Galatians 1:4 AMP
I think Jesus just might be the first and last guy in the brigade line. He’s drawing the water and making the first exchange. And He’s the one pouring the water out onto the flames. In being both, He’s giving me every example to follow, receiving the bucket from one person and delivering it to the next. There’s no need to think deeply about what or how to do this. The overall purpose for being in the line is obvious so we all can be joyfully singing as we pass the buckets. (Ya, I like the singing part.)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God…
Ephesians 5:1-2 AMP
What’s the takeaway for this post? Well, I’m down to two verses that could sum it up.
Philippians 2:5-8 talks about how Jesus gave up being divine to become in the likeness of men as a servant, becoming obedient to God’s will even to the point of death – and death on the cross at that. I certainly do not “hope” for a death like that! However, if my journey through these past nine years of recovery and sobriety struggles and the fact of my clay-jar fragility has done anything, it is to leave me ready to live and to, ultimately, leave this earth becauseI have been given belief that this life is not all there is.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasure.
Psalm 100:3 AMP