Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Haggo'el

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament all year (not consistently enough….I’m only in 1 Chronicles!), and one of the things I’ve been doing as I read is taking note of the names of God that are used. For example, one of the first times God is referred to as “Father” is in 2 Samuel 7 when He promises to be a Father to David’s son.

I love that one of God’s names for Himself is Father. It’s one of my favorites! But I actually want to talk about a different name of God – one that I have become increasingly grateful for over the past couple of years: God as Haggo’el (the Redeemer, in Hebrew).

If I remember right, my journey of learning this name started one day in the fall of 2012, as I sat out in the woods reading through Psalm 139. I was reading it out loud, my heart echoing ‘amen’ to each truth. But suddenly, when I got to the verse “Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well,” (vs. 14b) I came to a full stop. I couldn’t even read it, let alone affirm the truth of it in my own life.

It was one of those moments when I realized there are still areas in my life where I have a hard time trusting God….a hard time believing that His plan and what He has allowed are good. There are old hurts and regrets I still hold onto. It was that day I began to realize that I blamed God for those things.

I wish I had all my journals here with me so that I could go back and look at those entries. I think it took a couple weeks for me to think about it and process it…..but I think later in that final JBU year I was able to go back to that verse and read it aloud, instructing my heart to believe its truth.

Perhaps that didn’t come until after this next bit. It was in April of 2013, as a group of us were road tripping back from an academic conference in Wisconsin, that the above concept took on a more concrete form. I was reading through Joel at the time, and there in the backseat of the van I read Joel 2:25, where the LORD says “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…My great army which I sent among you.” It was like a light of spiritual understanding went on in my mind.

God had sent the locust. He had allowed—no, He had caused—a calamity to happen to His chosen people, in this case as a judgment for their sin. But when His people repented and turned back to Him (2:12-17), He promised to forgive them and to redeem the loss that they had endured.

During the nearly two years since that day, the concept of God’s work as our Redeemer has become increasingly real and special to me. Of course, a major aspect of God’s redemptive work is His sacrificing His Son to buy us back (to redeem us) from the grasp of the devil. But I believe we can see from passages such as Joel 2:25 and Romans 8:28 that God’s redeeming grace does not apply only to eternity future….it applies to our lives here and now as well.

There have been several times in the past year and a half when I have been filled with regrets over how the choices I have made have impacted others or even just my own outlook on things. It was actually thinking about one of those occasions that has brought on this blog post. As I lay there last night, tears running down my face as I wished things had turned out differently, it was the truth of God’s redeeming power that brought peace to my heart.

That is not to say that God’s redemption means what I did was right or even good. God’s work as Redeemer also rarely works on my time schedule! But when choices have been made in the past—when I can’t go back and undo them, as much as I wish I could—then, after I have repented before God and men my Father asks me to trust Him. To trust that He will redeem all things for His glory and for the good of all of His children, in His time and in His way (see this blog post for more about that).

I may not see the full outworking of that until I stand in His presence. If that is the case, He calls me to go forward free from guilt, counting on Him to work all things for good. Even those things that hurt me or others, that the devil probably laughed with glee over when they happened. BUT GOD – He takes each thing and uses it in the refining, molding process—and in the end, every vessel (each one of us individually) will be beautiful.


For He is Haggo'el, our Redeemer.


Friday, December 5, 2014

The Refiner’s Fire

{I just wrote this in my journal this morning, but felt I should share it here too. It’s all by His grace. Without Him, I am nothing.}

It’s been a month now since Jill fell and broke her arm. And it has been a hard, hard month. Of course there have been good moments and times when I have felt God’s blessings….but most of the time I have been stressed and/or frustrated.

I know that’s not the right response. I know I’ve got to trust GOD to work all things for Good and to {help me} live each moment righteously through Him….but my flesh so so so easily takes charge, I try to do it on my own, and I usually end up so angry that I’m nearly shaking {when things go wrong, when things happen that are outside of my control}.

Abba Father! I come to You because there is nowhere else to go. Abba, if there’s one thing I’m being confronted with every day here, it is that I am not in control. Father, I confess that my hunger for control is sin. It’s pride. It’s evidence of a failure to trust You.

God, I spent months {last year} asking You to break me, to strip away everything from my life that was not of You. I can feel the heat of the fire, Refiner of my soul. I can feel it and I want so badly to run away, to escape it.

Abba Father! Please don’t let me go! Please don’t let me pull away from Your sanctifying grasp. Abba, I beg You, please keep me – no, please make me to be humble and soft before You, my Master and my King of Glory.

For God, You are Good! And Father, I am thankful. Even though my flesh quivers as I write that….I am thankful to You. I thank You and praise You for Your grace, Your patience with my frail stumblings.

Jesus, You are the Christ. You alone have eternal life. And so, no matter what, help me soul to trust in You.

There is nowhere else—no one else to whom—I would rather turn.

Satisfy me in every moment with Your love, Your peace, Your grace. May Your indestructible Joy be my only strength.

For Your glory alone.
                Amen.


{As I finish typing this in and prepare to get ready for the day, I don’t want to leave this moment, this place of my soul. Because I know that there will be trials and temptations in this day, probably before I even reach the office and get this posted before starting work. And I forget so easily! But those next steps of physical life must be taken, and it’s an opportunity to trust God and to put my faith into practice. That’s how our Creator made life work. But He is also always there to turn to in prayer each moment. Live through me, Abba.}