Yesterday I talked about how sin, if left alone (un-repented), can become toxic in every area of our lives. As soon as the apple was bit into and sin entered the world, so did toxins. Just like we've learned that toxic foods can poison our body, so can toxic television poison our minds, toxic relationships poison our emotions, and toxic environments poison our souls; so can sin poison our spirit (as well as our mind, body and soul). These are all examples of course, but are you getting the picture?
Sadly, we live in a fallen world in fallen bodies with toxic things ALL AROUND. To be completely unharmed by any toxic things we'd have to live in a bubble I'm afraid. Even then you'd have to be careful what you were reading, watching, and who was visiting you! Ah!!! We will all be somehow affected by toxins in some way until the day we are taken home where sin is no longer present. Another thing that will no longer exist is pain. Pain is a result of this toxic world. Today I felt pain... and I witnessed pain all around me.
I prayed for a friend who has experienced agonizing pain in her neck and head for two years! There was a funeral at my church for a man my age who was murdered in his own home and left behind a young wife and 3 kids. Widespread pain. Another friend of mine has had a string of pain with sick family members, difficult relationships, heavy burdens from work, and an insurmountable stack of important decisions piling up. Someone else I know and just spoke with is taking on responsibilities she never would have expected for herself in this life. A close guy friend is feeling the weight and stress of his position in ministry. And my pain is hardly any comparison... but I'm feeling it physically and emotionally tonight. The list goes on and on.... and I have an inkling you could add to it with your own personal stories.
Pain is definitely a part of our lives. BUT so is beauty. It's hard for me to think that God wants pain for His children... because what loving dad does? Nevertheless, I'm constantly hearing that this or that was "God's will." Sure, we CAN and should always praise HIM despite our difficult circumstances so that He will get the most glory out of the situation.... but does He always cause the pain? I'm not so sure about that. Oh, He can definitely use the pain and birth something sooooo beautiful from it... but I think sometimes we give God credit for the bad stuff, when His desire is for our good. Now, on the other hand... allowed pain (like we read about in Job) can be also used for His glory and other times be blessings in disguise. I'm just questioning all sides of this argument so that you'll look closer with me at God's heart for His people and maybe find truth for yourself in all of this. Like I've said before: I NEVER want to take away or add to the gospel, only ponder the word in hopes of going deeper into the great mysteries of the Lord. I also NEVER want to undermine His authority, that would be dangerous ground to tread. What I do desire is to bring more light to His truth and heart for the world... in the midst of the pain and trouble.
Many moons ago when I was still sportin the headgear (don't laugh...) and my 89 pontiac sports car, my dad took me to my first driving test. Boy... was I nervous. This was my "big day", the gateway to maturity if you will. I was taking the opportunity to pass over my childish threshold into the unknown portal of adulthood. I had studied my brains out for this thing, and practiced hours with a very brave yet nervous family member gripping the seat next to me. Palms sweaty, I sat down and pushed through the written part equally as frightened of the driving section coming up. Afterward, I hopped in the car with the stern faced woman. I could feel her judging me with her left eye as we rolled out of the parking lot and carefully glided around the corner. At one point I forgot to use my blinker. This is something people forget every day in the "real world", and for some reason beyond my imagination I was punished for this and denied my driver's license. Teenage devastation at in it's finest hour. A few months later I was able to go back and prove that mean old lady wrong, thus my finally treading on uncharted grown-up territory... where freedom was just a steering wheel and gas tank away! It wasn't until just a few short years ago that my very own dad told me that he was the reason I didn't pass :( Are you kidding me right now?? He said the lady had told him my mistakes, and although she was going to pass me anyway... He told her not to because he thought I wasn't ready. I blamed this poor woman for years!!! Can you believe it?? So although I would have passed my butt in a second... Dad "allowed" this woman to flunk me and knew that it was for my best.
I know that God does know what we need better than we do... because He knows us better than we even know ourselves. I also believe that He has provided ways for us to be protected from this toxic world more than we think. First we must continue to believe in the POWER of God's healing hand. When we pray for someone, I truly believe that even if we don't see a physical miracle He's healing their heart in some way... and that's eternal! God also created fruits and vegetables and herbs that heal. I believe these are wonderful things He designed to protect us from some of the pain we endure. Did you know that we can actually change the way we feel, sometimes even the way we think... just by the foods that we eat??? It's pretty amazing how He created our bodies to work! Also, when we repent from sin... He is detoxing our bodies from something that will eventually poison us. He wants to cleanse us from negative emotions. Did you also know that fear, anger, and bitterness can all harm our physical bodies as well? I know we are barely scratching the surface here... but the more I research and the more I read His word... the more I see how it's all so connected!!!
Like I said... I know we can't keep every toxic thing from entering our mind, body, soul and spirit. But I do believe that He has given us the means to live as WHOLE as possible in this earth and be strong and healthy for Him while we are living. When I got sick a year ago with Dengue Fever I saw how right after my physical body crashed, my emotional followed. Soon after... my mental became weak and then my spiritual. I began to see how they all somehow supported one another and that each of those things were vital in my relationship to the Lord and my service to the world. I know that when I'm feeling great physically, I'm even more excited and passionate about serving and loving people. I also see how easy it is to focus on positive thoughts and how much energy I have to read the word and blog this much. Haha. When we are sick and/or feel crappy, it seems that everything looks gloomy and takes a back seat to the illness. There is no doubt that God can use those very moments to help us "be still and know".... but there are other (healthier) ways for us to rest and not even get to that point.
I pray that we, as a church, begin to see the importance of living whole lives. I pray that it's never what we look like on the outside, but what God is actually doing on the inside. It IS a temple of the Holy Spirit and if we honor our vessel in that way we will find that the life we've been given is such a beautiful gift worth treasuring. As we surrender ALL areas of our life to Him, and not just our "spiritual" side, He will take us to even greater heights and delight in us honoring Him with our whole selves! If we are good stewards with the temporary life He's given us, ours as well as others lives will be changed eternally! I'm telling you, it's been quite an adventure for me...an adventure that lasts a lifetime, but one well worth living.
B90: (Ezekiel 8- 21:32) Oh man oh man... yet another book i'm ready to hop out of. I'm telling you, the bible is not so much of an easy read (but i'm sure you already knew that). I've began to notice recently this "fear of God" rise up in me again. As you read through this stuff, it sure can kick you in the gut just hard enough to realize how freaking powerful and mighty God is. It's pretty humbling and will surely keep you on your knees. Nevertheless, God's faithfulness and love does come through in moments of these dreary but honest books.
Just last night I was reading in one of my "food and healing" books about fevers. Basically it was explaining how for many many years now our medical community has told us that a fever is bad and needs to be broken. But after much research, the high temperatures in the body are actually it's way of killing bacteria. You see, the bacteria can not possibly survive at those high temperatures... therefore our body is doing us a much needed and urgent favor. (Yet another amazing design in God's plan for our bodies). Although it can be painful or annoying to deal with, our fever is supposed to break on it's own when it is finished with it's job. Unfortunately, when we break it ourselves with medicine of some sort... the book so eloquently puts it "we kill the cleaning lady before she's finished her job" and the leftover bacteria scatter throughout the body. Each time we do this bacteria is dispersed and eventually we will have a much bigger problem on our hands. The key is to build up your body's immunity so that bacteria can not even find a place to take hold when it's introduced to your body. But when fever occurs, it's actually helping us. Some will not agree with this at all, and that's ok... but I choose to believe that God designed our bodies to work in tune with us and not against us ( "if" we treat it properly).
Again, something like this reminds me how something a little annoying and slightly painful can be a good thing sometimes. The high fever, which we may see as a negative... could very well be a positive thing that fights off the bad stuff. After trudging through Ezekiel and all of it's "condemnations", I got to the end of chapter 18 and saw something I hadn't before.
In verse 25 The Lord is speaking to the house of Israel who has said He is not just to which He replies "Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?" He goes on to say that when a righteous person does injustice he shall die, and when a wicked person turns away and does what is just he shall live. Read on down through the following passages paying close attention at the His last few sentences here. "Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel. For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so TURN and LIVE."
He makes it clear at this point that what He does judge is the sin... the sin is what He hates. He takes no pleasure in the death of those He created (or the sickness for that matter). He DOES take pleasure in seeing us choose LIFE, His intention and desire for all of us. God deeply cares for each and every child of His and I truly believe He wants us to be as free from toxins and sin as we can be on this earth; so we can live fully in His freedom and joy, resting in His grace and faithfulness, and trusting in His word and truth.