"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No simple answer... just simple faith

God doesn't have to deliver you... this is a nagging thought that plagues my mind sometimes as I watch many who love Him suffer.

Does God promise to deliver you? Again, a nagging question.

Is it coming from within or without...this question that haunts my heart and mind?

But truth and answers jump up from the depths of my soul and answer. Yes! Yes, God does promise to deliver me!

Over and over and over again in Scripture He promises to deliver His people, those He loves and has redeemed. I am His kid and His love for me is secure. Yes, God does promise to deliver.

But... does He have to? Does He always? I guess the question that I wrestle with is two-fold... First, has He been faithful to those biblical promises? Have I seen Him deliver? And, secondly, what does it look like to be delivered?

The first question is hard to answer simply. Yes, He has. No, He hasn't.

Have I personally experienced His deliverance? Yes, absolutely. Have I witnessed others who have been delivered? Yes.

But, if I am honest, I have also seen many who have not been delivered. Or, should I say, I have watch people who have "seemingly" not been delivered. I know of many who have died, been hungry, been imprisoned, been hurt, and been attacked with no apparent delivery. The Bible itself has plenty of stories to illustrate this paradox. So, does God deliver or not?

We read about Peter's amazing deliverance from prison in Acts 12. He is rescued as fellow believers are praying for him. This story is an awe-inspiring deliverance---so clearly the hand of God. And, yet, only 4 verses earlier in the same chapter we read that James, the brother of John, has just been beheaded because of his faith. No delivery there!? So, why Peter and not James?

These past few years we have been praying for two dear ones that have been facing the wrath of a communist government. Both young, strong men of faith were arrested and put in prison. Both left beautiful, grieving families behind. After years of praying we just heard that one has been released and returned to his wife and child. Deliverance!! Thank you, Lord. We also learned that the other received a sentence of 15 years to hard labor in a prison camp. Why one, Lord, and not the other?

Does God deliver His people? When I find myself in need of deliverance, can I ask with confidence? Can I trust the myriad of Scriptures that testify to my Father as a deliver?

This morning, I had a dream that was difficult and frightening. In the dream and shortly after the dream, these questions flooded my mind. I found them to be a hindrance to my faith and my confidence. I know enough to know that I must deal with this before the Lord, not allowing the doubts or questions to rule or reign. I need to wrestle with God and ask for His answer to take root in my heart.

The questions aren't a problem, a sin or a bondage. I think that genuine questions are a blessing, actually. The questions can, though, when not dealt with or talked about can breed... multiply and become bondage.

So, I quietly talked with the Lord. This morning it only took a few moments and I was instantly convinced of the answer I needed right now.

My husband would do anything to help or deliver myself or my children. We know that. I truly can't imagine a situation... a fire, a flood, an attacking army... that he wouldn't fight with all his might to deliver one of us. When I thought of my daughter in a tough spot, I could easily imagine her response... she would ask Daddy for help---she would cry out, in full faith and hope, for the help of her Dad. And, he would NEVER not respond to her cry. He just couldn't help it! If my husband heard the genuine cry of "help" from his little girl, there would be nothing short of death that would keep him from getting to her... to deliver her.

This was the only image I needed to open up the flood gates of faith. I have a kind Father who loves me infinitely more than my husband loves his kids. I have a mighty, all-powerful Father that hears all, sees all, and can do all things. Would He not hear, and respond, to the cries of His girl? He would! Yes. He does! ... And, He will. In this I have full confidence.

I guess the question still remains, though, what does deliverance look like? This is a harder one, isn't it? I have my definitions that include warmth, food, comfort and health. I don't think that God's definition of deliverance is the same. But, that is where the trust comes in.

Am I looking at the Acts 12 story all wrong to begin with? Why do I call Peter's delivery better than James'... If I truly believe that this Almighty Father is loving, perfect and good... then I must trust the outcome of the delivery.

My kids don't always see their deliverance... a slap on the hand that is reaching out to the flames... as "good" or nice deliverance. My kids don't always know the deliverance even when it is happening--- they can't always understand when we are "delivering" them. But, when in trouble, they trust us and they ask.

I trust you Father. I believe with all my being that you are good and loving. Thank you for the many, many times you have delivered me. Father continue to work in my heart to bring deeper, fuller faith and trust. I want to trust you so completely that freedom or prison would be "deliverance", because I know it is from your hand.

Psalm 69:13 But I keep right on praying to you, LORD, hoping this is the time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.
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