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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Squirmin' Mercy Needed

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As I am reading through the Old Testament right now, I am squirming...

It wasn't really what I expected when I was beginning my journey back through the Bible.  He does surprise us, doesn't He?  Our big, beyond, and other-than-me God!  

It isn't that I haven't read the Old Testament many times before.  I have.  But, I don't know...I was just expecting a different understanding and experience.  I wasn't expecting to squirm.  I wasn't expecting to feel the conviction and the heaviness.

But, I am.  I am wriggling as I read.  

I started the reading on January 1st, intending to read through the Bible in a year.  I am already behind... and it is only the end of February.  But, I am ambling my way through.  And, as I read, I am squirming in in my seat.  I am uncomfortable.

My prayer and my heart's desire was to find God's love in and through the pages of the Old Testament.  And, His love is there, to be sure!  I am seeing His heart.  His feelings for His people is as passionate and as connected as it has always been since the beginning of time.  He cares.  Deeply. 

His love is shown forth in amazing deliverance, provision, and constant forgiveness.  But the reality is that God's care and His love are also expressed in His anger and frustration.  I am seeing the Truth of Revelation 3:19, "Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline."  He rebukes.  He disciplines.  He loves.  ...He is a good, kind Father.  Good, kind, loving parents do discipline and rebuke and feel frustration with their kids!

But, His goodness does look, feel, and sound a bit painful at times in Exodus... and in Leviticus ...and in Numbers.  And, I know it only gets more intense and more painful as I anticipate ahead toward the reading of Ezekiel.  

I love God's word so much.  I believe that His Word is teaching me... even as I squirm.  For weeks I have been asking God to show me the sufferings of Christ... that I might touch them more deeply this Lent season.  He has answered this prayer many times already.  I have been feeling, more keenly, the pain, suffering, and sin that taints our world so drastically every day.  I have sensed His suffering.

But, more recently, I feel He is showing me the pain, the suffering, and the sin deep within Stephanie.  Deep within me.  He is showing me my own heart and my sin.  And, that this darkness... pains Him greatly.  This is Lent suffering close at hand.  My sin.  ...in desperate need of the Resurrection and His salvation!  

I can relate to those He is rebuking.  I have, and do still today, complain and grumble about the same thing time-and-time-again.  I walk faithless and worried, not trusting my Father to provide.  I ignore His Presence.  And, I turn away from His best ways--- His Truth.   

As I read about the Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16 yesterday, I was so deeply struck by how I could relate to these prideful men.  I, too, have grumbled against leaders.  I, too, have felt "holier than thou" and stood in judgment toward my brothers.  Have you?  

I am reading the Old Testament and squirming in my seat these days.  

All I can say today when I sit and ponder are the words found in the ancient Jesus Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, as sinner.  And, I thank Him for His fresh mercy every morning!  (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Because of His great love, I am not consumed.  
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