Monday, January 14, 2013

If I Am Unfaithful (Part 2) & Wrestling with Death

You can read PART 1 back HERE. 

It was several months ago and I had an event out in those country hills. It was an open invite for many interantionals and you can read about it back here. There was a group of three and they came together. In all of the chaos of the day, I actually forgot to pick them up and had them waiting outside their apartment for nearly an hour. Regardless when I finally rounded the corned, they piled into the packed van with smiles big and they even rode seated on the floor until we could meet up with another van. They never complained though—just seemed happy to be together.

I remember talking with one as she sat packed tight on the floor just behind my seat. I was frustrated because I wanted to look her in the eye as she told me about her family in France and her journey to Fayetteville. As she quieted I remember feeling overwhelmed by all of these new international friends at once. How will I even try to connect and pursue each of them after this event? I remember wondering.

At the time, I don't think I gave enough thought to these girls (and guys)—the places they've come from and the hurts they've endured. I think I forget sometimes that the whole world is broken and dark—and not even a language barrier could conceal that. Sometimes I glory more in the sound of my own voice then in the actual work of God within them though. Probably because it is hard. And they don't always get it. Then you get scared to risk relationship for the sake of pushing more gospel and some days I just wonder what in the world I am doing. Some days I keep quiet. And sometimes the defeat comes in the workers being too few to build relationship with them all, in your own time becoming a restraint.

And even when one loses her life completely unexpectedly and I never had time to build relationship or share the gospel and then my brain stretches in all kinds of crazy—even then I just have to endure, and remain faithful to those God has placed close.

"The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself." 2 Timothy 2

IF we endure this messed up world, we will reign with Him. We play a role. A conditional promise. 
IF we are faithless, he remains faithful. Not matter what. An unconditional promise.

We have to endure. Broken marriages and babies lost too soon. Little girls being sold for sex and cancer robbing life too fast. Dads failing to protect and moms too busy climbing the corporate ladder to notice. Little ones getting shot in the classroom and teenagers broken enough to stand behind the gun. International friends here one day and gone the next. His promises are still true. 

"If there is a pattern in your life, where you get no joy from the cross and there is this ongoing pattern of selfishness that controls you, I think it would be foolish for you to not at least consider that maybe you are not in Christ." -Chan

I can remember the pain being so great I wanted to escape. No one understood my life. The temptations I fought or the battles that raged inside. How can I ever fight this for the rest of my life? I remember thinking often. It's never going to get better. 

The answer: God gives life to dry bones. His promises are true. He fights and ultimately the victory has been won.

I know some of your lives are difficult...the abuse, the lies, the betrayal, the loss...and God is saying you can trust me. If you endure you can reign with me.

Some of us have a hard time believing in God's faithfulness because of things that we have done. Because of things other people have done to us. How could he still offer relationship to me? Our actions don't change Him. You can't change God. I am who I am and I am faithful, He reminds us. When I promise something I mean it. 

For some of us eternity could be tomorrow. It could be next week. Is that going to change how we live now? Is it going to squelch the fear and inadequacies that tell us we could never make disciples? Sometimes, I share and I don't actually expect the spirit within to speak words that have power to move eternity for another human being and I don't believe it matters right now—for there is always next time?

Her blonde locks hung deep and her eyes spoke loud. She was quiet at first but in good company I could see her craziness coming out. She was a terrific model for the camera, always goofing off with her friends and keeping me belly laughing behind the lens. Later in the day, we built Egyptian pyramids with our bodies piled high and she found her place right above me, her knees performing a balancing act across my back. Yes, we were quite impressive if I do say so.

She got sick just before she went to France to spend the holiday with her family. Just several days after arriving back, she died. Just like that. And as I watch hundreds of internationals return to campus this week, I realize she is not in the crowd. I can't get my brain around it truthfully.

She was on my list of students to reach out to—to know better, to encourage, to love—and now she is just gone. The feeling of my own helplessness piled atop the very fierce reality of her lack of faith in Christ leaves me wrestling with eternity here on this earth, on this very broken, very dark, very fallen earth and today is one of those days that I really wrestle with God's promises—because if I proclaim the ones His overwhelming love, I have to holdfast to the ones of judgement too.

I guess my question then, becomes when is it enough? When are we really going to believe God's word for what it says—both promises of victory and promises of judgement? I think I have failed to articulate the full expanse of God's word accurately and I think my faith has been watered down in His love and ultimately it all higes on it at the same time—so I wrestle while I cling to His promises. 

Don't deny Him, friends. Because His promises really are true and eternity is not always a lifetime away. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) 

Do you live that? Do we live clean and righteous? Do you want it? Because brothers and sisters, in Christ we are forgiven and cleansed and eternally free to reign with Christ. Let's endure for He is faithful.

There is a memorial service for Lucie today at Holcombe Hall at 4pm, find more info HERE. 

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