Waiting on God Under Fire

I haven’t written anything here in over a month, because I felt as though I’ve had nothing of worth to say. The past few weeks have been a time of emotional and spiritual wound healing, dealing with the reality of who I have been, and a process of purification and refining which is ongoing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s when God is working on you, the best response is to sit still and be quiet.

If you earnestly seek to belong to Christ, there will come a time when you must come face to face with the reality of who you are and what you have been. It may not happen for years, but it will happen. Sometimes it is even uglier than you could have imagined. You will be sorely tempted to give up hope of ever being acceptable to God. It is Satan’s lie, and he will press in hard on you with it. You may start to wonder why God is letting this happen to you.

What you must know is this: It is absolutely necessary to let this process finish. All of the pain, guilt, and shame has to be fully felt, because until we do, we will never begin to appreciate the depth, height, and width of God’s grace. Unless we recognize our wretched condition, we cannot properly respond to what Jesus Christ has done through His death and resurrection. We can’t experience God’s healing.

In the seventh chapter of Luke, the author tells of a Pharisee named Simon who invites Jesus to dinner. During the meal, a woman who is identified as a “sinner” comes up behind Jesus with an alabaster jar of perfume (it’s important to understand that meals were taken in the reclining position with the feet positioned behind the diner). She breaks open the jar and pours it over Jesus’ feet while at the same time washing his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Simon’s response was, sadly, maybe not too different from our own: “If Jesus really was who He said He was, He’d know this woman was a sinner.”

Think about the scene; stop and really consider what was happening. An alabaster jar of perfume in Bible times was not inexpensive. It would likely cost a year’s wages or more and was not generally something ordinary people would have around except at great cost. Then think about washing someone’s dirty, smelly feet with your tears and wiping them with your hair. Washing feet was a job assigned to the lowliest servants in the house; it was a really nasty job. And yet here was a woman who knew what she was, and who Jesus was, and she was willing to do the nasty job and do it extravagantly. Simon hadn’t even had the courtesy to offer a servant to do it.

Jesus then tells a parable about two debtors, one who owed over five hundred denarii and one who owed fifty (a denarii was the equivalent to a day’s wages). The moneylender to whom both debts were owed forgave them both. Then came the question: “So which of them will love him more?” Simon can only mumble, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” Right answer, but the wrong attitude. The result was a rebuke to Simon and forgiveness to the woman.

Our love for God is determined by the weight of our knowledge of how much He has forgiven us. If we deceive ourselves into thinking our debt of sin is small (and make no mistake, sin is a “debt” which requires a payment), our love for God and Christ will be small as well. But if our heart is honest and we admit our debt is huge and can never be paid without Christ’s sacrifice and God’s forgiveness, our love will be extravagant, just like this woman’s.

Don’t be afraid to let God show you the full measure of who and what you are. He wants your extravagant love which can’t be given unless you recognize how sinful and lost you are, and you allow God to apply His healing. If your desire is to love God and serve Him with all your being, you begin to understand that sometimes asking for forgiveness isn’t enough to relieve the shame and guilt. Sin is a wound that festers and stinks, and until you allow God to dig deeply into that wound and clean it out, it will never heal. Wound healing is often painful but has to be done properly and completely. The end result is much better than living with a nasty, stinky wound that will eventually cause your (eternal) death. We can take courage in knowing God’s intent is to make you healthy, whole, and HIS. And we have a Savior who understands all about wounds and has promised to be with us while we undergo the procedure.

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