Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tired of Me - Part II - Preparation for The Crucible!

Have your read Part I?

Good Evening - I have had a wonderful weekend with the Lord, Frank, and dear friends.  It is interesting how much keener my senses are - all of them - when I am sincerely waiting on the Lord, seeking all of Him and none of me.  His presence makes all things new, right?  Every experience, even the smallest, has more meaning.

Over a year ago, I was invited to be part of a group of leaders that would work together for a year, meeting at an initial 2-day retreat under the tutelage of a wonderful Christian/business leader.  I was grateful for the opportunity to work with pastors, principals, coaches, teachers, and business leaders as we grew together, honing our "people" skills and for some of us gaining a deeper understanding of the leadership style of Jesus.  We culminated our year of learning with a Leadership Conference in May of this year that was truly life-changing - or in my case, the beginning of a change.

During this year-long process, our mentor said that some of us would be facing a crucible in our lives as God continued to "perfect that work which He had begun" in us. (Phil 1:6)

Crucible: "A vessel used for melting and calcining materials at high temperatures; a severe test, a test of patience or belief, a trial; a place, time or situation characterized by the confluence of powerful intellectual, social economic or political spiritual forces that require a decision."  Spiritual fits the application to my life better than political, so I changed it.  Pardon the poetic license.

He was talking to me.  If it is possible to experience a crucible with elements of all definitions, I have done so.  I have walked through the fire like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, (I don't believe the fire is quenched just yet.) and on the days when I did it with the attitude of all of Him and none of me, I experienced what Job did when he said, “Though He may slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15).  It really makes the outcome not important, but gives the process of worshipping the Lord through the "high temperatures of refinement" a worthwhile, learning experience.

Notice, I didn't say an enjoyable experience.  I would like to say I enjoy the "crucible" of fire, but I don't.  I glory in what God is doing in my life, but my flesh writhes in pain, and the "me" in me "slings that tail to and fro" a bit all my by myself without any help from the devil. On those days, "ME" cries, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Oh, the arrogance and sacrilege of such a question to the Lord.

I am also in the midst of a trial.  Our pastor spoke this morning on testing and trial and how God uses these in our lives to "perfect that work He has begun in us."  God is good to continue to minister directly to me through people in my life.  He brings spiritual sustenance to me exactly when I need it and in such powerful, direct ways that it's impossible not to recognize that He is the source.

I am also being severely tested in a way that requires a daily decision on my part to specifically honor the Lord by honoring commitments whether or not I like it.  Ooh, ooh, ooh.  That is the worst.  You talk about getting to the nitty gritty of "me."

One morning as I was driving to work, I was pleading with the Lord to help me endure.  My prayer went something like this, "Lord, I've tried everything.  I'm miserable.  I'm at my wit's end.  I don't know if I can do this anymore.  You have to give me the strength and some answers."

Now, THIS, is what I love about my Heavenly Daddy, the Savior of my soul.  It is the way He chooses to deal with me - right where I am, not where I should be, but where I am.  At that moment, He brought to mind a scene in one of my favorite movies, Anna and the King.  That movie is full of powerful life's lessons.  One particular event was especially powerful for me.  God knew it and brought it to my remembrance.

The King of Siam invited an English school teacher to come and teach English and the ways of the world to all of his 67 children (He was a very busy king).  The teacher had a son the same age as the King's eldest son - probably about 10.  During class, they started scuffling over some inappropriate comments the King's son had made about the teacher's son's deceased father.  The English school teacher told the boys to write 1,000 times, "I will respect my classmates."  Her son completed his task.  The king's son stood with arms crossed in defiance at the blackboard late into the evening.  The teacher excused her son when he finished and sat quietly reading and waiting for the King's son to finish his assignment.

Suddenly, servants began arriving with food.  The teacher immediately reacted saying that the King's son had not completed his assignment and....she was interrupted with a message from the King.  "The King thought the school teacher would get hungry waiting for his son to complete his task, so he sent food for one."  The prince's face dropped.  So did the arms of defiance, and he began writing his sentences.  After he completed his task, there is a scene where the teacher is lovingly chatting and sharing her food with the prince.

The prince said, "why does my father put me in a subordinate position to an English teacher?"  To which she replied, "because your father loves you very much, and he believes I am what is best for you right now."

Remember my desperate prayer, "Lord, I've tried everything.  I'm miserable.  I'm at my wit's end.  I don't know if I can do this anymore.  You have to give me the strength and some answers."  To which He said, "I am your Father, and I love you very much.  This is what is best for you right now.  Do you trust me or not?"

I wept at His gentleness, clarity and His deep care for me that He would personalize the answer so perfectly for me.

Through this crucible that still continues in my life, He has sent people I didn't personally know before to uphold me in ways I didn't know I would need.  He also sent a friend to whom I hadn't spoken since May that would call me in the middle of a particularly "hot day in the oven" saying that the Lord had laid me on her heart and given her a verse for encouragement for me.  It would be exactly what I needed. There are too many to recount.

I want to close Part II with some verses that the Lord has brought to life for me through this crucible.

Isaiah 25:1 "Oh Lord, you are my God.  I will praise and exalt your name; for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."  You see, my heavenly Daddy knew He was going to allow this trial and testing, and he began preparing me for it over a year ago through a strong mentor that became an Ezekiel to my life, preparing my heart and mind.  He doesn't want me to fail.

Psalm 139:5-6  "You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it."  The God of the Universe is my shield, my rock, my fortress.  He hasn't put a hedge around me, He IS the hedge.  What can anyone do to me that He doesn't allow and prepare me to endure?  Please read all of Psalm 139.  It will make you shout.

I realize this is lengthy.  I have a Part III to share with you. So, the saga continues.  Stay tuned for Tired of Me - Part III - The Victorious and Continuous work of the Holy Spirit.

I worship as I read the words to this glorious old hymn.  It blesses my soul, brightens my day, and makes the darkness light.  Love you all, Mecca

Jesus I am resting, resting
In the Joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power
Thou hast made me whole.