Friday, December 9, 2011

I asked for a word from the Lord this morning.

I am slowly reading through Matthew's gospel in order to prepare my heart for the coming Messiah. This morning, I came to chapter 4 where Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted in the desert. I noticed for the first time that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit...

This caused me to stop and think. I am all about figuring out how to live a Spirit-led life. And here is an example of Jesus following the Holy Spirit, that had just descended upon him at his baptism, into a place of discomfort and temptation. Am I willing to follow the Holy Spirit's lead if that means taking me into places of discomfort? And am I willing to be intentionally tempted? That is Christ' example to us...so I guess I need to follow.

Jesus going into the desert was intentional and necessary! This is not to be looked at as "Oh, Jesus went for a walk in the desert." As a child, I can remember seeing cartoons or comics retelling this story - and the desert never looked very hot or very dry or very awful. And Jesus always had combed hair, clean clothes and looked pretty healthy. But, have you ever seen someone who has fasted 40 days? I have. And he looked SICK. So, I have to wonder why in the world did God, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, lead His son into the desert to fast for 40 days and nights?

Our clue comes in Deuteronomy.

This is where Moses explains to the Israelites why God had them wander the desert for 40 years. He says, "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." (Dt. 8:2) (We know this is a key passage (Dt. 8: 1-5) because Jesus goes on to quote what Moses says later on as His response to the first temptation.)

Obviously, Jesus proved what was in his heart through his time of testing and temptation! Purity, love, humility.

Back to my first sentence. I prayed for a word from the Lord this morning because I feel like I am in the desert with George. And so many times I am like the Israelites - grumbling, complaining, irritated at God...and here is an example of how God wants me to respond to my desert trip. AND...even more important to me...a REASON WHY I am on this long desert trip.

To humble me and to test me in order to know what is in my heart....and whether or not I will keep his commands.

I clearly get the humble me part....oh yes. I have never been more humbled in my life. So many things I said "I will never do that..", I have now done. I have never felt more incapable and lousy and ineffective than I have since adopting George. My faith is no longer in my parenting or in my abilities..it lies squarely on the shoulders of the Lord. Listen God...this is YOUR child...and You've got to do this with me! Yes..I have been humbled.

So, next...testing. I have always had mixed thoughts on this. Does God test us. Well, the answer looks pretty clear here. He has put me through the desert time to test me - to know what is in my heart. It is in the desert time of testing that the TRUE aspects of my heart are revealed. And they can be incredibly ugly.

I never had to face the depths of my heart before. I never had to realized how dark and sinful my heart could be. But...now I am.

I should be grateful. I am being refined. But, it is still a desert time and that is no fun. The testing is to see if I will obey God's commands. That doesn't seem like the warm, fuzzy God of Christmas - a God who tests to see if I will obey. But, folks, that is the reality of God. The testing is not for His pleasure of watching me squirm and fail..the testing is refining me...sanctifying me. Remember, the Bible clearly shares God's will for our lives...TO BE SANCTIFIED. (I Thes. 5:0)

Obviously, going about my normal hum-drum life was not enough to truly be sanctifying me..so God gave me a defiant, angry, stubborn, mean boy that I am supposed to love and cherish and forgive and wrap my arms around. Clearly, this is not what I wanted..but clearly, this is what I needed.

So, what is that word from the Lord I was looking for? I guess I feel a little better being reminded there is a purpose and a plan in this desert trip I am taking. I am not plodding through the desert aimlessly - but instead, I am being refined, sanctified...changed. And for THAT...AGAIN...I am eternally grateful.

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