Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the conviction of things not seen.
We are hoping for and convinced of things we can’t see…that is faith.
Jesus said to Thomas when he doubted, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”
Our faith is in the promise of new life, eternal life, Jesus life.
Our faith is placed in His work, His words, His sacrifice.
We do not put our faith in one another.
That is not where we are to place our trust.
Our faith is in Christ, alone.
We will hurt one another, again and again and again…and again. I like the way Max Lucado puts it:
If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies. Even the smooth-skinned beauties of the magazine covers, the composed pastors in the pulpit, the sweet little old lady who lives next door. All of them. All of us. Furry, hairy beasts we’d become. If hurts were hairs, we’d be lost behind the thick of them.
That’s not an excuse to hurt people, but it is the reality of living in this sinful world among sinful people.
If we look to one another as the determining factor in Christ being real, we will miss the beauty of Him.
None of us. No, not one, is without sin.
We all struggle in the flesh.
That is our battle, until this mortal puts on immortality.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t changing.
We grow. We stumble. We get up. We learn.
We grow some more and we stumble again and we get up … and we learn … … …
It’s in the learning that we change from glory to glory, if we don’t give up.
Each test, each trial, each tribulation is a chance for growth.
We’re either getting softer, or harder.
He chose to give us hearts of flesh instead of stone.
It’s in the cooperating with Him that we grow.
We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. ~2Corinthians 4:16 (MSG)
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think. I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest. I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond. While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.” I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.
The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy. It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like. It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body. Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.
God was faithful to guide me. I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.” With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.
God made it clear to me what the next step would be. The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation. It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…
“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together
It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.
Some of the scriptures He has led me to recently:
I took them up in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
I know, O LORD, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled.
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground.
This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NET)
But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them–sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)
He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:9 (all of chapter 3…wow!)
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
and the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength;
He will make my feet like hind’s feet,
And He will make me to walk upon my high places.
I’m letting these words sink in.
His bands of love will bind this broken heart.
I will recognize His healing thus far, and ask for courage to continue on the path.
“Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere He leads me, I will follow.”
Please, continue praying for me.
Do not love the world or the things in the world… the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.
You want to take a headlong dive into destruction?
Sow seeds of destruction and reap the devastation.
I sure wish I didn’t know what that looks like. I sure wish I had continued to walk the path of righteousness, even when the lust of the flesh appeared better than my temporary circumstances. I sure wish I had seen the devastation before I went sowing lustful seeds.
The real problem: I did see.
I had read The Word.
I knew what it said about the rewards of sowing to the wind. You will reap the whirlwind. You WILL.
And now… on this side of the whirlwind…? Not much remains of my former life.
Only by His grace do I still live. I’ve contemplated suicide quite a lot over the past five years. And, again, this past weekend.
You see, I have known my spiritual gifts are teaching and prophecy. And I spent much of my life teaching, speaking forth The Truth of God’s Word. Then, the hard tests of faith became so. much. harder. I closed the Book. I told myself I knew enough of what it said… the pit of depression had become so dark, I wouldn’t see the light right beside me… on the nightstand.
Either I forgot the warnings, or didn’t think they’d truly happen to me.
And now, another stands on the precipice… and he’s closing his eyes!
The questions haunt me once again:
What did I do?
Where did it start?
Why can’t he hear?
Who is this precious baby?
Where did he go?
My heart cries out to a deaf ear…
HE is NOT deaf. He hears. He has spoken.
Will he listen?
Oh, God, please don’t let him close The Book. Don’t let him forget what he’s learned. Speak boldly to his heart and mind. Don’t let him turn away!! Hold him fast. Let him stand on the Rock. Don’t let him sink into the muck of sin, the mire of filth.
Rescue my son!
Rescue us ALL.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
~I John 2:15-17
Oh, this is a sad day…
So many memories. He made me laugh and cry and praise my Lord all in the space of a couple minutes of visiting. I enjoyed Big Lang on a daily basis. Some days were better than others, but each encounter was memorable.
It was new for both of us. He’d never known a “you-so-white-suburban-child” and I’d never trusted a past convict with my life. He let me know I could call him night or day and he’d be there to help. He’s the one who told me I was “livin’ in the ‘hood.” No, not South Dallas, but the ‘hood, nonetheless. He learned that some people had never stepped foot in a liquor store (that would’ve been me) and I learned that some people had never known safety, or freedom from fear.
And, he left without me knowing…
I saw him last Thanksgiving, but I’d moved away from the complex. We didn’t see one another on a regular basis. Today, I saw on Facebook that the movie in which he has a role is coming out this summer, “Seasons of Gray.” I went to my site to read about him, and then clicked on his site to see if he’d posted anything new.
“Roderick Lang passed away on Friday, December 14th, 2012…”
It had only been three weeks since I’d seen him. Oh, how I wish I’d called him back the last time I saw his number in my missed calls list. It wasn’t a good day for me. It might not have been a good day for him . . . Oh, please, dear Lord, don’t let that be the day!
He taught me so much in the short space of time I knew him. He struggled, day in and day out, with his past. But, he knew his God and had enormous faith in the promise of new life in Jesus. On his worst days I wouldn’t see him . . . but most days he was outside, three doors down, sitting on his back patio. And oh, so happy to get to visit for a few minutes! He’d share a funny memory, a joke, or a tall tale just to hear me laugh. He said I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and he just wanted to help lift it a bit. He had no fear of letting me know my dog looked like she was on drugs and needed a good grooming! He’d come to the back door, knock, and ask me to join him for coffee on the patio. Oh, so many memories…
Thank you for letting me meet Rod.
Thank you for letting him be my friend.
Please, hug him for me.
A huge bear hug. He’s such a big man…
Roderick Earl Lang
Thank you, Jesus, for letting him rest in Your peace.