A very close friend of mine and I were talking the other day. They told me that someone they love and trust very much, told them a brutal truth about a weakness within them that they knew was true. They said that they were tormented by this afterwards. They knew they had been told in love, but the heartache of worrying about possibly not being right with God really caused a great and terrible ache and shame in their heart. They spent some time in repentance to God and as a result, really craved reassurance of their reconciliation with the Heavenly Father they nodoubtedly love so much. As our good and merciful Heavenly Father always does, He quickly sent reassurance. As they spoke to someone the next day, they told them they felt they needed to tell them that God chastises those He loves. They read them the scripture Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. This was the reminder and reassurance they needed to have peace about their place with God. They are a child of God and he thinks of them as such.
I thank God for this friend because they sharpen me. As iron sharpens iron.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Our conversations often include very deep and personal confidence, discovery, and encouragement. There is no judgement here, and I know I can confess my sin, and know that the hearer will use it for nothing but my good. It will be for prayer and accountability and encouragement. I am so very blessed to have a precious circle of confidantes in my life. Not every christian handles information this way.
This last week, I found out about something that really hurt me. I felt betrayed and angry. I had been wrestling with it in my heart all week long. I wanted to lash out and I wanted to put the offenders in their place. Far from me, was the place I had in mind. I felt burning hurt and it had brought me to tears of frustration on more than one occasion. I was praying to God to please help me with this and I was still really struggling.
I’m sure my struggle was sending a flare out to the jerk devil. he probably saw me coming from a mile away and knew to lump it on now. Unfortunately I found out that one of my children made a pretty doozy of a mistake. I was worried and upset, and honestly embarrassed for them. I realized as I looked at their devastated face, and felt their distress and humiliation and regret…that this was me. I am this before God when my sin bites me in the fanny. I am a child needing guidelines, understanding, and forgiveness.
I sat this morning in our Sunday service and as my husband was preaching, I was chastened by God. My husband was talking about preaching Christ to “dry bones”. He was referring to the passage in Ezekiel 37. God is showing Ezekiel a valley of dry bones and asking if there is life there. God was telling Ezekiel to preach the gospel and it will breathe life into these dry bones. Making alive what has once been dead. My husband said that we have to preach by being a light, having love, being honest, by shining the light of God to the world, and fighting evil with good. In this moment, I heard the still small voice of God whisper to me. “Whose daughter are you?” Wow. I can’t even tell you how much this squeezed my heart. I knew God was reminding me that I am HIS daughter, and I had better conduct myself that way. This anger I had been feeling, was not going to result in anything good. I can only fight evil with good. Those who did me wrong, are captive by the same enemy I was being held captive by in this moment. The devil was operating all of us as tools for his dirty work and we weren’t realizing it.
I suddenly felt mercy for them and forgiveness washed over me in waves. Beautiful peace washed over me as I sat silently begging God to forgive me for the sins in my heart that I had allowed myself to be bound by. By the time the morning service was done, I felt harmony again with God. I was God’s daughter and I needed to be reminded of it. Later on in the day, I went back to church for the evening service and a different minister was preaching. He made the statement, ” What room do you always keep clean in your house?” Lots of whispers echoed the same statement, “the living room.” Our minister smiled and chuckled and he said “Yeah, the living room. So if your window is open or someone see’s in your house, they will think you have a clean house. Our outside is this way. (He pointed to his body and exterior garb.) We are this way. This outside is all you see. It looks pretty good from the outside. But….what if we look in the laundry room or the master bedroom?” Lots of chuckles broke out by now as the truth of this sunk in. The mess we are and the sin we hide, is sometimes hidden within us like we treat the laundry room or our bedrooms. Then the best part of the sermon happened. He said,”But Jesus is standing outside the door knocking with the broom in his hand. He wants to clean you up.” I love this because He will help. He doesn’t expect you to clean up the mess by yourself. Like a true friend, he is going to come in and help. He will get to the heart of the matter.
I realize an irony here as well. Sometimes we notice how someone else’s “house is a mess.” How they leave their sin laying around and we forget that our own laundry room is a mess. It’s sometimes easier to ignore our own filth because we live in it, it’s our own filth and we get used to it. We forget that to someone else, this filth may be repulsive. We all have dirty laundry and unmade beds to deal with sometimes. Sometimes just when we think we have the mess under control, an elf sneaks in and eats fistfuls of oreo’s and crackers while jumping on our beds and terrorizes our house. We have to do some deep down cleaning to make things right again. God’s chastening is like a doorbell to wake us up and signal that it’s time for a deep down cleaning. A mess has taken hold and we are too comfortable with it. He wants us to get up and work to correct it. It’s okay though, because He is bringing cleaning gear and He is ready to help us.
Now that I have aired my dirty laundry, I will leave you with this.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Healed. God heals our hearts through chastening. I love you my fellow humans, and I’m walking this road with you. Let’s march on.