Career changes. Autism. Cancer. Personal illness. Family struggles. Financial stress. The weight of conflicting priorities and the demands of too little time. Confused. Hurting. Angry. Overwhelmed by a constant sense of failure, futility and frustration. Isolation. Separation. And the inevitable loneliness that results. Pain. Shouts. Tears. So many tears… Yeah, it’s been a LLLLLLLOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG couple of years for me.
But the real struggle has been between me and God.
See, although I didn’t “grow up” in the Church, I’ve been around long enough to have heard it all. If anything, during my 2 decades of professional ministry, I’ve even preached it. Name and claim it. Profess it and confess it. Believe it and receive it. Hold fast and hold tightly to your faith. Standing on the promises. Trusting in His Word. Yeah, I too have wrestled with the almost inexplicable gap that can sometimes exist between Biblical theology and personal experience. There have been many days when my life didn’t seem “abundant.” I’ve cried myself to sleep on quite a few nights only to discover that “joy” didn’t come in the morning. I’ve prayed but didn’t experience any “peace.” At times I have desperately tried to “work the spiritual numbers” in an effort to balance the incongruities of life and the “promises” of God. Sorry. I know that confessional probably bothers some of you but I’m being honest. Transparent. Real. Vulnerable. But I can’t believe that I’m the only one who has ever looked up to heaven and asked, “What in the world are You doing? Why? Why me? Why now? How long will this go on?”
Now, before you send me an email let me be real honest with you. I’m not interested in your clichés or your trite and misquoted scriptural references that look nice hanging on the wall but lack any real substance. Go ahead and tell me, “It’s all God.” But don’t expect me to echo the refrain, “It’s all good.” It’s not. Not always. Yes, I am firmly convinced that He does cause all things to work together for the good (to those who love Him and are the called according to his purpose). But that doesn’t mean the individual circumstances of life are always good in and of themselves. Bad things happen in life. And sometimes they happen to good people. I want real answers for the real problems of life. I want to reconcile the difficulties I see between the promises given and the promises that have never been received. I’m tired of the endless wanderings. I’m tired of trolling through the wilderness. Yeah, it’s great to be freed from the bondage of Egypt. But surely life is more than this perpetual march in the blazing sun of the desert. Yes, I’m out, out of Egypt. But I want to be in, in the land of Promise.
Is anyone out there feeling my pain? Or is it just me?
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything but I felt like it was time for a return. In the weeks ahead I’m going to write from my own struggles (the good, the bad, and the ugly). It won’t be pretty necessarily. But it will be me. And I hope to balance it all against the book of Joshua. Like the people of Israel I am ready for a new day. I’m ready for the sun to set once and for all on this wilderness living. I long to enter the place of the Promise “received” as opposed to living in the shadows of the promise simply “given.” I’m tired of looking at wrapped Christmas gifts. I want Christmas to get here. I’m ready to open and enjoy His gifts of grace and mercy and love and provision and protection and providence and healing and deliverance. I’m tired of manna. I’m ready for some milk and honey.
So, if you are at all interested, I invite you to join me on this journey. See, in my heart I don’t really believe that God breaks His promises. I just don’t believe that to be true. I don’t. But the circumstances of life have beaten me down. Life has left me battered and bruised. And although I still believe there is a land of promise… Well, let’s just say I don’t see it on the horizon anymore 😦 I need to be reminded of His faithfulness. I need the flickering embers of passion to be rekindled. I need renewed purpose and a sense of belonging. Bottom line? I need Him. And so, in the midst of bankruptcy and brokenness, I look to the one place I have always found Him. I look to His Word. I’m not sure what I will learn in the book of Joshua. But in my heart I am believing that the promises God gave to this man are going to be a turning point in my own life. God doesn’t break His promises. I just need fresh perspective…