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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

Empty Room by Tom Burke

Believing in a future is part of the faith package. We can’t know what that future will actually hold for us, but that does not preclude us from embracing all the possibilities. So much of tomorrow hinges on today.

Philemon 20
And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

Paul believed he would be cut loose from prison. He asked his friends and his followers to believe the same thing, despite the circumstances.

I can function fairly well in this part of the equation, but I’m not so good when that future I had prayed about, asked for and even envisioned, doesn’t happen. I am disappointed. This is a trap for me.

Intellectually, I understand what it should be. I can preach about it and I can teach about. I can offer all kinds of advice, quotations, and scripture references. Honest, I get it. But the reality of living the other answer is not always my best day.

Instead of disappointment, when the alternate future presents itself, I need to joyfully envelop it and give thanks because God, all sovereign, heard my prayer and took my future onto a different way. When I don’t get “out of prison,” when I don’t get the job, when my kid doesn’t go to college, when my project is not accepted, when . . . when . . . when, it’s no less intentional from the God perspective.

I’m reading a book by Steven Furtick called Sun Stand Still. He’s a young, exuberant pastor from Charlotte, North Carolina, who planted a church that grew into the thousands in a very short time. He’s all about audacious prayers and expecting God to do impossible things. He has seen such prayers answered every day. His faith is infectious. He challenges his church to do the same, like Paul, he says, “do as I do, believe as I believe, trust as I trust.”

Have a I become too jaded in my walk to drum up this kind of enthusiasm? I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t believe God can do great and wondrous acts. God can and does. But I want to be able to walk on through despite the outcomes. I want to have a faith that isn’t wrapped around the answers. Because, quite honestly, my requests are not always in the best interests of the whole picture; I know that instinctively. I can only dream my dream and put my desires out there. But I could be way off.

When I was younger and went through those terrible years of barrenness, I came to a peace when I accepted the reality of my body. It was no less God’s plan and, in the end, we built a family through adoption, three kids who didn’t know that God had prepared a room for them here.

Everything is connected, every dream, every future, every room. Keep me mindful Lord, when I step into the room prepared for me today, that I don’t forsake it just because it’s not painted the color I had imagined or it’s not furnished with the expected furniture or populated by certain people.

Help me dream and even dream big still, but help me engage in today fully as well. Today is part of yesterday’s dream.

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Back in the day, particularly for the Israelites, the Law was everything. The law was their standard, their crutch, their security, their hope. Why a curse? Because no one could follow every jot & tittle of the law, and for this reason, they participated in the rituals of sacrifice and atonement. That was the point. The Messiah was promised to be the ultimate reconciliation.

Galatians 3:10
And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.
[Amplified]

This was the proposed road for the Israelites. For them to accept Jesus as the Messiah, they had to accept one final sacrifice as efficacious and complete. To accept the Messiah and then go back to the old way, was restoring the power of the curse.

The second leap for the Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah was to accredit the blessings of Abraham (once relegated to their people alone) to the Gentile believers. The exclusive club was no longer a matter of birthright, history, or ancestry.

A single act reboot the system.

As a believer, I am confessing that the work of Christ is the restoration act between me and God. Where the door was closed, it is now open. I may enter the realm of God, the divine. I may participate in holiness. I am permitted to be in relationship . . . not because of what I have done (or not done) but because of who “He” is, that is, the Christ/Messiah for the world.

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A popular phrase among the younger generation of believers is that they are following the “way of Jesus.” In essence, Paul asks for the same thing, but simply calls it a way of life . . . “the life.” On that way, we are transformed.

I Corinthians 4:16-17a
Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, . . .

This way is all about our responses: how we react to challenges along that path.

I’d like to say I do well in this regard, but that would really cause my Pinocchio nose to grow. It’s not that I don’t want to be on the way. I do. I can even say with confidence that I am on this way. I just don’t seem to be going in a straight line.

The way includes a lot of the “turn the other cheek” stuff. It includes accepting my current situation and making the best of it. In means “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” [I Cor 4:12b-13a] We love.

There must be a moment of transcendence when things like persecution or even success no longer matter, when Spirit trumps 3-D.

But right now, all my cares and troubles and disappointments are causing tremendous stress. A woman friend I have know since I was three years old called me the other day. She told me she has stage 3 breast cancer. She’s fighting hard. The thing that makes her most angry, she said, was that she was so damn “healthy” up until then. She didn’t smoke or drink. She worked out regularly. She was happily married. She had a good job and a successful son. She had wealth and security. And yet, her life was filled with stress: staying on top of it all, doing the right thing at the right moment, working 7 days a week and long hours, juggling family and work, and racing from one thing to another. She believes the stress made her sick.

This is not the life. This is not the way.

Practicing the presence of God is an exchange: replacing the normal brain hi-jinks with Spirit.

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