No Fair

logo_retinaWhen I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed. So when I tell the wicked person, “You will surely die,” but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right— he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity—he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live. But your people say, “The Lord’s way isn’t fair,” even though it is their own way that isn’t fair. (Ezekiel 33:13-17)

We cannot rest on our accomplishments or convict someone on their faults. Our good deeds and faith don’t carry us through if we abandon them, just as our offenses don’t condemn us if we turn and leave them behind. God wants ongoing, respectful relationship. But we want to be able to determine just what we can and can’t do. We want some control. We want to declare what is fair and what isn’t. And when we begin to understand that following Him isn’t about fairness, we can throw our hands up and declare God is wrong to do things His way, and people are wrong to follow and trust Him, and we’re better off without Him.

No fair!

But God is beyond fair. His standards aren’t like the ones we create, where everything fits into boxes that can’t ebb and flow beyond the boundaries that comfort us the most. We like to declare, “Foul! Wrong! Good! Bad! Right!” But who are we trying to convince?

Maybe we need to be quiet long enough to let God do a little convincing of His own.

A Pruning Project

48601eb413af5d38a59b6931a3a3d007I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. (John 15:1-2)

When have you experienced the pain of pruning something from your life?

When have you experienced the benefits of pruning something from your life?

Are you more likely to lop something from your life quickly or slowly saw something out of your life?

Anyone who has spent time in any kind of gardening or farming knows the importance of pruning. Unhealthy growth gets in the way. It spoils the healthy growth. But pruning isn’t easy. Sometimes it makes a plant look odd, even ugly for a time. We’d rather see beauty, so we might avoid pruning. Sometimes it’s difficult because the plant is strong. A tree might be nourishing limbs that are taking too much nourishment away from the larger limbs. They are strong as a result, but the limbs that you want to be strong are not. You’ll need something powerful to do the pruning.

When we prune plants, we usually try to use the quickest way possible. We know we need to get a clean cut in order to keep trauma to a minimum. The more invasive we are, the more negatively we impact growth. Yet when it comes to our own pruning, we often choose a slower, gradual approach. We try all kinds of things to minimally prune. “What if I just get rid of this a little bit? What if I still maintain a little contact although the relationship is unhealthy? I can handle the temptation. It’s not as bad as you think.” And if that’s how God is guiding, He will give the strength to deal with ongoing challenges. But sometimes, I wonder if He’s watching, shaking His head, wondering why we don’t just lop something off and get on with our lives so that we can grow. Why would we choose to use a dull saw blade to cut something out of our lives, when He’s given us sharp shears?

Just because we use the sharp shears doesn’t mean we don’t feel the effects. Pruning hurts, if only for a moment. Then we have an adjustment period, when we feel unbalanced with something missing. It’s as if our metabolism is temporarily messed up, and we have to find a new normal. We take new paths. We fill the created gaps, and we can just as easily fill them with unhealthy growth as we can with healthy growth. For that, we have to rely on God. When we let Him do the pruning, we let Him control the growing, too. We work together.

Look for something that needs to be pruned. It might be a plant, or it might be a messy drawer in your house. Take on at least one personal pruning project today.

But God

indexBe gracious to me, Lord, because I am in distress; my eyes are worn out from angry sorrow—my whole being as well...But I trust in You, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” (Psalm 31:9,14)

We’ve all felt it at one point or another: distress, anger, or sorrow that wears us out.

…but God.

Distress, anger, or sorrow changes us; at least, what we do with it changes us. When we sit in it, it becomes attached to us. It begins to define us. Oddly, we might even begin to get comfortable with it, as if we can’t imagine our lives without it.

But when we trust God through it, we let His perspective ease our own. His truth ebbs into our experiences. We claim His authority and trust Him to guide our next steps, no matter how blinded by darkness and confusion we might be.

No matter what we experience, we can claim, “You are my God,” then trust Him.


Rock Solid Faith

imagesSometimes life feels like being held under water. It’s suffocating and crushing, yet…

I look at beautiful rocks under the constantly rushing water, and I realize it’s a bit like my faith. It is only settling under the water that can constantly cleanse me, taking pieces of me that no longer belong, revealing the clean, smooth, beauty that God intends.

I can still see daylight. My perspective is a bit distorted at times, but I can trust God to correct it, revealing what He most wants me to see. I can trust Him.

This life was never intended to be my everything. Anticipating life after death in heaven was never intended to be my everything.

Trusting God for and through it all is my everything: my rock solid faith.

Retracing Your Steps

Then the Lord said to him, “Go and return by the way you came…” (1 Kings 19:15)

sander-zelhem-green-passageSometimes we need to retrace our steps. Sometimes what is behind becomes what is forward. Our past is often woven into our future, not just in memory, but in learning something new, changing our perspective, healing, correcting. We don’t return to the past because we need to camp there, feel sorry for ourselves, or try to recreate a season or situation we loved. We repurpose the journey. We open our eyes to the possibilities. We let God guide us to new experiences in some old places. He extends the invitation because He knows our futures the best. He knows what we need ahead, and sometimes that means returning the way we came, not in our stubbornness or selfishness but in humble obedience to Him.

Dismissing Weakness

fa9db8c0924ef1edf529be2eb5501a03God can use anyone at anytime. We dismiss ourselves, but He doesn’t.

Lord my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. (1 Kings 3:7)

Solomon dismissed himself…at least, in some areas. But those areas became the basis of what He trusted God to provide. Instead of using his lack as an excuse, he used it as a springboard of trusting faith.

Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:8-9)

We often want to hide our weaknesses. They make us feel vulnerable and unworthy. We want to dismiss them, but when we do, we dismiss ourselves.

God wants to use what we think dismisses us, because He knows our willingness to admit them and trust Him puts us in the exact position to rely on Him to use us well, weaknesses and all!