Monday, January 20, 2014

Deal Breakers

"For his anger endureth but a moment;
 in his favour is life:
 weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning...
Psalm 30:5
(KJV)

It is estimated that there are 7,487 promises in the Bible.
Commitments that God has made.
Things He has promised to do.
Gifts He has pledged to give.

Covenants He has vowed to never break.


Through the years of time, God has remained true.
Constant.
Steadfast.
Unmovable.
Unchangeable.
Consistent.
Dependable.
Trustworthy.
Faithful.

God has never gone back on His Word.
It is forever settled in Heaven.

On the flip side, how many promises have been made to God through the years?
From the beds of Intensive Care Units,
from Hospice corridors,
from foxholes,
from mangled wreckage,
from death row and prison cells.

How many times has God heard promises like this?
"Lord, if you will just spare my life,
God, if you will just work a miracle,
if you'll just get me out of this,
I'll serve you, Lord.
I'll turn my life around.
I will live a Christian life."

It must sound like a broken record to God.
I wonder how many times He hears that kind of cry on any given day?

How many times has He intervened and granted those requests?
Healed diseased bodies,
raised up the dying,
brought soldiers home safe,
stopped the bleeding just in time,
sent an unexpected pardon to the incarcerated.

I'll admit that I have been battling discouragement.
Majorly.


I have been going through some cloudy days.  (Click here to read.)
Wanting to feel better, then getting up each day thinking I am...at first...
only to find out I am just as weak, after doing the simplest tasks.
It is frustrating to me.

The other day, satan appeared....isn't he always around?
Peter warned us to, "Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
 walketh about, seeking whom he may devour..."
I Peter 5:8

24/7.
That's his mission.
He never sleeps.
He doesn't lighten up on the attacks when we are sick and weak.
In fact, it is like adding fuel to the flame of his cruelty
when he spots a child of God in a diminished state.
That is whom he seeks...and when he pounces hardest once he finds them.

If anyone ever knew about satan's attacks upon the vulnerable, 
it was the Apostle Peter.
His admonition...his words...hold a lot of weight and credibility with me.
He wrote from first-hand experience,
having made those kinds of promises to Jesus....
only to fail miserably and break every one of them a few hours later.

I was already feeling down the other day, when satan crept around
and really pounced on my fragility.
"Why don't you just turn against God?
He isn't hearing your prayers.
You will never get better.
This is more serious than you think.
God isn't going to heal you.
You may as well just throw in the towel and stop serving Him."

Oh, the nerve!
Can you imagine?
After all these years....
serving God with all my might....
loving Him with all my heart and soul....
doing my utmost to be obedient and follow Him wholeheartedly....
and now when things are not so good,
when I am tired and weary of fighting,
when my body is ill...
satan having the audacity to come and suggest that this battle should be the deal-breaker?

Mom and Dad always taught me to be a person of my word.
Papaw used to say, "A man's word is his bond."
I heard that a lot growing up.
It stuck.
As much as lies within me, I always try to keep my word.
I am not a deal-breaker.
This sickness is not a deal-breaker.
Just because things are not progressing as quickly as I think they should,
just because I am fighting feelings of abandonment by God,
just because I am truly beginning to wonder what is going on....
does that give me the right to back out of my end of the bargain?

I told God that if He would save my soul, I would serve Him all the days of my life.
I said that He could use me in whatever way He chose to.
I begged Him to forgive me of my sins, and that if He did,
I would follow Him always...no matter what.

I made some pretty solemn oaths when I prayed those prayers.

God and I....we have a "deal".
Without contingencies.
Without loopholes.
Without any potential of amendments.
The original deal...those initial words that spilled from my lips...
when I was sin-sick, broken, miserable, and in dire need of redemption....
still stands.
To me, my promises are irrevocable.
I said what I meant,
and I meant what I said.

God made promises to me,
I made vows to Him.

Serious vows.
Vows that came from the bottom of my heart.
I couldn't have meant them more.

In the multitude of 7,487 promises God has made,
"life will always be a bed of roses" or
"you will never be sick" or 
"things will always go smooth" or
"you will never face a trial" 
is not among them.

You won't find those statements as having been uttered by God.

Remember Job?
The man walked an upright path.
God's approval rested upon him.
He was a righteous man.

After a series of severe, intense trials,
the one who should have encouraged him most came to him
and tried to persuade him to turn his back on God.
"Then said his wife unto him, 
Dost thou still retain thine integrity? 
curse God, and die."
Job 2:9

But Job and God had a deal.

"But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. 
What? 
 shall we receive good at the hand of God, 
and shall we not receive evil? 
In all this did not Job sin with his lips."
Job 2:10

I think it all boils down to one word...spoken by none other than Job's wife.
Integrity.
What does it mean?

I found these definitions...
Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

Do we just maintain our integrity when things are going our way?
When health is abundant, finances are overflowing, and trials are few?
Do we only remain steadfast when we are physically strong?

Is a fiery trial legitimate grounds for breaking our deal?
For not keeping our promises?
For turning our backs on God and walking away from Him?

Trials are going to come...to all of us.

The same man who denied Jesus and learned an ultimate lesson from it said,
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, 
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; 
that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
I Peter 4:12-13

In the heat of the battle, in the intensity of the moment,
Peter broke His deal with Jesus.
He walked away.
He vehemently denied he even knew Him.
When it was all over, he was filled with extreme remorse.
He went out and wept....bitterly.

His heart was shattered...to think that he did not keep his end of the promises he had so sincerely made.

He failed Jesus at the moment He needed him most.



Peter knew all about breaking the deal.

Hence, his solemn warnings to all who read his epistles.

I really respect Peter.
He failed...he allowed his trial to convince him to break his deal with Jesus, 
but he didn't stay down.
He knew what to do, and he humbled himself and did it.
Because of his repentance, he was restored...completely and without any strings attached.

It would probably be beyond shocking to have a list of things that have caused
those who have made promises to God to turn from Him and break those promises.
Some are more determined than others.
For some, it more than likely took extreme trials to cause them to break the deal.
For others, it probably wouldn't seem like it took much at all.
Some run at the first sign of adversity.

I don't know where the idea comes from that once we become followers of Jesus,
we will never encounter another trial or hardship in this life.
That somehow life will mysteriously become a bed of roses, without thorns.
That we will be transported to some kind of ethereal realm where all is an Eden-like utopia.

We don't go straight to Heaven the minute we become a Christian.
We continue to live on the earth, in a very human body, made of flesh and bone,
completely susceptible to all of the things of which we were vulnerable before our conversion.

But, how blessed to know that after He redeems us,
we have Jesus on board!

He literally dwells within us, and we have access to the fullness of His precious Holy Spirit!
This makes all the difference...while walking through the valleys, trials, and fiery furnaces of life.

So, why would we turn from Him?
Why would we throw up our hands and quit when the battle is raging?
Why would we even be tempted to break the deal?

We need Him.

Unbelievers have the same troubles we do.
Their lives are not exempt from sickness.
They suffer.
They go through hardship.
They hurt.

Wouldn't it be in our best interest to want to stay in God's favor?
Wouldn't it be smart to keep our promises and not even consider breaking our deal?

As I sat and pondered the enemy's audacity in suggesting to me that God has forsaken me,
that this trial will last forever, and I may as well do what Job's wife suggested he do,
I realized the absurdity of his temptation.

I made a deal.
It was forever.
I meant it that way.
Just like God meant it that way when He promised He would never leave me,
never forsake me, but would walk every mile with me.
Just like He meant it when He hung there on the cross and didn't make the choice to come down
or call for legions of angels to deliver Him....when His pain was at its most intense.

He kept His promises to me 
in the most extreme of circumstances.

Will I buckle and cave and go back on my promises to Him
in this trial?
In this sickness?
Just because I am struggling to understand?

Paul wrote a letter to the church at Galatia, and he asked them a pointed question.


"Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"
Galatians 5:7

We give up over so little.
We throw in the towel over such small trials...when compared to those of our dear Lord.
We decide it just isn't worth it over the slightest sign of discomfort, suffering, or difficulty.

If only we were as faithful to keep our promises to God
as He is faithful to keep His to us!

What steadfast children of God we would be!

So, what are you going through, my friend?
Do you feel God-forsaken in your trial?
Does the night seem long and never-ending?
Does it seem you overcome one hurdle, only to have another one arise?
Are you tempted to give up on God?
Does it seem that the Heavens are brass when you pray?
That no one is listening to your heart-wrenched cries of despair?
That God has taken a long-distance vacation, and it is of no avail to keep calling on Him?
Does it cross your mind to break the "deal" 
you have made with Him?
Do the vows you made to Him seem like they were spoken an eternity ago?

May I offer you a shred of hope?


May I encourage you?
With words I am now using to encourage myself?
I am right there with you.
Maybe not in person, but in shared sorrow...discouragement...illness....depression....
disillusionment....despair....frustration....exhaustion...wondering if the long night of trial will ever end...
searching for Him and feeling He is a million miles away.
I am there...now.
I, too have been tempted to stop trusting...stop believing...to throw away my confidence...
to blame God...to turn away from Him...to stop praying...to stop interceding and bombarding Heaven,
to toss aside my faith.

David encouraged himself in the Lord in moments of hopelessness.
I wonder sometimes if that is when he actually wrote 
some of the Psalms through which we now take such comfort.

Sometimes, we have to encourage ourselves in the Lord, too.
Sometimes, we can find no other source of encouragement.
Sometimes, we feel so alone...in the trial...in the heat.

But, we are not!
We can't always see Him, but He is absolutely there.
We can't always feel Him, but it is then that we must trust.
We can't always hear His voice above the chaos, but it is then that we must be still.
We can't always trace His hand, but we know His everlasting arms are beneath us...
carrying us....holding us close....keeping us going.

Right now, wherever you are, whatever the hopelessness of your circumstances,
may I encourage you?

Don't let whatever you are going through become the deal breaker.
Hold firm to the commitment you made to God.
If that is all you have left, hold on tight.
You are not God-forsaken.
I promise.
He is there.
In the dark.
He is on board.
It may seem that He is asleep...oblivious to the raging storm...
deaf to your cries.
I promise you He is not.
He heard you the first time you prayed.
He saw every tear well up, then course down your anguished face.
He felt it....just like He was the one who cried.

Don't walk away from Him.
Walk towards Him.
Draw near to Him, He will draw near to you.


Satan wants to offer you an alternate deal.
Satan is a liar.
The truth is not in him.
You can't afford to place your trust in anything he says.
He doesn't know how to tell the truth.
He has been a liar and deceiver from the very beginning.
He tempts you to break your deal with God.
He tells you that your problems are all God's fault.
He spews foul untruths every time he opens his mouth and sneaks a thought into your mind.
Don't take his offered deal.
You will eternally regret it.

Keep to the original plan...
the initial "deal" you made with God.
Stay the course.
Don't give up just because this is too hard.
Trust me, it is harder on the outside perimeters of God's perfect will.
Out there, you have no Helper.
Keep drawing from your Life Source.
He is the way, the truth, and the life.
He loves you with an undying, unconditional love.
Even when you pound your fists Heavenward and question His plan.
He wants you to stop squirming...and relax.  (Click here to read.)

Like I said, I am in the heat of it...right with you...
and this is the same things I am telling myself right now.
I am no better...loftier....or more holy....than anyone else.
I struggle.
I question.
I still squirm.
One thing is not an option.
I made a "deal", and it cannot be broken.
I can't turn away from Him now.
He has done too much for me.
I love Him too much.
What in the world would I do without Him?
At the helm.
Giving me hope.
Telling me to be still.
Refilling my courage.
Guiding my steps.
Holding my hand.
Carrying me.
Loving me with an intensity beyond the capability of humanity.
Forgiving my frequent missteps.
Walking through the fire by my side.
Cheering me.
Encouraging me.
Telling me it is better farther on.
Reminding me that this didn't come to stay, it came to pass.

I know He is there....in the clouds.


What in the world would you do without Him?

To say He had it rough while on earth is the biggest understatement ever made.
He understands our plight....more completely than anyone ever will.
He never said this would be easy.
But, He did say we would never walk this path alone.

It is no time to break the deal.
Don't allow your trial...your circumstances....your situation...
your heartache...
to be the deal breaker between you and God.

He is keeping His Word.
He is still with you.
He will always be.
Hang in there, my friend.
There will be an end to this trial.
Precious, encouraging words...from the Psalmist David himself,
"...weeping may endure for a night, 
but joy cometh in the morning..."
Psalm 30:5

Your morning will come.



Then you will be glad you didn't break the deal.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl :-)
    Blessings :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving kind encouragement behind! God bless you with a wonderful day in Him! Love, Cheryl

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