Welcome to the Greene Street Letters. It has become my venue for sharing what is going on at Vineyard Recovery Church. Don't let the word Church scare you. The Greene Street Letters is a daily posting to simply say that there is more to life than what you see. More to life than "stuff". My simple take of 60+ years of following Jesus. Some days were good days...some days I managed to get off in the ditch. He is worthy of the pursuit, so that is what I do........I pursue Jesus in everything I do. Not the Jesus of the church. Not the Jesus of the denomination. Nothing wrong with those things, but Jesus is so much more. Thanks for dropping by and I hope you return from time to time to stop and ponder your own relationship with Jesus. God on you....mb
Friday, October 28, 2016
Faith No Matter What
I saw the photo above when I was looking for something to tag to this morning's posting, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. The fact that suffering "is" optional kind of caught my attention. Then it occured to me what the message was. We all have pain in our lives....physical, emotional, mental, spiritual......pain is a part of life. Some would say that going through the pain is a form of suffering, and I would not debate that point. But I think what the photo is trying to convey, is that we don't have to be a victim of our pain. Somehow I think that if we look to, and cry out for God in the middle of our seasons of suffering, we are granted great grace by Him to move forward. We don't fall and crumble into a heap bemoaning our lot in life.Maybe faith is a part (or at least should be) in our suffering and pain. Maybe faith in God is the thing that keeps us focused on The day. Maybe faith in God keeps us from moving to that dark place of self centeredness and having that ultimate pity party.
Reading in Hebrews 11 yesterday.
The great "Faith" chapter.
The Hall of Faith.
A list of what we would consider to be the "who's who" of Bibledom.
Each verse begins with "By Faith"....then the name of the individual and what they accomplished.
As you read the chapter it pretty inspiring. Men and women who did great deeds under the unction of the Holy Spirit. But by the time you get to verse thirty-five, things kind of go south.
But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They place their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half. Others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. THEY WERE TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD.
This kind of smacks in the face of the happy, happy, joy, joy God has a wonderful plan for your life.
Yes, God does have a wonderful plan for your life but it may not look like the plan we would choose.
I don't want you to think this is a downer posting this morning. What I want you to understand (even as I am trying to get my brain wrapped around this one) is that our Faith in God, our Hope in God, our Belief in God supersedes whatever the world has to offer, good or bad.
Faith is the greater connector that locks me to God. Not faith in what God will do or not do, but faith that He is who He says He is and that His will and nature will be displayed in every situation I face...good or bad. For this very reason, I choose to wholly lean on and rest in Him. We live in a fallen world....a world that is under the dominion of Satan. He's running the show so to speak (at least he thinks he's running the show). No matter what we may suffer on this side of heaven, If I am a follower of Jesus (notice I didn't say "church-goer") then it all has a storybook ending on the other side. Once I breathe my last and then find myself translated to His presence, all the things of earth will grow strangely dim and fade from view. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people, In other words, suffering is a part of this world and this life. But there is another kind of suffering that takes place when you cast your will and life upon Christ. The world hates you....
I think one of the greatest examples of a person's faith and placing themselves in the hands of God came from my mother. She was told in February of 1981 that she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Mom set about getting all of her affairs in order. She made lunch appointments with old friends to have one last time where they could talk and share and make sure that everything was alright between each other. She got all of her financial business taken care of. She did what she had to do as with each passing day, you could see the cancer taking it's toll on her. She never complained, she never said that this was unfair that her lot in life would end this way. My mother told me time and time again that God was still in control of her life and if this was the path she was to walk out, she was not going to hold back but see it through to the end. She knew that "the end" was not that, but only the transition to the next part of her relationship with God.
On May 14, 1981, she left her house for the last time. As we walked out on the porch, she stopped for just a moment and turned to look at the front door. She turned back around, holding me by the arm said, "I'm ready to go home now." She was not bitter because she was not going to be here to see her grand children grow up. She was not angry because of this disease that invaded her body. She simply walked in the grace that God covered her with and she did so until she died on May 26th.
In the eyes of the world, this was not a happy ending.
In the eyes of my Mom and myself, she was receiving the ultimate healing.
She would no longer suffer or hurt.
She would be free of the confines of a sinful body and world.
She would know for herself the truth of what she lived by and for. That Jesus Christ is Lord and worthy to be worshipped.
I pray that God grant me strength during the hard times and that I may not cower in fear but stand strong in His strength.
God on you........