Offended.

OffendedI was furious.
I cried in the shower that morning.
Not because I was hurt but because I was livid.

I bounced a check.
Not because I hadn’t kept track of my accounts.
But because of a series of truly unfortunate mishaps.
And suddenly, I had a bounced check, overdraft fees and anger.

I was angry with the people involved.
But more than that, I was angry with God.
He could have prevented the entire debacle.
But He chose not to.
So I was angry.

Frustrated at His unwillingness to intervene.
Angry that He had brought me to this place of lack.
Furious that He had put me in this situation.

I spent the rest of that week wrestling with God.
Not wanting to be angry.
Not wanting to feel as let down as I did.

But He is good.
And kind.
And patient.
In His kindness, He reminded me of Jesus and John.

John had been called by God to have a life set apart.
He was the second Elijah, a prophet just like the first one.
His mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah.
For his cousin, Jesus.
And he had done that.
And done it well.
Crowds followed him.
People repented and were baptized by him to show they wanted to be ready for the Messiah.
And finally, when the time was right, Jesus walked onto the scene.

John gladly watched as Jesus’ fame rose and his own fell.
He told his followers that Jesus “must increase” as he, John, “decreased”.

But then one day John found himself in King Herod’s dungeon.
Simply because he told the Truth about Herod’s sin.

From there the anger built.
The disappointment.
The “God, I did what You wanted. I served You well. In fact, I gave up everything for You. And this is how You repay me? This is the thanks I get?”

The Bible doesn’t record those words.
It does record the message John sent to Jesus.
“Are you the one we have been waiting for? Or should we look for someone else?”

Are you actually God?
Do You have this under control?
Or have I been living a delusion?

I love Jesus’ response to John. He didn’t preach a sermon or lecture.
Instead, he turned to the people near him and healed them.
Here is how Luke recorded it:
“At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.”

After He was done healing, he turned back to John’s friends and said, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

In other words, tell John that, yes, I am the Messiah.

But then Jesus added the words that convict me every time I read them:
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Other translations say, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

For me, my week of wrestling finally boiled down to one statement that I felt Him say in my spirit:
“Kathy, you are either with me or you are against me. There is no middle ground.”

It doesn’t matter if I understand Him.
A god I can understand isn’t big enough to be God at all.

It doesn’t matter if I like or dislike what He is doing.
Only one of us sees the whole picture. Only one of us is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. And it isn’t me.

It doesn’t matter if I am happy. Or sad.
Confused or walking in great clarity.
Frustrated or delighted.
Full of faith or full of doubt.
Ill or healthy
Broke or wealthy
Full or hungry.
Weary or well-rested.

None of those circumstances change the foundational question:
Am I for Him? Or against Him?
Am I in His camp? Or the camp of the enemy?
Do I bear His name or not?

If I am His, and He is God, then He can do what He wants.
When He wants.
How He wants.
Even when I don’t understand.
Even when I don’t like it.
Even when it hurts.

Because what John had forgotten and what I so often forget is that He is good.
And everything He does is right.
His timing and ways are not like mine.
He doesn’t see things that way I see them.
He knows hearts.
Thoughts.
Motives.
He knows the past, present and future.
He knows it all.
Sees it all.
Understands it all.

And most of all, He is Lord of all.

So, when the darkness is thick…when the questions are heavy…when the feelings are raging…when the circumstances are bleak…when the confusion sets in…when the doubts weigh in…when my head is spinning…

Whose side am I on?

Will I choose to believe that He is good?
That He is in control?
That He loves me and will work even this out for my good and His glory?

Will I choose to believe that if He loved me enough to die for me, He loves me enough to live with me? And to give me the abundant life?

If He really did create me and really does know me, that He also knows what is best?
That my feelings are not reality?
That my circumstances are not truth?

Will I choose to NOT be offended because of Him?

The alternative is not acceptable.
And so I choose.
I choose to look at His track record.
The blind see.
The lame walk.
The dead are raised.

I choose to look at His heart, even when His hand is unfathomable.
I choose to remember the cross where He died.
And the tomb where He did not stay.
I choose to remember that this life is incredibly temporary.
And that He owes me nothing, while I owe Him everything.

But most of all, I choose to remember that He is good.
And everything He does is right.

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Him.

What Say You?

What Say You

They say:
Hustle.
Work hard.
Then work harder.
Make it happen.
Make a plan.
Implement it.
Work around the obstacles.
Peer into the future.
Try to determine the best outcome.
Make projections.
Work harder still.
Hustle.
You are enough.
You’ve got this.

He says:
Pray.
Ask for direction.
Do the next thing.
Look ahead expectantly.
Wait for guidance.
Then walk forward in confidence.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
For My glory.
Don’t try to figure out what is next.
Or how to get around the obstacle.
Instead, take it to Me, the One Who made you, the Designer of all things, the Lord.

Don’t worry about anything.
Instead, give thanks for ALL things.
Even the tough stuff.
And then leave it in My hands.
Tell Me what you need. Yes, even what you want.
And then rest.
Rest in the fact that I will make it happen – if “it” is My will.
Rest in the fact that I will show you what to do next – if there is a “to do”.
Rest in the fact that I CAN see the future and I know exactly what will happen – and that I am working all things out “in conformity to the purpose of My will”.

I say:
But God has given me a brain – He expects me to use it!
(As I bow at the idol of self-sufficiency.)

Laziness and sloth are sins. I have to work hard!
(As I bow at the idol of control.)

If I don’t take care of this, who will?
(As I bow at the idol of my own importance.)

The Truth:

Time is short.
We desperately need workers in the harvest field.
The Lord of the Harvest is returning soon.
And we want to be found faithful in working for Him.

But He never asked us to do it in our own strength.
He never asked us to do it without Him.
He never asked us to figure it out.
He never asked us to make a plan for His approval.

He never said, “Hustle first. Then pray when you have exhausted all other resources.”
He never said, “You can do this; I can help.”
He never said, “You are enough.”
He never said, “You’ve got this.”

He said, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
He said, “Sit back and watch what I can do.”
He said, “I am the Potter, you are the vessel.”
He said, “Take my yoke upon you. Do things my way. And you will find rest for your soul.”
He said, “You can do all things – if you do them in Me. Through Me. Because I asked you to do them. For My glory.”
He said, “Humble yourself before Me. And then watch me raise you up.”
He said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”

Your first job is not to hustle.
Your first job is the stay connected to the Vine.

Your first job is not the make it happen.
Your first job is to make time for Him. For prayer. For the Word. For listening.

Your first job is not to tell yourself how good you are.
Your first job is to tell Him how great He is.

Your first job is not to recognize all your best qualities.
Your first job is to yield every part of yourself to His mighty hand.

“The natural temptation with every difficulty is to plan for it, to put it out of the way yourself; but stop short with all your planning, your thinking, your worry, and talk to Him! Rest, trust, and wait, and see how He does that which you wanted to do and had so much care about. ‘Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.’”
A. E. Funk