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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Strike Me Hard ... and Often, Lord

In just a few years it seemed that I poured my heart and soul into writing this blog.  And then it was over, almost as suddenly as it had started.  It seemed as if I woke up one day and there was nothing left to say.  Is that true?  Is there nothing left in me to say?  I very much doubt it.  So from time to time I find myself examining my own journey with the Lord - seeking to understand it.

Today I had what I'd have to call a huge revelation.  It was followed by a most surprising prayer.  Let me explain.

Background
A a few years ago I was faced with a very precarious employment situation.  Unexpectedly I found myself without a job.  But the Lord was faithful and He provided for my family even better than He had before.  However, His provision was temporary in nature.  And it came to an abrupt and unexpected ending over Christmas that year.

Suddenly I was thrust back into the ranks of the unemployment.  This time it didn't even come with a severance package to help cushion the blow.  I dutifully surrendered my predicament to the Lord.  With (sometimes forced) resignation, I went about the plodding effort of looking for a job.  As always, the Lord provided.  He was faithful indeed.  This time His provision was a very tentative contract role though, for about a third less than I'd been making.  Still it was enough. 

I was in a lowly, humbling role, and I knew it could end any day.  Honestly, I felt like the Israelites must have felt when they wandered for 40 years, picking up manna from the ground each morning to eat.  They hadn't known whether they would have food the next day or not.  They just had to trust God for that.  I was in exactly the same boat!  In fact, I felt as if the Lord had me on a very short leash - just to keep me humbled.

Being in a dilemma like the Israelites were helps do something.  It helps you maintain a laser-sharp focus on the Lord and His will for you.  Every day.  Every minute.  As I read and reflect on the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert, I see clearly that (at least) one of God's purposes for having them on such a short leash was that He wanted them to develop and keep a laser-sharp focus on Him.  Would our Lord want anything less from me?

So for months I drove to work each day, praying in earnest that God would keep me safe.  I sincerely prayed and poured my heart out to Him each day, it seemed.  Often times as I drove into the parking lot tears were streaming down my face.  I'd park the car, dry my tears, and walk into the building literally praying as I walked.

Oddly enough, I never prayed for a better job.  I didn't pray for more money.  I prayed that the Lord would give me grace to honor Him in my circumstances.  I asked Him to show me how to honor those whom I worked for.  I asked Him to help me honor Him - with my words, my thoughts, and all of my actions throughout that day.  I prayed for those who would mistreat me (because they did).  I prayed for those around me, and I asked Him to use me to bless them (and He did).  Even in my painful circumstances, I guess I had enough wisdom to know that the reason(s) I was there might not be all about me.

As I look back, I remember it being a stressful time - almost terrifying in nature.  If not for my laser sharp focus on the Lord, I would have no doubt been terrified.  But we made it through, and my testimony for the Lord was even stronger.  He has been so very faithful, and never failed me.  Out of the blue I received a most unlikely job offer, making more money than before.  It seemed like a dream come true, and I rejoiced in the Lord.

Stricken By the Lord

To make a long story short, I walked out of the those circumstances.  My God blessed me and my family with a wonderful job that most of us could only dream about.  It pays well and provides us with more financial security than we've ever had in our entire lives.  But it's been about eighteen (18) months now since I made that transition - from desperate need to bountiful provision.  I'm ashamed to say that my walk with the Lord has suffered during that time.  I've found it sometimes hard to seek Him first each day.  I've found myself bitter, angry, and unloving at times (at least in my head and heart).  At times I've asked the Lord to help me come back to Him. 

So today He did.  Today the Lord allowed me to be blasted by the enemy.  I was, as they say, thrown under the bus by someone I would have thought I could have trusted.  I was blamed, accused, and deeply wounded.  It was very unsettling.  My own brokenness was raging.  I prayed in the moment, of course, asking the Lord to give me the words to respond.  He did and I got through the meeting.  But if ever there were a picture of the "walking wounded" it was me after that meeting.

Later in the day I had to go to the airport.  My first instinct was to head for the bar and load up on liquor to change the way I felt.  Instead, I found a carpeted hallway where terminal golf carts are parked for recharging.  I arranged my suitcase to give some privacy and lay down on the floor among them.  As I laid there and talked to God about what happened, the tears just started to pour out of my eyes.  My hair ended up being soaked by my own tears. 

But as I laid there on the floor of the airport, praying amidst my own tears, I had a moment of clarity.  I was suddenly laser-focused on the Lord ... like I hadn't been in months!  I talked to Him about that.  As He and I examined my heart we saw that I want nothing more than to please Him.  I don't want to be or have anything.  In fact, if it would please my Lord, I would be happy to cease to be altogether.  Really!

As I prayed and reflected, it occurred to me that perhaps the Lord had stricken me (or allowed me to be stricken) in order to get me focused back on Him.  If He did, I would be eternally grateful.  And so I prayed.  "Lord, if You need to strike me and wound me to get me focused on you and keep me focused on you, then please strike me hard.  Wound me deeply.  And do it often.  For there is no greater joy in my life than to run to You - even if it's in my pain and fear."

I have to confess that this was a prayer which surprised even me.  But I am pleased to say that it is definitely a prayer that I mean.  "Lord strike me.  Wound me.  Do whatever it takes to help me keep the sharpest focus on you, Father.  In Jesus' name I pray this. Amen."

2 comments:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. Hugs and prayers....

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  2. Wow, you make me cry, but with tears of HOPE, and wisdom from your words. That is DEEp and I am still processing it, I think I will have to read it again, and yes I have experienced times like these, although my response and thought process regarding it were different. I am not sure how to be "laser focused on the Lord", but I will do my best and maybe my current situation and heartache has been to make me search for him again. So be it, I am finally listening, LORD. Thank you for sharing your pain, and your story. I have so much to learn from you Dad and I am glad God gives me that opportunity. I am blessed.

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