The Master Fixer

THE MASTER FIXER

“Come this way, I’ve got the best cure.”
“Over here!” Another one waves.
“Those are all wrong, you’ll make it all worse.
Come buy my thing that actually saves.”

“Drink it right down, it’ll make you feel great.
I’ve got the right cup of mixes!”
I stand in the middle of clamor and conflict,
Surrounded by dazzling sellers of fixes.

I’m broken and lost and in need of some help,
So I fill up my stomach with healthy green stew.
But when that breaks me more, I run to another,
Consuming and grasping for anything new.

It’s really just a noble distraction-
All of these fixes with all of their clamor.
They don’t heal the root of my problem,
And just keep my eyes glued on their glamour.

But then my eyes are not fixed
on the One who has said:

I am the living one… I hold the keys to death and the grave.”
I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
I will carry the lambs in my arms, holding them close to my heart.”
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The Master Fixer of broken lives,
The Ultimate Molder of everyday clay,
Holding galaxies safe in His hand,
The Mender of Hearts in just the right way.

The clamor around me slowly fades,
As I see the scars in His hands and His side.
I know that all of the fixes I wanted
Will never completely satisfy.

The things that I yearn for most in life,
The Fixer Himself offers to me:
Repentance, salvation, healing my soul,
These things that will last through eternity.

When the fixes run out and I’m left standing empty,
Or the fixes do work, and I’m filled to the brim,
Oh may I always desire the Giver
Far more than I want the gifts from Him.

Explanation of this poem I wrote: I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster these past few weeks, as I’ve tried a few different food plans and treatment options for my leaky gut, and made a million visits to my fertility doctor. (Ok, actually only like 7. But it felt like much more.)

I’m very happy to be pursuing these avenues to help my body be healthier and hopefully prevent any future miscarriages. But through my Bible reading and prayer times, I’ve been consistently seeing that I need to rest content in God as my sole sufficiency, no matter what outcome these treatments bring. 

I will still continue to search for these “fixes” for the brokenness in my body. But I know that healing and babies cannot be my idol. That would only make my spirit more broken and farther from God. So in the midst of doctor visits, bone broth, and bloodwork, the end result that I should be seeking is ultimately God Himself and a closer fellowship with Him.

When Hope Seems to Run Out

I needed to hear this encouragement right now. I’ve never considered this aspect of Jairus’ perspective before. Thankyou, Sarah.

Excerpt from Sarah’s post: “A miraculously answered prayer reveals God’s power, but a long-suffering believer, steadfastly trusting in Christ, reveals His worth.”

Set Apart

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God is still a God of miracles. Though it may look different than when Jesus walked the earth, we still hear of God’s divine intervention all around us – tumors that miraculously disappear, a hardened criminal surrenders their life to Christ and has a powerful ministry to the unsaved, an unborn child who’s been declared “unfit for life” is born perfectly healthy, and hard to reach cultures are coming to Christ through divine intervention.

Yes, God still reveals His power and supremacy through these miraculous acts. However, it’s likely that many of us haven’t experienced a life-altering miracle in our own lives (other than the miraculous regeneration of our hearts). Although there are times that we can clearly see evidence of God at work in our lives, there are also seasons when it seems as though prayers are being answered in everyone’s lives but ours.

Over the last decade or…

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He Carried the Cross…

Easter.

This weekend we contemplate Jesus’ sacrifice as He carried a cross to Golgotha and died to pay the debt of our sin against the Holy God. Any other thoughts we have, (including this blog post,) are small compared to the magnificent thought of Jesus and all that He has done for us. I hope that in the midst of your festivities this weekend, your contemplations are filled with peace, joy, and an ever-deepening knowledge of God’s Love for us shown in Jesus Christ.

Recently, I have been struck by these verses in Luke 9:23-24, that speak of carrying a cross.

“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

I was listening to a sermon on the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to be saved?” (Mark 10:17-31) Jesus replies that this man should sell all that he has, give that money to the poor, and then follow Jesus. The passage specifically says that Jesus looked at this man and loved him.  Jesus wasn’t trying to make his life difficult. He loved this guy enough to point out the thing that was keeping him from following God wholeheartedly. The first and greatest commandment according to Jesus is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:28-31)

This ruler had to make a decision between either loving God more than anything else in this world, or loving his wealth more than God. And when a decision comes across our path that forces us to choose between following God or keeping this other thing we want, our actions will show if we truly love God with all of our being.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for me to want babies. (I’m sure the ruler used his wealth for much good.) And I’m not saying that the reason I’ve had miscarriages (or the loss you’ve experienced) is because of an idolatry of the heart that we have. I am saying that sometimes God shows up and He loves us enough to tell us what is keeping us from following Him wholeheartedly.

But I wept as I listened to the next part of the story-  “At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:22) I wept because I know the frailty and idolatry of my own heart, and am thankful that God is answering my prayer to desire Him more than anything else. What if God never gives me children? Will I still follow, obey, worship, and love Him with my whole heart? I don’t want to join the rich young ruler in walking away sad because I deem something on this earth to be of greater worth than God.  That would be a greater sorrow.

But I also know that it is impossible to walk the life of faith and daily carry our cross apart from God’s help.

“The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Mark 10:27

And there’s the beautiful part… Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, daily take up our cross, and follow Him. He doesn’t tell us to go be miserable and blaze a new path in suffering. He calls us to follow Him. Which means He’s gone before us.

I don’t know what cross is in your life right now that God is asking you to pick up each morning. Or what idol He is asking you to surrender to Him again. But I do know that we don’t do this alone. We have a Savior who carried His cross to death in order to demonstrate His great Love for us. (Romans 5:8)

As we contemplate Jesus’ death and resurrection this weekend, may our view of Him transform our view of the difficulties we encounter in our lives. May we desire Him above everything else in our lives, because He died and rose again to redeem us.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Why Pray, If God Doesn’t Answer the Way I Want?

What’s the point of continuing to pray and ask God for something, if He doesn’t always answer the way we want?

Recently, this question has been bothering me. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we don’t always get what we want. That’s life and we live in an imperfect world.

But it’s another thing when the prayer that goes unanswered is a deep longing that we desperately want God to answer. In those instances, it’s much harder for me to accept the pat answer of “that’s life. Get over it and keep praying anyways.”

And so I get tripped up and find myself struggling to pray. As in, actually talking to God, understanding that He’s carefully listening, and expect Him to answer in some way.

Part of my problem is that I shut down my heart because I’m afraid of getting my hopes up. “Why would I ask God for something so important to me, hope that He’ll give it, and then later find out He’s said no? Wouldn’t it be easier just to not ask Him and save the disappointment?” I recognize that this is a problem, and that I need to keep talking with God about these things… even more because of how significant they are to me. Philippians 4:6 tells me to present my requests to God in every situation, with thanksgiving. 1 Thessalonians 5:17  tells me to pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.

But it’s a long distance between my head and my heart.

So this question was banging around in my brain as I walked into prayer meeting at church last Sunday. Thankfully, God showed me an answer later that day in the example that Jesus set for us.

I was “randomly” reading through Matthew 26, and came across this prayer that Jesus made in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:38-39

I had to read it a few times to make sure I was seeing it correctly. Prior to this, Jesus had told his disciples multiple times that it was necessary for him to die in Jerusalem and that he would be raised again on the 3rd day. (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19)

Jesus was about to die a terribly agonizing death, and He knew it. He also knew that this was God’s will for Him, in order to fulfill the scriptures that talked about the Messiah redeeming His people. And yet He STILL prayed and asked God “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.” He asked God for something that He knew wouldn’t be answered.

I’m not quite sure what to do  with that.

But in the midst of my pain of praying for healthy pregnancies and ending up with miscarriages, I find comfort in seeing that Jesus knows what it’s like to pray a prayer that is not answered.

So that answered the first part of my question. Yes, it is good for me to continue to pray and ask God to give me children, even if I don’t know how He’ll answer, and even if His answer has been “no” so far.

But then, because God loves me, He wouldn’t let me ignore the words Jesus gives after that request… Too often I follow my requests with, “And if you don’t give this to me, I’m going to be really, really upset.”

But Jesus? I’m challenged and convicted by His attitude that, even in the face of knowing He is heading to His death, says “yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”

We have a God in heaven who loves us, cares for us, and wants us to bring our requests to Him. That’s an incredible privilege. Do we honor that privilege by holding our requests a little less tightly and trust that God understands how important these requests are to us?

After saying “I really want this,” do we follow that up with with “But what I really want is for Your plans to be done, God, not mine”… ?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

How Can I Survive the Fire?

The crackling fire sweeping through dried grass may burn out quickly, but the smoke and ashes linger much longer. And the scarred landscape tells the tale of the fire’s destruction long after the fire has died.

The same is often true in our lives.

But to stop my musings there is only the first part of the story. Too often, I’m so consumed by the pain of the fire of difficulty going on, that I forget to look at what happens  after the fire.

Earlier this spring, I found myself scowling as I drove past a picturesque farmhouse. The graceful hill that gently sloped toward the road was scarred by 4 huge ugly squares of burned grass. Those patches of black stubble stood out like an eye-sore, where the previous summer had grown a lush flower garden.

It reminded me of seeing burnt fields after my first miscarriage. And realizing that God has woven a “life out of death” theme throughout nature.  In John 12:24, Jesus speaks about a seed that falls to the ground and dies before it can produce a harvest of new life. The beautiful flowers on a tree give way to fruit as those delicate flowers wilt and drop to the ground. The microscopic flakes of skin we shed are replaced by new healthier cells. The grass that is burned turns into nutrients for the new grass that will grow there. Even in a rotting old tree that falls to the ground, life blossoms in the form of opportunistic mushrooms, algae, and even smaller plants. It is almost as if all of creation is weeping as it says, “Everything dies. Nothing lives forever…” But then declares triumphantly through its tears, “But God has ordained that life will spring anew! Take hope. Even though death is the law of this world, new life is also a pattern in this world.”

I believe God has given us this theme in creation as a vibrant echo of Jesus and the way His death on the cross opened the opportunity for us to have eternal life Life through Him. It also reminds me that the death and loss we experience in this world is not the end. For those who trust Christ, in heaven we will get a new body- a glorified one, much better and without the pain and sickness we endure here.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:27-28

Just the other day I drove past that same farmhouse, and it was a healing balm to my soul to see what had become of those burned out patches of dry grass. The squares that had experienced the fire still stood out, but now it was because they were covered in lush grass far greener than the surrounding hillside. Edge of grass cropped darkened no mirror

As I look back, I see times that felt like a burning down of everything I held dear. This current season feels also like more burning, as my health recently took a turn for the worse with a severe flare of my food allergies.

I don’t see how this will end. But I do see what happened to those humble patches of grass.

Lines cropped

So my prayer is for God to bring me out of this season that feels like my heart is choking on smoldering ashes, and teach me to dance for joy again. But until He does, my plea to Him is that this experience would not be wasted. I want to be able to look back and see that I have grown more and been nourished more by God because of this current trial. I want to be that patch of grass that is greener for having gone through the burning fire.

That’s what the Bible speaks about, but it’s easy for me to forget. It’s easier for me to cling to the good things I want and say with Rachel, “give me children or else I’ll die.” Genesis 30:1  Oh Lord, let my prayer instead be, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13:15

God allows these things into our life, knowing the pain and also knowing the outcome. He’s the Perfect Gardener and He does not make mistakes. May we wait to see what He will do, instead of refusing to look beyond the ashes left by the fire.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13