Wednesday, August 2, 2017

covered


Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
-Deuteronomy 1:29-31

Different scripture passages stand out to me in different seasons of life. Lately, Deuteronomy 1:29-31 is one that keeps pulling me back in like a magnet. I cannot get over the tenderness of it.

I came back to these verses to share them with someone who is struggling with depression and was looking for encouragement. When I was in the thick of postpartum depression, I remember sitting in church while the worship music played. I felt like I was in a fog; I was so tired, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that everything seemed hazy and I could not seem to pull myself out of it. God seemed far away, like I was at the bottom of a pit and though I knew He was up there somewhere, He seemed very, very high up in the distance. Then the band started playing this song by the Newsboys:


The idea of God living within my exhausted, numb heart, life and wholeness and power amongst the dust and the ruin within me, made me feel as though I had suddenly come to life. It felt like one of those dramatic deathbed scenes in a movie when the camera is showing things from the sick person's point of view, a blurred picture of doctors and nurses hovering and buzzing busily over the patient, who can't make out what the doctors' voices are saying. Too weak to fight for herself, the patient is completely dependent on others who are hard at work doing everything possible to bring her back to life.

The idea of God fighting for me is a powerful truth when I am too weak to fight for myself. When we are sprawled out on the battlefield, exhaustion taking over as our minds become confused and our vision becomes blurry, He rides up on His white horse and takes over. (After all, He has such a soft spot for the vulnerable.) 

Part of the beauty of the Lord fighting for me, beyond the fact that He is saving me, is that He believes that I am worth saving. Sometimes suffering is the result of external forces over which we have no control, and sometimes it is a direct or indirect result of our own sin. I tend to assume that my suffering is my own fault, which I'm sure is true much of the time. My old pattern, and the worn path I have to fight against going down out of habit, is to allow my shame to keep me from running to Him for help.

However.

Even when we are experiencing adversity due to our own sin, even then He is compassionate. I had not noticed before the part of Deuteronomy 1:29-31 that says, "The Lord your God will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt...and in the wilderness." When the Lord fought for the Israelites in Egypt, He heard their cries and freed them from their oppressors. In the wilderness, when the Israelites were wandering around due to their own unbelief, even then the Lord fought for them. He provided manna and water and direction. Even when they sinned again and did not trust in the Lord, He warned them not to proceed with battle against their enemy because He would not be with them and knew that they would be defeated.

When we are wandering around in the mess we have made because of our own sin, God is still for us. We often experience consequences for our sin, but He still pursues us. The sin of the Israelites, over and over, was their lack of trust in the Lord (Deuteronomy 1:29-33). I believe that the reason this was the sin that God seemed to focus on is that trust is directly tied to relationship. He is more interested in our trust, our relationship with Him, than He is in our perfection and good behavior.

When I am floundering, fighting my sinful flesh at every turn, my spirit willing but my flesh so frustratingly weak, He is for me. The enemy, the accuser, would have us run away in shame, but the Lord is ever for us, ready to clothe us with dignity and strength. Just as He responded to Adam and Eve's sin by creating clothing for them, so He clothes us when we run to Him instead of hiding. We are clothed with righteousness because we are clothed with the most righteous one of all: Jesus Christ, Himself:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 
Galatians 3:26-27

Oh, what a Savior! May we accept the grace extended to us because of who He is, not based on our own merit, that we may live the abundant lives He desires for us.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10

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