Final Thoughts on a Final Recovery, and Wednesday’s Promise

(The following post is a summation of the 3 Things to Make Recovery Final series and includes the promise I made last Wednesday to tell you one really special way that God reveals Himself to us.)
Just a couple more thoughts, I think sometimes our “Christian” life and struggle to manufacture faith gets in the way of really having faith. A lot of times during recovery I thought, “If I just believed God enough. Why is it so hard to trust Him?”
The other day I was enamored by one of Steven Furtick’s sermons in the Crash the Chatterbox series. He referenced Moses at the burning bush. Furtick pointed out that in all his arguments with God and reasoning as to why he shouldn’t be the one to deliver Israel, Moses never once doubted God’s ability.
God showed him several miracles and Moses knew what God was capable of doing. Instead, he argued from a place of insecurity, basically saying over and over again, “You don’t really want to use me to do this God. You’re awesome and all, but I’m not smart enough, I’m not a good speaker, I don’t have many friends left in Egypt, no one will believe me…”.
God didn’t set Moses straight by fixing Moses, or suddenly, magically filling him with faith. Instead, God simply told Moses who HE was. He said, I AM.
Every time Moses said, “I am not…”, God’s effectual response was, “I AM…”. This gets really awesome when we get to the New Testament and realize how many times God says that He has give us His name. Because we bear His name, all of our arguments about failures, small faith and insufficiencies are answered in our new name, “I AM.”
(2 Chron. 7:14, Is. 43:7, 2 Peter 1:4, John 17:11-12)
The answer to stronger faith isn’t to grit our teeth and try to force it. It isn’t to work harder or do more. It is simply watching Jesus, seeing I AM.  (A few verses and commentary on this:
This is why Paul White’s sermons hit me so hard and sunk in so deeply.
I had tried for SO LONG to conjure up this faith that should have made me a “good Christian girl”, impervious to stupid struggles and battles and fears and anxiety. I was exhausted because I couldn’t come up with faith or make believing in Jesus “work for me”. But that’s the point. When we understand that “faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen” we can start walking in faith without holding out for “proof” that this works.
You’ve heard it said, “To know Jesus is to love Him.” (Maybe that was said about something else, but it has never been more true than about Christ). We cannot make ourselves love Him or believe Him. But the more we KNOW Him the more irresistible He becomes, the better we understand His voice and freer we walk day by day.
Hangeth Thou in There 🙂

Book Review: Burning Sky

I didn’t like her much, this heroine. In spite of her determination, resiliency and resourcefulness, I struggled to identify with her. Her choices angered me. Her independence and chilly demeanor almost hurt my feelings.

It takes an extraordinary writer to plant within the reader reservations about the protagonist, to engender a dislike, and then to cultivate and tend that emotion until it evolves into humble respect, indeed genuine affection. Lori Benton is such a writer.

Willa Obenchain is introduced in the first chapter of Benton’s novel, Burning Sky. However, she remains nameless, and therefore seems almost heartless, for many pages. She is first observed in an act of charity, rescuing a wounded Scotsman, who fell from his horse and lay alone facing certain death in the wilderness of northern New York during the volatile years of the Revolutionary War.

But Willa’s kindness is an act of duty, not of tenderness. Repeated loss blunted her ability to give or receive love. As the story unfolds, Willa’s own past is revealed piece by piece, always against her will. Rarely does Willa admit any of her story to another, instead holding all things close and tight within.

Willa had been kidnapped by Indians when she was a mere 14 years old. She spent twelve years in an adopted family, steeped in a culture considered foreign and savage by her race. Willa eventually found peace within the tribe and her position in Wolf Clan. But again, death and violence raped her sense of safety and belonging. Her Indian husband was killed in battle, her two daughters perished and finally, even her adopted mother died. Isolated, rootless, Willa trudged alone back to the people of her birth, not sure if they still lived or would welcome her.

There Willa’s two lives intersect. When she arrives back at the cabin of her youth, her biological parents are gone, likely dead. Along her travels, she has acquired the wounded Scotsman, planning only to tend his wounds and bid him leave. With nothing and no one to claim, she plans to live out her solitary days on her parents’ land.

Perhaps this is why I found Willa so unlikable. I haven’t the fortitude to accept such loss, turn and challenge life to embrace me alone, with nothing else to lose ever again. I am far to needy, far to easily broken. I must gather all possible sources of life and cling to them, nurturing every relationship for mutual sustenance.

Brilliantly, Benton brings new characters, one at a time, into Willa’s tight circle. Each one in a sense, pitching stones against her resolution to remain lonely. There’s the convalescing Scotsman with his Bible, bold faith and budding affection for her. An Indian harboring love for her as well, but vacillating between a longing for her as a clan sister or a wife. Long lost relationships with the people of Shiloh, the nearest city, are shaky. How should she be considered: Recovered daughter of their own, or as if she represents all their fears of the mysterious indigenous people?

Benton’s description of the New York landscape is exquisite. From broad colorful strokes of the countryside, to the minute details of Willa’s eyes and the Scotsman’s voice, her story vibrates with almost tangible realism. In this context, like a potter at his wheel, continuously shaping a vessel, Benton sculpts and refines Willa’s character to the very last page.

I write this review humbly. Benton skillfully wrought from me admiration, even affection for Willa Obenchain.

Burning Sky is a rich experience, not only of historically accurate imagination, but of personal revelation for the reader.

What Fell?

Did you ever think about what fell in “The Fall”? Usually, we think about sin entering the world. Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, we know that there was no death, no hate, no sexual impropriety. There was no lying, fear, anger, bitterness or rebellion. There was no cursing, fighting, disobedience, murder or cheating. But what about pain?

The Bible says that in heaven there will be no tears, no pain. Revelation 21:3-4

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This morning I drudged my way through “Kinesiology and Functional Anatomy” in my course book for the NESTA personal trainer certification. It’s a tough chapter. But even as I flunked my first attempt at the practice test, I have to admit, it’s incredibly interesting. Just as God had an original intent for our lives: the praise of His glory, He had an original, perfect plan for our bodies.

Just a couple examples:

The heart has its own pacemaker and is self regulated. Not once have you ever had to tell your heart to beat

Our bodies were made to work and our muscles, even our bones, grow stronger in response to this stimulus

But what happens when we abuse or damage one little thing? I had to go to the doctor today because I’ve been experiencing some knee pain. At first, I rolled my eyes when he told me that my knee pain was related to the callus on my big toe. He quickly explained that the callus was indicative of over-pronation in my foot, which in turn was affecting my knee. Wow!

It’s similar in our spiritual lives. It only took one sin – the intentional act of disobedience of eating a food God forbade – to introduce the painful sins and consequences that we experience today. In many ways, the continued degradation of human behavior is a consequence of the first sin. That doesn’t mean we’re innocent! Just because Adam’s sin started the downward spiral doesn’t mean we are simply victims of sin.  

Jesus Christ came to redeem sinners. Think of it as: Jesus lived a perfect life, building up antibodies to the illness we are suffering from, sin. Then, on the cross, he poured out His blood, gave His life in order to offer us the cure for sin and death. But we cannot become well if we refuse to accept and consume the cure He has made freely available. If we arrogantly despise the sacrifice, forgiveness and healing of Jesus Christ, we can know for sure that our sin will continually, progressively destroy us.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

Every single heart beat of every single day, your body is preaching to you the message of salvation. Please listen!