like a lot of little earthquakes

If you seek God looking for an answer, you will end up with an idol. If you seek God looking for God, you will always find Him and you will always be satisfied.

The truths of Jeremiah 29:13-14 and Deuteronomy 4:29 are trustworthy words and the above is my paraphrase when I’m tempted to look for an answer instead.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:13-14 ESV)

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV)

These are trustworthy words because the Lord breathed them into being for our benefit. He draws us near so that we can be held, grasped, and secured in the sweet joy of His presence. He draws us near so we can enjoy Him – and He can always be found.

I’m learning what it means for the resurrection to break into my brain space that I had reserved for other things. It’s like a lot of little earthquakes. The sand shifts and the mountains crumble and only the firm foundation remains. And like a lot of little earthquakes, the lesser things look less appealing as my feet run to stand on what will remain.

In grace, God breaks the power of lesser affections so that I can stand with joy on what remains.

As I seek the Lord as my first and greatest affection (and not just for answers), these words  out of Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson are especially savory,

“He has contracted to place himself in covenant relationship with us and to make us his own.

Yes, his love for us is a contractual agreement, but it is so much more than cold, lifeless obligation. He has generously determined to satiate our souls with happiness. He has chosen to betroth us to himself: ‘I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness’ (Hosea 2:19-20).”

When God breaks the power of my lesser affections, He determines to satiate my soul with happiness. He has chosen to betroth me to Himself. Wow. 

I’m not sure what it feels like to have my soul satiated with happiness, but I want to feel it. I want to be fully satisfied with the kind of happiness my soul can feel. And today I know this happiness is real – as real as my coffee and my distractions and my fears and the giggles I can’t control.

The happiness God offers will remain when all the little earthquakes shake out the lesser affections.
let LOVE fly like cRaZy

hearing the gospel song

“Like you, I need to hear the gospel song over and over again because my soul is a sieve and the gospel leaks out of it, leaving only the husk of Christianity – my self-righteousness and obligations.” Elyse Fitzpatrick in “Counsel from the Cross

You’ll probably have to read that little nugget one more time. I did, anyway.

Is your soul a sieve the gospel leaks out of, leaving the shells of human efforts on top? I feel like no matter how many times I go to the river to fill up my cup, I will soon be found in the desert and empty.

Empty because I let the gospel seep out. Empty because our soul can only be a sieve on this side of heaven.

And that’s why we need the gospel song over and over again – because pretending to be filled only keeps us empty.

In the book, Fitzpatrick asks a friend who is struggling, “How do you think the resurrection impacts this circumstance?” Her friend responds, “I know it should but I just don’t know how.”

How many times is this true of us? We really do believe – in a Sunday knowledge kind of way – that Christ transforms us.

But, we also really believe that Christ has little to do with our best friend’s gambling problem or our parents’ divorce or our children’s grades. We know Christ is in all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), but we also know that little Johnny has had to stay inside from recess because he is spitting at girls.

Can it really be true that the resurrection – that event that took place 2,000 years ago – could impact the gambling and the divorce and the grades and Johnny? And if the resurrection does have impact (because we know it should), does that mean we just expect all those circumstances to change for the better – kind of like neosporin for cuts?

And that’s why we need the gospel song over and over again – because pretending to be filled only keeps us empty.

When we tackle gambling and divorce and misbehaving little ones apart from the resurrection, we are aides in destruction. When we believe that God is not relevant or helpful or interested in those matters, we are saying that we are the best solution. We convince ourselves that God is a useful “help in times of trouble” only in certain circumstances and for the rest, it’s good old-fashioned DIY (because who knows your problems better than you, anyway?).

How’s that working out for you, champ? Not so good, at least for me. Soon enough, I’ll come crawling back to the throne of grace with all those husks on the top of the sieve and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Give me some of that gospel truth. Remind me what it means that you died and rose again. Remind me of the resurrection.”

The power of the resurrection is in believing God’s sovereignty stretched so far to allow the worst suffering in order to allow the most glory and joy.

The truth is, God is not surprised by your gambling or divorce or Johnny’s spitting. God is not surprised by your fear or your pride or your greed or your desperate need for coffee at 7 am. He is not surprised when you lust after a married man or worry about your jean size or lie on your taxes.

The power of the resurrection is that God was never surprised at sin – that He sent His Son while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) – and that Christ’s death and resurrection effectively conquers and cancels sin in our lives. Today. Not two thousand years ago. Today – the coffee, the gambling, the pride, Johnny’s spitting, the divorce, and the jealousy.

Christ canceled sin when he endured the cross, “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). And this canceling power frees us to have joy in the middle of struggle and pain and confusion.

This sin-canceling power frees us to live like no circumstance will bury us in the ground, because we have been raised up.

So, let the gospel song be sung over you again and again today. Get filled up and then get filled up again. Sing the power of the resurrection until you forget the words and then listen for the words again.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy