Table Scrap Faith

Watering:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David,have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word.

Watching:

Jesus didn’t answer. Or more accurately, he was quietly answering, “Wait. Don’t give up, but you need to wait.”

This seems so callous, but Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing — and God is never in a hurry. God always looks to the heart, and draws out the faith that is there. This woman had faith, and Jesus knew it from the beginning, but his disciples didn’t. They were waiting for the first opportunity to send this ‘dog’ away — and since Jesus didn’t answer, what a prime opportunity to send this nuisance away! But Jesus was always up to teaching his disciples a thing or two:

So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Is this what the disciples were secretly thinking?)

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Is this, too, an echo of their thoughts?)

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

BAM! Lesson objective.

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

(Matthew 15:21-28)

Wondering:

I’m a teacher. I ‘beat around the bush’ many times to get my students thinking. Jesus showed the woman the power of her persistent faith. Jesus showed the disciples a greater view of faith.

And what was this faith?

Believing in the goodness of God enough to keep praying. Keep “bothering’. Keep pursuing… Already having an answer for the faith that won’t give up.

Faith pursues.

Faith withstands silence and rejection, endures ridicule.

Faith clings to the hope of God’s goodness – caring enough to follow  – and pray – in the first place.

Waiting:

Lord, my faith is not in what you can or will do for me, but my faith is in You alone. You listen. You care. You love. In You alone is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. Because You are true and because You are good, I will follow hard after you.

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A much. bigger. view.

Watering:

Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Samuel 1: 11-12)

Watching:

David’s trial was over. The one who pursued relentlessly to kill him, was dead.

In one instant, David was freed from years of uncertainty, a lifetime of running and the shame of hiding. And now his stalker was dead –but what did David do? He mourned!

…in spirit and in truth, David mourned.

David’s heart was truly entwined in the heart of God. It wasn’t worked up, or faked… David’s grief was real. When he heard of Saul’s demise, he didn’t see a hated enemy defeated, he saw God’s chosen one slain – a mighty one fallen.

Through all the years, David had looked to his big God to map out each step of his way,

and God, through all the years, was faithful each day – giving David a much. bigger. view.

Wondering:

I can’t help but be amazed by David.

Had a maniac been chasing me, terrorizing me, and stealing years off my life, I would have whooped and hollered when he was gone. And I would have “Glory, Hallelujah-ed” that God had (finally) come through for me. (Then I probably would have tried hard to not mumble under my breath, “What TOOK him so long?!”)

But not David. No, David looked beyond the everyday ‘in your face’ reality. David looked to the heart of God. David saw his ‘enemy’ as God’s beloved.

And, consequently, David willingly embraced temporary ‘inconvenience’ — even for what he often couldn’t understand.

But God understood.

And David knew it.

So David waited, and wrote, and poured out his heart in songs and worship…

And the Lord was pleased… and the view got bigger.

Waiting:

Lord, I don’t have any other words except to simply ask: I want a heart like David’s.

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Bury your dead in a fox’s den

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Watering:

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:18-22)

Watching:

Jesus was always amazing people with His responses to them. (Half the time, they weren’t even asking!) Sometimes He responds in questions, sometimes statements, most often stories. But always – in all ways – they are directed at the heart.

Jesus is not flippant in his answers. They are not evasive. They are not meant to reject or push away – quite the opposite. Jesus is always challenging the heart to come, to seek, to ask! Man looks on the outside, and God looks at the heart. So Jesus reaches for spirit and truth …and goes straight to the heart of the matter.

“I will follow you, anywhere, Lord.”

Ah yes, but I know your heart focuses on home and rest. I have neither. My home is with my Father and I won’t rest until I find all my sheep … can you hang with that?

“Let me bury my Father first, Lord.”

Friend, Death is inevitable, but Life moves on. You are dealing with one, or you’re dealing with another. You cannot deal with both… will you choose me, Life, uncertain incredible moving-on-leaving-behind Life? or will you lose yourself in the past?

Wondering:

And so I wonder… what straight to the heart response would Jesus answer me? What question am I not even knowing that my heart is needing an answer? What statement might I say, that He would redirect?

And most importantly…can I let my answer be found solely in Him?

Waiting:

Oh Lord, you know. You see my heart. Let your life answer every part of my being.

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Not to be WhatEver’ed

Watering:

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15)

Watching:

Saul doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it. He had already been disciplined for not obeying the Lord’s directions and here he was again: not obeying and clueless about it!

Not even thinking Saul did what he thought was best – not believing that what the Lord says is always best.

And it was only when he was stopped and questioned was the truth of his actions understood:

 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned.I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.

Wondering:

I’m a teacher. I give directions. I explain what I want. I model what I want. I rewrite the directions on the board. And then, I wait for questions. And I give time for questions to form. As the saying goes: “The only ‘dumb’ question is the one not asked.” And when the time comes, and they’re ‘on their own’ and questions arise – I point them to the board, for them to read and remember and follow with an unheld hand.

And with ALL that… I expect my directions to be followed. And with ALL that I will still go to each raised hand. I don’t think that following directions is beyond the realm of their ability. Yet sometimes I very much think it is beyond their level of concern. “WhatEver… (eye roll)” I can hear them say, until they have to do it again and recess is taken away.

Abraham questioned God and showed God’s forbearance. (Gen. 18: 23-32)

Gideon too, questioned hard, and questioned real and proved the Lord doesn’t mind sincere, quaking questions. (Judges 6)

Paul questioned God, until he knew the answer he wasn’t hoping for, was the one he’s have to live with. (2 Cor 12:7-10)

When God gives us his word and we do our own thing – whether for good reasons or not – we are effectively murmuring, “Whatever.”

God’s Word is Jesus. Signed. Sealed and Delivered. -written by the Spirit of Truth in the ink of His blood.

God’s word is not to be “whatever-ed.”

Waiting:

Lord, forgive me for my many eyerolls. Bottom line: your word is true. Your directions are clear. I will follow hard and know – in my heart of hearts – that I can raise my hand for help.

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Shook, but Unshaken

Watering:

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken. (Ps 55)

Watching:

David knew who he was.

More importantly, David knew who God was.

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:3-19)

And most importantly, David knew who. he. was. in God.

He was chosen,

accepted,

loved,

forgiven,

a conqueror,

a warrior,

a child,

a son,

a king.

God had proved himself faithful over and over and over again in David’s life. Fighting bears. Tackling lions. Killing giants. Building strength. Vanquishing darkness. Revealing Truth. Picking up the pieces after the darkest of failures.

Over and over and over again, there was God – loving the shepherd boy who would be king.

And in the over and over-ness of a faithful God, David’s taproot went deep.

And over and over and over again he would remind himself that he would not be shaken.

Wondering:

The wind is picking up lately in my heart of hearts. Not sure the why of it

…discontent?

…restless?

… focused on the everydays instead of the forevers?

Doesn’t matter the feeling though… because Life marches on and feelings change and sometimes there’s just the chill of a windy sideline.

But here’s the deal. Not being shaken, does not mean that there is no shaking. In fact, I’d say, “There’s a whole (hecka lot) of shaking goin’ on.”

So I’ve concluded: Shaking is inevitable,

but being shaken is not.

I climbed a mountain in Zion a few years back. Or rather I should say, I crept my way – handhold to white-knuckling handhold – on an anchored chain that bore deep into the mountain side. That chain was my lifeline between exhilaration and a certain death. “Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Every part of me grasped that chain, knowing full well the foolishness if I did not.“Cast your cares on me because I WILL SUSTAIN YOU.”

If I could have grasped the entire rock – melded into its strength -I would have. But I had only the lifeline, and my confidence in the one who created it: I will not let the righteous be shaken.

And we – the weak-kneed, wind blown sojourners – are His righteousness: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

David saw the Lord always before him. Within the reach of his right hand. A solid Lifeline. Unflinching. Unshakeable Truth. Going deep, deep and deeper still. Tapping into the unquenchable love of God.

Jesus – the Way, with nails driven deep, lashed to Solid Rock Hope.

Jesus – the Truth, holding steady. Firm. Unmovable.

Jesus – Life beyond the shakes – found deep in the heart of God,

and deep in the heart of me.

My stronghold.

Waiting:

Lord, I will hold on to you.

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Waiting

Watering:

When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.7

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quakingwith fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offeredup the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept  the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:6-14)

Watching:

Saul was told to wait.

He didn’t.

Obeying God and waiting like he had originally been told seemed foolish. His troops were quaking with fear. His troops were scattering and leaving him exposed. Samuel, his spiritual security blanket, wasn’t there and everyone was leaving him alone against a strengthening army.

Saul was afraid of what he saw. He was afraid of what he imagined. His obedience to what he knew God had instructed floundered as he re-thought his next move.  And most surely the enemy sneaked in his signature twisted truth, “Surely God didn’t mean….”

as Saul’s heart caved in confusion and fear,  “What if? I should have… I could have… Surely He didn’t really mean to wait and do nothing?  Maybe I can try this? Maybe He didn’t mean what he said… Maybe He forgot.”

… and Saul ‘felt compelled.’

Wondering:

A heart not sold out to following God in word and deed, no matter what, will re-think life’s decisions a million different ways.

Seeking God. Hearing God. Waiting on God. Hard stuff – not for the weak at heart. Nothing says feed your need, and do it now, better than our “get it while you can fast food America.”

And the enemy of our soul is always very eager to help us “feel compelled” …to accompany our impatience with temporary pleasure and help us bust out a personalized rendition of “I Did it My Way.”

Why is it so hard to believe God wants the very best for us… all the time?

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7)

Jesus. God’s anecdote for weak-hearted man.

Jesus. The Way… leading, guiding, sending us Comfort for the journey

Jesus. The Truth… reminding, coaching, sparking bright the way

Jesus. The Life… everything else is death.

Waiting:

Lord, I am a weak-hearted woman. Thank you for Jesus. May I only be compelled to follow you with a whole heart, a whole life.

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Overwhelmed

Watering:

Psalms 65

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.

Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
 God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
 to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
   they shout for joy and sing.

Wondering and Watching:

As I read this this morning, I was stopped cold, by the word “overwhelmed.” It sprang out at me like the Boogey man from behind a darkened bedroom door.

How often my heart wants to speak that word as I muddle through the growing list of To Do’s that surround me on all sides. How often I wrestle this Overwhelm Monster that wants to take me down into his murky waters. How often I visit his suffocating trenches, only to find myself scraping in desperation to get out to fresh air – hoping for one more deep intake of Living Breath.

And the psalmist writes: When we were overwhelmed in sins, you forgave us our transgressions.

Overwhelmed in sin – sin masked as responsibility and duty and all those Hear Me Roar Have-to’s. Overwhelmed in sin – by the worry and doubt and the fear that Life’s To Do’s are bigger than Him… Him! God! The Almighty One who saves!

The God who saves me from me. Who rescues me from the muck of what doesn’t matter. Who forgives me for my anxious worry and chooses me, chooses you, chooses anyone willing to simply draw near.

Because, God:

You answer us.

You are God, and you save us.

You are Hope who forms with power

Who stills the seas of our turmoil

Who calls to Joy, and says “Come, sing your songs for us.”

Because, God:

You care.

You enrich to provide.

You drench to soften.

You crown to overflow.

Because, God:

The whole earth is touched by Your great love and groans for Your return; And Nature shouts and sings of Your goodness.

Right here.

Right now.

Overwhelmed and turned to overflowing.

Waiting:

Lord, you have turned my Overwhelmed to Overflowing… and I stand humbled again by the great hug of love too good to be true. But it is, and You are. And I. will. shout … for Joy.

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