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Black

Unmoved

Walking to work this morning, I saw the Olympics in the distance across the bay. I needed to see them. They're always there, visible or not, each morning, noon, night. They don't move, whatever my perception. They're as close to eternal as I'm likely to see this side of heaven.

God is like that. Obvious, I realize, but it helps to remember. "There is no shadow of turning with Thee." Remembering who He is helps me remember who I am.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

—Isaiah 43:1-3a
Because of who He is, I am who He says I am. He has called me by name. My identity is even less likely to move than those stony spires. I may live into it or run from it. I have the freedom to disobey, or even to work hard to somehow achieve who He has already declared me to be. No matter how I act, with the truth or against it, it's still the truth. Since I didn't do it, I can't undo it. That's theological fact, not some self-help feelgood mumbo-jumbo. And it costs, in faithfulness and suffering and sacrifice. Because of who He says I am, I'm called to act and invest and respond in faithfulness to it. But those actions aren't the truth; they just come as a result of it. "Imperatives are built on indicatives." I am His.

Storms in my life in the past couple of days, things I wouldn't have chosen. As with pretty much all of life, I don't know for certain if the choices I've made are faithful ones; only that I believe them to be and have never intended to harm. The shelter in the storm is this truth— He has redeemed me, called me by name. I am His. That's more true than anything I may or may not do. And it's true of everyone who trusts Him.

So very much to be thankful for. Odd to be filled with gratitude even as painful things happen; strange that gratitude and hurt coexist and even complement one another now rather than contradicting. It's because of who He is, and who He says I am. He really is my refuge, strength, shield. He really is coming through for me.

And even further comfort: I know these promises aren't just for me.

"For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

—Isaiah 54:10

Comments

I have the freedom to disobey, or even to work hard to somehow achieve who He has already declared me to be.

I'm going to choose (b):

So then, my beloved...work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Re:

I agree, yet there's subtle distinction that my pride can cause me to miss: "work out your own salvation." Instead, I'm tempted to try to achieve it, to work toward my salvation rather than working out from it.

"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Yes!

Re:

oooh, I missed that word. sometimes my super-speed reading ability is a disadvantage. ;)

So, I choose (c):

To work out what God has already worked in.
I liked this entry. Isaiah is a great book. Thank you for sharing. :)
Unmoved>>>

That is what I like best about you.
It's been a long time since I had the time to read other people's entries. This one made me remember how much I'm missing. It's beautiful.
"I don't know for certain if the choices I've made are faithful ones; only that I believe them to be and have never intended to harm."

That basically sums me up right now. Go check out the rest of the flack before I delete it. So, um, if we're being persecuted for our beliefs, that means we're doing something right, right? Then why does it feel so wrong?? *goes off to cry*

Re:

I read and am saddened by some of the ways people are responding to you, and moreso to Christ. Though our situations are different, Jesus' promise to us is the same:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

—Matthew 19:29
That our friends who don't know Him are wounded and broken is no surprise. That some are openly enemies of God is no surprise, either— that's the heritage all of us share; you and I have simply been reconciled to God by His grace.

We can't make Him inoffensive either, and God have mercy on anyone who tries to do so. I could see in those comments that there's a type of "Christian" some of the commenters prefer: one who is simply tolerant, who witnesses to a Jesus who preaches "love thy neighbor" as the only great command and does not challenge false beliefs. Trick is, that Jesus never existed, and if he had, he certainly never would have been crucified (for none would have been offended) or risen (for He would not have been the Son of God). The other trick is, though that's the kind of Jesus some seem to be asking for, note how they respond— they still reject even the watered-down version.

I know it hurts, and this may not feel like much encouragement, but press on. You're leaving the way open for God to come through and leaving your friends in His hands. You've probably prayed to be a good witness, and I believe what you're seeing may be the answer to that prayer— people are seeing you and responding to Jesus, whom they hate. Anything you may lose in so doing was not eternal anyway, and there's not a tear you shed that escapes His notice.

I don't know that I would have taken all the steps your pastor did (I can't imagine placing expetations of faith on the bridal party as well as the couple, for example— how far should this go? And why the concern for his own reputation; is that not in Jesus' care?), but you and I both understand some of his concerns. God is using these events to reveal Himself, and people are responding. I encourage you to respond by clinging all the more tightly to Him.

Re:

Thank you for the reminder from Matthew. You're not the first to remind me of it, and the repetition is confirmation that it's from God.

Yes, all too many prefer tolerance, when God calls for intolerance. *sigh* They cannot understand, because they love darkness. And when I shine His light, they hate me for it. I understand it, even though it hurts.

I like how you said that people are responding to Jesus because of my actions. The response is not at all what I had hoped for, but Jesus did say He would be "a stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes men fall." And, as Michael Card said in his song Scandalon, "All who come this way must be offended."

Thank you very much for your words; they are indeed encouraging. *hugs*