Archive for August 16th, 2013

I just went back and read my Christmas Eve post on Nisa.  This is a quote from that post:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

I did not know how real it was going to have to become in just a few short day.  I did not know that the flu symptoms that my beautiful wife was having were not the flu at all.  10 days later Allana was in the hospital in a battle for her life with a deadly disease known by its acronym ALL chromosome positive; Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Philadelphia Chromosome positive.   Allana’s CaringBridge site follows the details of our experience.  Throughout this time we have had ups and downs.  I have faced the prospect of losing her and I have faced the deep pain of watching her suffer in ways that I could not even have imagined.  Yet the statement that I made 8 days after Nisa’s birth remains the truest thing in my life:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that  I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

I truly believe that it is this core belief that has opened up our lives for the miraculous interventions that have followed us throughout this experience. It is when we tie our relationship with God to our circumstances that trouble occurs.  If we accept that when bad things happen God somehow has diminished his love for us then our spiritual life will be a roller coaster of highs and lows, undermining our ability to grow spiritually.  The core statement then becomes:

We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us when life is good.  He loves us when I understand and can grasp the good things that he gives us.

I have recently been reading Ezekiel.  My heart broke for him as I read the simple verse in the middle of chapter 24. 

 “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.”

It is with that statement that God informs Ezekiel that his wife is going to die.  We are not given any of the back story or the circumstances, just that as a part of his office as prophet of God, as a part of his calling to serve the almighty, as a part of her calling to serve Him, his beloved wife was going to die.  Two things we need to understand here.

1.  Ezekiel was not told by God to just ignore the death of his wife and not to mourn for her.  The culture of the day and even through to today in many cultures in the region, called for very loud and public mourning.  We know that in Jesus day wealthy families would hire professional mourners to make the process as loud and public as possible.  It was this public and plastic mourning that God called Ezekiel to ignore.  “17 Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food [of mourners].”   This was extraordinary behavior for a recognized public figure.  God calls us as His elect to extraordinary behavior but he does not expect us to be wooden soldiers.  This mourning would be between God and Ezekiel.  And while the text does not explicitly say so, I believe that the phrase, The Word of the Lord came to me… is an indication of the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit.  Dabar is the Hebrew equivalent of Logos.  I am not going to jump into a word or phrase study here but I want to make the point that God did not leave Ezekiel hanging.  Ezekiel did not have the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we as New Testament believers enjoyed (He does note that the Holy Spirit entered him at one point and helped him to stand (Ezekiel 2:2).  Still “The Word of the Lord” was with him.  Ezekiel’s continued obedience and interactions with God’s people are a testament to his continued faith in God’s love for him.

2.  Ezekiel’s experience was not in vain.  When the Spirit of God moves things happen!  We may not understand or see the full scope of what God is doing but he calls His people to extraordinary behavior in extraordinary circumstances for His glory and to extend the purposes of His love for all mankind.

19 The people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things that you are doing mean for us?” 

When God’s people do the extraordinary within the context of the extraordinary people notice.  And honestly what we do within the context of the ordinary often appears extraordinary to those who do not have a relationship with God.  We are not often told the impact of the words spoken by the Old Testament prophets.  I have to believe that while the national fate was sealed by the word of God individuals were impacted by the message and turned their faith to Him even as everything around them fell apart.

3.  It is in our relationship with God that the extraordinary occurs not out of ourselves.  It was the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel who defied the cultural norms to bring God’s message to the people of Israel. ” …for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:21  Ezekiel’s response to this catastrophic even in his life is a direct response to the Holy Spirit.  I can assure you that his heart was breaking even as he rejoiced at the work of God being done in and through his life.  Some day I believe we will be able to talk to the individuals impacted by the ministry of Ezekiel even as the nation fell apart and  fell into exile.

Whatever circumstances one faces the opportunity for the extraordinary exists for all of the followers of Jesus who have the Holy Spirit as an integral part of their lives.  It is interesting that the less that we attempt to be extraordinary and only seek to be obedient, the more extraordinary things God accomplishes through us.

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