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Monday, July 20, 2015

Silence: When the Father Turned His Face Away

How Deep the Father's Love by Stuart Townend; Fernando Ortega

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


My friend sent me a Youtube link to a Fernando Ortega song, as encouragement as I'm wrestling right now (I know, you're not surprised) with some issues regarding my desire and abilities to serve Jesus. I told her and another friend, "I get such mixed signals from God!"
And the signals change when I least expect it. Who can know the mind of God? His ways surely are not our ways.


That Youtube link led me to the one above. We sang this one in church just a week ago, the first Sunday back from a mission trip with an amazing God and an amazing group of people. Same place we went last year. This year was a feast for me. Yes, it was hard. Exhausting. Challenging. Some things I had planned in advance didn't work out the way I envisioned. There was no huge moment of human success that I can point to and say, "There! We did what we came for! We did something for God!" But yet, it was so sweet and precious in other ways. Like the slow unwrapping of a beautifully ornamented gift, little by little, I saw people drawing closer to one another in a way that was obviously more pure, more genuine, more sincere, with more depth, more Spirit. I saw the tie that binds our hearts to one another becoming. Just becoming. Real. I am sure that he worked more within our group than he did through our group. It felt like a feast for one such as I, hungry as I am for community with a purpose.

It felt like we were building something along the lines of Hebrews 11:10: a city whose foundation, whose architect and builder is the Lord. I felt like a citizen and a fellow laborer in the city of the righteous, prospering. (Proverbs 11:10) Not financially. Not materially. But something even more.

There's been a theme running through our church teaching lately, about individual instrumentality in God's hands. Yes, he works through his body, which is all of us combined. Yes, his purposes have a corporate nature, to produce a people. But he also works individually, and this is something my denomination often forgets, or seriously downplays. "God is no respecter of persons" gets quoted to diminish individual value lest our heads get too big, and in that repetition, Satan's voice begins its insidious whisper. "Not you. Surely not you. How could you think YOU had anything to bring to his work? You're barely allowed in the back door. Tolerated. Not loved. Not useful." 


That's the battle. It rages. I know there's been progress over the last couple of years for me, but certainly not yet victorious living over that one.

Yesterday and today took an unexpected shift. Changes are probably coming. While I can't say for certain yet what that will look like for me, it seems possible that it isn't what I would choose. His ways are not my ways. And I don't like that. What I want to do, for him, what I feel equipped to do, passionate toward doing--may not be the way he wants to use me. And since I can't see where he's going with it, my feelings tell me the reason is that which the enemy whispers to me. And that my questions are being raised to nothingness. 


At this point in my life, I've stopped seeking big, complete answers to questions. I no longer expect to see a large, redemptive solution plopped into my lap. I find, often, it's just little things. Little revelations. "Why, God? What can I take from this?"

A seed. It may be years later when I look back and say, "Oh. That was what that was about. I see now." And even that is partial, incomplete.

Today it was just that one bold line in the song above: The Father turned his face away.
That's the little revelation. 


Who do I love more than anything else? That man upon that cross. Who do I want more than anyone else to be like? That man upon that cross. When do I love him most, and desire him most? When he shows me a bit of the love in his own heart that made him pay my ransom. How do I see that? When I catch a glimpse, even a shadow of a glimpse, of what he endured, his reality. 

I've lifted empty hands to heaven a lot lately. Sometimes I lower them full. In my limited thinking, I call that blessing. I rejoice, for a moment, and then I forget. I forget I even asked. I forget he answered. There's always another need right on the heels of the last.

Sometimes, I lower them still empty. And the voice says, "See? He's not concerned with you. Why should he be?"


But today I heard, "See? This is for a moment, but this is what he did. He felt this too--a hundredfold, a millionfold more greatly than you do now. There was silence, for a time. Without that silence, that absence of response, you would face that silence forever. But this, these moments in this life, this is ALL the silence you will ever know. ALL the separation you will ever experience--these seeming moments of it now. Your empty palms right now--very temporary, soon to be filled to overflowing for all eternity. Glimpse it. Taste it. He did, and he did it for you."

I don't know how he'll use me. I long for him to use me. I don't want anything else. And it's just because I love him. And I love him more now, because I know a little bit more what he did when he endured the silence, the unanswered prayer, for me.

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