Although Men Fail

 

church-and-storm

 “You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent. You have carried to the grave the black stain. You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain. You have beaten Death at Death’s own game. Hosanna! O Hosanna! Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry O Hosanna! Won’t you tear this temple down, raise it up on holy ground. O Hosanna! I will lift my voice and sing: you have come and washed me clean. Hosanna.”

– Andrew Peterson, from “Hosanna” –


 Anger. Disbelief. Accusations. Defense. Fear.

And rubble.

You’ve perhaps heard about them, how in half a year two “pillars” of Christian conservative teaching have fallen.

Followers of them, now seem a bit lost.

Some fly to defend the teachings–or question them in light of the ruined reputations,

Others are confused.

Still more, incredulous at the vain fruits of faith in men.

My mom has always said it: “Never follow a man.”

Never trust solely in another man than the God-Man.

Do not set all your hopes on one who is but dust.

Though so silver the tongue, so winning the smile, so lofty the aims–

A David, though king, can fall.

A Solomon, wisest of men, can choose a fool’s way.

A Peter, with close-clustered memories of three years hearing the Christ’s own voice, still somehow can deny Him at the last hour.

Hear me, dearly loved sisters.

Only one–One alone–is worthy of your trust.

Yes, hearts will still ache when respected men crash down from their pedestals.

But it should not shake you from the truth.

How can we understand these things?

How can we orient ourselves when the starlight blinks out above us?

All is not lost, my friends.

The Sun still shines, though His little lights flicker (Philippians 2:14-15).

It is good, certainly, to sit beneath a pastor. Wise, yes, to read and listen to men of God.

But never must we see any of these as flawless or above sinning.

News of scandals saddens me, and I’m tempted to cast looks of disdain.

But wait–there is yet a lesson for me.

When the first board of these shipwrecks washed up, at first I was startled.

It was easy to point my finger. But, as a thing etched to my soul, I can again feel the stone I weighed in my palm.

“Are you without sin? Then cast your stone.”

These men–stumbling leaders–are they not yet men? Corrupted, waging war inside themselves between flesh and spirit, light and dark. How am I different from them, when my own heart deceives me every day?

Be humbled, my heart. Pity the men, denounce the sin, and see! See, that for all their pomp and pedestals, all the woven lies and secret lives, those men are much like…me.

So then, how do we yet stand when leaders fall?

How do the sheep find pasture when shepherds stray?

God be praised–our standing before Him does not crumble with an erring man’s reputation.

You know, there’s only one Mediator between me and God.

Only one Intercessor,

Only one Priest, the Highest Priest.

And, all the King Davids fall short of this position; today’s Solomons aren’t wise enough to compare.

When the foundations  shake, only one Rock doesn’t shift in the sand.

“Remember those who rule over you…considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.”

– Hebrews 13:7-10, NKJV, emphasis mine –

An altar that even God’s Levites could not touch? Sisters, fear not, fear not–a table has been laid in the wilderness.

Jesus is the One who stands in the gap for me–Him alone and no other man.

That Calvary day, the veil ripped down.

And now I can enter–a chosen one, a part of his Bride, a member of his holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). Boldly, I can step into the holy presence of God Most High, through the veil of Christ, not barred by a heavy cloak of separation (Hebrews 10:19-22)…No need of another Christian to bridge the chasm–God Himself has already brought that job to completion. It is finished.

So, when you hear of apostasies and scandals and unthinkable deeds by those who claim our Master’s name, remember in Whom you trust.

Men, however well known, do not hold this world in orbit. That job is owned by a fully-capable God.

And that, though darkness still thrashes, is the Light that makes me hope.


“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

– Ephesians 5:8-14, NKJV –

 

 

 

 A big thank you to George Hodan and Public Domain Pictures for today’s photo!

 

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On the Days I Just Can’t

Book Cover 3

I huddle in the dark, the red numbers of the clock scrolling higher. I take a breath–deepest in a while–shuddering, almost a gasp in the nighttime. I close my eyes, rolling around bitter words in my head.

Why can’t I ever finish well?

Can it ever be a good sign to keep returning to “here I am again”?

Biting the dust…again.

Running out of drive…again.

Falling to my knees seeing that when I started feeling like I was good enough–strong enough–that’s when I began to slip back.

I recall the promise–He who has begun a good work in you will complete it, will perform it (Philippians 1:6). Paul was so confident of it.

Am I?

It’s so hard to cling to a filmy reality when the doubts are as hard as a physical wall. I keep plowing into that wall again and again.

Over and over I have tried and it just won’t stick. Many things I know to be right–it’s all furious flame and glory comes down. And then the dull rhythm that makes up a life sets in and I just stop trying after a while. Maybe I stop remembering all the efforts of the past. Any way I see it, I fail again.

My inconsistencies and failures chink into stony piles, judgment rocks that did get thrown. Thrown into a condemnation heap.

Why do those good intentions shimmer away like summer-time bubbles? What about hard-edged reality is stronger than my idealism?

Most importantly, why do I keep thinking I can handle my problems on my own?

Why do I persist in the living-out of a belief that says the “cross that saved me is not enough to solve me”? (The words of John Lynch, one of the authors of the book TrueFaced. Watch his minute and a half video here).

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians 12, Matthew Henry wrote:

“Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.” [emphasis mine]

S0–the reason that I fail? The reason that I just can’t get anything right?

It’s because I really can’t.

But, sisters–that glorious but–my Jesus can. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10, NKJV).

Do you hear that? I am complete in Him. You are complete in Him. Because in him dwells all the fullness of God.

All the power, all the glory–all.

What does that mean, really? In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “How now should we live?”

It means when we get up in the morning, we “fall” the first chance we get–to our knees and tell him we can’t, but He can. (For more on “falling,” see Jennifer Rothschild’s book Lessons I Learned in the Dark.)

It means our hearts “fall” every time we get overwhelmed, and every time we start to think that maybe we can do it on our own after all. Trust me, you can’t. Only He can.

And it means that when we have problems, the grace is already there to see us through.

We just have to ask.

Charles Spurgeon said:

“God will have no strength used in His battles but the strength which He Himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Taken courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up (Morning and Evening, November 4 Morning).

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 16:24b, NKJV

~Shelbie