Jun 22, 2016

When Sewage Pops Up in the Street . . . in Front of Your House

A couple of times a year, on our nicely paved street, up out of the circular cement cover in the road seeps liquid sewage. Because of the slope of our street, the liquid stink rushes to reach the curb along our sidewalk and drains towards our house, creating a small mote of stinkiness around the front of it. Nothing says, "Come in. Stay a while. Welcome to our home," quite like this. It is lovely, the smell, and difficult to disguise. Because our doors are literally always open when we are home (air flow purposes), we can taste the aroma while we eat dinner in our house or on our back porch. It is a special feature of our current location, but also a great reminder.

Life stinks sometimes. Bad things happen. People get sick. Things don't work. There are misunderstandings. Systems are broken. People are broken. I am broken. There are painful question marks in places where we desire answers - even hard answers in place of the unknowing would be nice.  A million heavenly scented candles can't cover up the stink (believe me, I have literally tried to mask the stink of the sewage in front of our house.) I have also tried to distract myself from the stink of brokenness with healthy distractions and unhealthy ones - sometimes they both work, temporarily, but what happens when the stink remains and the distractions fade?

How do I leave the aroma of Christ when stink is all around me - or even when the stink is me? How do I live a life pleasing to Him, blessing others and gloryifying my Maker and the giver of life, when the stink is so overwhelming? 

Like the taste of stink in my mouth, the struggle is palplable. I taste it on my lips every day, and especially during a season of breakdowns of various kinds (our van has been at the mechanic's for 9 weeks now - but that is just the tip of the iceberg.) The struggle is real. The battle is on. So, I am writing this to myself, really, because I need to work through in a very real way what it looks like to thrive in Christ regardless of the circumstances around me. In short, I want to leave the aroma of Christ, not sewage, regardless of my personal situation.

Here is what I am focusing on:

Worship God.

Job is obviously the perfect example of someone responding to personal tragedy in praise and worship to the Lord. This is what he does in response to hearing that all of his livestock, servants and sons and daughters had perished:

 "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; my the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1: 20

(Our circumstances might not be as devasting as Job's but our posture needs to be as devout towards the Lord as His.)

Remind myself who He is and who I am.

He is the KING. I am His adopted daughter.
He is the potter. I am the clay.
I deserve nothing. He gave me everything in Christ Jesus.

"20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, " Romans 9:19 - 23
Trust and obey. 

I need to give up my need to fully understand that which I can not begin to comprehend (God's ways and thoughts), and I also have to give up my desire to be understood by others (because Pastor Wileman says so). Sometimes it is a major stumbling block for me - that whole deeply desiring to be understood by others - so I'm just going to lay that at His feet where that belongs. If anyone understands what it is like to not be understood fully by others, its Jesus, right? My stuff is nothing compared to His.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

I obey because I love Him.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15: 22

Claim His promises.

God's word is full of promises, and here are some of my favorites for difficult times:

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

Who doesn't want to rest, truly rest, in the securest place of all?

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Yes, that being still part is a bit of a doozy :)

These are some of the tools I am using to fight the stink away. This is not a cover up job (like spraying lysol over vomit) but an actual fool-proof plan for being able to thrive in Christ in the midst of brokenness. I'm the fool and He's the King :)

P.S.  Here is a link to a great article about finding peace in the midst of a bad situation that goes into a great deal of detail and lists key bible verses.  

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