The Mercy Seat

Disobedience brought death into the world.  You’ve always told us that. From the very beginning you told us that if we listened to You and trusted that Your plans for us were full of good things, that we would be with you forever and never know death.  All we ever had to do was trust you. But we got tricked into thinking we couldn’t trust you, didn’t we? And it brought us nothing but fear. Lord, you never wanted us to be afraid of you. It was only after we had been shown what disobedience looked and felt like in the Garden that we became afraid.  

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Genesis 3:8-11

I don’t know why we’ve always tried to make it so complicated.  You’ve kept it simple from the beginning God. From the time of Adam and Eve, you showed us that we had brought death to ourselves and to the world.  When Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, they tried to cover themselves with leaves, but you took animals, killed them, and gave the skins to them to cover themselves.  You showed them in an action that the knowledge of their nakedness as shameful to them brought to them death. Only death could cover it.

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

With Moses things were no different.  You met him on the mountain. You told him that you were trustworthy and that if he trusted you Moses could lead all the people into trusting Him in freedom.  You gave him some rules to show him how righteous and good and fair you are, and how breaking those rules would only bring death. You showed him and he believed you.  

And then you showed the people how to remember your promises and how to remember you are trustworthy.  You gave them the plans for the tabernacle. And every inch of the tabernacle declared your promise that you are trustworthy and that your plans for people were to be clothed for “glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2).  You laid out your grand design for humanity with the designs of the tabernacle, completed with mercy at the center where you met face to face with mankind.

34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place.
Exodus 26:34  

The mercy seat covered the arc of the testimony.  The arc held the law, but the testimony of it was not the law, but Your desire to show us that disobedience brings death, but trusting You brings mercy.  It was a physical representation of your desire for us to be together, for us to trust you. Your mercy covers the law. Your mercy has dominion over the law.  Your mercy is the answer, but the sacrifice of blood is meant to show you that we understand what the knowledge of good and evil brings to us and to the world. It brings death.  When we understand that we can receive your mercy.

I receive your mercy new today, Lord.  Sin brings death, but you have brought mercy through your son, Jesus, who had victory over sin and death through his resurrection.  I receive your mercy new today, Lord. Give me the grace to receive your mercy new each moment by your Spirit in me.

 

Even in the Chaos

Lord,  I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks.  At one point I had both of my daughters in the hospital at the same time, and as I began to list off all the things in my brain that have happened just in the last two weeks, I started to really feel like Paul, bragging about all my afflictions to boast about my weakness.  I know I’ve been talking to people a lot about my weakness lately, and all the joy you’ve given me, but God, I’m feeling the pressure, too. I’m feeling the weight of it all. My heart breaks to look at my girls and all the suffering they have endured just in the last two weeks.  And I hate the enemy for what he has tried to do to our family! And here I am, boasting about all this trouble!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
2 Corinthians 11: 21-28

I understand why you’ve let this happen.  You have shown us so much grace and blessed us beyond measure through it all.  Money, friendship, joy, peace, security, you’ve given it all! Every time I tried to fall into sorrow, you would bring your peace.  When the desire to wallow in self-pity wanted to erupt from every pore of my body, you brought your joy. Miracles were happening, Jesus.  So many miracles in my flesh, there are too many to count, as time and time again your faithfulness endured when my heart faltered.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-25

Yet, here I am Lord.  I’m struggling. I’m irritable.  I’m tired. And I find myself asking: where’s the miracle in my flesh right now?  And I realize I haven’t had solid time in the Word over the last two weeks. I’ve managed a few minutes everyday, but I’m used to a few hours.  I’m used to solid, deep, meditative time. That first night in the ER I had hours and hours of reading the Psalms. It sustained me in the pit of Hell that the enemy wanted me to see with all of the human suffering happening all around me.  We were in a “bed” in a hallway next to a delirious homeless man, and in the bed beyond him, another man just like him. But your Word sustained us. I read it aloud. I prayed aloud. I prayed with those men. I brought them water. I held their hands and prayed for them.  I shared your love and your promises, as my suffering daughter, between bouts of her own suffering, did the same! Because your Word sustained us and comforted us. And most importantly, it empowered us. That ER became our mission field.

I’ve missed your Word, God!  The distractions have seduced me away from you and I’m struggling without it.  The reading of your Word is a luxury whose denial has hurt me worse than the any of the other trials I’ve had to deal with.  And it amazes me that so many of your kids struggle to give you five minutes a day. Don’t they know that Jesus is the Word made flesh?  That his flesh made words is your scripture? That your promises, your love, your glory are all revealed in the Word? They are content with milk, not even ready for anything else, because they are caught up in the desires and demands of their flesh alone.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3

And people think that a few sips of “milk” on a Sunday morning offered by some summary of someone else’s meditations on you is enough to nourish them?  No wonder they’re still babies! No wonder they fall into despair over such minor things! You’ve seen all the well intentioned people asking us how we’re doing.  You’ve seen the curiosity on their faces when we showed your strength, your joy, your peace! And now I know why they don’t understand. They’ve never experienced it before, God!  These babies in the faith, drinking sips of milk once or twice a week, proud of how many times they’ve walked through the doors of the church in seven days time, and never once finding the rest of your Sabbath.  Never once have they found the joy of your salvation. They work in the spirit of their own flesh, and fight battles with foam swords and paper shields.

I choose your sword, God.  The sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God.  I choose your shield. The shield of faith that extinguishes all the flaming darts of the evil one.  

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:16-20

God, I am your righteousness, made by the blood of Jesus.  

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

I will walk in that truth and in that promise.  Though I float adrift a night and a day at sea, I will boast again and again in your power and strength and joy revealed in me.  I will sound like a fool and boast in my weakness and boast in my suffering, and boast in my many, many struggles, Lord.

Because in my weakness you are strong.  

Lord Jesus, show the world the power of your promises through my suffering.  Show them what your peace looks like through me. I am so jealous for my time with you, God, and even this morning, I’ve had a million interruptions.  Just now, writing about interruptions I was interrupted five times. Hashtag momlife. But God, I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let this be another shipwreck if I can’t boast about it to the world and show them your power made perfect even in my interruptions.  I choose you, God. I choose your peace. Even in the chaos.

 

Jesus is the Victory!

Lord Jesus, you are my hero and my biggest cheerleader!  This morning, after dreams filled with evil attacks of the enemy in undaunted wrath, I heard you declare, “Watch Daisy plough right through them!”  I held onto that joyful proclamation, Jesus!  And I want to hold onto it forever!  You have given me power over my enemies!  Thank you!  

“I myself have commanded my consecrated ones, and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger, my proudly exulting ones.”
Isaiah 13:3

You have consecrated me by your blood.  You have made me and you have blessed me and you have given me your Spirit so that I could overcome my enemies.  You’ve already brought ruin upon them, God!  You have given me victory over sin and death through Jesus!  When he cried out, “It is finished!” it was a cry of victory.  No more slavery.  No more bondage.  No more death.  Our lives have been saved!  My life has been saved!  Sin has no more power over me.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57

I can plough right through my enemies!  You have given me that power!  Your anger is great against your enemies, the Adversary and his minions, and the torment they inflict upon your people.  So, you stretched out your hand from Heaven, and offered deliverance for the people.  Deliverance from our torment.  Deliverance from our fear.  I can walk in confidence as a bulldozing tank of your glory because you’ve given me that gift.  

You are cheering me on, empowering me through your Spirit, to have victory over my enemies over and over and over again.  You defeated our enemies on the cross.  You are victorious.  So, I put my trust in you, God.  I put my hope in your enduring love and faithfulness, because that is who you say you are.  

I will open my heart to your voice because it is a battle cry of victory.  You are a banner of love and righteousness over my head.  You are a my shelter and my comfort.  I can trust you and I can fight and win because of you.  It’s all about you, Jesus!  

“And now my head shall be lifted up,
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.”
Psalm 27:6