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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Say What?

Have you ever given anyone an "opening" to just all out tell you anything they wanted?  I have - a word of warning here - it is not always what you might want to hear!!!  Sometimes you learn things about yourself - other times you learn things about the other person - and sometimes you learn things about other people not even involved in the conversation!  Imagine being in the most "open" and "sharing" of relationships with someone.  I like to call this a relationship with transparency and intimacy - the freedom to share your heart.  You want to share things which you might not want to share with other people, right?  I think God gives an open door to each of us to enter into this type of relationship with him.  We can come boldly into his presence, sit right down and "unload" even the deepest and darkest of secrets - all with the confidence of knowing he will take what we say only as far as OUR relationship!  It stays there because he knows the value of this type of sharing - it is the closest of sharing and means there is "strength" and "stability" in the relationship.  So, now I want you to imagine God speaking to the hungering heart - one just looking for someone with whom they may have this type of close and stable relationship - the place of sharing just between two.  Here is where we start our study today.

So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence.  Put your heads together. Make your case.  Who told you, and a long time ago, what’s going on here?  Who made sense of things for you?  Wasn’t I the one? God?  It had to be me. I’m the only God there is—The only God who does things right and knows how to help.  So turn to me and be helped—saved!—everyone, whoever and wherever you are.  I am God, the only God there is, the one and only.  I promise in my own name: Every word out of my mouth does what it says.  I never take back what I say.  Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me. Everyone is going to end up saying of me, ‘Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!’”  (Isaiah 45:32-23 MSG)

God opens the door for conversation.  This is important for us to realize - for sometimes we believe WE have to be the ones to open the door!  The truth is God has already done the deed of opening up to us, just so we can enjoy the privilege of opening up to him!  He then asks us to tell him what we think.  Remember, I already told you this may not be the thing you WANT to hear, but it is the thing which may actually NEED to be said!  God knows what we will say before we say it - he is all-knowing (omniscient).  Yet, there is something about being open in our communication which he encourages - and even allows!  Even when it is complaint, frustration, anger, fear, or even regret.  Then he asks us to examine the evidence.  What I think God does in our times of open communication with him is to actually help us "examine the evidence" which is revealed in our words.  He loves hearing our voice - even the "voices in our heads".  Yet, in the speaking of the words, WE are actually the ones who begin to see a revelation of truth we might not have seen before.

For example, have you ever began to complain about something, then without really realizing it, you begin to see the selfishness in your complaint, or maybe the emotional response you had which was actually an "over-reaction" to the moment?  I have!  The more I speak, the clearer it becomes that the words I am speaking kind of get "sorted out" in the process of speaking them.  In other words - the evidence becomes a little clearer.  If you have ever watched one of those crime scene shows, what do the detectives always do?  They talk things out together!  Why?  In the "talking it out" the evidence becomes a little clearer and truthfully, two heads are ALWAYS better than one.

When we go back to our passage, God asks the next challenging question.  He wants us to know we don't "figure things out" on own - he is the one who makes sense of the matter!  We might begin to see the evidence, putting piece one together with piece two, but it he that makes all the pieces come together in perfect order.  God is the only one who knows how the fit - so why is it we avoid bringing the pieces to him?  We often struggle with being open with him because of our shame over what the "pieces" represent.  The truth is, the shame is really "self-imposed" - God is not associating our broken pieces with shame, but with grace.  Shame is OUR feeling - nothing we "feel" about our brokenness causes God to feel "shame" - the feeling produced by guilt.  

God asks us to plainly allow him to assist us to see the evidence - not to bring us shame, but to set us free from guilt and, in turn, to set us free from the "feelings" associated with our guilt.  When we begin to examine the evidence of our actions - communicating openly and honestly about them, we often find the greatest challenge comes in letting go of the "emotion" associated with the past actions.  Truth be told - we all struggle with this!  Truth be told - God is the one to hear our conversation, turn to us in grace, and help us be freed of the associated shame.  God's encouraging words - turn to me and be helped!  Don't gloss that one over, friends.  God's words to you and I are to turn to him - to come face-to-face with him - opening the way for the embrace.  It is WHERE we position ourselves which makes it possible for him to help.  Open arms don't do us any good if we remain shut off to their embrace - shame has no way of being removed until grace embraces the "evidence" of wrongdoing in our lives!

Guess what else our passage tells us?  God actually listens - then he talks to us!  It is two-way communication, friends.  At first, God has to listen a lot, because it takes us time to realize our "talking" is kind of like a cathartic action.  When we finally get it all out - he is there to pick up the pieces, sorting them out carefully, and then revealing what it is he hopes we will get out of the time we have spent together.  He may speak back just a simple, "Thank you!"  Why?  Simply because he has waited for us to be THAT honest with him for a long time.  He may speak back a word of encouragement, "I understand".  Why?  Truthfully it is because his Son walked this earth and DOES understand the pain we experience.  He may speak back some "action words", telling us clearly what steps we take next.  Why?  Honestly, this is the hardest part of the conversation!  Here, he asks for us to take what we have learned and put it into action in our lives.  It is not because he judges us, but because he knows just how much those actions will bring us closer to the evidence of Christ within us! 

Next time you need to get it off your chest, you might just want to start with the one who will help you sort out the evidence, come to the realization of truth, and then actually assist you put the truth into action!  Just sayin!