Seeing Things Clearly: The Lens of the Word

Just the other day, during conversation, I found myself saying words that I really do believe (about God using trials to draw me closer, that I need not “dread the clouds” but instead I must trust His heart) but hearing them aloud made me follow those faith-claims with “it’s crazy”.

Those two words and wondering why I said them have been driving me, well, crazy.

I do know that sometimes we humans say things just to fill the empty space, and sometimes we say things because they come from the deep down in the heart.

What then, is stirring deep in my heart?

Do I really think what I believe is crazy and if so, why do I believe it then?

And what, exactly, do I believe?

I believe that:

God’s promises are true and

that life has hope beyond what I can see.

That what is meant for evil, God can work for good.

In fact, all things will work together for this good,

(if not now, then in eternity for sure).

God is Just, and Sovereign and Love,

and that I do not need to fear anything that is frightening,

that I can rejoice in all things,

while God rejoices over me and all His creation.

I can give thanks even in the hardest moments.

I can trust that I will find comfort in my grief.

I need not fight my battles alone (because I am never alone)-

in fact those battles are fought for me

(if I would just step out of the way).

I believe that I can hold on to hope and be shielded by God Himself

when mountains and hills give way

and fires blaze,

and moth and rust destroy,

and dreams die,

and even when the lives around me (that I hold so dear) are touched by heartache and illness and death.

I believe those hearts are not mine to hold tight to but are instead being held lovingly in the Everlasting Arms.

Somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I can still take heart because the here and now isn’t all there is and death has lost its sting.

That once-stinging death has lost the battle only because of Jesus and His faithfulness on the cross….

It does sound a little over-the-top, right?-a little crazy maybe?

 

Do I really believe that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so?

 

These facts can all become like passwords to get me into the “right doors” and catchphrases that are sweet to stencil on repurposed barn wood signs and iron onto t-shirts…but they are really words that reveal something much greater when embraced with a heart of faith. And this faith can seem a bit crazy when seen through the lens of this world alone.

When the hard things come, suddenly I need to know if I really believe it or not, if it is just a decoration that I’ve hung on my wall, or pasted to my shirt, or if these promises really are the words of the Living God.

It is at this crux that I must choose, daily and sometimes, moment by moment, if I believe that His Word is enough; that the cross is enough.

 

Is Jesus enough or can I find strength and success and victory in myself or somewhere else?

Fortunately, (and sometimes, unfortunately) that answer has been proven to me many times. All it takes is a day that doesn’t go as planned, an unexpected life turn or even a line of marching ants through my kitchen for me to see that I am not strong enough, kind enough, or faithful enough to always –without fail- find victory.

Now don’t misunderstand me.

I am strong and kind and faithful.

But, I am also weak and mean and selfish.

If I even take this a bit further and step out of the way in this example and think of the best humans I know, they still all have one thing in common; they find themselves, at some point, facing death.

And, without Jesus, death always wins.

I begin again with the questions:

Do I really believe these things or am I just going with the flow, holding onto something that, deep inside, I really think is, crazy?

These are not comfortable questions to throw out during dinner conversation or over a convivial cup of coffee.

Not everyone can handle doubt, and sometimes least of all those within the church community.

My expression of doubt in God, His word, His Hope, His Son; those can be fighting words and words that can cause terrible domino affects within families and communities.

The last thing I want to do when I’m hurting and doubting is to make chaos around me.

And let me be clear-my doubt has nothing to do with God Himself.

The God of the Bible is not weakened or threatened by my doubt.

But doubt damages us deep down inside when we take it on alone, when we don’t take it to Him and when we look to other things and people to answer the questions we have and to fill the voids we might feel.

If I doubt Who He is or what He says in His word, all I need to do is ask.

Asking might just be one of the most powerful faith actions there is.

I just wonder, if Eve, when tempted to doubt God’s goodness to her in the garden, if she had been willing to take those doubts to God first and ask Him what He thought of the lies she was believing, what would have happened instead of the Curse?

But there I go again, framing my faith on the Bible and the Word of God.

And then I realize, that is the whole point.

Just like I put on my eyeglasses every day, I also put on a “lens” through which I see the world.

I walk out, breathe out, live out, my worldview each and every day.

I can choose to see my life and the lives around me, through the lens of the world or the “lens of His Word.”

And if I put on and take off this lens as my day progresses, just as if I were to take on and off my own eyeglasses throughout the day, my vision will be blurred, my interpretation of the world will be inconsistent. I will be like a storm-tossed ship (with vomiting passengers), or like lukewarm water (not useful to cook with, not safe to drink, the kind that grows malignant with bacteria and problems-the kind to be spit out).

By Grace, on a night where I doubted most and asked in tones that dripped with doubt and reverberated with anger, my heart was comforted, my fears were stilled and I was quieted. I was reminded how much light and hope the lens of God’s Word brings. I was reminded that the Gospel means “good news” and how good the news of Jesus really is. The news of Someone much greater and more faithful than the greatest and most faithful human ever, who stood in my place of doubt and brokenness and didn’t deny God. I experienced how doubt doubles in darkness and that Jesus came to be a light in that darkness. How beautiful and mysterious and way-out-of-my-league of understanding is Jesus’ victory on the cross, and yet, I am invited in to choose to believe in this mystery.

That night and subsequent days and nights have led to a faith that I cannot take credit for, but that I get to choose.

And when I forget to choose it; that is sin (sin: to depart voluntarily from the path of duty prescribed by God to man-Webster’s 1828 dictionary).

Then, repentance (a change of mind or a conversion from sin to God. Webster’s 1828) is necessary.

And then joy, joy unspeakable, follows because, well, Jesus made it possible for me to repent and then receive His promises.

 

Like I said at the beginning, I am not responsible for my faith.

But I am responsible for my choosing.

Jesus said, “I put before you two choices.”

The long-standing joke is, He even gives us the answer…

“Choose Life”

Just like without my glasses I can mistake one thing easily for another, without the lens of His Word, I can get mixed up on what Life is.

Without the Word, I can find myself thinking, this faith stuff, it is too strange, too hard, too much.

But by trusting the lens of His Word I can clearly see that:

God’s promises are true and

that life has hope beyond what I can see.

That what is meant for evil, God can work for good.

In fact, all things will work together for this good,

(if not now, then in eternity for sure).

God is Just, and Sovereign and Love,

and that I do not need to fear anything that is frightening,

that I can rejoice in all things,

while God rejoices over me and all His creation.

I can give thanks even in the hardest moments.

I can trust that I will find comfort in my grief.

I need not fight my battles alone (because I am never alone)-

in fact those battles are fought for me

(if I would just step out of the way).

I believe that I can hold on to hope and be shielded by God Himself

when mountains and hills give way

and fires blaze,

and moth and rust destroy,

and dreams die,

and even when the lives around me (that I hold so dear) are touched by heartache and illness and death.

I believe those hearts are not mine to hold tight to but are instead being held lovingly in the Everlasting Arms.

Somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I can still take heart because the here and now isn’t all there is and death has lost its sting.

That once-stinging death has lost the battle only because of Jesus and His faithfulness on the cross….

 

And, I do really believe that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

And, there is nothing crazy about it at all.

 

 

God so loved the world and His promises are true for all those who believe.

Here are some verses to begin reading the Lens of His Word:

John 16:33

Matthew 12:33-37

Romans 8:28

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

1 John 1:9

Romans 2:11

1 John 4:8

Deuteronomy 10:17

Isaiah 46:8-11

1 Peter 3:6

Colossians 2:6

Genesis 1

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Matthew 5:4

Isaiah 30:15

Isaiah 30:19-21

Isaiah 54:10

Isaiah 43:2

Matthew 6:19-20

The story of Joseph in Genesis

Ecclesiastes

Revelations 21:4-5

Matthew 26:36-Matthew 28:10

Matthew 6:7-8

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Deuteronomy 33:27

Matthew 7:7-11

James 1:6-7

Revelations 3:16

Psalm 131

Psalm 18

Micah 7:8

Psalm 51

1 Peter 1:8-9

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Romans 5:6-8

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 12:1-2

2 Corinthians 7:4b

2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

John 11:25-26

Psalm 18:30

Psalm 18:19

Romans 5