I am strong

Joel says I must say this, so I am declaring it – from the rooftops! (or the internet, which is even greater)   I am strong!! (Joel 3:10)

Yesterday for Sabbath, we listened to a man teaching about “the hour” that we are in.  It was interesting and it certainly has produced good fodder for family discussions (although, granted, it takes little for that).   😆   But, the thing that it seemed to highlight for me most was how, what I would consider to be one of my greatest weaknesses has become one of my greatest strengths. 

I remember that Christmas so clearly.  I remember every gift being a disappointment – and yet sitting there watching my brother open the coolest stereo EVER.  I was jealous.  To the core.  It wasn’t fair.  He had been in so much trouble all year long and I had been so good. It just wasn’t fair.

Fair.  That has been the key word in my life for as long as I remember.  It wasn’t fair that I had to receive such junky treatment from my boss.  It wasn’t fair that auditioning for every play was a requirement for maintaining my scholarship – only to have them do a show with nudity in it.  It wasn’t fair that Jeff’s assistant manager had been stealing from the company and yet, Jeff got fired.  It wasn’t fair that we couldn’t have children.  (That IS what we were told.  For 6 years we were considered an infertile couple.)  One thing after another got placed in my “not fair” file.

I hated that about me.  I wanted to be like so many people I knew who would be treated unfairly and yet easily turn the other cheek.  I could turn the other cheek all right, but I don’t think that Christ intended us to grab the head of the person and turn THEIR other cheek so we could hit that one too.  😉

All through my Christian walk, I have seen those who could accept the crummy things that happened in life with peace…and joy even, and have considered that their maturity only accentuated my pitiful weakness and immaturity.

Until……

The Lord began to speak to Jeff and I about His covenant with His children.  We were in the midst of studying in the New Testament – I don’t even remember what – I just remember that one day, in a blink of an eye, I went from knowing that the New Testament was the extension of the Old Testament to knowing that it was the perfection and completion of it.

You see, somewhere along the line, my brain had gotten into the habit of thinking that the New Testament was like some kind of addition onto the Old Testament, making the Old Testament almost defunct.  Not really defunct, but definitely not as useful.  Yes, it was full of powerful stories, but those were pictures of the New Testament, right?  So, they really weren’t as…functional for living today.  (Oh LORD, forgive me, please!!)  I could see this represented in my Bible reading time.  I would say that 90% of my study time was spent in the New Testament.

That day I just knew – K.N.E.W. – that I had somehow lost sight of the fact that “testament” was simply another word for covenant.  HOLD ON!  That put a whole new spin on Christian living.  That meant I needed to change the way I looked at the entire Word of God.  That meant I needed to pull out all those notes I had taken when studying covenant all those years ago and start applying them to how I read and lived the Word.  The annoying thing about this was, I had studied covenant YEARS ago and thought I “got” it.  This was different though, it was as though God enlightened the eyes of my heart (we have spent the last year praying Ephesians 1:15-23 over our family, so it shouldn’t have surprised me in the least) and I could “see” it for the first time.

My notes included things like, “The responsibility of upholding the covenant lies with the one who initiated it,” and “Once made, a covenant can not be changed or broken – UNLESS the one who made it initiates the changes and then it can only be changed for the better. Nothing can be taken from it, only added.”  (cue the screeching brakes sound)

H.E.L.L.O.????  That last one was a real clincher for me.  I had been writing off all the promises of the Old Covenant, because we were now under the New Covenant, right?  But Jesus came to perfect those blessings – become the Guarantor of that covenant. (Which the Lord immediately confirmed through His Word – Hebrews 7:22. “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.”) As He did that, the Old Covenant was not lost – or even set aside – it was augmented*.  Every promise of the Old Covenant is ours through Christ Jesus.  He made it all possible.

This meant that Jesus didn’t just come to remove the need to sacrifice animals.  It meant that He came to take the amazing promises of the Old Covenant and, by His Blood, make them more accessible for the children of the New Covenant.  All Abraham’s promises were ours…PLUS!!!  Plus restored relationship with God the Father, plus intimacy with Jesus, plus the indwelling Holy Spirit, plus, plus, plus!  Everything the first covenant offered PLUS the fullness of God…in us!!  (You know, “Phenomenal Cosmic Power, itty bitty living space.”)   🙂

I hadn’t expected those promises, those blessings, to be mine in this life time.  I was taught that they were intended for Heaven.  As I cried out to the Lord to grant me understanding (I want to pause here and say, I use the terms “me, I, etc” as though it were just MY process, it wasn’t.  It was OUR process – Jeff and I together, leading our children into the same understanding) and wisdom.  So clearly, I heard, “Why would you need those promises in Heaven?  I am in Heaven.  You will have Me face to face.  Those things are promised to help you do your part to make My Kingdom come on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

That wasn’t fair!! We had been fed a lie, that we had believed, that had diminished the INCREDIBLE AMAZING BREATHTAKING gift of the Cross.  We had been taught to live with less than what were our Kingdom/Covenant rights!!!

My Lord and Savior gave EVERYTHING for me to have these rights.  He humbled Himself to be a man and allow Himself to be branded a curse and hung on a tree.  He did that for me.  For you.  For us.  Not for just for our own comfort – but so that we would be empowered and enabled to participate in His plan to reach the nations with the Gospel.  And my – our – willingness to accept anything less than the fullness of what He accomplished on that Cross was defrauding It.  Defrauding It!!!!  The mere thought made me sick.

It was at this moment, combined with the other things going on in our lives, that we began to cry out and ask the Lord to lead us in His ways, that we might walk arm-in-arm with Him, embracing all that He had for us.  Because, you see, it was the Church that had taught us that those Kingdom rights were not ours to be had.   If the Church was wrong about that, then what else might they have wrong about?  It felt as though there were nothing stable in our lives.  I begged the Lord to direct us to something that we could stand on, that would never be found to be wrong.  “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My Word will last forever.”  That verse became my constant companion.

Since that day, we have been throwing ourselves into knowing the Word even more, that we might not be deceived again.  We thought we did know the Word.  (We were in it all the time, teaching it, studying it – but this is different.  I know, I know.  I say that a lot, but that’s only because words fail me to communicate how deeply this change has affected us.)  We are finding that there is much more there than we had previously thought.

So, now, when any one or anything tries to keep us from receiving the Covenant rights that our Lord has provided for us through giving His Blood, you better believe I’m going to be sticking my finger out there shouting, “No fair!!  That’s mine!  You can’t have that!”  No more am I willing to let someone else steal, destroy or kill the very things that the Lord intended me to have, in order that I might participate, with Him, in advancing the Kingdom!! My weakness has become a point of strength, because now I am living proof that His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness!

In Him, I, the weak, am able to say I am strong!!

*augmented – To make (something already developed or well under way) greater, as in size, extent, or quantity.  Schweet!! 🙂

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