Friday, December 30, 2005

Sentinels At Every Gate

If you read my blogs often, I hope you've noticed that I try to be honest about where I am, I feel it's better to do that, than to just coldly preach the Gospel. I've always wanted you to see that everything I say comes from the heart and is genuine... not just from a text book, that you may know that my faith is a living one and not counterfeit.

I've had it a bit rough lately... if you are interested in knowing the context, read up my earlier blog entry, entitled A Rough Ride. I failed to stop making myself feel downcast. Sometimes it's the little things that drag you down, not the big ones. As the saying goes it's often "the straw that breaks the camel's back."

When I was young I locked myself behind behavioral walls to keep people from getting close and hurting me. Having learned from that fatal mistake... I am now the kind of person who hungers acceptance from the people I care about. Rather pathetically I can take silly little things like a drought of Christmas cards to heart... I know, stupid huh? Sometimes if you feel a certain way, it is all too easy to misread signs.

I had a picture the other day. I saw myself in the centre of a circular room with many doors. Each door was guarded by an armed sentinel, holding out their right arm in a "do not enter" gesture". This distressed me a great deal, because I hate feeling trapped. What is quite frustrating for me is that in all areas of my life, that is exactly how I feel - whichever door I try, for whatever reason... entry is barred. It's a bit like having the Argonath from Lord of the Rings standing in front of me... intimidating me and forbidding me entrance into the world of men.
The Argonath

So I decided to look for a scripture concerning gates, and I was struck by some verses in Nehemiah 13. In that chapter, the gates of Jerusalem are shut and barred for the Sabbath... to keep it holy. It has dawned on me this morning that perhaps that is all that is going on. For God has spoken to me before and reminded me that "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (From Isaiah).

Maybe I've had a touch of the Martha's (Christian cliche). During his ministry, Jesus stayed at the home of Mary and Martha:

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Perhaps this is merely a time to sit and meditate. There are promises out there for me, but they are dependant on God's grace. I know they are coming... but it is by his sovereign choice that they will come... and not by my desire or effort.

I need not fret at trying to force those gates, it is for holiness they are shut and not for frustration.

A couple of scriptures a friend once told me have come into my thinking lately:

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." 
Zephaniah 3:17


"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Isaiah 30:18
Certainly reading on into the following verses of Isaiah 30 gives me cause for hope.

Waiting is a hard game, especially when we don't know when a resolution will come. I always remember Professor Robert Winston's programme on the human mind. Some children were involved in an experiment. They were given a small lump of chocolate and told they could either have that, or have a larger amount in a "little while". Now to you and I the choice is clearly logical, wait for 5-15 minutes and it's a choccy fest! However, at a young age children do not have a properly defined sense of the passage of time. Most who were under the age of four... opted for the here and now, what they could see before them.

But even as adults... we are no different when it comes to the things of God, are we? We do not have a proper sense of the time in the eternal or cosmic sense... we see life in terms of our lifespan on Earth. This causes us to want all our objectives to be achieved in the here and now. God knows all the things he has for us in the fullness of time, so he's not as hasty. All we need is a little patience and trust. This, I tell you as a mere apprentice, or at best a journeyman... by no means am I a master.

Finally, for the patient - for those who wait, God promises this:

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

So, for now; in the words of a famous Guinness commercial - "Here's to waiting!"

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