Take 2: Rebuilding After a Trial

9:53 AMHeather

Do you ever wish life was like a movie?  When you flub your lines or miss your mark, you could just scream "take two" and then the only thing seen is when you actually got it right?  Honestly, I'd like the blooper reel of my life to not only never be seen, but I often wish it'd never happened.  Like when I grit my teeth, completely frustrated, and sputter out to my children, "You. must. have. patience."  Ah yi yi.  Do as I say not as I do?!  Or when I dish out harsh punishment when a child really needs gentleness.   Ugh, there's just too many examples of when I think to myself, "epic fail."  And, that's just considering yesterday.

Sometimes we go through a living-in-a pit-experience and it's completely not our making.  Illness strikes, financial crisis hits, or anxiety or depression crash upon us.  Other times--they are our own fault, if we'd admit it.  We make a really poor choice, and boom.  We are faced living through the consequences.  God's forgiveness of our sins does not mean that the consequences are erased after all.  Last month, I blogged about what happens in the midst of these trials--and we find ourselves feeling all alone.  Our prayers seem to bounce against the ceiling.  These are "in the cleft of the rock" moments, when God is often covering us up so that he can pass by and then show us His glory afterward.

And to be sure--those moments of realizing how God was moving when we couldn't see it.  Sublime.  But then what?  We are going back to our buddy Moses to answer that question.  Yesterday, I blogged about how Moses pleaded for God to not destroy those disobedient, golden calf worshiping, unfaithful people.  Talk about wishing for a take two!  God, in his endless mercy, gives them another chance.  Lest we look down upon the Israelites, consider your flubs from yesterday.  Are you a repeat offender?  Any tough habits you can't seem to shake?  Good news!  God will give you another chance (and another and another and another).

So, Moses, having broken those stone tablets of commandments, climbs the mountain again.  Take two!  He chooses to try it again, seeking the Lord, going away to that quiet place.  Making himself available--asking for God to meet him there.  And, meet him, he did.  God passes in front of him in a cloud and lets his voice be heard by Moses saying: 

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. 
Exodus 34: 6-7

Don't you know those sweet words rolled over Moses and gave him hope?  Even if you are in a trial of your own making, dwell on those words.  Slow to anger.  Abounding in love and faithfulness.  Forgiving wickedness.  Of course, verse 7 ends with God's honest response that punishment for sins still comes...but don't you love how God wraps that hard truth up with some faithful words of hope?  
I love the example Moses sets for us in his response.  If you are climbing out of a pit--either one you dug yourself or one you fell into--just check this out.  Moses is staring at a cloud of God's presence, hearing His voice, reeling from the sins of his people and his own angry response that destroyed the first stone tablets.  What does he do?  He bows and worships.  He says:
If I have found favor in your eyes, 
even though we are a stiff necked people, 
 forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.
Exodus 34: 9

Moses calls a spade a spade--we are stiff necked!  But his greatest plea is that the Lord would go with them.  That the Lord's presence would not leave them.  That God would even take these sorry sinful people and let them be His very own inheritance.  That's a pretty good way to start your take two.  Oh, Lord!  Go with me, be with me!  I see my failures.  Forgive them...and let me be YOURS!

Glimpse of grace:  We have all spent some time in the pit, and I know many who are climbing their way out now.  That you, too, would press in to Him.  Even if you haven't seen Him in the midst of your trial...if you felt alone.  That your heart's plea would be that He would just be with you.  That he would stamp his mark on you that says, "MINE!"  This passage in Exodus 34 doesn't end there.  God no only answers Moses' impassioned plea in the affirmative, but he makes a covenant with him, promising that he would perform wonders and awesome works.  And then, Moses comes down from that mountain, the second set of tablets in hand, literally glowing from his time with God.  He is so radiant by this encounter that he veils himself so as to not blind the Israelites.  He was transformed.

Bloggy friends, let me offer you this sweet promise.  If you are in the pit, there is hope straight ahead.  Cry out to God, whether you feel him there or not.  Keep pursuing him.  Ask him to be with you, to make himself known, to give you eyes to see Him.  He will answer.  He will offer forgiveness and favor and love and faithfulness.  No matter where you are today, be assured of this.  You have a covenant God who intends to use your pits to make you glow.  Your suffering will not be wasted, but will transform you and, dare I say, transform others along the way.  

Never mind that take two.  Perhaps I'll just let him work through my bloopers so that I am radiant for Him.

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