Thirty-six years ago, Russ and I were in a hospital birthing room. The newness of labor had worn off hours ago and had we known how much longer it would be before we saw our firstborn eye to eye, we may have despaired and given up. I had laughed when they told us in Lamaze class that there would come a time when you would say you wanted to quit in the birthing process, but I was no longer laughing.
Our hospital of choice was under the Hospital Sisters leadership. A crucifix hung at eye level as we slowly progressed with the process thanks to the roller coaster contractions from Pitocin. I kept my eyes fixed on that figure of suffering much and prayed fervently for the strength to finish this race. I also prayed that I would not vent wrath on my husband as I also had been told could happen. As far as I know I didn’t, and I clung to him like life itself.
And as I had been told but could not grasp until I experienced it, when I looked at the wide open eyes of our daughter, I learned a new kind of love that has sliced open places in my heart I could never have imagined. I dismissed the previous 16 plus hours of misery as worth every moment.
We loved her so much we couldn’t possibly comprehend how there would be room for more love if we had another child. But our fears were unfounded and we discovered the heart expands and grows and makes room for more and more love as we live out these days on earth.
As a Christian, I can apply this love to help me understand God’s love. I acknowledge that my love is imperfect with taints from my own bent nature and shadows of selfishness that remind me I am saved once, but sanctified through a process. I think of my humanity and lack of knowledge and discipline and yet I would walk through fire for our children and grandchildren.
I am willing to watch them suffer consequences for bad choices and yet continue to have that love unchanged. I am willing to risk their favor to discipline them and correct them. I am willing to make them work for something I could give them; and yet I am filled with joy when I give them things they haven’t even asked for or earned.
So again, I can take all of that in its flawed and broken offering, because I am flawed and broken, and multiply it to infinity and beyond to get a glimmer of understanding of God’s love for His children.
In the wee hours of this morning, around 3 AM, I woke and was restless as I mulled over some heartaches others are walking through. I prayed for them and yet there was no peace and so I asked God to speak to me about His thoughts. I was stirred to get up and go open my Bible at the kitchen table.
Since I am working through the difficult passages of Ezekiel for my annual read-through, I decided to just do some catch up reading from those pages. I am realizing why we rarely hear of a class being offered or a pretty Lifeway Bible study or even a sermon series on this book. Yikes…it’s a hard one to follow.
But last night I pulled out my journal as God spoke to me straight from His Living Word. I picked up at Ezekiel 36 which comes after a large number of chapters where God is pronouncing judgment on the nations who He used to discipline Israel. Make no mistake, His people had sinned repeatedly and ignored all warnings and so God had raised up other nations to bring about the trials that would lead them back to Him.
Once that was accomplished, He then would discipline those who had inflicted pain and oppression over the Jews and He would bring them back to the land He had promised them.
Our stories as humans, individually and corporately, has some wonderful accomplishments and blessings; but we also have in our stories, both individually and corporately; corruption, oppression, greed, rebellion, pride, entitlement, and all manner of evil tendencies.
We cycle in and out of times of prosperity, ingratitude, pride, rebellion, discipline, correction, trials, confession, repentance, forgiveness and restoration as people groups and as people. Like the birthing of a child, we labor in this process and we are refined and become mature in our faith
Today, I want to share God’s heart and words to us when we have come to a place where we realize we have lost much and without all the distractions we had taken for granted, we become more aware of our need for God and He meets us there.
So here are my notes based on Ezekiel 36 and I pray they speak to you where you are:
God speaks over that which is desolate and abandoned, plundered and mocked —>
- He speaks against that which has destroyed what is precious to Him.
- He speaks against that which has shown contempt for what is precious to Him.
- He speaks agains that which has insulted what is precious to Him.
He promises our children and their children —>
- They will produce branches that bear fruit
- He is on their side
- He will turn toward us even when they have turned away
- He will till and sow the barren land
- He will fill their houses with people
- He will rebuild the ruins
- He will make them fruitful
- He will make them better off than before
- He will enable them to possess their rightful inheritance
- He will no longer allow insults and reproach to come against what is precious to Him
You are precious to Him.
Even if you are distanced from Him, even if you are being disciplined.
You are precious to Him and the promises above are for you and your offspring for all generations until He returns.
Praise Him <3