Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sunday message: Letting the Egyptians get to me
Sometimes you check the oven and the cake isn't done. And I think that is where I am at today. Last night was a big ordeal and I had to learn a lot of lessons in a hurry.
At least, that's what I told myself. I am going through a lot of self-reflection and changes, and it is changing the way I see the world around me. Once upon a time, a Christian would go to a grocery store and wonder if the lady ahead of them in line was a believer or not. Now, you go on Facebook and you can figure it out in 10 minutes or less. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but a line that was once fairly blurry is a lot sharper to our perceptions these days.
And it can hurt. To know that someone you might have been friends with 10, 15 years ago, you just can't be around now.
And this is one of the many things that I am trying to work through. And I want to do it RIGHT NOW, because that is the instant-gratification temperament the world has taught me. But God has a different plan. He has heard my prayers about "doing things right this time", and that involves a lot of reflection, a lot of leading, and a lot of prayer. All of which are things I either never possessed or haven't used in a while. So I get all froggy, and want to move on to the "easy" part.
(Pause to let the laughter die down)
And I get this for an answer. "Lightning is expensive. And it will burn your butt."
And I chuckle at first, because I realize I have been asking for a bolt from the blue. But there's a deeper meaning.
There is a cost. Lightning is expensive. You pay for moving faster than God wants. Ask my kids the price of moving into a marriage at my speed instead of God's. Ask them if the butt-burning we ALL suffered was worth it. And that's just one example. My life, quite frankly, is a big bowl with a variety of "examples" mixed in with "things I'd like to go at my speed."
Then, I get another answer: Are you praying as you ought- "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"- or are you trying to bring YOUR perfect world into focus?
Three days after adding the lost souls of India to my prayer list, I read an article about a Christian minister in India, hung in his own living room. Three days after adding foster children to my prayer list, a foster child kills 17 people at his old school. And I'm like, "Am I doing more harm than good?" I told Laurie, "Perhaps I should stop praying in the bathroom, before the floor gives and it falls into the living room."
And she reminds me, for every story the media overreports, there are a lot of stories where that Hindu turns to Christ, where that troubled teen gets help, that you'll never hear. And that is so true- and it points out just how many potential messed up people are out there. PRAY FOR PEOPLE.
And I get stuck on people who don't love the Lord, that attack me for being "a typical hypocrite Christian", and their words keep me up at night, that the more I pray for them, the more hostile they become. Fuzzy line coming into focus. And I am comforted by, "Why focus on those whose hearts are hardened, what they think of you. Consider instead the ones who know you best, who support you."
And I see that. But I am just learning these things, and it is hard to realize that some people just won't be helped. And of course, I argue with God. And God says, "I chose Israel and delivered them, but I did NOT deliver Egypt. Look and see who chose to harden Pharaoh's heart first."
So I did. Exodus 7:3, God hardens it first. In fact, going down the list, you see 6 times that God hardened his heart, twice it "became hardened", and three times Pharaoh hardened it. But the curious thing is when you look at the aftermath of plague #7:
Ex 9:34- And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart...
2 verses later, Ex 10:1- Now the Lord said to Moses, "Go into Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart..."
What do you draw from that? I draw that there is a decision making process by man that is yet controlled by God. Being outside of time, he knows which way you will choose- and then sets things up to make it easier for you to make that choice. That's why I saw a Christian mother spend time every morning with her prayer book, and Pharaoh- well he got magic tricks from fakers. That's why a man who saw himself as the Pride of the World was humbled by a man who SIX TIMES made excuses why he COULDN'T do the job.
We can't let the Egyptians get to us. The Spirit teaches us what they will never accept. And this world is theirs, not ours.
And most importantly, we really don't want to be hit by lightning.