Abandoned to be Reclaimed: The Darkness, The Dream, & The Destiny

I haven’t written a blog in a long time.  Well, it’s because I’m having a bit of a “Jonah” moment.  In order to understand what I mean, please read the next sentence as it is punctuated.  A “Jonah” moment is when you know God’s will for your life and rather than obey God’s will you would rather swim in the stomach acid of a whale or fish or whatever kind of beast could swallow a man whole and spit him out like acid reflux or something like that you know what I’m saying?!  Please perceive that run on sentence as me running away from the issue.  Yeah, now you get it, a “Jonah” moment!  I didn’t want to write this blog.  I don’t want to write this blog.  I don’t want to deal with this reality but God won’t let me write anything else until I finish writing this doggone blog!  Here it is, you ready, I have abandonment issues.  There, I said it!

I think the most famous Bible story on abandonment is Joseph and His brothers.  This dude was basically the baby of the bunch and filled with hope.  I mean, of course he was!  He was gifted by God with dreams and visions.   Life was good.  He was favored by his father.  Life was good.  So much so, he was given a coat that was the envy of all his brothers.  Again, life was good.  Then, without warning, his brothers threw him in a ditch and left him to die.  Well, they thought better of it and just sold him into slavery.  Wow, here’s our first nugget, some people will feel good about themselves at your expense.  Why, because their heart turned away from murdering you, to just enslaving you.   You should be grateful.  Right?  Matter of fact, the brothers went on with life as if nothing had happened, like they hadn’t just thrown their brother into a ditch!  Genesis 37:25 reads,As they sat down to eat their meal.”  They sat to eat like it was a normal meal.  They weren’t troubled and distraught so that they couldn’t eat.  No on the contrary, they were more like, “can I get my Double Double animal style please?  OK, thank you!”

I’m sorry, I digress.  At some point, some of the worse words that many of us will speak, will be, “Where did everybody go?”  Joseph had to be asking this question.  Wouldn’t you?  We have all been in the ditch, the ditch of abandonment.  You’ve been there, It’s that place where you realize, “together,” didn’t include you.  Hey, you can substitute whatever word fits better, (crew, partnership, friendship, family) but it remains the same.  When that word, no longer includes you, you are at a crossroads of faith and thrust into reality.  Pablo Neruda says, “Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.”  Hmph, nibble on that for a second.

The thing about abandonment is that it knows no faults.  It doesn’t care if its your fault, their fault, or nobody’s fault.  It leaves you in the darkness needing a hand to pull you to the light regardless of faults.  Tayari Jones said, “Abandonment doesn’t have the sharp but dissipating sting of a slap. It’s like a punch to the gut, bruising your skin and driving the precious air from your body.”  Then, Gregory L. Winfield wrote, “Our natural parents make mistakes. But how do we reconcile our feelings of abandonment when tragedy occurs at the hands of a God who does not make mistakes?”  All who have experienced the darkness know these feelings and are acquainted with these questions but what can you do?

First, let’s look to the Psalms.  Psalms 34:18 reminds us, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  At all times, and especially in these times, the only rail you have to grab is this one, TRUST in the LORD.  He is near and He saves.  When you finally escape the ditch, it won’t be your fam or your peoples, but the hand of the Lord that pulls you out.  It’s like Psalms 27:10 reveals, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.  You are not at the mercy of fate my friend, you are in the hands of a loving and living God!

Finally, as A.W. Tozer wrote, “It is doubtful, that God will ever use us greatly until we have been hurt deeply.”  So, the next time you’re walking around dreaming with your coat of many colors envisioning the world as it should be, as it could be, remember this.   Your destiny will often be found at the end of a journey of dashed dreams, stolen coats, deep ditches, and restricted living.  That’s a joyous thought huh?  Well actually, it is, once you realize that these things are necessary for the fruition of the promise of the original dream!  Don’t give in, don’t give up, and don’t shun the darkness of the ditch.   Alistair Begg says, “In shunning the trials we miss the blessings, and we don’t have the tender eyes that comes from nights of tears.” Never forget the end of Joseph’s story.  Never forget Genesis 50:24.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  The dream will be dug out from the ditch.  God reclaims that which has been discarded!  Yes, you were abandoned, but not for the reasons you think.  You were abandoned to perfect a dream, that becomes a vision, that matures into destiny, that saves many lives.  You were abandoned to be reclaimed!

OH, and oh yeah, Be A Bridge!

This blog originally appeared at rudyhagood.com

 

The Eighth Day: New Beginnings & New Meaning

Do you still get excited for Sunday morning?  Do you??!  Are you overwhelmed by the thought of millions of Christians all over the world getting together to worship the one resurrected King?  Or has your passion grown cold?  The fact is, for most, Sunday morning is still “that day!”  It’s the day of united worship and of family reunion!  Augustine of Hippo wrote in his signature work, City of God, “The Sabbath is brought to a close not by an evening, but by the Lord’s day, as an eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, and also prefiguring the eternal repose not only of the spirit, but also of the body. Then, we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.”  I’d like for you to pause and consider the beauty of Augustine’s Sunday paradigm.  Is it not awe inspiring?

We find in the resurrection narratives of all four gospels the phrase “the first day of the week.”  1st century and 2nd century Christians saw Sunday as the beginning of the week yes, but they also saw it as the eighth day.  For early believers every Sunday followed the Sunday before, making it a “new beginning,” an “eighth day.”  If it’s not obvious, eight is biblical numerology’s number for new beginnings.  This is why babies were circumcised and given their names on the eighth day.

Early believers also had this intense connection with the past and a simultaneous expectation of the future.  This is not just based on every Sunday being connected to the Sunday prior.  Sunday was also the close of the Sabbath.  So Sunday was not a day of rest as the Sabbath was, but rather a day of tension and breakthrough.  Sunday highlights crucifixion.  So it’s a day of mourning.  Sunday highlights resurrection, so it’s a day of joy!  Marianne H. Micks says “We confused the first day of the week with the Jewish Sabbath and thereby turned to the past instead of to the future. Rightly understood, Sunday is more a day of tension than a day of rest.”  On Sunday,  in one breath of worship, we wrestle with crucifixion and we wrestle with resurrection.

I consider Augustine and I think, what do we contemporarily say about Sunday beyond, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church.  No one knows who, but someone (mainly everybody), said, “Just because you don’t go to church Sunday morning doesn’t mean you forfeit your right of having any help or guidance from God”  This is true but numbing to Sunday’s significance.  Church leaders say things like Joyce Meyer’s famous quote, “Jesus is interested in a relationship with you, not a 45 minute date every Sunday morning. Make Him first in your life.”  Again true, and yet again numbing to Sunday’s significance if taken too far or out of context, which I believe is its normal case.

As I close this thought, I have to ask myself, am I writing this to say, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church?   Absolutely not!   I’m writing this to bridge the concept of the eighth day to your soul, so that if and when you do show up on a Sunday, you understand what your doing!  Augustine called Sunday “The Lord’s Day.”  Why?  He calls it the Lord’s day because that’s the day our Lord got up, defeated sin, the grave and whooped up on death!  Invincible!!!  In a sense, Sunday is the only day that Jesus heard an alarm clock.  For it is, and will be, the only time where he was dead and now is alive.  He resurrected!  See, for the world, Easter is a once a year event but for the believer, resurrection happens every Sunday!  We celebrate “The Lord’s Day,” The day He got up!  We celebrate the Eighth Day, the day of new beginnings.  Every week for the believer we are reminded that life begins fresh and new, opportunity begins fresh and new because today, the Eighth Day, Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that we all have resurrection power!  We all have been made new!  Sunday is a glorious day!  Anything less than overwhelmed misses the mark, misses the maker, misses the magnificent mayhem (full praise) we ought to lavish on a God who would resurrect lives!!!  My dear friends, remember the 1st Day of the week, the eighth day, the eternal day, and together, lets rest and see, see and love, love and praise!

…And yes, of course, Be A Bridge!

Matthew 28:1-3 

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.”

Let us, together, celebrate!  For every Sunday, after that Sunday, is The Eighth Day.  Glory!

 

The blog “The Eighth Day” appeared first on rudyhagood.com