“Give and Take” by Lindsey Addie, silver gelatin print, 2011
I haven’t been the most diligent person when it comes to sharing the incredible testimonies God’s been giving me in the last few months, but man, it’s been so good. I’ve had everything I’ve needed and been blessed in crazy ways in the last 6 months – I do plan to gather and bring them out soon, but for now I’ll just refer to the one that I did share: the random check in the mail on the day that I was accepted to BSSM. Another significant one happened this weekend when the laptop I needed to sell in order to afford my camera equipment (in order to have what I need to start generating income as a photographer and thriving artist to pay for life and BSSM, etc) sold for exactly the amount I needed on the day I needed it. God is an incredible provider, and He pays the way He’s chosen!
I fully recognize and believe that He provided these blessings and intended them to be purposed for this new season He’s drawn me into…
…which is why I absolutely refuse to be shaken by the following: 1. Tonight, the buyer filed a cancellation on eBay because he changed his mind, 2. Last month, only a day after I got that check, someone texted saying it was theirs and that I legally had to sign it over to her (though I absolutely disagreed but felt that fighting would somehow be “unChristian”), and 3. A few of the other blessings given have been taken back as well.
Or should I say, “Stolen.”
Fact is, could I really, truly say that He is a good Papa who gives good gifts and is all He says He is if I believed that He was the one pulling the rug out from under me right after giving it to me in the first place? No! If I know my Papa, I know that His gifts and His call are irrevocable, His gifts are perfect, and He does not change like shifting shadows. He gives me hope and a future, not harm; and anything that goes against His word, promises, and plan to prosper me cannot be Him. That’s not in His nature.
Yes, He does give AND take away (click HERE for an incredible blog by Paul Ellis on Job 1:21), but not in that way – that verse is often misquoted. If my heart and thoughts are turned completely to Him and something still causes hopelessness, it’s not from my Papa; it’s the enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy – Jesus came to give life to the full! And please note: I’m not talking about “prosperity” in that I get all the money I want and life is good… no way! Prosperity for me may look like being broke and homeless but having my complete mind, body, heart, and spirit so lost in intimacy with Him that it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about money or things, though those are the examples I have to work with at the moment – sadly, He has to use the “money or things” because we broken humans are often not motivated by anything else.
I write all of this because I learned something valuable – in the midst of blessing, I started anchoring my faith in His promises to the blessings I was receiving instead of on His words alone. As this pattern of “YAY BLESSING!…(wait for it)… *shoe drops*” played out repeatedly in the last month, my heart started to hurt and my mind began to question if He’d really said what He said or ever blessed me at all – I realized I was like David writing a lamenting Psalm of a blog post last night, and tonight, I was like Job, just about to cross the line, just about to fail in faith that He is good.
But perched on the cusp of my doubt, I heard Him whisper, “My word does not return void.”
A quick google of that phrase produced the verse that rebuked me and restored me: Isaiah 55:11. I’m not sure how anything could have been clearer or more relevant to every little thought or concern I’ve wrestled with this month – it read as if breathed from His lips into my spirit. And funny, God says the same things (in essence) to Job as well, “My ways are higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
This led to my looking up the end of the story of Job and finding the blog post I mentioned earlier – it was almost verbatim what I was feeling and hearing and starting to write, but he did it better, so I reblogged it instead. Along with being incredibly confirming of the things I was hearing God say to me, the writer introduced a new idea, one that I needed to hear and that (ironically enough) discusses the difference between David and Job:
“Both Job and David were robbed. Both were greatly distressed and surrounded by foolish men who gave bad advice. But unlike Job, David did a very Jesusy-thing and took back what was stolen. Why did David fight back when Job quit? We are told that David “encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Sam 30:6). In his pain David considered God’s goodness and realized that God was not behind his loss. He understood that it was not God’s will for him to suffer and, so strengthened, he fought back and prevailed.
I wish I could go back in time and get to Job before his friends did. I would say, “Job, God didn’t kill your kids! He didn’t steal your livelihood and make you sick. You’ve been robbed! The devil is having a go at you. Don’t sit there in the ashes and cry about it, get up and fight! Are you a warrior or a weakling? Are you a victor or a victim?”
The church will never see victory if we think God is behind our suffering. If we think God is robbing us we won’t even resist. We’ll let the devil waltz in and plunder our families all the while singing “He gives and takes away.” Funny, but I can’t imagine Jesus or David doing that.
For too long we have been incapacitated by uncertainty which is really just another name for unbelief. Don’t look to Job, look to Jesus! Jesus was never confused about who was giving and who was taking.”
God does not cause loss.
God does not cause suffering.
And as long as we believe He might, we hand over our victory and dig our own graves.
Oh, and in case you didn’t catch that, Jesus FOUGHT. Therefore, it’s such an incredible lie to believe that He calls us to back down from a fight in the name of peace and love. Sometimes, yes, we are wronged and turn the other cheek. Sometimes, though, passion for justice explodes into righteous anger. Those are the concepts of Christian living we tend to leave out of the Sunday sermons and small group discussions… I’ll leave that alone for now, but I feel a blog coming on.
I do want to say, though, that God really did hit me hard with the passage in Isaiah 55. Not only is it an incredibly powerful and uplifting reminder of our son/daughtership in Him, but it was a resounding confirmation to me personally that He really has called me to leave every safe and comfortable place in my life right now to follow Him into the unknown future awaiting me in Redding and BSSM. And He did it without a financial miracle. The auction for the laptop remains disputed, and I may still sign over the check (because in the end, it’s just money, and He’s proven He has that under control), but His message to me couldn’t have been clearer. In a stunning cyclical way that only He could do, He turned my looking to finances for confirmation into a lesson…
which then brought revelation that I was looking to finances and not His voice…
which was then what He was actually using to confirm my path…
which then will require that He show up in my finances…
which now requires me to have faith that He will provide.
Heck, the whole passage even starts with: “…and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1) But it is what it is – nothing without Him!
So, I guess for tonight I need to find the balance between my Job and my David:
Then [Lindsey] replied to the Lord:
I know that You can do all things;
no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know…
Therefore, I repent.
You have my ear, here I am;
I’m listening for Your life-giving words.
I accept Your everlasting covenant,
Your faithful love promised to David.
Lord, create in me a clean heart,
One after Your own heart.
And renew a right spirit within me,
One that responds only to Your voice.
Tonight, I choose to heed Your word:
It will not return to You empty,
but will accomplish what You desire
and achieve the purpose for which You sent it.
I will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills of Redding
will burst into song before us,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
What a splendid homecoming You have planned for me:
Me, the sparrow who longs to make her nest in Your dwelling place,
Whose pilgrim heart and flesh cry out for You
And yearn to be home in Your courts.