Matchless, Unbroken Companionship

“And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!”  Isaiah 30:18 Amplified

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this verse, even in the Amplified version, yet I’ve not noticed the phrase: His matchless, unbroken companionship.  God, the Creator of the universe, wants for the two of us to have an unbroken companionship – as in never apart, never wondering where the other one is or what the other is thinking or doing.  The idea of this companionship is so lopsided, in my mind, because it includes the matchless One and me; but, He declares in His Holy Word, not mine, that this is just a part of what I will receive as I wait for Him.  As if that’s not enough, He longs to make this real in my life!

God has not been withholding Himself from me.  It’s just that I’ve been willing to settle for so much less of Him and His companionship.  I’ve been satisfied with coming and going, as I would with an earthly friend.  He is known as Friend, but He greatly desires for it to be so much more than I have allowed!  I have given other things the place that belongs to Him alone; yet, He has continued to wait, always expecting me to return to wait, look, and long for Him.  As I consider this, I realize that He is already pouring out His mercy on me – before I ever recognized my need for it.  How thankful I am for His ways!  Romans 11:33 in the NIV says what I can’t:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

I don’t want to settle any longer for less than my Father’s matchless, unbroken companionship.  It’s time to make some adjustments in priorities and focus, so that my eyes and mind are fixed on His Word, and I am earnestly waiting for Him – expecting, looking, and longing for all He is and all He longs to be for me in my life!

Freely

Even though there’s always more to understand in the Bible, sometimes I just need the simplicity of it to wake me up; for example, when I read the story of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples in Matthew 10:5+.  Before He told them not to take any money or extra clothes with them, He said in verse 8, “Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.”  I was arrested by that simple statement.  You see, I needed to be reminded that I have not paid for the unconditional love that the Lord has lavished on me.  I have not paid for His mercy that is new every morning.  I have not paid for the complete forgiveness of all my sins – past, present, and future.  No, I have not paid for any of these things, and do not deserve them in the least, but I have freely received them as He has freely given them to me.

When I was brought to that place of remembrance and the resulting flood of thankfulness, I was moved out of the place of withholding unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness from people who “didn’t deserve it,” right into the place of freely giving those things without expecting anything in return.  It took me out of the position of trying to judge in God’s place and put me into the position of beloved child of God who leaves the judging to Him.  In other words, it put me back into freedom! 

Boy, do I need to be reminded of this lesson repeatedly.  The only things Jesus wanted the disciples to take with them was what they had freely received, without pay.  It’s His desire for us, as well.  So, when you find yourself in my place, not wanting to forgive, walk in love, or give mercy, maybe you just need to remember one simple word . . . freely!  Let it set you free once again, so you can help set others free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . .  Galatians 5:1

Painful Illumination

I was angry – really angry.  I wanted to kick something, or hit something, or scream and cry, or throw up.  What I didn’t want to do was what I knew to do – forgive.  I thought I had, but apparently I had suppressed some emotions along the way, rather than really dealing with the issues, and they waited for the “appropriate” time to surface with much venom attached.  As if the anger itself wasn’t bad enough, after stewing a bit, I began to turn it toward the Lord.  “Why haven’t You done something about this, God?!”  “What about all those prayers I’ve prayed over the years?!”  Even knowing that He is my only hope, and the only One Who could help me through, over, and out of this boiling cauldron of anger, I didn’t want to let go right then.

A little while later, I actually tried to rationalize the anger, thinking maybe it was righteous anger, though I knew better.  It certainly wasn’t compelling me to anything good, like praying – only to letting my mind go wherever it wanted, right down the path of listing all the wrong things that had been done to me, and the things I’d like to say and do in retaliation.

The quiet thought that Jesus wouldn’t be dwelling on what I was dwelling on in this anger began to shine His Light on the darkness around me.  It began to dismantle the anger so that I was no longer in its grips.  It wasn’t because of anything I did, like pray or repent.  Whether someone prayed for me at the urging of the Holy Spirit, or it was simply the Life of Jesus making intercession for me (Hebrews 7:25), I don’t know.  What I do know is that the Holy Spirit broke through, praise the Lord.  Once He did, the anger became God’s anger, as it turned toward the real enemy, the one who has continued to bind up anyone he can so as to keep them from freedom in Christ.  At that point, I repented.  At that point, I forgave.  At that point, I was restored to my God-given position of intercession for all those like the one toward whom my anger had been directed just moments earlier.

Even in the worst of the anger, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the trial, because of what the Lord had shown my prayer group as we prayed for the body of Christ.  He prepared us for how it was going to affect us, personally, though not with specifics other than that it would be painful in the process, with greater glory for Him on the other side of it.  Regardless of the pain, I will say, “But God!”  He will never leave me helpless, even when I rant and accuse Him!  He is the perfect Parent, and He knows just how far to let me go in a tantrum before bringing it to an end – in the best way.  How thankful I am for His mercy!  How thankful I am that He keeps working to change me, though my flesh has a screaming fit.  From these painful times, there is even less of me and more of Him visible to those around me.  Glory to God alone!

Hebrews 12:6-7, 10-11 “6 For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child. 7 Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? 10 Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness. 11 Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.” TPT

Blessings as you feel the hand of training in your own lives – for the glory of God!