“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 AMP
From a 1959 sermon by Reverend Leslie D Weatherhead entitled: The Religion of the Dawn…
“There is a dawn answer for every situation we encounter. We cannot pretend there is no night. Nothing can be done to hasten the dawn.” But, “you cannot hold back the dawn”
[Christianity] is a religion of unquenchable faith and hope and patience; unquenchable because it believes the permanent thing is light and the passing thing is darkness; that however long the night, whether it be in world affairs or the poignant private world of the human heart, the night will pass. You can’t hold back the dawn. All affairs, private and world-wide are in the hands of a God who is in complete and final control and who has decreed the entire conquest of all evil and the final emergence of indescribable good.
Reverend Leslie D Weatherhead
We may face the coming darkness, because we have the promise of a glorious dawn.
“The Lord will be your confidence and keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3:26
In the movies, during an action sequence, there is a go to moment that helps heighten the excitement. The woman in high heels. Running across train tracks… her heel gets caught. Running along a pier… her heel gets caught between the planks. Running across the street… caught in a manhole lid. Running down the sidewalk… caught in a great or crack.
I’ve never been running for my life, but I have gotten my heel caught. Once, at a bridal shower, my heel got caught multiple times. At the hostess’ home there was a beautiful deck and my heel kept getting caught in between the wood planks. The first time, I laughed it off. The second time, I almost dropped my plate. The third time, it brought me to a sudden stop and I almost created a three woman pile up. I was embarrassed that I kept allowing this to happen. I could have paid more attention where I stepped.
In life, there are a lot of times where I could stand to pay a bit more attention to what is happening around me. Perhaps I could have been a bit wiser, or exercised a bit more caution. I could have learned from my mistakes, instead of repeating them. When others shared their wisdom with me, I could have heeded their warnings instead of digging in my heels and thinking I could do things my own way.
As a believer, I can learn a lot of practical wisdom in the pages of the Scriptures. The more I commit myself to the Lord, dig into the Scriptures to understand His character, and dedicate myself to following His commands the more I walk in confidence, God Confidence. I am confident in who He is, I am confident in His promises, I am confident in His direction. When I am walking with God Confidence, I don’t have to worry about my heel getting caught.
Jesus washed the feet of Judas, a few hours later Judas would betray him.
Foot washing displayed different significant things in Biblical times.
It put a person in a servant posture. It was an act of humbleness and humility. It was a necessary act. A repetitive act, as well.
Something I read recently made a great observation about Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet. First, it was pointed out that there was no servant there to do the job. Second, they were already in the midst of the meal when Jesus’ took on the task.
When there was no servant there to handle the foot washing, it never dawned on the disciples to do it for each other.
Third, when Jesus began to wash Peter’s feet there was a protest by Peter. He didn’t want Jesus to do something he felt was beneath the Messiah. Jesus responded: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8); to which Peter then asked for a complete cleaning. Which is exactly what happens when are spiritually cleansed… when the blood of Christ washes away all of our iniquity.
When He was finished, Jesus said “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
Remember the earlier point about it never dawning on the men to wash each other’s feet? We have been commanded to be Christlike, to posture ourselves a servant for others. To wash the feet of those who we love, and even those who will betray us.
We may wash feet with bowls of water, expensive oils, and perfumes. We may dry those feet with soft towels or strips of linen. Or, we may wash their feet with our tears and dry them with our hair (Luke 7:44). We wash their feet when we drop off meals while they recover, or mow the lawns of the elderly. We wash their feet when we grasp their hands, and provide a shoulder to cry on. We wash their feet when we speak blessings over the friend and the stranger.
We wash their feet when we posture ourselves to serve, not be served.
In my previous two pieces, I shared about my experiences with this year’s Gospel Coalition Conference. First, I shared my personal retreat reflections which helped me recognize that I had some issues where I was harboring some anger towards people that I needed to forgive.
Then, in the second piece, I shared how my mentoring session with Serge.org showed me other areas where anger had been rearing it’s ugly head in my life. Anger is a sneaky sin, that can mask itself in many ways. Some seeming obvious, others much more subtle. I knew that I needed to address these issues. There were people I needed to forgive, including myself. I needed to preach the Gospel to myself every day, reminding myself how the Lord sees me vs. the lies I have been told.
The third reflection was the two moments in which someone who had never wronged me apologized for the wrongs others have committed.
This first time happened during my serge.org mentor session. As you may recall in the session I shared about my ministry work, obstacles I was facing, and how I felt like a failure in certain aspects of the work. While my mentor, Hunter, did shift the conversation to a more personal direction… the first thing he did before taking that turn was to apologize. In fact, perhaps it was my response to the apology that confirmed for him that the personal direction was the path he needed to travel down.
He recognized that the obstacles I was facing were very wrong, and hurtful ones… and he apologized to me for it. I have never expected an apology over any issue in my life. Maybe I set my expectations too low, or experience has taught me that apologizes come less often than deserved. Regardless, I have never expected a person who has never wronged me to apologize on behalf of others. This apology was spoken directly to me, not in generalities and with complete sincerity. It ushered in validation that I didn’t know I needed to hear, but clearly I did. I needed to not only hear the words, but I needed to hear a man speak them.
His apology was still sinking in, when I attended a workshop on Pastors and Women in Ministry. At the beginning of the session we were given instructions to put questions on cards for the panel and pass them forward. In the latter half of the workshop, the panel members would try to get to as many questions as possible. There was no way to get to them all and the moderator did a great job of trying to collate similar questions into one general concept. One of the questions dealt with Women’s Ministry Leaders who didn’t feel supported by their church, another one came up about women who didn’t feel like their church valued their expertise or ministry skills, a third question about how to disagree with your Pastor respectfully when you are a woman with higher education in the field or expert on a subject, and some women just wanted to be trusted to lead well.
These questions were answered, but you could tell one of the panelists was uncomfortable by the similarities of the questions. It was his turn to address the next question, but he paused with the need to address the questions of the hurt women in the group. In a microphone, to a room filled with women and Pastors, at a workshop that would be recorded and listed on TGC’s media page for the conference for the world to hear… Pastor Sandy Willson spoke to the hurt women with a very simple, “I am so sorry.”
It was sweet, tender, and genuine. It was spoken to the group at large, but in many ways I felt like it was directed right at my heart. Tears filled my eyes. Twice in one day, I would hear and receive an apology from a man who never wronged me. And, twice it would impact me more than I expected and bring in a sense of peace.
In honesty, I suppose there are some people I wish would say they were sorry for treating me a particular way. But, I believe pride has prevented that. Which has allowed me to more forward knowing that until they deal with their pride, and apology will never happen. I didn’t expect that I would need to hear from just anyone that they were sorry for the events that occurred. I had no way of knowing how their apology could lighten my load and make my steps toward forgiveness come with such peace.
I find myself able to let go of it not only toward the specific people involved in those situations, but also realized that I had been projecting their behaviors on others. I was lumping all the apples in to the bad pile, allowing one bad apple to spoil my feelings toward an entire group. Instead of tossing the bad apples aside, and being thankful for the good ones.
And so, I want to pass this gift on to you. Whomever you are. I know that at some point someone treated you unfairly, spoke unkind words to you, broke your heart and your trust, and I know that sometimes these wounds are deep.
I am so, so, sorry. I pray the Lord comforts you, that there will be people He will put in your path that will lift you up, and that you can forgive even those who don’t ask for it.
Anger is funny, funny thing. It masks itself in many ways. Some are more obvious (like withdrawal, sarcasm, and the like). Others are a bit more subtle, which was revealed to me just after my Personal Retreat and during the course of The Gospel Coalition conference.
If you recall in my last piece, my twenty four hour Personal Retreat revealed that I was holding onto some anger that I didn’t realize was there. People I needed to forgive was a priority on my list. But the Lord wasn’t done revealing to me the ways in which anger had penetrated my life.
During the conference, I had an opportunity to sign up for bonus events being held alongside the conference. One of which was an event put together by Serge.org, which not only had a two morning breakfast with speakers from their mentoring and leadership team but offered a one hour mentor session. I jumped at the opportunity to speak with a veteran in the ministry field for advice/direction/suggestions for the ministry work I was involved in.
In my session with Hunter Dockery, I laid out exactly what my ministry work was about and where I saw it going. Then I shared some obstacles I was facing in that process. I thought that this was the place Hunter would be able to help me. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that Hunter was less interested in the work, and more interested in me. How was I personally being affected, how was my marriage, etc. This was personal, and exactly what I needed to explore… I just didn’t know it.
I’m going to spend my time on this piece speaking to just one of the questions I was asked, but I’ll probably talk more about this in future blogs.
As I shared about some of my obstacles, and how I felt as if I was failing those I was serving… Hunter basically asked me how I felt about those who were impeding the work. I said that I was frustrated, and that is when he laid it out there…
Frustrated is the Christian word for angry.
Well, crap. If frustrated is the Christian word for angry, I may be angrier about more things than I realized. Between my personal retreat and this moment, I was seeing things with more clarity. I imagine it like a large room that is completely dark, without any single light source but multiple lamps scattered through the room. The Lord was taking me one step at a time, turning on one lamp at a time. Illuminating the room a little bit more versus flooding me with more light than my eyes could handle in one flip of a switch.
I was being put into a position where I would have to face and own these feelings, in order to correct them. And the only one way that was going to happen, was to keep turning on more lights.
I’m thankful for my time with Hunter, not just because he helped me to see this underlying emotion but instead the greater gift came with the next question.
“When you imagine the Lord speaking directly to you, what does He say?”
I imagined a God who was frustrated with me. Those were not my exact words to Hunter, but something that I understood later.
Well, if frustrated is the Christian word for angry… then I realized that I imagined that God was angry with me. Let down. Disappointed. It was in a flash of clarity that I realized that while I believed God’s promises for others, truly and deeply… there was a part of me that saw myself still broken. That my daily mistakes and failures were evidence that I still wasn’t living up to the par.
Hunter said words that will stick with me forever.
“You need to preach the Gospel to yourself, every morning.”
I’ve since thought about that, and made a choice that I need to shut down and replace the words that roll through my head.
I had listened to too many lines, believe the lies, labeled myself based on what others have said or done, and it became a liability that was holding me back from living in the freedom gifted by Jesus Christ. The Gospel wasn’t just something to share with unbelievers but something that we believers need to be reminded of constantly. The world tries to overwhelm our senses to the point we forget the promises that God has made to us.
This is an issue that I am still working through, with the Lord’s help. Lamps are still being turned on. However, I find myself already more at peace as I preach the Good News to myself, every morning.
And a few times throughout the day, as needed.
Because God so loved the world (and Gena) that He sent His only Son, and whoever (this means Gena too) believes in Him will have ever lasting life.
Jesus paid the wages of (Gena’s) sin. You (and I) are new creations in Christ, washed clean by the blood of the lamb. Sons and Daughters (including me) that were adopted into His family, where nothing can separate (even me) from Him.