Thursday, 28 March 2013

Conversations With God From A Bathtub


As I sank into the bathtub last night I burst into tears. Exhausted after 3 months of home schooling, cooking, cleaning, loving, cherishing, providing, nurturing.
My over-riding emotion one of resentment, closely followed in quick succession by envy, bitterness, anger and rage. “Can we just have a conversation here God?!” I silently screamed, sobbing quietly. “I know you don't normally do this, I've read the book of Job, but I just need to understand what is going on! I can't see anything clearly.”

The pity party continued. I was so bitter and I knew it. “Why did you make me like this – allergic to everything, a modern day 'bubble girl'? Do you not realise my allergies hem me in so I can't do ANYTHING?” .... “It's hard not being able to eat take-away, it's hard not eating at restaurants, it's hard never getting a break from cooking, it's hard never eating bread. I'm sick of meat and vegetables”..... “It's hard being allergic to perfumes. It's hard not being able to travel or go shopping without putting my health at risk. Don't you remember our last holiday to Sydney. I ended up really, really sick!” .... “My friends can travel and they don't get sick. Why did you make me so different to everyone else?”

Psalm 139 was playing heavily in my mind. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (v4b). Interestingly my mind had not remembered the first half of the verse “I PRAISE you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”... I was too busy being bitter and resentful. For years that verse has been a thorn in my flesh.... “Why would you choose to make me like this?” I continued to spew out my lament at God, accusing Him of being unkind and unjust when He made me. “What purpose could it possibly have for good?” I asked in anger. “Don't you remember when I was 17 years, I offered to go to the mission field? I wanted to help. I asked you to use me in a mighty way....” In my bitterness it seemed my life was being wasted, stuck at home, isolated when I wanted to “do great things for God”. I steamed, wondering why, when the need was so great, He would hem me in like this?

And then I stopped. For so far my request for a conversation with God had only resulted in me spewing forth a monologue of distrust, bile and gall.

I waited.
Silent.
Soaking in the heat of the hot bath.
Listening.
And He led me.

I had complained about my diet and he lead me to Numbers 11. Israel accused God of providing a boring diet of manna. “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!'” They begged God to return them to Egypt and their slavery. They wanted meat, not bread. This was me, except the diet was reversed. I wanted bread, not meat, though bread had meant slavery and disease for me. The people had subsequently suffered a plague for their sin of discontent. I repented and thanked God for His grace to me. His forgiveness of my sin. Like Paul I needed to learn “to be content in any and every situation”, through Christ's strength (Phil 4:12).

I waited again.
In silence.
His voice coming softly to me.
A gentle whisper.
Conviction of sin.
A caress.

The story of Naaman's leprosy and his visit to the Prophet Elisha. (2 Kings 5). Naaman wanted God to heal him of leprosy in a dramatic, glamorous way and was raging at Elisha's instructions for healing. The proposed redemptive act was too humiliating to a Commander of the King like Naaman. To duck into the muddy Jordan River 7 times was dull and boring compared to what the Commander wanted – the leprosy vanishing with a wave of the Prophet's hand. “Naaman's servant went to him and said 'My father, if the prophet had told you to do some GREAT thing, would you not have done it?'' (v13).

I FELT Him say in every fibre of my being “this is you.”.... “I have asked you to stay home and raise your children and love your husband and school your children and you don't like it because it's not glamorous. It is not 'great enough' in your eyes. But I need you to do this. I need you to obey. It's important to Me and so it should be important to you.”

And He was right. I saw nothing glamorous in dirty dishes, wet beds, keeping house, schooling children, piano lessons, paying bills and so I thought it unimportant in the Kingdom of God. I under-rated the mundaneness of life. I wanted to sacrifice when all I was asked to do was obey.

1 Sam 22,23 “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
 as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? 
To obey is better than sacrifice
 and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 
For rebellion is like the sin of divination
 and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”

And I saw Truth.
And I saw Grace.
And I saw Redemption.
And I saw the Cross.

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