Something that has been happening in my journey with Him over the past several years is His great desire to set me free from all the "images" I've set up in my life.  Images of what ministry should be and yield, what my life should look like, be, and most of all, who He is, as opposed to who I've wanted Him to be.  It's not an easy journey.  Images die hard.  They want to hold on to us even more than we want to hold onto them.
      This morning, the point was driven home more deeply by a short excerpt from a book by a woman named Kasey Van Norman, who battles against stage 4 cancer, but also, she honestly tells of the battle she fights with Him in the midst of it.  Her book is titled, Raw Faith - What Happens When God Picks A Fight.  God picking a fight with us?  How could this be?  Am I, are we, to believe that the Gentle Jesus we have looked to, believed in, the good Heavenly Father that we know always has our best interest at heart, especially as defined by us, would ever pick a fight with us, with me?  Yes, He would, and as often as He needs to, and for many of us, most of us, often is the key word.
      In my message the other night in the midst of our small but loving fellowship, and speaking just as much to myself as them, I said that when we find ourselves in situations, places where we don't want to be, that we so desperately want to get out of, it is likely the very place the Lord has led us to, and our oftentimes ugly responses to them are the proof.  There is something within us causing that response, hindering our walk with Him, hindering us.  He means to deal with it, bring it up, and cast it out, and He will keep us there until that happens.  In effect, He picks a fight with us there, and it's a fight He means to win.  The wonder is that when He "wins," we do as well, but our flesh never sees it that way.  All those created images get in the way; the fight is between what we think should be, and what He says is, and, no matter how that clashes with our image, it's what He calls "best" for us.
     For Van Norman, that place came when she stopped raging at the Lord over the circumstances of her life, of where she was at, and just surrendered, telling Him that she would trust that He would either deliver her out of this fire, or fully join her in it, but one way or another, she would cling to Him with all her might.  All the images were surrendered, her fight with God, one picked by Him, was over, and the miracle was, in that surrender was her victory.  
     In her writing, she quoted Romans 8:26, "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress.  For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed."  When we come to that place of helplessness, where all our images have failed us, where nothing makes sense, we can be ready to surrender to Him as He is, and not as we demand He should be.  The place where the Holy Spirit can truly begin to help us, intercede for us.  The place where we can finally allow Him to join us.  Joining not in the form of the image we've created, but as He really is.  Nothing at all may have changed around us, but He's wrought a change within us.  That which has been killing us, has been killed, and life, His life, has entered in.  For such a victory, He is very ready to "pick a fight" with us.
     What images have we been clinging to?  What place are we at that we may be "raging" at Him over?  He will pick a fight with us there.  Who will define the winner?  Our flesh, or His Spirit?

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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