This is how I am feeling. When you see me and ask how I am, there’s the raw answer. The first is true, or is becoming true, and the other three are lies. I know it. But, it’s how I feel. And the enemy is just so relentless. And loud. And quiet. And ready to pounce.
He’s loving this.
And so is my God. He’s loving it because He brought me here. No, He doesn’t love it when I believe lies, but He loves it when I admit that I am too weak to hear the truth. When I fall on Him and just say, “I can’t.” When I give in and realize that even what I thought were my strengths are actually weaknesses. He’s loving this wilderness season of my life because He’s stripping away the ways that I rely on myself, rest in my own strength, and find my identity in what I think I can do well. He’s loving it because He knows what He’s doing and He sees the end.
I’ve been abiding in a really unexpected passage today from Ezekiel. It’s a prophecy about Jerusalem falling to Babylonian captivity, and how horrible it will be — how God would bring judgment on the city with sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence. Why? Because of idolatry. And yet God tells Ezekiel to be comforted:
“Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord God (14:22-23).
The heading in my Bible for this section declares that the city (oh! that beloved city!) will not be spared, and God does not mince words with Ezekiel to that very effect. It will be destroyed. It will buckle under four “severe” judgments (seriously, the original Hebrew word for “severe” is so much more severe than “severe,” so He’s exceptionally serious about this). It sounds hopeless, devastating, rife with horrific pain and loss.
The city will not be spared.
But, Ezekiel, you will have comfort when you see the survivors who will be brought out. The remnant. They will come to you — holy man of God — and not to the “priests” of idols. They will be wholly changed. They will show, by their conduct and actions (CJB “their way of life and how they act”) that they finally know God and serve Him only. He will strip away everything that kept them from Him. And then “you will understand that it was not without good reason that I did what I did” (CJB).
I’m struggling very much right now. God has stripped so much from me that I’ve felt utter chaos in my soul. But what does that reveal? Idolatry. Or, as my pastor said this morning, “a swapping of God’s provision for my own provision.” I didn’t even know that I was doing this, that I was so twisting and misusing His gifts. So, it hurts, but it is not without good reason that He’s doing what He’s doing.
Welcome. I welcome You. Don’t spare what doesn’t honor You. Let this be wholly true of me — strip everything else away:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
— 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
(Special thanks to Debbie Stuart, Bo Dauster, and Jonny Harrison for preaching truth.)