Saturday, June 28, 2014

Did Jesus Christ Die for My Best Life Now?

I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul. 
~ Psalm 138:1–3

It's been longer than usually for me to sit down and bang the keyboard of my blog.  I'm deeply thankful for five dear brothers who accepted my invitation to contribute here and they have done so very well. These brothers are dear to me for many reasons, none less than the great encouragement they provide me, which I in turn take and then attempt to provide stability for my family.  These guys know my life situation and they gird my family up through fervent prayer and an ever present love towards me that I don't think they understand the half of.  Yet, these men are only part of a large group of brothers and sisters near and far who love Jesus and love the brethren.  I am richly blessed to have a network of God-fearing, Christ exalting believers in my life.

So why the silence?  June has just been one of those months around Clan McDonnell.  It started off well enough, well actually the last few days of May, with an occasion as rare as Halley's Comet.  Yep, the entire family got out for an event "just for fun."  That, for my household, is a cause for celebration.  You see, if you don't know me, you're not aware of our family trial these last 11 years, specifically the last 5 3/4 years. But whose counting?  Oh, we also got out together a 2nd time because nothing was going to stop us all from attending our eldest son's entrance into the Los Angeles Fire Department. However, most every other day of the last 30 have been what we have learned to call "paying for it."  You see, our great trial is chronic pain for my wife and the mother of our children.  Severe chronic pain.  It has been constant.  It has been high.  It has had severe spikes that are nothing short of excruciating............and that's just my side of it.  I only feel it emotionally as I weep for my bride and plead with my God.

At this point you may be saying, "man Kevin, snap out of it, chill out', or 'what's up with you?  You're bummin' me out", or you're getting ready to drop Romans 8:28 on me.  No worries.  My intention here is to let you in a little closer as I disclose some of the struggle of these trials, these long, never ending trials.  But wait!  That's not all.  As the passage at the top of this page reveals.  Because, I have given thanks and am giving thanks and will always, by God's great, great mercy, and power working within me, continue to give thanks!

For there is none like the Lord.  He is great and great is His name in might. (Jeremiah 10:6)

Great is the Lord and worthy of praise!  Were I to do this as an unsaved man, as a man still enslaved to my sin, I would have failed long ago.  I would have given up.  I very likely would have crashed and burned.  But God!  As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, "the two greatest words in the bible."

I pause here and ask you, you who do not know Christ, you who have not bowed your knee to Him...why do you still seek to get through this life without Him?  He Himself told us clearly that "His yoke is easy and His burden is light" (Matt 11:30) and that those who come to Him He will surely not cast out. (John 6:37)  What?!  Here I am telling you how difficult our life has been these last 11 years and yet telling you that Christ makes our yoke easy and burden light.  If this makes no sense to you, then it is almost certain you do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.  At best, you do not understand Him and have potentially bought the lies of all those T.V. preachers who have taught from their own deceived minds, from a bible often left in the background of their charismatic personalities. Things like "Every Day A Friday" or, as the title of this post suggests, "Your Best Life Now."  Such preachers tell us "when you do your part, God will do His part."  But no, no, the Christianity on T.V. and flooding the landscape these days is too often portrayed as this happy go lucky life where God is our personal genie and gives us all the things we desire to make us happy while never giving us trials that force us to grow up and become holy.  But I digress.

When I entered this trial I was lock, stock and barrel on the Sovereignty of God.  I was, and still am, as dogmatic as dogmatic gets.  And that is not a bad thing because after all God's Word is truth (John 17:17) and we can bank on that with absolute certainty.  The problem I had 6 years ago was that, while true, my knowledge was settled in my head yet needed to trickle into my heart.  God indeed ordains everything.

         Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
         And in Your book were all written
         The days that were ordained for me,
         When as yet there was not one of them.
         ~ Psalm 139:16

         Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD,
         How then can man understand his way?
         ~ Proverbs 20:24.

         The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
         And He delights in his way.
         When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
         Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
         ~ Psalm 37:23–24

God has indeed ordained my days.  He's ordained my days, my wife's days, my children's days, yes, even your days.  And it's ok!  He's smarter than us and even better, His ways are perfect because He is perfectly holy!  I cannot fully understand them but I can trust Him fully because of His holy perfection in His creation and towards His children.  He has always held my hand and always will.  Like a loving father that holds the hand of his child as they walk, He holds ours.  Just as that loving father will never allow his precious daughter to take a header and faceplant on the sidewalk so our loving heavenly Father will not allow us to faceplant in life. Both will snatch up their child and protect them......with one big difference, God will never lose His grip and never fail to uphold us.

But back to my problem.  While I consistently preached sovereignty to my dear wife those first 5 years I neglected to understand compassion.  I failed to know understanding her sorrow.  I lived in a Book. God knew I needed to take that Book, grasp it in my head, allow it to seep into my heart, and saturate my entire being so that I could love my wife as Christ loves His church.  In other words, I had to live matter how painful and how difficult it would be and is.  This is why though the road can be long and dark my faith has found a resting place and that resting place is my Lord Jesus Christ.


         Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
         You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
         And Your right hand will save me.
         The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
         Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
         ~ Psalm 138:7–8

Because that is who God is.  He is exalted yet He accomplishes, even in, yes purposely in, dark, deep travail, His purposes in me, in my wife, in my children, and He accomplishes His purposes in those whose lives I come into contact with.  This lowly kid, snatched from the fires of hell, plucked from the glory of self, He continues to ordain all things that I might be conformed to the image of His Son. Typing that I just say, WOW!

         For though the LORD is exalted,
         Yet He regards the lowly,
         ~ Psalm 138:6

so I can and

         will sing of the ways of the LORD,
         For great is the glory of the LORD.
         ~ Psalm 138:5

Yet in the midst I still cry out to my God in full trust

        Do not forsake the works of Your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8

As I close I realize I, like the Psalmist, cannot stay in pity or sorrow as I attempted to describe more of our plight.  I found that in writing this and fixing on my great and gracious Lord I can only extol Him.

To God be the glory, great things he has done!

He must increase,
~ Kevin

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