August 29, 2013

Holey, Wholly, Holy

 I imagine that Joseph threw a fit when his brothers threw him into a hole. He must have stomped around with an entitled air that demanded that he be freed and given back his robe. It wasn’t fair after all. His dreams were God-given. 

The most-loved son found he was stuck. I wonder how long he hollered from that dark hole? Was it until his voice was shot and he slid down the dirt wall, slumped into the question we all ask when we are in a hole, “Why me?”

I wrote about my time in the hole, in the darkness of depression earlier this week. Some who slipped in to read may not have known that part of my story, and some may have wondered why I would share that part of my life after so many years. Why don’t I just let that part of my story slip into my past?

The reason I wrote about it is because the world is wrought with holes. Some are deeper than others. Many fall into their holes. Others are thrown in. Regardless, God wants to help those in their holes to move on in their lives. He will use the hole in ways we can never see when the walls seem to be closing in around us.

Your hole may be different than mine. It might be betrayal, loss, even disappointment. If you're angry and you aren’t sure why, look around. Are you in a hole?

I remember being alone in my big white house feeling the increasing anxiety of my hole closing in on me. The phone rang and a well-meaning friend on the other end of the line told me that I was in sin and under the discipline of the Lord. Repent and turn from my sin. Have a good day.

I was a sinner. I am a sinner. I am a sinner saved by grace. I no longer live under the power of sin. She was right and she was wrong. I wasn’t living under the power of sin then and I don’t now. I was living in difficult circumstances some precipitated by others and some of my own making.

She had no idea why I was in my hole and how I got there. She also didn’t know that God would bring me out and how He would do it.

Like Joseph, I was on a journey. I jumped on the caravan that would lead to places I never dreamed I’d be. I was confronted with choices that would make the difference between brokenness or redemption.

By the grace of God, I grabbed hold of redemption. 

As I imagine Joseph’s predicament, I doubt he fought much over getting on the caravan. Submitting to the journey was a better option than staying in a hole with no water. The journey to Egypt would be his way to life and it would prove to be the way to life for many others as well.

When the opportunity to take the journey out of the stuck places comes, we need to take it---even if we don’t understand exactly where we are going.

God wants us to be whole. Along the journey, we will meet obstacles. But when we remember God is writing a bigger story and we are a part of it, the pieces of our lives come together to form the greater picture of what we were made to be. We may not become the prince or princess over a nation like Joseph, but we can be the person that can say with Joseph, 

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph got over being angry about his life in the holes (in the pit his brothers put him and in the prison where he was punished for something he didn’t do and forgotten by those he helped). Joseph persevered. His dreams came true. He held to the promises and God was faithful.

"Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm,“I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 31:21-24, ESV)

The first step out of my hole was letting go of my pride. (That was the sin my friend on the phone was right about.) I thought I could get myself out of my hole on my own. Every time I tried to climb the slippery walls of my pit, I felt more despair.

It takes courage to let God be the one who lifts you up; faith to wait for him to do his work of redemption in your life, to receive with full assurance the truth that Jesus alone makes us right before the Holy God:


For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” (Hebrews 10:14-16, ESV)

To live is Christ---from holes, to whole, eternally holy---heart, mind, and spirit. This is life, the one we long for---the one that is ours in Christ Jesus.

You don't have to be suffering with depression to be in a hole. Sometimes it can be cynicism or fear that is the hole that keeps us stuck in a pit. From what pit has God lifted you?

Linking with Kristen, Jennifer, and Emily.

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