Things are winding up, settling down, ending. The school year is ending, and for my son, his life as a high school student is over and his life as a college student begins in a couple months. But those are not the only big changes in our lives. We are going through transitions of various kinds. And when you're moving forward into new things, its good to review your past to see how you transitioned into new things before.
These last couple months I have been taking a bit of a journey into my recent past by looking through my old journals. I wanted to evaluate my weak spots- to look at where I was blind about things. Amazingly, this has been very encouraging as I have reviewed the last three years of my life and have "seen" where I fell, where I stayed down too long. I have had my eyes opened about my weak spots, yet I have not felt pummeled by God. It's been like a Review Session that God has graciously consented to oversee, but I'm the one who is choosing to bring these things up. As we begin going over where I have failed- there's revelation, there's regret, but there's no shame or agony that I can never change. I can change. He tells me all the time that I can.
The kind of Father that God is ...well, who can really understand the perfection of His identity as Father God. He is the perfect Father. He encourages and He corrects- and its done perfectly. When He admonishes us it is not for any reason other than to get us back in line with being under grace, walking in love, walking away from sin, and keeping our eyes on Him. He wants good for us and not evil. When we really understand that, it is not an excruciating thing, then, to ask God to review where you have gone wrong. You are asking Him this so that you can go right, so that you can get an "aha!" moment of understanding about where you may have been beating your head against a wall, and God was wincing as you did so because there was no gain in that kind of self-induced pain. God never gets a kick out of our suffering- for if He did, He would not be the pure hearted God that He is.
I found this passage in the book of Judges and was astonished over how God's heart is characterized here. In Judges 10:6 we find out that the Israelites were botching it up again, that "the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord." God can't stand it when we're picking evil instead of good, when we spurn His help and seek after a man made substitute that will supposedly help us- be it alcohol, drugs, whatever you think is going to get you out of your predicament. If it's not God who you think is Your Answer, then you have chosen an idol. And so the Israelites are returning to God, finding a measure of peace, then botching it up and returning to sin, and living in bondage to their enemies. They then remember to cry out to God, after they have been beaten down, and here is where we get this amazing verse-
"...And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel" (Judges 10:16). The CEV version words it this way, "Finally, there came a time when the Lord could no longer stand to see them suffer." What they were going through was agonizing for God to watch. Those who are parents know what its like when we see our kids choose wrongly, and worse, when they choose what brings them down into the grips of something dangerous. It is agonizing to watch someone you love make themselves miserable, choose something dangerous, and yet refuse to choose the good you offer.
God, the Father, has a heart that loves and that grieves over our bad choices, our waywardness. God is not cool and aloof and detached from us. He loves us and that means that love "bears all things" even if its agonizing to see the one you love go plunging down into bad territory.
I've learned, then, that I can bring up my past times of waywardness- whether in thought or in deed- with God. We can talk about it. We can review my past, together. He's not eager to point out how badly I failed and to gloat over it. He does not rejoice in evil, but rejoices when I come to understand the truth. He wants me to choose well, to choose LIFE, to choose....HIM.
And the times when I have not done so,well...we need to talk about this. I can't sweep it under the rug and pretend that I lit up His face with joy when I went down into the dark and stayed there. So I'm looking at my past so that I can look forward. I'm trying to see what I may not want to see, but what I need to if I'm going to progressively walk in the light. Part of that light just may be the glow of joy that emanates from God when He sees us walking wisely, loving Him, ... choosing well.