August 12, 2012

When the Dust Settles

He raises the poor out of the dust.
He lifts the needy out of the ash heap.

He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 113: 7, 9

During my short break I've been straightening up the house, cleaning, re-organizing---doing much needed chores that have been overlooked due to my strenuous class and clinical schedule the past 8 months.  I came across a little index card booklet that has Bible verses and thoughts that I've been jotting down over the past few years.  Like jewels that have meant a lot to me, these verses have been set apart, in the hopes that I can quickly refer to them in time of need.  Well, the above Bible verse is one that is on a card in this little collection. 

It was very much what I needed to be reminded of tonight.  On the back of the index card is a note. . I had looked up the words "Dust" and "Ash Heap" in the Strongs Concordance. . .and here's what's written on the back of the card:   "Dust is what's left after a war zone, or storm."  "Ash heap is what is left after a fire."

He raises the poor out of the Dust . . .     

"What is left after a warzone or storm."

"...for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 
Gen. 3:19

While living in this world, we can count on one fact to remain constant: LIFE IS HARD.  It's one stinkin' battle after another.  Each morning I am faced with another battle, and it's not just the Battle of the "Bulge" but even more so: the "Battle of my Flesh."  I am in a battle with my FLESH, my selfish desires, my lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit's power within me, EVERY single DAY of my life.  No matter how old I get, my flesh is still my number one enemy.  Sometimes A LOT of times, my flesh wins. . and I end up discouraged, frustrated, and almost to the breaking point of giving up.   And that's where I'm found:  in the dust on the battlefield.  The enemy has ridden off with the trophy, and all that's left is me, covered by the dust.  My heart is poor...needy...weak....lean....beaten down.  But Jesus said, "blessed are those who are poor in spirit..."   As I lay on the battlefield, wounded, alone, covered in dirt and dust, unable to see anything in front of my face due to the dust storm around me, my heart hears the sound of Someone walking towards me.  Still unable to see, I feel the Lord reach down and begin to pick me up, out of the dust. 

He lifts the needy out of the Ash Heap . . .   

 "What is left after a fire."

"He has cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes." Job 30:19

Sometimes  A LOT of times when life is hard, storms are raging, things aren't going as "I" would "like them to be going," my  heart grows weary and turns from being thankful, to grumbling, complaining, or even "harbouring hard thoughts of God."   If my inward temptations to become bitter are coupled with the outward calamities of "life," then my soul becomes tossed as if in a raging storm, and I'm filled with confusion. 

The fact is, God is in the process of restoration. . . He says, "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."  Isaiah 48:10    God is purging the old sinful flesh that I battle daily; and He has chosen to purge me of my flesh in the hot furnace of affliction.  The Heat is almost unbearable.  But as I melt in the fiery furnace, and am become as an ash heap, the Refiner lifts my restored spirit out of the fleshly ash heap that has been purged away. 

He lifts the needy out of the ash heap.  Who exactly are "the needy?"  Who are the ones that are melted down and found in an ash heap?   The needy are the ones "in want, poor, cared for by God."   When my grief over my sin has stripped me down completely, I realize my emptiness, my inability to reach God of my own strength...I am truly "in want."  Were it not for God's grace and mercy, through His Son Jesus' shed blood on Calvary, I would remain forever "in want."  But as the last part of verse 9 says, "Praise ye the LORD!"  I am cared for by God!

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. The Dust has Settled.

What exactly IS LEFT after the "dust settles?"   Well, after I have battled (and sometimes A LOT of times, LOST to my flesh) my heart is poor---grieved---at how I've lost another battle.  Yet, God raises me OUT of the dust.  God pities me as His child, and truly cares for me.  He takes it upon Himself to remove the tarnish and restore me by placing me in the furnace of affliction.  My flesh (sinful nature) is turned into a heap of ash, and that's when God lifts me out.  I feel empty and barren.  Fruitless and scarred.   Yet He settles my heart, as a joyful mother of children, because the Fruit that is borne is of His Spirit, not mine.  As long as I live on this earth, I will battle my flesh. Yes, but each time the dust settles, maybe it'll be less and less of my "Dusty Flesh" left.  No matter what, He will always settle my heart after each battle...and one day He will settle my heart and soul in my eternal Home:  Heaven...when I will shake the dust of my sinful nature from my feet, once and for all!  Never to battle it again.  Finally Free.  Finally Home.  Finally Settled.