Separated for Good
When God created life he first created the means to support it, our sun. He made an enormous mind boggling mass of heat, light, and elements that would sustain life on Earth for as long as he wanted. The light from the sun sustains all of life here on Earth through photosynthesis, heat and the daily arc over our sky as we rotate towards and away from it. Our sun is 109 times wider than our Earth. It’s surface temperature is 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit. It is incredibly difficult to consider those facts. Just thinking about how long it takes for me to walk across our town, or drive across our state, or fly to a different country. I’ve never even flown as far as the other side of our Earth, let alone comprehended what that distance would feel like 109 times further (even more given I am traveling the circumference of the Earth and not the diameter). That is an incredibly long way from my current location. Then to consider the sun itself is 92.96 million miles away from our Earth. The circumference of our Earth isn’t even 1 million miles. It is incomprehensible to envision 92.96 million miles. And the heat! My body starts to feel the effects of just a 10 degree change. I can’t even touch something above 120 degrees without burning my skin. I cannot comprehend 9,941 degrees in a context my mind can grasp. Yet, it is there. God created it, before he created man.
~ He made the sun, made the heat,
made the light,
and he set it at 92.96 million miles away…
so that it was GOOD.~
If the sun were any closer, it would burn us. If it were any further away, we would freeze. That is why there are no other life forms on any other planet in our solar system. God placed the sun where it is, at a distance we cannot fathom, so that for our life it is good. It can be used to sustain our life because it is placed where it is.
How often does God separate us from something only to have us respond in anger, or indifference, or pride? We cling to idols of all kinds that God is desperately trying to separate us from. We cling to affirmation from anyone and everything, our boss, our friends, our culture, our spouses. We need to hear from them that we are ok. We cling to our bank accounts claiming that if we have X amount of savings, Y amount of income and Z amount of stuff then we are ok too. We cling to our children being well liked and successful in school, sports, art, or any other skill they show a talent in. We pride ourselves on their good behavior, telling ourselves we are the “right” kind of parent. We cling to comfort and safety in our country’s political future. If so-and-so could just get elected then we are going to be ok. We tell ourselves if we could just figure out the right balance of home and work, health food and sweets, work and play, stimulation and rest…then we would be ok. When one of our comforts is taken away, or threatened we are thrown off balance and all of a sudden we are less than worthy in our own minds. God does not separate us from things that are good because he doesn’t want us to have them. Circumstances do not arise in our lives only to make us miserable or toughen up. Sometimes, it’s like the sun. God knows that the closer we are to it, the worse off we will be. He knows that if he places it at the right distance from our heart, it will be good. We should indeed take seriously how other’s speak into our lives, financial responsibility, our children’s behaviors that show the strength of their hearts, the political impact of our country, our health and all the other things that are truly good. But sometimes, they get put into the wrong order of importance and then they become toxic. We get burnt by our own good things only because we held them too closely, not because they were bad, much like if we tried to hold then sun in our hands.
The only thing that makes us ok, is the cross. The gospel does not say ‘do x,y,z, be a certain way, do certain things, be good, do good, and then I will be ok.’ No, that is the opposite of why Christ came to this Earth.
~The gospel says
‘YOU ARE OK’. ~
We are ok because Christ MADE us ok. We are worthy, we are stable, we are comfortable exactly the way we are, despite circumstances, because Christ did what he did for us. The cross took down any wall there would be between us and our God so that God can have the first place in our heart. We are ok because we are children of God. That is where our identity and self worth resides. Anything else that has crept into that spot will never fit. That is our God spot. Anything else that we use to tell ourselves we are alright, will ultimately fail us, burn us, and lead to emptiness. God will always be the only one that can fill that spot with fullness. He may take things away, only so he can be the one that fills our spirit and our life. So we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are a loved child of God that will always be ok.
Our family is currently in an adoption process. It is long and tumultuous, but the entire time we have a knowing sense that we will meet our child some day. Some days that knowledge is comforting, some days that knowledge is haunting. Somewhere, out there, is my child and they are not with us. They are currently experiencing whatever circumstances in their life will make them available for adoption. They are losing their birth parents right now. Adoption stories are endless as to how many ways there are to lose your parents in a third world country. No matter which one it is, the experience is traumatizing. As a mother, I can’t stand to be separated from my child while they are in that level of pain. If anyone could tell me where my child is at this moment, you can bet I would be on the first flight out of here. I don’t even speak the same language as my child right now, but I would be there. I’d be there to love that child in ways only the Father can love through a mother. I would be there just to be their Mom. However, I know that if they don’t go through that, they will never be mine. God has created a space in my heart to love them, knowing they will need to be loved by me as their mother in the future, but we are in the in between time. For now we are separated, but God knows that it will be for good. They will endure this time, not so they will have a story of pain and suffering. They endure this time because God knows they will have a story of redemption. His story. He intends for me to be this child’s parent, but first this child will have to endure more pain than my whole life has endured, so they can be mine. For now we must wait. We must love them from a great distance, not because of anything we are doing wrong, simply so that God can work out the details…for good.
How often does God feel the same way about us? How often do we end up in pain and he knows that we must endure that, so that we will be his. Every time we cling to something that isn’t him and burn ourselves it the process, he knows it will hurt. He knows it’s not where we are supposed to be. He sees the pain, but he knows if he doesn’t let us endure this, we will never be his. I do not know a single believer that did not come to fully accept the gospel without first realizing how much they needed it. Without first understanding their own sinful nature that requires us to rely on a loving God. Can we just let him separate us from what needs to be separated? Can we let him take that comfort, that achievement, that job, that relationship, that idol, whatever it is? Can he have it so that it can remain good?
~Let’s not burn ourselves,
by trying to hold the sun.~
Consider the Word
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Paul is the only person we know of that has gone to heaven and come back. Plenty of people in the bible have been raised from the dead, but Paul is the only one that went to heaven and came back to tell about it. However, he doesn’t. What he comes back to talk about are his weaknesses. As a culture, we don’t like to talk about those things. Here Paul is boasting about them, not because he is proud of them, but because through them Christ is made known. We can’t know how powerful Christ is, until we let him work through us. The moment he uses our weaknesses to further the Kingdom, or love another person, is the moment we know we are nothing without him. Every time the pain around me becomes more than my heart can bare, God whispers these words to me as well “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.” How great a God do we serve that he would chose to work through us. He is perfect. He has no need for our weaknesses. It is for our benefit that he chooses to work through us, so that we might be his. To be his, will always be what’s best for us.
Paul and Barnabas were quite a pair. Both strong missionaries. Both strong preachers and bold personalities. Both devout Christians. For some reason however, they just couldn’t work together. In some ways they were too similar in personality, and in the instance of their opinion of another man, they were too dissimilar. After a long journey together as missionaries, they decided to separate. They were both intent on furthering the Kingdom of God, and both loved the Lord, but they could not work together. That is ok. It’s ok for God to separate relationships. We do not all work together perfectly, because we are not perfect. If God is urging you to separate from another person, know that it doesn’t mean they are bad, or less than, or not good enough. They are simply different. He can work through them too, on his own. We can sometimes be more effective if we are separated.
Reflections and Questions to Consider
-Spend some time asking God what you are holding onto. Even if it’s a good thing, what is it that isn’t God, but tells you “You are ok. You are loved.” Has that become an idol in your life? How tightly do you hold it? If it’s gone, or changes, or disappears, how do you feel? Are you still ok? If you answered yes, the yay! If you answered no, ask God to help you work through that. Ask him for ideas on how to change how your heart takes in that experience, so you can enjoy the world around you without making it your whole world.
-What has God been asking you to separate from? On your worst day, what do you turn to for comfort or affirmation? Is that experience something that fulfills you in the long term?
– What have you been separated from in the past that you didn’t think was fair of God to allow? What have you lost? What have you gained? Do you see any reasons why he may have allowed you to endure this path, even if the reason is simply that you know who he is? In light of the analogy of the sun, can you allow him to heal the hurt the separation caused, knowing it really was for good? Could he be writing your redemption story?
– As you go about your day, remember that each of us is enduring some sort of separation from something that we believe is good. Know that every person you meet has a spot that is longing for our God to fill, even those that already know him. Can you be the love of Christ to that someone? Can you help them see the God that can fulfill all their desires?