Journal Entry ~ 09/17/17

19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, - Acts 3:19-20

If you know the story of the serpents and the Israelites, you know they did finally repent.  The trial of the serpents did finally bring the Israelites to the humble place of repentance and submission to God. In their plea of repentance, they asked God to remove the serpents, but He didn't. Again, this is an important part of the story for us to learn from. If they repented, why didn't God remove the trial? He certainly had the power to remove the serpents since He brought them, so why didn't He take them away once they submitted?  It was the difficult trial that brought the Israelites to the place of repentance, it brought them to the place of recognizing who God was, and that they had been prideful in their disobedience. The humble submission of their hearts was what He was after, and now that He had them there, He didn't want to remove the very thing that brought them to this place. He left the serpents as a reminder of their disobedience and their repentance. 

As I mentioned yesterday, when we find ourselves in a deep and difficult trial, we need to search our hearts for disobediences. With a humble attitude, we need to ask God to reveal our sin to us as He sees it, and we need seek repentance and change our hearts. It is in these moments that He opens our eyes to the purpose of the trial, and with our hearts turned back to God, we beg Him to remove the circumstances. We know He is the only answer, so we finally lay down our pride and our need for control, and we ask Him to lead us and guide us. And in that prayer, we ask Him to fix the problem. But sometimes He doesn't.  Sometimes we remain in a difficult trial for years. In the same way as the Israelites, it was the trial that brought us to the place of repentance, perhaps God wants to keep us there for awhile. He wants us to remain in humble submission as we keep our eyes fixed on Him, and fully allow Him to control the outcome. He provided a way out of the trial for the Israelites - while He did leave the serpents, He commanded them to erect a pole. When anyone was bit by a serpent, He told them to look to the top of the pole, and they would be healed. All they had to do was look up, and they would not die. The lesson is for us as well - though the enemy may lurk around us, though the challenges of a trial may continue, if we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we will find life amidst the chaos. But just like us, so many of those Israelites refused to look up and died. Some refused to look up out of pride, some refused to look up because they didn't believe - it was a simple thing they needed to do, but sin kept them from doing it. This story always makes me question how true was their repentance if they couldn't look up.  If our repentance in a trial is true, we should be able to keep our eyes fixed on Him, and trust that no matter the circumstances in front of us, He will bring us life if we just keep our eyes on Him. 

I know God could heal my cancer in a moment, just like He could have taken those serpents away, but He hasn't. He's got my full attention these days as I sit here on my couch, and He wants to keep it.  He has me in a place of humble submission and repentance, a place where I am finding freedom from some of the strongholds that used to define me, strongholds I was unaware of until this trial.  And since He's not finished with me yet, I am learning to find contentment in the place He has me, trusting in His will for my life. Keeping my eyes up in the meantime. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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