Friday, February 15, 2008

REMOVE THE STONE! Let Out the Thing that is Rotting and Beginning to Smell

February 12, 2008

Anne Elmer:

"REMOVE THE STONE! Let Out the Thing that is Rotting and Beginning to Smell"

Dealing with Disappointment

At this moment in my life, I seem to know quite a few people who are dealing with great disappointments and have had their fair share of sufferings. Many are dealing with issues they feel God has done to them or has not done for them, or are struggling with situations He has allowed to happen. They feel let down by Him.

Some time ago, a lady who evidently had many problems came to see me and asked for prayer. This lady was the first of many people who I have met with similar hurts and disappointments. I got on my knees by her side and waited a few minutes in silence while I shouted quietly to the Lord, "Help!" She had asked for prayer for something specific, but I did not feel this was the real issue. Suddenly the Lord spoke to me and said, “She cannot accept the answers to your prayers because she is too wounded by something that happened a long time ago.” When I told the lady what the Lord said, it opened the floodgates and she cried and cried. Many years previously, something happened to one of her children and she had not forgiven God for allowing it to happen. Even though she had tried to forgive Him, the disappointment remained, meaning she could not trust her Creator with very many other things.

I set out to search for what the Bible says about disappointment, and frankly, I did not find it very satisfying. Romans 5:3-5, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance...character...and hope. And hope does not disappoint us..." I cried out to God and said, "This is not true because I can think of many cases where hope has disappointed." Yet I know it is true because it is God's Word and God cannot lie and I do believe it. I kept asking Him to show me what all this was about.

The Greek word used here is "kataischuno" and it means "to be ashamed or to be humiliated." Isaiah 49:23 says, "Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed." I was not yet satisfied, so I spent time asking the Lord to make it clearer to me. We must always choose to trust Him, and I know there have been many times in my life when I have been disappointed, but I have chosen to say, “His ways are not my ways,” and continue on with Him.

Recently the Lord prompted me to look up Isaiah 55:6-9 in its context: "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"

I read this Scripture and said, “OK Lord,” and He said, “Read it again, and then again, and again.” Suddenly I recognized that the evil man of whom this verse is speaking of, is me. Do not get me wrong, I know that I am forgiven and blessed, but the Lord is teaching me about walking in the TRUTH and how His thoughts are true and mine are often not, because they are based on my experience and my emotions and on the situation as I see it, not on what the Bible says. 3 John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that My children are walking in the truth." This has all to do with the "renewing of the mind" and "being changed" from glory to glory (see Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18). I began reflecting on all this and asked the Lord to take away disappointments from my life and to help me align my thoughts with His thoughts. Then I can come alongside those that need help in this area.

Stones and Tombs

I remember Mary and Martha who had said, "If only You had been here Lord..." They too had been disappointed by the Lord's late arrival on the scene. As I was praying through these things, the Lord gave me a picture of a heart. At the bottom of the heart laid a "stone," and I heard Jesus shout as in the story of Lazarus, "Move the stone." John 11:39 says, "'Take away the stone,' He said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'" There is a reluctance on Martha's part to allow the stone to be moved because behind the stone there will be a bad smell, and things are disintegrating, rotting, and wasting away.

What is rotting at the stone in your heart and needs to be let out of the tomb? Some of the things we leave in our hearts are not meant to stay there. They are buried things in the natural. They are things others think have passed. They are events in our lives that were painful. They may be big or small. Maybe there is a time when we prayed and God did not do what we asked--maybe the loss of a child; maybe the death of a person very close; maybe a broken relationship; maybe a permanent illness or handicap; or maybe something we did wrong that we have buried deep down.

People now see other relationships in our lives, other children, another job, and they think we have moved on...that we have "gotten over it." But we know in our heart of hearts, these memories are still there. Maybe we remember these things and visit the tomb often. If we really think about it, we know there is nothing of use, nothing worthwhile in the tomb. But we keep the disappointment there. We know what is in the tomb--rots. But we do not want the tomb to be opened (there would be a bad smell); we want to keep it firmly under our lock and key to keep the memory in our hearts. It symbolizes for us (as it did for Mary and Martha) our disappointment that the Lord did not do what we wanted Him to, and He did not arrive on time. In this part of our hearts we keep sadness, hurt and unforgiveness that we hold against the Lord. We move on with our lives, telling ourselves we will get over it and have other children, new friends, a new marriage, a new job, but if we keep something locked away, it rots and it smells bad.

Like the moth and rust which corrupts in the physical world, so issues kept hidden in our souls end up rotting. Unforgiveness turns our hearts sour. Anger turns to bitterness. Disappointment results in lack of faith. We say, "God did not do it then, so I cannot trust Him to do it now." No matter how many good answers to prayer we have had since the event was put in the tomb, there is always the "doubt" which holds us back, and the weight of that stone in our souls. Today Jesus says, "Take away the stone. Let that thing out, and let it live with Me now."

Today Jesus weeps as He did before the tomb of Lazarus. Why did He weep? Some thought it was out of love for Lazarus; but He knew He was going to bring him back to life, so it could not be that. Maybe it was out of His love for Mary and Martha; maybe His frustration at their lack of faith; or maybe He was sad at being blamed for being late. I do not know, but I do know He weeps today for those of us who still have the stone over a tomb in our hearts. I know today He is saying, "Remove the stone. Let out the thing that is rotting and beginning to smell." Today He is saying as He did at the tomb of Lazarus, "Take off the grave clothes and let it go" (John 11:44). Today He is saying, "My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts."

I was beginning to understand, but yet I still felt the reaction of Mary and Martha was OK because they did receive their brother back. When I started this study, most of the people I was thinking about may not have a resurrection of those lost hopes. So I kept on asking and of course the Lord showed me the answer.

Take No Offense Toward God

Luke 7:20-23, "When the men came to Jesus, they said, 'John the Baptist sent us to You to ask, "Are You the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"' At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So He replied to the messengers, 'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.'" The New King James Version says, "Who is not offended by Me."

Jesus came to set the captives free and John the Baptist knew that, but where was John? In prison; and we most likely suppose he was waiting for Jesus to set him free. Jesus' reply to John's disciples was to look at what God is doing and not look at what He isn't doing. We have the choice. John had the same choice. We can choose to look at what God is not doing and be disappointed and offended. Or we can choose to praise God for what He is doing and not dwell too long on what He is not doing. As we know, John never got out of prison. Why? We do not know. Jesus could have done it, couldn't He? He was God. But Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. When Jesus heard what had happened to John, He went away on His own to talk to the Father.

Matthew 14:12, "John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place."

We do not hear that He asked "WHY?" Why is never a good question, because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We must trust Him and let Him deal with our disappointments. We must choose not to be offended. We must realize when we blame God for not doing what we wanted, it is tantamount to sin. And Jesus died to pay for our sins. His death allows us to be free of all that binds us. When we harbor those thoughts in our hearts, they rot and cause us problems in the future.

For a long time now the Church has been singing, "Lord, I give You my heart, I give You my life, I want to live for You..." and "Purify my heart...Refiner's Fire." But at the same time we have been saying, "But not this part of my heart, Lord; this stone has been there a long time and is too comfortable. If you move it, there will be a bad smell." I thought of the verse in Matthew where Jesus talks of "whitewashed tombs," and I saw for many of us, our hearts are pure--at least the parts we have allowed Him to have. Many hearts have been washed in His Blood, but there is still the stone. The first commandment Jesus speaks of is to "love the Lord your God with ALL your HEART."

It's time to move the stone.

Anne Elmer
Bestselling Author, Transported by the Lion of Judah

Anne's Bio:

Anne and her husband Malgwyn were both born, brought up and married in the North of England, but after 16 years in a small Lancashire village, they moved to live just outside Paris, France, where they have had an open-home policy for many years, and where they now run a small Christian publishing company, publishing books in both English and French. Married for over 40 years, they have 3 children and 9 grandchildren. Together they are praying to have a Christian conference centre in the Paris region. Anne is the author of The ElijahList's best selling book, Transported by the Lion of Judah and has recently given up her job as a part-time English teacher to spend more time writing and expanding her ministry as an international speaker and author.

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