A Shift in Focus

Who says self-tanning lotions turn you orange???

Like my navel? It’s lovely, isn’t it?

I’ve been gazing at it a lot lately.

Thinking about how very deep my thoughts are. Longing to be interviewed, for crying out loud, as if I had much of importance to say.

This morning, God got my attention through the 48th chapter of the book of Isaiah, as I was reading about the persevering grace of God towards his stubborn, rebellious people Israel.

Way back in the book of Exodus, God tells Israel that He chose them, and He reveals for what purpose He chose them, and that the reason why He chose them  wasn’t because they were the cutest little trick in sandal leather. He chose them out of all nations to be His treasured possession that they might be for Him a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Priests facilitate our worship of God. They point us to God. And the entire nation of Israel was set apart to point the rest of the world to God: to reveal His glory, and His splendor to the rest of the world. For it was through them that Messiah would come, and draw all men unto Himself. Israel was set apart, and not due to their own righteousness, God tells them, but because He loved them. Why did He love them? I have no idea. Why does He love any of us? I have no idea. But the fact remains that He did love them, and He does love them. And He did love the rest of us, and He does love the rest of us.

 So this is what I gathered this morning from reading Isaiah 48, that despite Israel’s stubbornness (vs.4), their treachery, and the fact that they had been called rebels from their birth (vs. 8), (and boy, can I relate to them!!!) that He still loved them, and was about to go to miraculous lengths to prove His love for them. He elected to demonstrate His omniscience and omnipotence to them by telling them over 150 years before it happened that He was going to raise up a pagan king named Cyrus, who would do God’s bidding. For King Cyrus the Mede would conquer the Babylonians who had carried the Israelites off into exile in Babylon, and then Cyrus would send those exiled Israelites back home to Israel to live again, and commission them to rebuild  God’s temple.

And then God says to them (and this is the verse that caused my shift of focus this morning, that caused me to momentarily, at least, pull my eyes away from my own navel):

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this;
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.”

As much as it pains me to admit it? It’s really not all about me.

Dang it!!!

And I was so sure it was!!!!!!!!

God’s purpose in allowing us to go through suffering IS to refine us. There is no doubt about it. So, it’s partially about us, and for our benefit. But sadly, it’s not all about me. For His purpose is twofold. It is also true that He’s the One who’s God around here. And He is concerned for the sake of His name.

So as I go through trials, and as you go through your own trials, are we looking for the good that God will bring out of them in our own lives, as well as for the glory that we will bring to Him? Because, ultimately, (~sigh~) sadly, it’s really not JUST about us.

How thankful I am to belong to a God who could love Israel despite all her rebellious ways. Parents don’t quit loving their children just because their children rebel. The rebellion grieves the parent’s heart, but the love for the child never ends. And God says He treasures us. So, today, at least for this moment, I’m shifting my focus away from my own self-importance, and turning my attention toward the persevering love and grace of my Father’s heart toward all His stubborn, rebellious children.

Thank You, Father.

Oh, and P.S.: I WILL be announcing a winner on my coffee bean giveaway contest soon, so keep watching for upcoming posts. I haven’t yet chosen the winner as of this morning, so if you’d like to enter, there’s still time.


Yum
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