Sunday, September 27, 2015

Here's Why

On Wednesday morning, during my quiet time with God, just finishing up Proverbs, a question formed in my head. It’s not as though I have never asked the question in one form or another many times before but this time, somewhat older and by default wiser, a clearer answer came. Some folks refer to this as the Lord speaking to them. I refrain from labeling it that way because without a strong, mature knowledge of how God speaks to us through the Spirit it sounds arrogant. Somehow. But that’s just me. 

Nevertheless, this is how He speaks to me, when I am ready to hear. Time after time, it’s usually the simplest answer possible. Humans keep trying to make walking with Christ so hard, so complex, so bound by religious law and definable only by the highly trained and credentialed. But even Christ said that His yoke was easy. Pretty clear, that. Not sure how it got off track from EASY.

I mulled over the answer to my question the rest of the day and into the next. On Thursday, I made a trip to Costco and paused in front of a stack of books. First title I laid eyes on was Accused by Tonya Craft. It’s the true story of a woman who prevailed against the most heinous accusations possible - child molestation. Not sure why but I put it in my basket. 

On Friday, I had the whole day to myself, with nothing on the schedule, husband out of town, so I sat and read all 405 pages. From cover to cover. The sun was shining when I began and was long set when I finished. That the unique circumstances came together to allow this marathon read did not escape me. Whenever God is trying to get through to me, He always sends confirmation in the most unusual way. 

Tonya Craft, a gifted, well-liked kindergarten teacher in a small town in Catoosa County, Georgia, on the first day of summer break, May 29, 2008, gathering her two children and a friend to head to the first swim of the summer, opened her door to two detectives. Her life from that moment forward for the next two years was an unimaginable trial of faith. First accused of molesting two girls, over time she was also accused of molesting even her own six year old daughter. 

Told in first person, the story, nightmare actually, takes the reader in real time into the depths of grief, fear and disbelief that Tonya experienced and compels the reader to consider how easy it would be for anyone to face such a tribulation. Accusations are so easy. Guilty until proven innocent, everything was taken from her. Her job, her children, her reputation, her life as she had known it. 

On the inside of the dust cover the last paragraph states: “Accused is the first hand account of Tonya’s fight to clear her name and regain custody of her children. Her story shows us that, for the falsely accused in a flawed legal system, simply telling the truth isn’t enough.”

Tonya made two good decisions from the day her whole world fell apart to the day she was truly free again more than two years later. First, she determined not to roll over and let evil have its way. She fought back. Along the way she learned what was truly important in life and worth standing up for. Secondly, she learned, the only way to be free is to forgive. And so she did, eventually. But not in the middle of the fight. 

She pointed out that the forgiving stage was more for her children and her sake, not necessarily for those forgiven and this is the point then. Christians are lulled into believing that we don’t have to put up a fight. We must be meek and let the wolves ravish us. We are admonished to be victims. But that’s not what Scripture says.  

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come.  (3:2) For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  (3:3) without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good,  (3:4) traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;  (3:5) holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away.  

And for those times when you cannot avoid or turn away from such people?

(Ephesians 6:12-13) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].  (6:13) Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.  

Sometimes we must be still and let God do what we cannot do. And then sometimes we are called to get up and do. Learning the difference is part of maturing in the Spirit.

What Tonya Craft’s tale confirmed for me is the difference between cowering and succumbing to the forces of evil or choosing to do all, against the odds, and then stand. Just stand.

The question I asked on Wednesday was, “What is the point of tribulation?” “Why does God thrust us into the fiery trials?” 

And the answer is: Purpose. 

God does nothing without purpose. We may not know what the purpose is at the outset but we can be sure of one thing - there is good purpose. If we are called to trouble, and we respond with truly righteous intent, and not our own agenda, we can count on God taking us all the way through to the other side where the purpose waits for us.

Tonya Craft fought back, prayerfully paying attention to God’s prompts, even when it was counter to her legal team's advise, and ultimately found the purpose for all her life-altering trouble. 

For Him,


  1. The whole issue of forgiveness and forgiving has always been a unsettled thing for me. I can easily forgive people who have wronged me, but that doesn’t mean I want to welcome them back into my life unless they are willing to do differently. In other words, sometimes you forgive people who cannot or will not change and probably do not feel they have done anything wrong and so would do wrong again in a heartbeat. In that case the forgiving is definitely for the forgiver to let go and move on. I get that. But what about, say in this case of this woman who was wrongly accused, what if she had been convicted? Would she have been able to forgive those who put her in prison?

    That’s where the forgiving thing gets all murkey for me. That takes a special kind of forgiving, maybe even the most real kind. I mean it's kind of easy to forgive your enemy after you have won the war, right?


    1. Point taken. I can’t argue with your comment. For me, everything is defined in two ways, things of the flesh and things of the spirit. Forgiving, in whatever form it takes in the flesh is not as important as the way it resolves in the spirit.

      In other words, our actions and our proclamations mean way less than what is honestly felt in our hearts. And God knows our hearts even better than we do. Some folks are inclined to be vindictive, grudge bearing and unforgiving and yet they can present themselves in self-righteous pretense to be forgiving. God knows the difference though.

      And then there are those who genuinely forgive and forget and move on from and out of harm’s way and it might appear they are disingenuous but, in fact, they meet God’s definition of forgiveness, which is lack of ill-will.

      I guess it is up to us to make sure our hearts are right and that can only come through the process of surrender.

  2. Interesting. Are you saying that forgiveness just comes down to not having any ill-will? Isn’t that a little simplistic?

    1. Simplistic, but in it’s reduced essence, yes, forgiving someone for doing harm to you is basically you not harboring any ill-will or thoughts of retribution or desire to see harm come to the offender. All of which can only be real if it is genuinely felt in the heart, not based on merely adhering to a law. Of course higher levels of forgiveness will include sincere good will toward the forgiven but to say that means there must be more than one level of forgiveness.

      And why not boil this down to the basics? Religion has made it all so complex and ultimately put huge inescapable guilt loads on Christians for daring to stand up for Christ or themselves lest it appear they are not ‘forgiving’. It’s a classic tactic used by satan to disarm us with our own self aware goodness. Numerous mega churches use this as their rationale for letting the wolves in and watering down Christ’s simple Way.

      While ‘vengence is mine’ saith the Lord covers what happens down the road to those who seek to disable us, there is a point, in the heat of battle where we are allowed to use discernment and make choices that might not seem very forgiving. Timothy 4:14 comes to mind.

      (2 Tim 4:14-15) Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: (4:15) of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words.

      In one short, simple statement, Paul is saying two things - he is declaring that Alexander the coppersmith did harm and that God would render to him his reward AND he should be avoided. In the modern interpretation of goody goody Christian, this would have been said differently. He would have proclaimed that Alexander was just misunderstood and that everyone should seek him out and hug him and evangelize him.

      But nope. Paul handed him over to satan in 1 Corinthians 5:5 to give him the opportunity to repent. Paul didn’t determine if Alexander would or would not repent. Instead what Paul told his disciples was to ‘beware of him’. Though I don’t believe we have the power that Paul had to turn anyone over to satan we do have the option to pray for our enemy which is a powerful mandate. Sometimes the prayer is to bind up and disarm, sometimes the prayer is to open eyes and redirect, sometimes the prayer is just to deliver us from evil. The prompt we follow is determined by the circumstances.

      So, what I take from all this is that we are not to take revenge but that doesn’t mean we cannot take measures to defend ourselves. The key, and what God sees, is where we stand in our hearts. Are we standing for the right, God approved, reason?

      It’s so complex and yet so simple. Humans are not really smart enough to understand such simplicity.