The LORD *really* caused me to put up or shut up yesterday.
In fellowship with a dear brother and sister in Christ on Sunday, I told them of how I was beginning to feel less harsh toward people who don't seem to "get it"... less prone to want to remove their heads for their rebellion... because I was being permitted to see, through His Word, that no one can even come to Him for sight, or for Life, unless the Father draws him to Him in the first place (John 6:44). What is more, I, not so very long ago at all, was in the same state of spiritual death; a heart of stone waiting for the LORD our God to make it flesh and begin the work of transformation and conformity into that of His Son.
In other words, having seen how far the LORD has brought me, I thought I was getting someplace.
Then came Halloween.
I had prepared my daughters weeks in advance for what would be a drastic difference for them; we would not participate in any form or fashion of it. I explained to them clearly *why* we would be separate from it; "The LORD doesn't want His children to even *imitate* what is evil, girls, and anyone who belongs to Him must obey Him, no matter how difficult it is or how we might feel about it. We belong to Him. That is all there is to it."
They had taken it with good grace, thanks be to God. My 5 year old was about to cry before I held her and reminded her of how important it is to *her* to do what is right above what is not. There were a few frowns on the face of my 7 year old as they came home from school to tell of what their classmates were discussing about costumes and candy. But I had activities planned for them to keep their minds from what their friends were doing, and thanked the LORD that we were given grace to honor His Word.
Then I picked them up yesterday after work, and my oldest daughter was barely holding back tears.
Her 2nd grade teacher, whom before this moment I had a measure of respect for, decided, for no reason I can possibly fathom, to say to them that morning, "OK, class. Show of hands; how many of you will be celebrating Halloween today?" All of the children raised their hands. All, that is, except the one with my last name. Questions of shock and surprise came from her friends as they turned on her, with obtuse questions from friends, to withering jeers from those with cruelty in their hearts.
It lasted, in varying forms, throughout the entire day. Even when I picked my daughter up, one of the most notoriously ill-behaved of the bunch that I knew from infancy plastered a smug look on her face and said, "Aah. My grandma is here to take me trick-or-treating now..." I saw the words sink home, and watched my daughter wilt just a little more beneath the satisfied expression as they parted company.
Yet I saw the LORD's sovereignty in this, brothers and sisters. He is constantly working in all of our lives. In this case, He was dealing with both myself *and* my little girl.
I ran my mouth with such confidence the day before, oblivious to the fact that the LORD said that He looks at the heart and tries the reins. Faith is tested. Following Jesus, at *any* age, will cause us to *feel* the separation from the world which His followers are called to. He *told* us it would hurt.
He TOLD us.
"“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me." (John 15:18-21)
I am prepared to die for the truth if I must. I have run the scenarios over and over in my head; substituting myself and my family when I read of those who are tortured and killed, beheaded, beaten, burned alive, right now, on this planet, for not renouncing the Master. I have seen imagery of telling one of my dear children that Daddy will be right there while they have a hunting knife to their throat, wielded by the armies of satan. I have the Master's Word, that I must love Him more than children, wife, parents, friends, my very life. Here she was beginning the process of isolation and rejection from the world, as it was promised to us.
I had to lay myself down. Another twist to the Sword necessary now for the command to die daily... because the words which ran through my head for the teacher alone are unfit for print. The actions I conceived of are even worse. Were I still alive, my towering rage would have been sufficient to drown the surface of the Earth in unquenchable flame.
She is my daughter, afterall...
...but I am only steward of her life. In truth, she is *His* daughter. I am broken in tears just confessing this to you, for I love her so much, and would trade my life for hers without a moment's hesitation. She belongs to Him. She is one talent in the parable of the talents, for which I must give an accounting when the Master returns and tallies the assets He left in my care.
This is not made much clearer than in Psalm 139:16 "Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began."
Somewhere, the LORD has a Book, and in it is recorded that on October 31st 2011, after her Daddy had done all he could to prepare her, Julia Fortt would be separated from her classmates and identified as one of His, and that process would afflict her and her Daddy, with a measure of pain.
And that is ok, because *He* said that *nothing* would snatch those who are given grace to be His sheep from His Father's Hand.
GLORY TO GOD! His provision is sufficient, for I am not alone; I have true brothers and sisters, given to me by HIM, to share experience and life with--who seek to obey and serve Him also! His grace is sufficient, despite any of my own wishes or felt needs! It is a privilege, for which I will never be worthy, to be His slave, and bring up in the way they should go *His* children, of whom I am only steward, but HE is KING!. Glory to His Name!