Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands. Mark Batterson, The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto, Chase the Lion
If you intend to live for the applause of nail-scarred hands you are going to have to loose your hold on preconceived notions of perfection and performing for people.
This can be extremely painful to learn. Especially if you are like me, and you grew up in a home where approval was hard to come by.
You probably struggle with people-pleasing tendencies, too.
Inside the parental-paradox
My parents never divorced–but they were rarely together, either. I guess it was a pretty miserable arrangement almost from the start but in the Fifties Christian couples rarely divorced. It just wasn’t done.
The way my parents coped in a lousy marriage that neither wanted to fix was to throw themselves into their respective careers. Consequently, myself and my two siblings grew up in a household of five people all going their separate ways.
How can you be in a “family” and be all alone?
It’s a paradox.
God is GOOD in pit or palace
When the Psalmist David wrote, “Oh, do not hide yourself when I am trying to find you. Do not angrily reject your servant. You have been my help in all my trials before; don’t leave me now. Don’t forsake me, O God of my salvation. For if my father and mother should abandon me, you would welcome and comfort me.” [Psalm 27: 9-10 TLB]
God and His goodness surely had me in mind…
I didn’t actually know how dysfunctional my family was until I reached my early twenties, went out into the world, and met happy families.
Imagine, families who actually enjoy being together!
And then I wondered, “Is this how Joseph felt growing up in a house with Jacob, Leah, Rachel, and all of his “loving” brothers?”
Is this my flourishing destiny?
Let’s see, God gives Joseph a dream or two, he tells his brothers, and gets thrown into a pit.
Then his brothers concoct a lie for Jacob, and to make a little cash, they conspire to sell him to slave-traders, who take him captive, and haul his bones down to Egypt.
(Can you imagine what went through his mind on that trip?)
He then gets sold to Potiphar, begins to do well despite being Potiphar’s slave, when Mrs. Potiphar takes a shine to him.
Swell! Now he is trying to be faithful to his owner, do his job, while Mrs. “P” is doing her best to make her play for him.
He barely escapes one of her traps, but instead of being rewarded for being true-blue? He is falsely accused and thrown into a dungeon!
I can almost hear him asking, “So this is destiny?”
Nail-scarred applause can be lonely because…
Sometimes, God will take some rather strange looking detours on the way to destiny. And, you might be tempted to think you made a mistake, or took a wrong turn somewhere. There you are, looking around at your life, and thinking like Joseph, “So this is destiny?”
You might even begin to wonder if God is really as “good” as others claim He is, or is it just you that sees nothing but, “the wrong stuff”?
Trust me, God is good even if where you are right now isn’t so great.
Remember Joseph. He began with a pit, moved to a prison, but he ended his life in a palace.
He walked a very rocky and confusing road, and I have often wondered, if Isaiah was thinking of Joseph when he wrote,
Truly, O God of Israel, Savior, you work in strange, mysterious ways. Isaiah 45: 15 TLB
God does take us down some strange paths where we might be tempted to see ourselves as abandoned–even forsaken.
We are not. God has promised us, that even if our closest friends or family forsake us? He never will.
Dancing in the dark
Wherever you are right now, if you are reading these words, know this:
- God is good all of the time.
- God is good even if life right now isn’t.
- God has a good plan for you and His plans don’t fail.
Though His ways may not be our way and His thoughts may not be our thoughts? [Isaiah 55:9] He has never lost sight of you, or where He is taking you.
You can live with flourishing hope–even in the midst of a paradox.
“The joyful songs I now sing will be sung again in the hearts and homes of all your lovers. My loud shouts of victory will echo throughout the land. For Yahweh’s right hand conquers valiantly!… O God, please come and save us again; bring us your breakthrough-victory!” [Psalm 118: 15, 25 TPT]