when a dose of hell is God’s will

Posted: November 16th, 2011 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: , | 17 Comments »

When I fell, I walked through years of condemnation and rejection. Those closest to me thought that they were making a stand for God. They wrote words to me saying that they were speaking the mind of Christ, “What hell to have to hide the truth of what you’ve done. Your guilty prayers of forgiveness are empty.” They enveloped me in hopelessness. They carried my bed to the other side of the gate and stood guard around the Cross. They would not let me near, but I was too weak to crawl anyway.

The fire raged around me. Entities that were not friends screamed at me from the inside out and from the outside in. I was being consumed.

They said that they believed they were doing what God would have them do. I know how it sounds and if ‘here and now’ is all there is, then they would be horribly and blatantly wrong. But, you must know, I believe they were doing what God wanted them to do. Not because it was right in and of itself, but because of what God brought out of it. I do not believe that God worked in spite of their mistakes. I believe that God wanted them to reject me, …even in His name. It was a fire of condemnation that needed to be fanned to rage.

Every single bit of false that was in me was consumed. I believed them when they told me that I could not be sorry enough to be forgiven. I believed them when they told me that I was further from God than I had ever been. The false that was consumed was the hint of hope that I could be sorry enough to be forgiven. My hope in myself, my ability to pay, and my ability to, in time, bounce back was destroyed. I, all that remained in all that “I” was, was completely destroyed.

It’s normal to think that kind of hopelessness is not from God, but I have been there and I can tell you that it was. It’s not because of them. Their words and attitudes are full of disgusting pride and fat on self-righteousness, but it’s not about them. It’s about what they were used for. The hopelessness that I felt was not a destination, it was a tool to get me to a destination. I had to feel every moment of it so that I would know what I was rescued from. If hell is separation from God, then I got to eat a full meal of it.

If I look at them without considering the sovereignty of God, then I am repulsed. But, when I consider the garden that grew where the fire once consumed, then my mind goes directly to a God. He knows exactly what it takes to break the steel chains of self-inflated lies that keep you from being free. I am a very strong-willed punk. It took a dose of hell to break me. Who better to use than the people who will discern His voice and obey? While I can see their lies, I can see the way God used those lies. I can thank God for it and forgive what they inflicted.

Sometimes God instigates a hellish time for you, but if your faith is nearsighted you will only see your circumstances and the purpose will be blurred.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart on purpose. It caused Pharaoh to make the Israelite’s life hell. When Moses cried out to God, “Does this look like rescue to you?” (Ex5:22, The Message), he wanted to know the “why?”. God made it clear that He wanted the Israelite’s to know what they were being rescued from, just in case they were tempted to go back (Ex6:6, 7:4, 14:4, 14:18). He wanted them to know who He is.

There is no point when God is not in on what is going on with you. It’s not about looking at everyone else and concerning yourself with how wrong they are. God is using every bit of it to lead you somewhere, or burn you, or break you. Do you want in on this or not? That’s the real ‘coming to Jesus’ moment.

Look at what Job said when he figured this stuff out:

You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. -Job 10:12-13

I love the way The Message puts it: “You gave me life itself, and incredible love. You watched and guarded every breath I took. But you never told me about this part.”

I am trying to get you to see that you cannot look at your circumstances, at the people who wrong you, or at your own failures and think that this is all there is. This is a moment in a lifetime of moments. In all of it, there is never a point where things get out of God’s hands. He’s God. Nobody wins against Him.

He’s not going to rescue you out of your circumstances. He’s using your circumstances to rescue you.

You build a shelter to sleep under at night. Then, you go out during the day to find Him. You look everywhere, working sun-up to sun-down, only to go back to your shelter defeated. You will never find Him until you realize that He is where you are. He is the shelter that keeps you covered at night. He sits where you’re real and waits for you to come back. He wants to heal you where you’re broken and you’re broken where you don’t want to be.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him… -Job 13:15

He wants you to trust Him like that.



17 Comments on “when a dose of hell is God’s will”

  1. 1 Dawn R. Justice Phenix said at 12:22 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    The fire was so hot, for so long, a good reminder of the reason and true process is always a good thing. I guess it isn't completely over yet either. Someday, eh!

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 2:31 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    If you're still breathing, it's not over. 😉

  3. 3 Amy said at 12:30 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    I believe God will use anything and everything to get us back. I just also believe in free will so I am not sure how to sort this all out. Any help? Did He make them say those things to you? I don't agree with what they said or the idea that it is what He would want them to say to you but I see how He could use their mistakes to help you. (I just read more of this in your book.) I think God allows evil, does not cause but allows, only because He knows how to bring a greater good from it. And you, my friend, are showing us the greater good by showing us how to NOT treat each other when someone sins.

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 2:29 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    A woman started a bath for her daughter. It would be her second bath of the day. She pulled out a fresh pair of clothes and put them on the bathroom counter for later. If the child was paying attention at all, she would be confused because she was already clean and fully dressed.

    The mom went into the kitchen and dished ice cream into a princess bowl and pulled out the matching spoon. Next she put a handful of carrots on a paper towel.

    She called her daughter into the room and gave her a choice. "Pick whatever you want for snack."

    God's knowledge of what you'll choose does not affect your free will whatsoever. Consider who is giving you the choices.

    Consider the clean up that has already been done.

    The mom put the abandoned carrots back in the refrigerator and gave the napkin to her daughter because it makes her feel like she's helping to keep herself clean.

    When she gets frustrated at her sticky hands, filthy napkin, and the ice cream in her hair, the mom takes her to the bath and says, "Look, I planned for this before you even knew we had ice cream."

  5. 5 Heather said at 6:56 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    This is really good. Really really good.

  6. 6 Amy said at 2:14 pm on November 21st, 2011:

    I see. This makes more sense to me. I just weren't sure if you believed in any free will at all. Thanks for clarifying!
    My recent post I'm not the only one who still has to learn my lesson, but I still need to as well…

  7. 7 serenawoods said at 12:51 am on November 22nd, 2011:

    I absolutely believe in free will. I, more importantly, acknowledge that God is sovereign. He is the author, the orchestrator, the head, and the highest. He's omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He trumps absolutely everything and, according to what He claims about Himself which I fully believe, nothing happens outside of His direct knowledge (omniscience), control (omnipotence), and supervision (omnipresence)….even our free will.

  8. 8 Julie R. said at 1:11 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    wow oh wow… There was a time when I would have been frightened and repulsed by a God who would allow bad things to happen to "His People" . I could not have grasped the concepts you have written about. The enormity of a God of grace is just so overwhelming. How healing the knowledge is that says
    "He’s not going to rescue you out of your circumstances. He’s using your circumstances to rescue you."
    You'll need to put that on some of the t-shirts for the 'Sifted' conference.

  9. 9 serenawoods said at 2:30 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    I can't wait for the Sifted Conference. 🙂

  10. 10 @JCWert said at 1:19 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    This is the best post I've read from you. The power of the truth, the sheer honesty…I can't describe how much this post moved me.

  11. 11 serenawoods said at 2:30 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    Cool, Jason. 🙂

  12. 12 Sarah said at 1:34 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    Thank you. This post was a blessing.

  13. 13 serenawoods said at 2:30 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    Thanks, Sarah. 🙂

  14. 14 Jared Gryce said at 3:11 pm on November 16th, 2011:

    Excellent as always! You are such a blessing.

  15. 15 Girl Set Free said at 11:59 pm on November 17th, 2011:

    What you've written, what you've described here … it has gone deep, deep down into my soul. It was what I was hungering for! And it is pure truth and beauty. THIS: "He’s not going to rescue you out of your circumstances. He’s using your circumstances to rescue you." It is how I know He loves me…the "circumstances", they prove it! Thank you.

  16. 16 Carly said at 5:53 pm on November 18th, 2011:

    Hey Serena,

    I have been “lurking” for a while and finally decided to show myself. I can’t put into words what your writing has done for me. Relief? Feeling something familiar from someone I’ve never met? Anyway, this is truth… and the irony is that I am someone recovering from a period of being the one throwing the fiery darts, so to speak, rather than the one being shot at. I am discovering pure, messy grace and what it is to not have to be good enough and to not be so fearful of what others are doing.

    Any chance Sifted will debut next year instead of 2013?!

  17. 17 serenawoods said at 12:47 am on November 20th, 2011:

    Carly, that’s awesome. Grace for the snipers. 😉

    I have to plan the best I can and save as much money as possible to make the Sifted Conference match what’s in my head, so I need that whole year. 🙂 it’s a crazy huge risk I’m taking for something worth the risk, and I have to be smart about it. It will be here before we know it and hopefully it will be an ongoing thing if enough people want to come. Please keep an eye on it. I’d love to see you there. In the mean time, shoot people with love, change happens in that hunting field.

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