No Exceptions?

Our family rarely visits  amusement parks in the states because it’s a little crazy going with all of our kids. There’s nothing worse than standing in line for 30 minutes only to get to the front and see that sign that says,  “You must be 48inches tall to ride”. That means the girls can go and the boys cannot.  It’s not long until you see the tears stream down their little cheeks. My boys would give their sad puppy-dog face to the ride attendant but she’d just point back to the sign. No exceptions.

I love to eat Flaming Cheetos. It’s one of my favorite snacks in Haiti. When teams bring them in for me I always hide them from the kids. It’s really easy to catch the thieves because their fingers are the evidence. Doesn’t matter if you wash your hands – that orange color stays on for 24 hours.  All I have to do is ask to see their hands and bingo! No exceptions.

I have chronic insomnia which means normally around midnight I’m hungry. Inevitably when I give in and eat those Flaming Cheetos that I hid from the kids – I start to get indigestion. Eating late at night = TUMS. No exceptions. 

Spent the day swimming? Hungry but can’t find anything in the fridge? Why not just drive yourself to a restaurant. No Shoes,  No Shirt,  No Service. No exceptions.

Running late to catch the bus or the subway? Hoping they can just hold the doors open as you run toward them. Sorry. They have a schedule to keep. No exceptions.

Want to fly on a commercial airline with out an ID? Want to fly out of the country without a passport? Sorry. No exceptions. 

The list could go on and on. The thing is we live in a “no exceptions” kind of world but we serve the God of exceptions. It can be confusing sometimes.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says: Whenever anyone turns to the Lord – the veil is taken away.

There are many days where I’m trying to make informed decisions but I don’t have all the info I need to pull it off.  Have you ever tried to make an important decision but feel like you can’t really see clearly? You’re trying to process something but you can’t quite straighten it out in your mind. Almost like there’s this haze or something – sort of like a veil – that just blocks the view. Have you ever thought in those moments that maybe God is just waiting for you to turn to Him so he can clear up that gray sky?

The verse says  – WHENEVER anyone turns to the Lord. Our God is a Whenever God. 

The rule was that there is a specific day called atonement when you can go to Him and it’s once a year. But Paul begins changing the rules. Where does Paul get this courage to overturn thousands of years of history saying… He’s not a one-day God – He’s a whenever God? He gets his courage from Jesus.

Sometimes we think we have to have everything together when we go before God. But God want us to come to Him WHENEVER we need to. Whether we are happy or sad or frustrated or worried or embarrassed or prideful. Whether we are knee deep in sin or praising Him at the Catalyst Conference. God doesn’t need us to wait for perfect timing – for us to gather our thoughts so we word everything just right before Him. God’s waiting for us right now – this minute. He’s always waiting for us. No exceptions. 

The verse says – Whenever ANYONE turns to the Lord – the veil is taken away. Our God is not just a Whenever God – but also a Whoever God. 

In Luke 8 – you hear about a man who is naked, crazed, & demon-possed. Imagine running across this guy? We would probably try to avoid him. Jesus asks him – What is your name? We try to shy away from situations like that but God tries to get close.  Jesus heals the man because he is a Whoever kind of God.  No exceptions.

A big part of our ministry in Haiti is letting everyone know they are worthy of God’s love. Doesn’t matter if their innocence was stolen. Doesn’t matter if they work at the Brothel. Doesn’t matter if they are sitting in jail right now. Doesn’t matter if they are told they will never amount to anything. Doesn’t matter if they drunk. Doesn’t matter if they are currently knee-deep in sin.  The shepherd is always looking for His lost sheep because God is a Whoever kind of God.

The verse says  – Whenever anyone TURNS TO THE LORD – the veil is taken away. Our God is a However God.

These past few weeks I’ve been really overwhelmed and worried. I’ve had lots of medical issues this year, I’ve had lots of important decisions to make and still make, I’m away from my family quite a bit, I was away from the ministry in the Mole most of the summer, and sometimes it’s just a lot for me to process.

We know the rule though right? You’re not allowed to be anxious about anything! So I spend a lot of time praying. Last night I prayed almost the entire night. There’s times I’ve been on my knees  – face to the floor.  I’m doing 4 different Bible Studies and I’ll do homework from each one for several hours. I’ll have my Christian music playing in the background. I’ll journal and pray for my growing list of prayer requests from those I love.

On paper – I’m doing all the right things! I’m often saying all the right things. My Christian music is playing so I’m hearing all the right things. I’m in the right position – on my knees. I’m bringing everything to lay at the Father’s feet – so where’s the peace?

Many times I’ll talk with my husband, my parents, or someone I trust about the things I’m anxious about. I can spend hours listening to their advice and discussing the situation. I get those Flaming Cheetos back out because they’re a great comfort (until about 4am anyways). I put the iPod on and pump up the Christian music. Lots of times I even have a candle lit just to create some ambience.

But sometimes I feel like God is saying  – HEY – who are you setting the stage for? You having company? I don’t need your music. I don’t need your smelling candle. I don’t need the bells and whistles. I just need for you to come to me HOWEVER you are.  It seems like you are turning to everyone else but Me. You went to your husband, your family, your friends, your Cheetos, your Ipod, and yes I saw you playing 20 minutes of Flappy Bird like you were killing time for something.

I don’t need you to set the scene in order to find You. Those things are lovely but I can find you in the middle of the mall. I can find you in your home. I can find you in the middle of screaming children. I can find you in the parking lot. I can find you at your office building. I can find you on the subway. I can find you in the middle of the road. I can find you on a plane. I can find you in the middle of a crisis. I can find you when you think there’s no hope. I can find you when you feel all alone. I can find you when you think it’s too late.  I can find you when you can’t find yourself.  I don’t need a stage to find you – you come to me HOWEVER you are and you will ALWAYS find ME. No exceptions.

 

The verse says: Whenever anyone turns to the Lord – the veil is taken away. 

We know the truth of the scripture and sometimes we still can’t live it. We hear how he forgave the woman at the well and we love God FOR HER. We hear how he gave sight to the blind and told the paralyzed man to walk. We love God FOR THEM.

We see the miracles and the healings and we love our God for what He does in everyone else’s lives. For some reason though we think that it doesn’t apply to us. He can do that for everyone else.  We believe the Word and everything it says but somehow we are the exception to what God can do through us. We are looking at it all wrong.

Here’s what I’m learning……I AM the exception and it’s a good thing! I’ll say it again. I AM the exception – because I’m loved by the exceptional God. He doesn’t just love everyone else. He doesn’t just move in everyone else’s lives and I am left out.

YOU are the exception. Listen again. YOU are the exception.  BECAUSE – He made the exception and died on the cross – BECAUSE even though He came to a world where “no exceptions” were allowed  – Jesus changed ALL the rules.

Every other religion says you come to God through works – but Christianity. We are the exception. Every other person is going to struggle in their own brokeness except for Jesus who was sinless. Every other person who will live will die except for Jesus who defeated the grave.

Jesus is the exception and therefore He has made us the exception. He’s ready to take the veil away…..Whenever….Whoever…..However….

So what is keeping us from turning to the Lord right now?

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