(This is Part 5 of our devotional series “Press – The Musical.)
Good morning, peeps!
“Life it can leave ~ you so bitter bitter, bitter, bitter” – from Better by Jessica Reedy
An olive, ripe off the tree, is bitter. You wouldn’t be able to stand it in your mouth. And I promise this is straaaaaight copy/paste. The substance that renders it essentially inedible is oleuropein, a phenolic compound bitter enough to shrivel your teeth. Given the awfulness of the au naturel olive, you can’t help but wonder why early humans, after the first appalling bite, didn’t shun the olive tree forever. I’ve been bitter almost my entire life.
I’m surprised God hasn’t shunned me forever.
When I say “been”, I also mean “used to be”. And by “used to be”, I don’t mean years ago. I’m not about to lie to you. I mean, like, last week. I told you this was going to be ugly. There were two things that stuck out to me about the USNEWS article I read about the water crisis in Flint, MI. One, this was a man-made health crisis caused by a decision to change the source of their water. Two, people IMMEDIATELY complained about the smell, the taste and the health issues. They were told the water was just fine. It wasn’t. My health crisis – the polluting of my “living water” – was caused by man as well. And I complained.
I was told I was fine. I wasn’t.
The innocence I had was polluted, the trust in God that I had was polluted – everything that connected me to God was polluted. I remember being so hurt that I told God that I would never do anything for Him. I was only 5 at the time. Five. Do you know how much I hurt for that little girl? She loved – oh, she loved God. With everything she had and everything she was. The sucky part was that He still decided to use me. Why???
I wish I could’ve been like you all when it comes to trusting in God. Y’all just wake up trustin’, dontcha? Me? Every day I have to press past all of the lies the enemy has as a slideshow in my head. And it’s in color. Sometimes I don’t press past it. Sometimes, that mess presses me. I know you thought with all of the blogs I’ve done and how I am around you that I am just light on my feet with this whole trusting and loving God thing. You really believe that my trusting in God is effortless. Chile, please. I was just like that olive – bitter. And I’ve preached while bitter. That’s a hard thing to swallow after 11 years of preaching and teaching, encouraging folks through song and word. I wish I could truthfully say that this lasted just a few days during the early years of my ministry. Naw. I’ve been bitter ever since I was 4 and it just ended six days days ago. I keep saying this because I want it to sink in. And before I go further, let me just say this: if you think people in church can’t be bitter, think again. You can. I did it.
And I still preached. With a bitter taste in my mouth.
Let me clarify something before I get a ton of messages: I believed what I was preaching because it was scripture. What can I do with that? Nothing. It’s God’s Word. What I didn’t believe was that God meant it for me. I had no reason to. I didn’t trust Him. That didn’t matter, though. His Word is still true.
“So what difference does it make who’s a Jew and who isn’t, who has been trained in God’s ways and who hasn’t? As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference—but not the difference so many have assumed. First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same…” – Romans 3:1-4 MSG
“But you must believe ~ that it gets better, better, better, better…”
It does. It did.