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Alan Lester  |  Gauteng, South Africa
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I'm Taking Your Beautiful---God.
FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..

What does a man say to God when God comes to him to tell him that with one blow, he is about to take away his wife? What makes this even more thought provoking is that the man of whom we speak, was probably only in his mid thirties. He had also been carried away from his homeland by a conquering army, and was now living in among strangers. The single joy he found, outside of his God, and the city and temple of his God, was in his wife. She was his treasure, his precious companion. God knew that. We can see that by the way the Lord refers to her as the delight of his eyes (Ezekiel 24:15)--even if Ezekiel refers to her simply as my wife.

The Lord warns him that his beloved wife would be taken away with one blow. The narrative doesn't record any details about her falling at the hands of a violent attacker, which seems to be the most common meaning of such a phrase. So we could safely conclude that she fell suddenly to some dread disease—the other main usage of this term. Clearly, it was a disease of with neither of them were aware; similar to the “disease” of the Jews, of whom he speaks in this same chapter. Ezekiel seems to have spent a final afternoon with the delight of his eyes in anticipation of her death. (verse 18) Giving her a full last day, the Lord takes her life only in the evening.

The Jews in Jerusalem were going to suffer the loss of their city and their precious temple; the delight of their eyes. They had sadly found, in these two temporary gifts, more joy than they found in the God who had gifted these blessings to them. They were about to experience the bereavement of Ezekiel. Just as Ezekiel's wife had died, so also, they would not escape the grief that was coming their way.

Strikingly, Ezekiel was not even living in Jerusalem, he was already in exile in Babylon, far away from Jerusalem. The Jews in Jerusalem would not even hear this warning before the calamity struck. In the same way that Ezekiel's wife's death was sudden, so would be the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians. Then, as the Babylonians returned to Babylon from defeating Jerusalem, with Jewish prisoners, all of the already captured Jews with Ezekiel would revere God because they had heard the prophecy from his lips before it had happened. The whole point was to turn these exiled Jews' hearts to their God.

How I have thought about Ezekiel since losing the woman who for twenty years has been the delight of my eyes. This was the first text that popped into my head within moments of her death. How would I respond to the Lord in my attitude if I knew that he was going to take my beautiful in order to provide godless rebels with an object lesson of what he was about to do? Would I consider it an unkind or uncaring act? Would I find the courage to embrace such a devastating blow? How would you respond?

I don't think the text permits us to concretely conclude that God deliberately took Ezekiel's wife as an object lesson. It may be that her pre-existing condition would inevitably lead to her death at that time, and God intended to use her death with maximum impact. Yet regardless of God's intentions, Ezekiel has to deal with God's using his calamity as an opportunity to preach to the Jews.

I find it beautiful beyond words that Ezekiel submitted himself meekly to God's intentions through such piercing, personal, and focused agony. He meekly accepts the cost inflicted upon him in order to honour God's merciful actions toward his people—turning their hearts back toward himself.

Yet God himself is not riding entirely aloof from Ezekiel's misery; no. God himself both administered and endured the blow that struck down the Delight of his eyes—Jesus Christ, his Son. He did this in order to show mercy to his people.

How delightful I find it to see such humble submission to unspeakable pain, with an attitude of worship to God. May the Lord use us, when called upon to endure such pain, to submit to it in such a way that others come to understand the mercy of God through seeing our example.

For more information on my book Hurting in Hope, and the free, complete audio book, click on the link below:

http://www.graceunlimited.co.za/Books/HurtinginHope.aspx

Web Link:  CLICK TO FOLLOW EXTERNAL LINK
Category:  Hurting in Hope

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Accustomed to Pain
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
A few days after my wife's death, one morning, I was making the bed, when my foot knocked against something on the floor. Lifting up the corner of the blanket, my eyes fell upon something painfully familiar; tucked under the bed, a pair of her...
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Living With a Ghost
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
He is a weary man, enslaved to his work, troubled by cases that seem impossible to solve. At night, he comes home to his wife who has become indifferent to him and his fixation on his career. She hardly speaks a word to him, neither he to her, yet...
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Reality: The New Category
TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
To be honest, I wasn't surprised when some of the more conservative printing presses rejected my manuscript. Authors take it personally when their work is rejected because they write their hearts onto the page. To reject the manuscript is to...
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I Can't See You
MONDAY, JULY 21, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
Some of the most useful changes I have undergone in life have been those that bring a new appreciation for the people around me. It is as if I had felt permitted before to excuse my lack of practical love toward them under the title, “I...
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The Grief of God
SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
Grief is an enduring emotion that torments those whom it afflicts with a galling sense of regret. It continually drags the heart through painful territory that one would rather not revisit. There is a a form of protest in the pain of sorrow that...
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Too Weak to Weep
SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
How exhausting strong emotions can be. If only the exhaustion from strong emotions brought the welcome reward of restful sleep, but it doesn't. It intensifies numbing pain and inflames answerless questions. Surely this is what David felt as he...
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The Thrill of Livin' is Gone
FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
Yes, I confess, I have sung these lyrics, sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud, at different times of difficulty over the past three decades. I am referring to John Mellencamp's 1982 ballad of Jack and Diane; “Saying oh yeah, Life goes...
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A More Excellent Life
THURSDAY, JULY 17, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
“Won't you please take a picture of this?” I looked up to see Charleen holding the white gerbera flower she had picked at the flower farm the previous day. High up on the long stalk of the flower, Randall, our pet chameleon, had...
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Cold November Rain
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2014
Posted by: GraceUnlimited | more..
I sat with my arm around her that night, watching the aeroplanes lift-off from a glistening runway, setting out on their mysterious journeys to who-knows-where. Soft rain pattered down on the windscreen of my pristine '72 Chevy El-Camino, while a...
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