There is nothing quite like betrayal. It strikes at the very heart and soul, driving a knife that slices to the very core. In that moment, and those minutes and hours and days thereafter, we are stunned, almost existing in some kind of eerie disbelief. Someone or something that we have loved, embraced, and given ourselves to has turned on us in a moment, breaking every promise, oath, and moral imperative that it ever claimed to have. Denial, grief, anger, bitterness – all these emotions take root.
I have spent over a week in an anger/mourning state of mind that has robbed me of my peace and had me questioning G-d about so many things. From personal relationships to health concerns to everything going on in the world around us, I have been consumed with pain, fatigue, anger, hostility, and an extreme grief. There has been so much chaos and upheaval lately, but I think the tipping point was the betrayal of our government in leaving Americans and allies behind in Afghanistan. I know people who knew some of them or their families. As one who came from a military family, what occurred was unthinkable. I was horrified at what we had done – not in the withdrawal, but in the way we abandoned people who trusted us. Many of my friends – believing friends – had the same reaction. It was as if the entirety of events over the past few years came to a boiling point. I sunk into an angry depression that brought out hostility, unkindness, and sorrow at unexpected moments. I would cry at the drop of a hat and in a few seconds, want to spit nails.
I felt very cut off from G-d. There was a wall between us that grew as I ignored my prayer time and pushed scripture aside. Everything I should have done, I did not. Instead, I gave myself over to the enemy who used my emotions in the worst possible way , ways that caused me to question everything I said I believed. After a heated discussion and argument with my husband over my attitude, I decided to open my Bible. My husband had said some things to me that hit home, and frankly, it made me ashamed. I needed to have a heart-to-heart with the Father because honestly, I was allowing myself to be pulled down. I had to settle this, not only for my peace of mind, but for the sake of my relationship with G-d.
I was half-heartedly reading the scriptures from the last two Torah portions (Ki Tavo and Nitzvarim). I thought the Torah portions would be the place to start. My heart wasn’t really into it if I’m honest. But G-d knows our hearts and what we need, and after reading these scriptures, I knew He was speaking to me through them. He wasn’t unkind, but He certainly wasn’t putting up with my mess. It was like He placed me in the middle of a crossroads and asked me to choose which path I was going to take. It was simple and to the point.
There’s no equivocating here, He said. It’s one way or the other. Either you trust Me or you don’t, but let’s quit playing games. You’re either going to commit to Kingdom living or you’re going to be left to flounder about on your own. You can’t move forward from here until you make a choice.
Those were harsh words to hear, but they were Truth. Simple, to-the-point Truth.
And exactly what I needed to hear to slap me out of the place that I had allowed myself to fall to.
You see, the Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had seen all the signs and wonders of G-d – from the plagues of Egypt to the parting of the sea to the decimation of Egypt’s army. Despite their whining and muttering and ungratefulness, throughout the 40 years of wandering there was food provided, the clothes they had did not wear out (and neither did their shoes), and they had victory in numerous battles against enemies that came against them.
In 40 years, this is what G-d said to them as they stood at the crossroads, deciding if they would finally enter the Promised Land and into HaShem’s covenant or not. “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.” (Deuteronomy 29:3)
To this day… that meant He was giving them clear vision now and they had no excuses in regard to whatever decision they made. I felt as if I were standing at the entrance to the land and being given that same vision. G-d had put up with my whining and muttering and ungratefulness. This was my moment of decision.
I began to recollect all the times of divine intervention in my life, of all the answers to prayer, of how He led me to those places He wanted me to go, sometimes willingly, sometimes kicking and screaming in protest. He reminded me of how His hand had been on my life from the day I was born, and not just my life, but the lives of so many others I have known.
Today, He seemed to be saying, I am giving you eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind to understand. Do you see how I have been a part of your life through everything you have encountered, how I have provided for you? Have I not been the same to all My people? I have told you life will not be simple, and that there will be tragedy and heartache, but I will be with My people through it all, working out My will. You won’t understand everything – you can’t. But you will have to trust Me. Now, who or what are you going to serve?
Further down in the scripture came these verses:
Perchance there is among you some man or woman, or some clan or tribe, whose heart is even now turning away from the LORD our G-d to go and worship the gods of those nations – perchance there is among you a stock sprouting poison weed and wormwood. When such a one hears the words of these sanctions, he may fancy himself immune, thinking, “I shall be safe, thought I follow my own willful heart” – to the utter ruin of moist and dry alike. The LORD will never forgive him; rather will the LORD’s anger and passion rage against that man, till every sanction recorded in this book comes down upon him, and the LORD blots out his name from under heaven. (Deut. 29:17-19 emphasis my own)
Talk about a wake-up call! It was a sobering face-to-face with the Father. I was that man, thinking I could entertain the poison and wormwood that was knocking at the door, that I could follow my own willful heart with all its outpourings and still attempt to claim a place in the congregation of the LORD.
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Life is hard. It stinks sometimes. This is a difficult concept, especially for western believers, because we have, whether consciously or subconsciously, absorbed some aspect of the idolatrous prosperity gospel, the one that insists if we follow steps a, b, and c, we will live in blessing and prosperity and no adversity will befall us. The 12 disciples lived closer to the ideal of Kingdom living than I ever will and 11 of them died a martyr's death. John was boiled in oil but survived, exiled, brought back to civilization, and was the only one to die of natural causes. But what they endured in their time on earth!! Do I really think we get to escape that? Where in the Word does it say we will? Does this negate any promise of divine protection? Of course not! But it doesn’t insure us an unscathed path through life.
No matter what happens in this physical world, He does not abandon His people. He is still with them, with us, and no matter how dire things look to us in this earthly body, He is more than in control. There is so much we can't understand because we are not G-d. Standing at this crossroads in my faith life, however, I cannot simply choose the path of death. I have seen too much of His goodness and protections, His direction and His faithfulness, and so I choose life, His way, even when like Job, I cannot understand the why of it all. Like Job, I have to say, even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.
We will all come to this crossroad, many times more than once, as we walk this path of faith. It may be death, the loss of a job, illness, the sorrow of an unsaved family member, a marriage that is falling apart, the escalating tyranny of governments, war, or a myriad of other things. It is not an indictment that G-d is giving, but a choice that He puts before us, plainly, and one that we will have to consciously make in order to cement our commitment to continue to walk with Him. I know so many come to this crossroads and they cannot choose the Way any longer. The bitterness has taken root, and the anger has shriveled their hearts and stopped up their ears so that they can no longer hear the voice of the Father or feel His grief and love for them. My heartfelt prayer is, if you find yourself in this place, that you will not give into that bitterness, that you will not allow the poison weed and wormwood to consume you.
Yom Teruah, the Ten Days of Awe, and Yom Kippur are nearly here. These days are a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. We should approach this time with a humble heart, one that seeks the perfect will of Adonai, thankful for the gift of Yeshua that allows us to boldly approach the Throne of Grace. Here we will find comfort for our souls, a renewed heart for the journey, and an understanding of the incredible love HaShem has for us all. We approach these days with a choice.
What will our choice be?