Friday, March 20, 2009

Picked Up Amidst Pain

The sun rises, hidden from this cloudy eye.
The eyelid closing wishes to let it all pass by.
In a world full of smile drawing joyous moments,
And with the tearful shredding of innocent hearts,
Man struggles to find meaning and hope.
Some drown their search in duty or depravity,
Others forget ,as if by some denial of this gravity,
That their own endeavor screams from their apathy,
Serving only to solidify their denial of their need.

As I write this my grandmother is in the hospital. Her prognosis is not good . As my father and I transported her across state lines and arrived at the new hospital she couldn’t move herself around. There was a few situations where in order to get her where she needed to go I had to pick her up.

My grandmother has been an independent lady through the course of her life. Slowly through recent years that has been slipping away. This has been the case leading up to the current medical situation. Suddenly she does not have that freedom. Suddenly she does not have any freedom. She has become completely and utterly dependant on those who are there to take care of her, those who love her.

In the process of a Christian’s life he is called to fellowship. Anytime a person seeks fellowship he makes himself vulnerable, for anything of value has an inherent danger of being lost or damaged in some way. Computers have become a valuable part of our everyday lives. If ours become damaged or stolen it could alter the way we have fun or even affect the way we make a living. So anything worth anything to us is prone to being lost to us.

We become attached to our freedom, to our independence. In entering into any relationship there is an element of trust. In business relationships there is a trust the other party will keep their end of the bargain. In marriage there is a trust of fidelity and caring of mutual hearts. Christian fellowship, true fellowship, is deeper than either.

Jonathan experienced true fellowship with David. After seeing David fight for his people, he quickly trusted David. We see that, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1)

Marriage is an amazing relationship. So much that our Lord uses it to allude to our relationship with Jesus. When David came upon the death of Jonathan, this is what he had to say, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women” (2) Some seek to pervert the beauty of what is being said here. Anyone who has watched a good war movie will understand what I am getting at. (3) Sex is wonderful. It drives the majority of fleshly man’s motives. There are connections that go deeper. For those who have fought with others there is no connection that reaches deeper. There is sparingly examples of situations of trust that cut a place in the soul of man as that of life and death.

The heart and soul of man is brought together perfectly in an understanding of purpose and an embracing of God’s grace found in relation to His Justice.

It is hard to trust others. I’ve lifted two-hundred pound men with little problem. It felt as if I could carry them all day. But when I needed to carry my one hundred and fifty pound grandmother I struggled. She was afraid. She held on to things that impeded my helping her. For days the joints and ligaments in my elbow hurt. It was profoundly more difficult to help someone who did know how, or have the capacity, to let you help them.

Flip this around and see what we can learn. If we are to fellowship with other Christians, then I believe we can learn something. When fellowship may help us we can resist it to the point that it hurts those around us that may have something that could act as a gift from God. When we resist what is good, we can injure the messenger.

The caution of this tale would of course be that we must judge our situation by righteousness and goodness. That we cannot blindly accept others’ bits of advice without the counsel of the Lord’s revelation. Above all, we must need to do no harm to those with whom we are to fellowship with. If we live a life of sacrifice to God, what room have we for being perpetually offended? My grandmother’s resistance hurt me. I could sulk, or I could endeavor to see that she was scared and hurt and sick. How many times to we take offense to the actions of other Christians and forget that they too are often scared, hurt, and sick? On the same breath, are we seeking to not resist the open hand of friendship and fellowship? When people give advice, are we quick to think, “How dare you offer me advice! Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you think I know better?” We are often too prideful to ask for help. But when we bite the hand that is there to feed us, how often can we honestly expect that hand to keep returning with what we have forgotten we need?

1) I Samuel 18:1-4
2) II Samuel 1:26
3) I would consider Saving Private Ryan, or Band of Brothers. There are others.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Sloppy Mess

God is good. That is something that is so easy to forget. It is something that sometimes we want to forget. God does not lie, and He is not mocked. It is His consistency that can sometimes cause us to become frustrated with us. When He says He wants our good, and moreover than that, He works all things together for our good.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. " (1)

We want God to forsake us sometimes. It would be easier if He would, we reason to ourselves. Then I would not have to keep trying. Then I would be free, we lie to ourselves. It is easy to forget the heavy weight we once bore in bondage to our sin. Israel, en route to the promised land, groaned for the bondage of Egypt. It is easy, knowing the end of the story, to judge Israel. Because we can look down the corridor of time and see the faithfulness and abundant grace God did show Israel through the centuries.

We who know the truth of God's grace can look at the believers at Galatia in amazement. They were fooled to see the gospel as only fulfilled in Christ's blood plus works. To think of adding something to Christ's work on that mount in order to justify us is repugnant, in the least.

And yet, there can come a point in our life that we see nothing other than our own whims. We can only see our Lord resigning us to a life of mediocre worship and fruitless pursuits of doing what is right. We believe that He has seen the folly of His ways and has finally stopped working on us, because of course He is not strong enough to change us.

Let us awaken.

Beware, unless your silence makes you dull of hearing.

"'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers." (2)

Beware, unless your deafness make your healing a distant trek.

"He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. " (3)

Take heed today. Listen as God calls you back to His heart. Remember the stones He has placed behind you: the healed wounds, the shackles of sin that were shattered, the situations that inclined you to sin removed. How quickly are we to ignore the wisdom of ages and incline our ways and our hearts to the evil way again!

Return as the prodigal son and see the blessings of our Father's court. Remember the zeal of fire placed in your heart when your sin was juxtaposed to His holiness and His holiness became your justification. Just as the prodigal son returned covered in the filth of animals, poor, bruised in body and ego, so let us return a sloppy mess to our Savior. Let us not see the faults rightly seen, but let grace's song lure us back to the Throne. Just as sporatic and wavering as the thoughts in this essay, let us rush through any door we closed and every path we took away from the feet of our Dear One. Forget all decorum. Forget all ritual. Forget all but our need for the loving embrace of He who chose us.

1) Romans 8:26-28
2) Jer 7:23-26
3) Proverbs 29:1