Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hand or Heart

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. John 6:26

Why do you seek God? Take a minute and think about it. It seems to me that there are very few wrong answers to that question. We are supposed to seek God in all things.  John 15:5, Jesus reminds us that He is the Vine. We’re just branches who can do nothing without him. So we should seek Him in all matters.

While there aren’t too many, if any, wrong answers to the why we seek God question, there is a problem. Read the verse above again. The people, according to Jesus, whose perspective is perfect, are coming to Him not because of who He is but because of what He has. They’re looking for a handout not a hand.

Recently I’ve seen a dear and treasured relationship take a not terribly surprising but hurtful turn. Someone I dearly love and with whom I’ve spent an enormous amount of time has stepped away a bit, quite a bit. It seems that while I’m on her to do list, I never actually make it to the top. Plans are made and cancelled with an alarming regularity. I do however continue to have contact with her in the form of “Oh hi.” Hug, hug, kiss, kiss. “Yeah, I need a little help.”

I started to see myself as an enabler or worse a pawn until I thought about it from the perspective of our precious Lord. You see, this is a person who, for a time, I saw almost every day. I’ve invested myself deeply in her and I love her beyond the beyonds as my Gram used to say. I want her to know for her whole life that I will be there for her and that she can always count on me.
This morning while feeling a bit of self-pity over the latest canceled plan I felt a tug on my heart. It was a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit. In that instant I realized how many times I’ve been guilty of that with my heavenly Father. I’ve gone about my business, choosing other people or entertainment over spending time with Him, but when I really need something, He’s my first call. Has He turned away? No.

There is a temptation to just say, “Okay, I get it. I’m not important to you anymore. Fine.” But that is not true. I am important to my dear one. I always have been and I always will be. The thing is, she knows how deeply I love and care for her. She knows I’ll be there for her as long as humanly possible and she counts on that. For now, she’s choosing some other things. I understand but it breaks my heart. Hmm, kind of like God understands but still would prefer me to chose Him?
I hate this season with my dear one but I love how God is using it to teach me. Many of us are guilty of going to Him only when we need something. He wants us to want Him, to be with Him simply to enjoy His presence, to offer our hearts not hold out our hands. Just like I want my dear one to chose me. Like my Father,  I want to be a choice, not an obligation. That gives me a better perspective on my relationship with God and for that I am grateful.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28


Sunday, January 26, 2014

And Still We Work

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5: 8, 10

Just the other day I had a conversation with a group of women. The conversation was about grace and Law. There is still so much in this world that strives to convince us that the free gift of salvation is simply too good to be true. Further it is fairly unfathomable that every sin is the same. As soon as I said that we cannot save ourselves the conversation took that familiar turn, the inequity that we see in how God measures, or more accurately does not measure sin.
Immediately the protests start. But what about people who harm children? Well, we’re all God’s children. What about people who sin repeatedly? That always reminds me of Paul’s thorn in the flesh. There are teachings that say it was a disease or recurring health issue, which is highly possible but I wonder if it was that same trap that just kept plaguing him. Only you can know what yours is. Gambling? Addiction? Gossip? Lying? Whatever it is, whatever sin we commit, it is the same as any other sin.

Moreover it does not separate us from God unless we let it. We are found, forgiven, free. It shouldn’t be fear of offending God so much that he simply cannot forgive us that motivates our behavior.

There it is, we want something to do and something not to do that can assure us a place in heaven, beyond that we want to know what we can do to please God.
Jesus made it ridiculously simple. He took the ten commandments and broke them down to two. Love God and love  your neighbor. Easy to say and to remember but hard to do.

Our works should not be motivated by fear. They should be motivated by love, by a love that gives all for us, even “while we were still sinners” which, by the way we are and will be until we are perfected at home in heaven. Fear holds us back from that perfect love.
For years I’ve seen, heard and even said, “let go and let God.” It’s a cliché but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Let go of fear and let love rush in.