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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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I apologize if it seems all I write about any more is my wedding. It’s consumed my thoughts and thus my writing. That said, I’m going to talk about it some more.

A week from today, I’ll be getting married. A year ago at this time, I was dealing with the emotions of realizing that it was going to be at least a year before I got married. At first, it made me upset. I was finally engaged, and now I had to wait some more?!

It made me angry, and a little bit sorry for myself. I’d long ago learned that complete honesty in prayer with the Lord was better than half-hearted but religious platitudes. At the time, I couldn’t pray that He would make me happy to wait. I just couldn’t.

So instead, I prayed that the longing I felt to be married to Clay would teach my heart what it really means to long for Jesus’ return.

If that seems like a non-sequitar, let me explain;

Throughout the Bible, God’s relationship with his people is depicted as being like that of a husband and a wife.

In the very beginning, in Genesis, it is said that God created humans, both men and women, “in the image of God,” meaning that they, at their very essence, reflect key things about who God is and what He is like. Man is made first, and then women is created for man, to be his mate.
“The man said ‘This [woman] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:32,24:

Later, God continually refers to himself as a “husband” to his chosen people, Israel.

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.'” (Hosea 2:16)
“For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name” -(Isaiah 54:5)
“”Return, faithless people,” declares  the LORD, “for I am your husband.” (Jer 3:14 )

In the New Testament, the references continue, now with Jesus being referred to as the “bridegroom” to his faithful people. Paul even goes so far as to say that the major reason that God created marriage like He did was to provide us with a living picture of himself;
” ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31,32

Finally, the references conclude in the final book of the Bible, Revelations. In this book, the future return of Jesus is described as  “wedding” – where the Groom, Jesus, will finally, once and for all, be fully united to the people who have chosen to love Him – His Bride, the Church.  (Revelation 19, 21)

This picture has long been one of my favorites. It brings tears to my eyes to imagine the day when Jesus returns;
A triumphant Groom, the long, weary battle won, comes to claim His radiant bride and take her away to live with Him forever.

But for now, we live in the waiting period. As His church, we are engaged to Him – but the final marriage hasn’t come yet. And it is oh-so-hard.

I know that feeling.

I’ve been engaged for over 14 months now. I understand what it means to wait. Fortunately, God has been kind to me, and I actually really enjoyed the majority of my engagement.  In fact, I often wished it would slow down – I was comfortable being engaged. Liked it, actually. I didn’t see the need to hurry my wedding! Sometimes, in the middle of all the “engagement” and wedding planning activities, I would forget I was even getting married! But still, I often prayed that it would teach me what it meant to really long for Jesus’ return. And for most of my engagement, I felt like that prayer went unanswered. In the past two weeks, though, something changed.

Two weeks ago, I moved home to begin working on support and finish up wedding details, while Clay stayed behind in Athens to work. Of course, I miss him terribly. And somewhere, in the middle of that, my heart started to shift.

This past week, I’ve acutely felt the longing just to be with Clay. I want my wedding to hurry up and get here – not because I want to wear a pretty dress, or put my hair up, or even to celebrate with loved ones – but because my wedding will mean he’ll be here, with me. I’ll be able to not just hear him – but see him. Touch him. Be with him. And I won’t have to say goodbye.

That’s what it means to long for Jesus’ return.

So often, we get trapped up in the insignificant and the momentary, we lose sight of the eternal. We get comfortable on this earth – enjoy it even.  We occupy ourselves with things, good things even – family, church, ministry, jobs – and forget what we’re really waiting for.

How often have you heard someone say, (or perhaps even said it yourself) “I’m not ready for Jesus to come back, I haven’t (insert unfulfilled desire here) yet,” ?

What silliness! What bride should say, “I’m not ready for my wedding, I haven’t cleaned the grout in my bathroom yet,”?!?

None of the things we think we’re waiting for could be better than spending eternity in Heaven with the God who loves us more than any groom has ever loved any bride. 

I don’t long for Jesus’ return the way I should. I don’t ache for Heaven with the intensity and the fervor that I should. And this side of Heaven, I probably never will.

But in this gift of my year-long engagement, I have learned a little bit how I ought to. A little more of my heart everyday is learning to cry, “Maranatha! – Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”

Yes – Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

I’m getting married in 2 months. Actually, 69 days to be exact. On May 24, 2014, I will make the most solemn vows of my entire life, and officially become Mrs. Clay Selway. I will commit to not only share, but entirely give my money, my possessions, my future, my body, my soul to one man. Forever. No way out.

And he’s not “The One.”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love Clay with everything I have. He makes me laugh. He makes the bad days good and the good days better. He challenges me to be a better person, and comforts me when I’ve failed that challenge. He’s the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person I know. He’s my best friend, my hero, and the only man I’d ever want to be my husband.

But he’s still not my soul mate, and definitely not “The One.”

Not that I didn’t spend the first 18 years of my life longing to meet my “One.” Growing up, like any good midwestern girl, I was fed a steady diet of the idealized American romance. One boy, one girl – two star-crossed lovers who fight across space and time to fulfill their destiny of being together. From Disney movies to romance novels, I ate it all up. I had my own copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” that I read until the pages started to fall out. I literally watched “The Princess Bride” so many times I could have recited it in my sleep. I loved it. And I wanted it.

But no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Even the best boyfriend I had failed my weighty list of expectations. No man in the world seemed like they would ever fulfill the ideal I’d built up. I sat around and lamented to my girlfriends ruefully, “I think God made me a man, but somewhere along the way he got hit by bus.” The humor was a thin veneer for some very thick disappointment.

After wading through the smoking rubble from a broken relationship with someone I thought was “The One”,  I met my now fiance, Clay, through some mutual friends. After a year of friendship, we began a careful dating relationship. 2 years after that, he asked me to be his wife. And in just 2 months, we will become one. But he isn’t “The One.”

You see, Clay will never be “The One.” In fact, I don’t even think there is a “One,” not on this earth at least. The very concept of a “One” implies that there is one, singular person out there that will fulfill every single desire of my heart, meet every single need, and heal every single hurt.

What an incredible burden! Actually, what a crushing burden. No man, not even Clay (and I admit I think he’s the best man out there) could do that. Think of who many needs, wants, desires, and hurts you have – could just one person ever take care of all that?

As a Christian, I believe that human beings have eternal souls. Souls that are filled with an immense, infinite amount of desires and wants. We need to be loved perfectly, to be known perfectly, to be cherished perfectly. But, as the they say “no one’s perfect.” And thus, no one, not even your spouse, no matter how well matched, will ever be able to fulfill you fully.

But our culture has told us this lie, and we’ve ate it up. And so we date, and break up, marry and divorce, all the while searching, searching, searching for someone, anyone to fill this aching hole inside of us. But they can’t. And they don’t. And they never will.

I think C.S. Lewis got it right when he famously said, ““If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

You see, I think we were made for another world. A world with no longing, no sighing, no searching, no pain. No disappointment, no unmet expectations, no broken relationships, no emptiness. A world with a perfect relationship with a perfect God; an Infinite being to fill an infinite need. And though we haven’t lived in that perfect world since Genesis 2, I believe that through Jesus, we can still have that relationship with God. And through Him, even while I struggle through this broken world, I have an infinite source to fill my never-ending need.

This is something Clay and I came to realize before we dated each other, and something we realize a little more every day. Because we both have a relationship with Jesus, we have all of our infinite needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We don’t have to turn to each other for them.

This means that while I still receive things like love, affection, friendship, and affirmation from Clay, I don’t have to. I don’t demand them, but rather can receive them as a gift. On the bad days (or weeks, or months, or years), I don’t have to receive anything from Clay. Fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can choose to serve Clay when he’s not serving me, give when he’s only taking, and love when he’s nothing but unloveable. And on the good days (which, by God’s grace, will outnumber the bad) I will receive his gentle service, gifts, and love with a sense of undeserving joy and gratitude.

He’s not “The One.” The unchangable, unshakeable, never-failing God is “The One.” And Clay is a wonderful, beautiful, completely undeserved gift given to me by The One.

On May 24, 2014, I will become one with someone I love more than my own body. I will happily join with the one God has given me, and together, as one, we will serve The One.

I’m getting married, and he’s not “The One.” And I’m grateful for that.

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote this post about being a Christian with ADHD. It made much more of a splash than I could have imagined, and I still receive comments and emails about it almost weekly. I’m still stunned that something I wrote in an attitude of humorous exasperation over my own personal condition has been so helpful to so many people!

That said, I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. I still stand behind everything that I wrote in that initial post, but I want to make some clarifications that I hope everyone, including those who don’t have ADHD/ADD, will find helpful!

1. My condition is not a mistake, but it’s not “how God intended” me either.
I hear people say this a lot, and I know their intent is good, but it irks me. Yes, this is technically “how God made me.” But I am of the firm belief that this is not how he intended me, at least not in the sense of how he intended humanity to be. It’s like looking at a person paralyzed from birth and saying, “That’s ok, it’s how God made you!” Technically, you’re right, but it’s not very nice to say, and it actually communicates a pretty serious falsehood about who God is and what He wants for us.

You see, without going into a full-blown explanation of Genesis, when God created the world, everything was perfect. When Adam and Eve first sinned, everything was thrown into chaos. From then on, the world we live in has been fundamentally broken. My messed-up brain chemistry is just another example of that. Yes, God is sovereign and knew it was going to happen. But He didn’t intentionally create me this way, and He won’t keep me this way. One day, I’ll have a new body, and I’m pretty sure it won’t include a brain with ADHD. Which will be awesome.

2. My condition makes my spiritual life different, but it’s not an excuse for a lack of spiritual discipline or maturity.
So I have a hard time focusing, my ability to sit still is limited, and I struggle with consistency. These things mean that my spiritual life will always look differently from someone with a normal brain, but I truly believe that they don’t give me license not to try. I won’t go into detail about the things that I’ve found helpful for maintaining spiritual disciplines (stay tuned for “Part 3” for that), but I will say that there are things that I’ve found helpful. I am fully capable of studying the Bible daily, praying consistently, and engage in group settings to grow.

3. My condition is NOT an excuse for sin.
I think this point is pretty self-explanatory, but I will elaborate. As tempted as I am to blame my sin on my ADHD, I know that’s not right. While it’s true that my propensity towards being impatient is caused by my ADHD, it doesn’t give me a free pass to selfishly force others to hurry up, not follow proper procedures, or otherwise make rash decisions. Yes, I hate waiting. I hate it more than I hate almost anything else in life. But the scriptures tell us, again and again, “be patient!” It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t get to just excuse my lack of it as a “brain chemistry thing” and waltz on by. It just means that I’m going to have to pray more, repent more, try more.
I don’t get a free pass to sin, I get another opportunity to repent and rely on God to help me do what I know I cannot do on my own. 

4. I am fully capable of being a successful, mature, responsible adult who walks by faith and fulfills God’s purpose for my life.
My life will look different. I will probably never stop losing things. I will almost certainly need daily medication life-long. But I can, and I WILL be the person God made me to be. With the proper medication, a good support system, healthy Scriptural teaching, and a daily dependence on God – I can be all of the the above. I can have a life full of the good things that come from trusting God and working hard. I can learn to live life in the ways that God has prescribed. I can learn to let the truth change me for good. I can, as Jesus commanded us, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not even the most severe ADHD could stop that. And I’m grateful for that.

5. The prescription for how to live the Christian life with ADD/ADHD is GRACE
For YEARS, I wondered how to live the Christian life as a woman with ADHD. And then one day, when I wasn’t even looking for the answer, it hit me – GRACE. Grace, grace, grace, and more grace. The answer of how to live the Christian life as a person with ADHD/ADD is the same answer of how ANYONE is to live the Christian life. We’re not special, and we’re not different. We’re sinners, and we’re desperately in need of grace.

I might sin differently because of my ADHD, but it doesn’t nullify God’s grace. I am to repent and cast myself into His arms, same as anyone else. And I know that He will accept me, because Jesus died for that. He died for my failure to be patient, for my volatile mood swings, for my lack of self control, for my wandering affections. He died for my sin. And He died that one day, I might see Him as He is – beautiful, loving, ever-patient, slow to anger and full of steadfast love and mercy. For now, I see that only in part. But one day, I will see that in full. And in that day, my brain will be healed, along with my body. I will be perfectly patient, perfectly at peace, perfectly controlled, and all my affections will be set in their rightful place – with Him, in a never-ending day of praise to the King of the Universe.

Looking forward to that day, right alongside you. Until then, Brothers and Sisters, take heart in this –
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12

I’ve been debating this post for some time now, unable to decide whether it would be appropriate and beneficial to publish it.  Of course, I mean all that I say within it, and it’s all true.  However, as a sister in Christ, I do care about my brothers – and I think too often, we resort to bashing them as they learn how to be men, instead of encouraging them.  I pray that this post will not be of that sort. I pray that this post is written in humility, love, and sincerity, and that it is read in a similar manner.

That being said, I’m going to attempt to move on to say what is burdening my heart, however clumsily I express it. And it is this – it never gets any less painful to see women that I love broken and defeated by men. It never pains me any less to hear stories of women bruised and hurting from mistreatment. And I will never cease to get tears in my eyes to see a woman of God in tears over a man in her life who isn’t treating her like the daughter of the King that she is.

All of this might be a tad bit easier if the men involved were not believers. If this were so, what they did would still be wrong, but at least understandable.  How can you expect a man who is blind and lame to lead a woman without damaging her?  But these men are Christians, or at least claim to be.

And lest I misconstrue anything, I want to say that I realize that I am absolutely blessed to be surrounded by the men that I know.  You are godly, and growing, and encouraging, and I appreciate you. That being said, much of the damage being done to these women that I love is unintentional.  Hurt caused by men who had no intent of doing so.  Pain inflicted by men who, in all honesty, were probably desperately trying to discern God’s will in their lives.

I get that. I really do. We’re all young. We’re all growing. We need patience and grace.  But here is what I think many men fail to understand –

Women. Are. Fragile.

I’ll say it again. We’re fragile. Delicate. Fine. Fragile.

Sure, sometimes we have backs of steel (or at least we pretend we do). But we have limbs of porcelain and hearts of much finer material.

Understand this, please. We are much, much more breakable than you, or your guy friends. Don’t break us any more than this world already has, enmeshed in sin as it is.

Don’t flirt with us if you aren’t going to pursue us. Don’t even start. If you want to pursue a relationship, pursue it. Don’t leave us hanging.

Don’t begin to pursue us, and then back out. Be serious. Good intentions aren’t enough.  Many Christian men with good intentions still hurt their sisters because they rush into pursuing her before they really think about it, and then have to back out and leave a crushed woman in their wake.

Don’t date us if you aren’t ready. And by all means, don’t marry us if you aren’t ready to love us like Christ loves the Church!

Please, in all your dealings with women, remember – we are far more fragile and easily hurt than you can even imagine.

“live… in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. ”
(1 Peter 3:7 ESV)

The concept of forgiveness is a tricky one.

Certainly, it is one mandated by the Bible and a step in experiencing the joy of God’s forgiveness for us more fully.   But, like I’m realizing with a lot of Biblical concepts, the tough part is figuring out how to apply it to daily life.

Right now, I’m wrestling with forgiveness.  Forgiving people who have hurt me in the past used to be a struggle I could barely overcome.  It was too painful, too stinging.  I was hardened by 17 years without Christ.  I’d like to think that I’m making pretty good progress in that avenue, through prayer and some good old fashioned surrender.

The question for me now, though, is this – what does forgiveness look like when the person you have to forgive continues to hurt you, again and again?  When you’ve done all you can – loving confrontation, changes in your own behavior, prayer, and forgiveness for the past – and the hurt continues to come, what do you do?

Of course, I agree that you need to prayerfully and thoughtfully extend forgiveness with each new transgression.  But what about that person’s rejection?

Do you continue extending invitations for interaction and relation, even when 9 times out of 10, it is going to be met with a rejection that will sting?

Or do you withdraw, and avoid contact unless that person initiates?

Part of me keeps telling me to withdraw, to run.  And the other part keeps reminding me that Jesus continually extended invitations for interaction and relation, even as I not only rejected Him, but acted in rebellion against Him.

What would you do? I really am at a loss here.

Forgiveness is hard.

Photo used from http://www.saintdunstanschurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/reaching-hands.jpg

Being a Christian has convinced me of two things:
1) That I am absolutely, utterly wretched and sinful to my core.
2) That I am loved and considered precious and priceless anyway.

That’s the paradox that I am coming to see in my life.  Each day, it seems, I recognize my own sinfulness more and more. I disappoint myself by every day, “for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15 esv).

But, instead of sinking into despair over my condition, with each passing day, I become happier and happier.

I realize I am bad, I put myself lower, and exalt the Cross higher.

With each abandonment of self, I come to know myself better.

With each experience of dying to myself, I come more alive.

With each day that I put my own happiness aside in favor of the glory of God, I find more happiness than I ever imagined.

This is the paradox of the Cross.

O, the wonderful Cross – bids me come and die, to find that I may truly live”


This past Saturday, with the abundance of time I now have without Facebook, I decided to take a bike ride.  The bike path here at OU runs around behind the school, alongside the Hocking River.  I enjoyed my ride for about 30 minutes, and had turned around to head back to campus when in front of me on the bike path, I noticed a little brown ball in the middle of the path.  I slowed down, curious as to what it was – it hadn’t been on the path when I’d rode past in the opposite direction only 10 minutes before.  I laid my bike down in the grass beside the path, and carefully approached the little brown ball.  Upon closer inspection, this little ball was a furry-something.  Hesitantly, I stuck out a toe and poked it.  It gave out a pitiful squeak and shivered.  It was an alive furry-something.  I knelt down to take a closer look and observed that it was a little rodent of some sort.  I couldn’t tell what was wrong with it, but it was clearly injured – it wouldn’t have let me get that close to it otherwise.  Filled with pity for this tiny creature, I outstretched my hand and scooped it up.

Mr. Mouse

I’m no veterinarian, but this little guy was close to death. He sat in my hand, back arched precariously.  He winced with every tiny movement as I scooted him into my hand.  The end of his tail was clearly broken.  His breathing was ragged and labored.  I thought of all the things that might have happened to him – hit by a bike or a car, attacked by a dog, stepped on by the countless people running around the edges of the bike path. I held him up to eye-level to look at him.  His black eyes locked with mine, and I saw nothing but pain and defeat in my eyes.  He didn’t even have it in him to fight the giant who had scooped him up.  I knew there was nothing I could do to save him.  Instead, I did the next best thing for him.  I walked over to some long grass on the side of the bike-path, away from where anyone would walk, and placed him in the grass.  He would die, but at least here, he would avoid getting run over by a bike, and be able to die quietly, safely hidden in the grass.

And with that, I rode my bike away.  I had done the best I could. I had given him the best death possible.

I was pondering over this later in the evening, while cooking dinner at the homeless shelter where I volunteer when it occurred to me how nearly this story mirrored my previous understanding of who God was.  For whatever reason, be it bad teaching or a hardened heart, when I was younger (in my early teens), I thought God had no relevancy to life.  You followed “the rules”, and when you died, Jesus took you and you went to heaven.  He couldn’t do anything to heal you or make you better, only carry you over to the grass and put you down to die and move on.

For awhile, this childish and incorrect faith worked for me.  Life was good. I could live like this and then die and go to heaven.  But then, as things in life inevitably will, everything began to fall apart.  I struggled with ADHD.  I got caught up in an abusive relationship that isolated me, destroyed my identity, and crushed my self-esteem.  I developed an anxiety disorder.  I had no friends.  My relationship with my family was strained, at best, and a horrific shouting match, at worse. I was clinically depressed.  Life was one giant effort that just didn’t seem worth it.  I couldn’t imagine living the rest of life like this, but I lacked the will or energy to even think about ending my life.  My life was, to say the least, hopeless.

During this time, I hated God.  I detested the idea of God, I abhorred Christianity. I mocked people I knew who were Christians. What kind of stupid did you have to be to buy this whole “Jesus loves you” bull? How could they be so deluded as to ignore the pain that I saw in the world, the pain that I felt in myself? Christianity was for the naive and the fortunate.  No one who had truly experienced pain, shame, and brokenness like I had could believe in God.  I could not understand why anyone would believe in it.  And when I look back on my incomplete understanding of who and what God was, I can’t blame myself.  Jesus was not relevant to my life.  I was being told that Jesus would make everything ok when I died.  But that’s not what I needed.  My life was awful now.  I was in pain now. I needed help, hope, and healing now.  Not sometime in the vague future, in the hazy phrase of “when I die”.  That was not a faith that I could believe in.  If that was Christianity, I wanted nothing of it.  I could do better myself, soothing my hurts with other things.

I am forever grateful that God looked past the awful things I said and believed about him and chose to open my heart to understanding.  Over time, with the counsel of a few wise and kind Christians, my misconceptions were cleared up. I realized that the faith that Jesus offered was never more relevant to my life than now.  Yes, he would take me to heaven and “wipe away every tear” (Rev 21:4) when I died.  But he could do so now, too.  He could take me now, and make my life good, even when it seem irredeemably bad.  It was in this Jesus, the one that promises that he will work all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28), that I believed.

I think that this is the misconception that prevents much of our wold from believing in Jesus.  I explained it to someone I once knew like this.  Most non-believers think that the “healing” that Christians speak of when talking about Jesus is like taking the broken shards of a pot and gluing them back together.  The problem with this is that, even after the pieces are put back together, the pot is still cracked.  It’s still damaged.  It almost certainly won’t hold water.  A man could do that.  And that’s what most people opt for.  When life breaks them to pieces, they choose to attempt and glue themselves back together, rather than give themselves up.  And some succeed, somehow managing to find all the pieces and fitting them together.  But the ultimate problem still remains – the pot is still broken.

But this is NOT what Jesus does. He doesn’t simply take the broken pieces and glue them back together.  Rather, when you come to him, kneeling at his feet in all of your brokenness, you hand him whatever pieces of yourself you have left.  He takes this and from these pieces, creates a mosaic, far more beautiful than any pot could ever be, whole or broken.  He creates a work of art, combining the pieces of your former self with new pieces, creating a masterpiece.  We know this to be so because it has been said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).  I know this to be true because it happened to me.  My own life looks drastically different from what it did before I knew and trusted Christ.

I am a mosaic-in-progress.  What are you?

Recently, I’ve committed myself to memorizing Psalm 116.  Ok, I admit – I’ve done really horribly. It’s a 19-verse psalm and I’m on week three of memorization with exactly 16 of them memorized. I’m not very good at this whole memorizing thing. Anyway, I was attempting to memorize a little bit more today while in my 1st morning class, when I got bored and started scanning the page.  My eyes fell to psalm 115, specifically verses 4-8

 

Their idols are silver and gold

the work of human hands.

They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel’

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Obviously, these verses are trying to illustrate a point about the people who worship idols.  When the psalm was written, the writer was obviously thinking about physical idols – statues of golden cows or something of the sort.  By now you’re probably thinking “idol worship, blah, blah, blah. I got it.” (I know Christians have beaten this point to death) but I promise – this is going somewhere!  I’ve heard all this before, I realize that idols are wrong, but what really got me was verse 8 – “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” WHOA! Hold on there.  What does that even mean? According my good old online version of the ESV Study Bible, it means, when taken in the literal context of the verse itself, it implies that those who make and worship idols will ultimately become as the described idols – unable to see, hear, feel, speak, etc. Lifeless and useless!

 

In 2009 however, we’re far less inclined to worship golden calves.   More likely, modern people worship idols that are a little less ostentatious in the way that the usurp God.  Money, power, fame, success, sex, beauty… the list goes on and on.  And as I was seeking more ways to avoid paying attention in class, I started thinking.  If people back in the good old days would become like their idols made of metal and stone, what would we become if we trusted in our modern idols?

 

Take money, for example.  What are the basic characteristics of money (beyond the physical)?  It’s fleeting, it can be destroyed just as quickly as it is made.  It is most often used by others to for personal gain, and it has absolutely no value other than what people assign to it.  On it’s own, it’s nothing more than pieces of paper.  Logically (I was doing this in Logic 120), it can be concluded then, that a person who worships money will ultimately become like his money.  Easily destroyed, used by other people, and of little value other than what people assign to him.  Does this sound familiar? (Think Enron).

What are the basic characteristics of fame?  It, too, is fleeting and fickle.  Just as fast as someone can become “something”, they can be made into “nothing”.  It is exhausting, never ending in its search for what is new and hot. It depends completely on the opinions of others.  It is self-serving, always searching for validation, and always has a vague air of desperation surrounding it.  Likewise, the person who worships fame can be made or destroyed in no time.  He becomes exhausted, always searching but never satisfied.  He becomes completely dependent on what everyone else says about him – if it is good, he is elated, if it is bad, he is crushed and is filled with despair and anger.  He becomes selfish, insecure, and constantly desperate.

 

What are the basic characteristics of beauty?  It is subjective, defined by the opinions of others and the fashions of the time.  It is never satisfied – no one can ever be beautiful enough.  There is always something to be done that can increase beauty.  It is vain and is sold as a commodity.  Maybe most importantly, it fades and eventually disappears, with time.  Likewise, the woman (or man) who worships beauty will become so.  She will be defined by opinions and fads, things that change so quickly she will never quite know who she is.   She will never be satisfied, always working for more beauty.  She will learn to sell herself out as a commodity, valued only for her physical beauty.  And once all of these things will established, when her beauty fades – so does she.  This woman who worshipped beauty will become an empty, faded shell of a person, not a trace left of the beauty that defined them.

 

To a non-believer, this situation looks pretty bleak.  No matter what we choose to worship (and it is just a matter of what. People will always worship something), we will eventually come to some form of ruin or unhappiness.  But what about if we choose to worship the one, true God?  What are the basic characteristics of God?  He is kind, loving, wise, gentle, merciful, joyful, gracious, generous, well-loved, and everlasting (among many other things)! You could even venture so far to say that he embodies many of the things that we choose to worship alone (in a distorted form, though) – Beautiful, powerful, famous.

 

In choosing to worship God, and his son Jesus, we will obtain these things for ourselves.  Everything that the world seems to so desperately long for (things that I used to long for, and still do sometimes) can be found when we turn to God and decide to worship Him.  This is what I wish the world could understand.

 

That’s about all for today.  I have an interview in about 15 minutes to see if I can get into the visual communications program here for a double major in Photojournalism.  Prayers would be appreciated! I’m sure I’ll have more material for to write about after this weekend ‘s famous Ohio University Halloween party.  In the mean time, God bless!

So one requirement for my major is the horrible class that is Philosophy 120 – AKA “Logic”.  This class is very tedious and involves lots of detailed work with categorical syllogisms and the such.  Today in class, we were working with the said categorical syllogisms.  And for those of you who don’t know what those are, they’re logical arguments that, in their standard form, look something like this.  P is S.  S is M.  Therefore, P is M. Pretty boring.  As a class exercise, we were instructed to write a few of our own.  After class, I had a bit of time (Phil 101 was cancelled, YAY!), so I sat down with my Bible to do my reading for the day.  I came across the verse in 1 John that reads “Anyone that does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Immediately, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  And being the good little student I am, my mind started working in categorical syllogisms.

If we view 1 John 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as a categorical syllogism, it gives us a wonderful insight into who God is and what He is like.  I won’t say anything more on this subject, because I think the altered verses of the Bible I’m about to include say it all.

God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Love is…(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Therefore-

God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant or rude.  He is not self-seeking; He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. GOD NEVER FAILS.

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Past Musings