Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gentle Reminders

I'll be up front here...

Life has just been kinda sucky lately.

I've felt a little like Eeyore.  A black cloud seems to hover over me - at least that's my perception.  I see the negative, cup half empty stuff.  I don't like that about myself, but I'm just being honest.

I can rock along for quite a while sometimes, coping, giving the big and the little stuff to God.  And then, sometimes, not so much.  Sometimes I just quit giving it to Him.  I carry it around, meditate on it, wallow in it a little.  It's not good.  It's not healthy.

But that's where I've been.

Ever have those times?

And one of the things I really love about God is that in the midst of my little pity party - when what I actually need is a good swift kick in the butt, He is still gracious - still good.

Mind you - He can and does sometimes just give the swift kick that I need -- but not always.

Sometimes - In the middle of my glass-half-empty mentality, He shows up with a fire hydrant and floods my cup with His goodness - forcing me to see the goodness, the fullness of Him.

Yesterday and today have been that fire hydrant of grace.  Nothing spectacular.  No fireworks or leaping tongues of fire.  But gentle reminders of his grace.

Sometimes that's all I need -- gentle reminders that He is still here, He is still working.  He has not forgotten and He has a good plan, even when I can't see it.  He's given many this weekend - one right after the other until I am utterly overwhelmed.  Brought to my spiritual knees.  Thankful.

Not knowing the plan is not the same as there not being a plan.  The glass really is full and overflowing.

So, I'm guessing not much is going to change in the circumstances that have led me to this darker place, at least not anytime soon.  But I'm thankful for the reminders that God is here - in the middle of it.

And it is good.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Balancing Act

"Today we take our offenses to the love of God far too lightly.  If we had only a twinge of the sense of revulsion that God feels toward sin, we would be moved to holier living." ~ Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

My prayer is that I will see MY sin the way God sees it.  My tendency is to excuse and rationalize my sin, but easily see the revulsion that God feels toward the sin of others.  It's all sin.  God bore all of it on the cross.  And all of it needs to be dealt with at the foot of the cross - understanding that God  took all that on Himself because I was incapable of taking care of it myself.  "It is finished," He said.  I can walk in victory now.  

It is critical that we live in balance.  The above quote is couched in a chapter about corporate confession - something I've talked about before.  Sin loses much of its power when we confess our sins to one another and find healing in the light, rather than trying to hide our sin in the dark corners of our heart.

We are not a people of balance.  I constantly see the tendencies to stray to either extreme.

One extreme - I see the hideousness of my sin, and I hide it, out of shame and regret.  I give the appearance of having it at least semi-together, while judging the failings of others.  I am unwilling to be honest with others and deal with my sin, so it continues to gain strength and momentum behind the closed doors of my home or hidden in the dark places of my soul.


The other extreme - I confess it, but only in the sense that it is common to all of us, so let's embrace our sinful selves, accept that it's who we are and revel in it.  Instead of seeking change, we reshape a faith and a God that is okay with our sin.

He's not okay with it.  Neither does He hate us.  He loves us.  He paid the highest of prices so that we would not have to live in it.  We need to see ourselves as sinners, yes -  but sinners that have been forgiven.  Sin that has been paid for.  Victory that has been won. 

Both extremes bring death.  Legalism is not the answer - ordering my life and everyone else's by a list of rules or laws that control our flesh, but never reach our hearts.  Licentiousness is not the answer - giving up entirely and glorying in the very sins that required the death of Jesus to free us. 

When I look at scripture, it's clear that God can and will use us wherever we're at - but nothing I read indicates that God is content to let is stay there.  He always loves us completely, right in the middle of our messes, and yet is always calling us to greater things, to victory, to holiness.

We don't have to live this way - nor should we even want to.  I don't want to be comfortable with my sin - seeing it as that soft, worn blanket I slept with as a child, instead of the snake in the garden leading me to death.  I want to find the victory that has been prepared for me - purchased for me.  

God has so much more for us when we can find a life in the balance - hating our own personal sin, yes, but accepting His forgiveness, loving each other as we confess our sins openly and honestly, and moving toward wholeness together.