1 Cor 13:1
If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
This morning my reading prompt was from Romans anddiscussed the mercy and grace of God. One verse referred to us (Christians) as being part of one body. I glossed over it, after all I had the concept down…. but then tried to read my verses aloud and found it strangely standing out in importance.
Rom 12:4-5 (CSV) says, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” This is proceeded by the verse warning against thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. I pondered the significance of this warning when it seemed to me that there was no impending consequence to warn off. Hmm… when in ponderance (not sure that’s a word…) I try a different translation!
Rom 12:4-6 (MSG) says, “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
Well then, that helps! Hence the warning suddenly has more weight. I think the point may be to suggest that if we start viewing what we are “adding” to the body in our self-importance verses our identity coming from our place “within” the body we lose sight of the true picture Christ is trying to present.
In high school, I had a variety of sports injuries. No, not because I was super-athletic in my younger years, but more so because I was especially clumsy and didn’t have the coordination when it came to PE. So, I ended up with broken fingers, toes, an arm, etc. Once when I had a broken finger, it coincided with our band’s first trip to a major competition. We would be going to Georgia, and I was to play a challenging part on flute. Well, then I broke my finger, and being so gracious as to not leave me out, the band director allowed me to play temporary percussion – specifically, to use the cymbals in the competition. I was terrified. For good reason too, as when it came time for the finale of the piece, I clashed my ginormous cymbals one measure too soon! Ackkk, total mortification. But, complete… ok well minor recovery, as I repeated my dramatic clash at the actual end of the piece.
A clanging cymbal, or resounding gong is completely self-dramatizing without the entire band playing the piece in congruency to produce the desired sound and effect. It never occurred to me before today that these two different verse references are very much buddies in terms of their point. Meaning that we have a responsibility to the other “body parts”aside from performing our own role. Not because of some form of “metaphorical superglue” that lays within our own individual participation, but in fact because we owe it to the body (Christ) to sync up and suck up our individual feeling for the sake of that same body. If you are focused on being awesome for God, and not simultaneously loving the other parts of His body (and no, it is not your place to rate their performance), you are clanging a gong without the context of the band. Or even more graphic, you are a cut off finger or hand (think Addam’s Family, lol) snapping along to a beat, sans the other essential body parts.These verses go into great detail about what love is and looks like, truly giving a symphonic approach to what it means to bring glory to God. And after all, isn’t that how He made us? To gloriously come together for His purpose and pleasure? So for me, I have to start viewing other members of the band in love… even when they clash the cymbal too soon.
In school we had to take a class on economics. I’ll admit, I felt fairly confident about the subject matter – I understood the basic principles and had already been experiencing working in retail including marketing and advertising. But as the class progressed, and specifically after a group project gone bad, I started to reconsider my initial brush-off of understanding. I recognized that I had no clue why it didn’t make sense. It was infuriating. How could I not understand something, where, at its core was just about production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services? I mean, it really just comes down to valuation of items, right? Well, hahahaha economics class…. I still went on to a successful retail management career, and now I am co-owner of a small business. Plthhhhhhhhhh!
But as I reflect on this past experience of not just misunderstanding, but moreover not comprehending the valuation methods, I also see the connection to my faith. We are humanly drawn to try to evaluate and size up situations… as well as people. I don’t just mean figuring out what box to put someone in, although that is a fleshly problem, but also considering whether and to what measure someone or something is worth. I’ve noticed more and more tools out there that are designed to help people feel “in control” of their buying experiences. You can go online and compare what someone else paid, who someone else paid, and whether their review leads you to believe they were happy to have paid it. The functionality and “worthiness” of an item has entire marketing groups of companies devoted to managing the buying experience. So... with all this around us, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to also view our experience with God under similar scrutiny. I don’t mean the opinion we take of Him, but actually the view He takes of us.
1 Cor. 6:20 reminds us, “you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies”.
1 Cor. 7:23 echoes this with saying, “God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world”.
Gal. 3:13 talks about how God “bought us with His blood”, and verse 14 reiterates the “high price Jesus paid”.
There are in fact a huge number of verses in both Old and New Testament giving description to the purchasing of us by our Lord. So, from these terms, and our basic understand of value from our own economics and currency, it does make sense for there to be some complications in our casual thinking of this crucial faith transaction. Let’s look at a few right now.
1. We are not a tax write-off for God. We do not depreciate in value due to use.
2. There is no Kingdom market value. We cannot lose or increase in value because of what the world around us is doing.
3. Our purchase is already settled. There was no negotiation in price. God purchased each of us through the crucifixion of His only son, and did not offer anything low-ball because of His foreknowledge of our individual sin. He knew what He was getting!
4. God did not check any apps to verify our value before He planned the purchase. He chose us and called us each by name- not only did He know what He was getting, He wanted us.
5. And here’s a biggie… God made us, then we walked, then He bought us back. Let that sink in. Read Hosea. Consider what it means to value something so much that you didn’t just put into it once, but bought it again.
6. We are not an item on layaway. Yes, there was a deposit (Holy Spirit!!!!! [2 Cor. 1:22]), but God paid in full. Even on our worst days, He’s not bummed about our value, and wishing He could return us to stock.
7. And finally, the only devaluing we have is the kind that Satan wishes for us to do to ourselves. God sees us with favor. (Eph. 1:4-6)
You are valued in God. All you were, all you are, and all that you will be to come. If He sees such a high value in us, why do we shame ourselves into thinking He might be wrong? Live today like you know your worth. Child of the Most High God!
This morning I woke up with a song in my head – it was one that got a lot of radio play in the 90’s by Jewel. The song, which speaks to going through the motions of life, has a line that says, “I feel so far from where I’ve been”. That is sticking with me this morning, and I feel like it applies to me right now with God. I feel so far from where I’ve been. I am the lost sheep, only I didn’t realize it until I looked around to see nothing familiar, and the Shepherd’s voice that I long to hear had grown quiet.
The reality is that God doesn’t play peekaboo, he is not hiding his face from me and wondering how long I will give in to the anticipation of seeing him again. James says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (Ja 4:8a)”… so what gives? AM I not seeking? Again with the games… I never liked hideand seek. As an only child it felt frustrating. You finally have other kids to play with only to indulge in a game of hiding from each other? I could have stayed home if I wanted to feel lonely. Only this is not a game, this is my relationship with the One and Only Creator and Savior of the world. And yet I feel like a sad kid at a picnic who can’t find her friends. As I read more in James, I was struck by the familiarity I had with the passages, but yet for some reason, I never knew they all went together. (Another reason it is good to know a verse’s address… then you find out who it’s neighbors are!)
Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously? But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Thank God for his grace. Yes and amen. Next part… The grace is ours, true, but it is in the humbling submittal to God. Then we draw near to him and he to us. It’s like a puffer vest. Which I admit I have bought, although I have no idea why. Our climate typically doesn’t support the need for the item, not to mention it looks terrible on me, but I digress. When we put on a vest stuffed with the cares of the world, and fluffed with personal concerns and interests we all look pretty ridiculous. And, have you ever tried to hug someone in a puffer vest? If we care to get close to God, we need to unload our own “good intentions” and “good Christian expectations”. Depuff. Lay ourselves out before the Lord, weep and ask for cleansing.
So my advice to myself? The distance is in the decision. Jesus is coming after me, ready to return me to my pasture... His pasture. And when he says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” he’s not talking about a loss of spirit, or poverty like a hunger. He’s talking about true reconciliation with the fact that humbly, we are His. To use as he will, for what he will – His Spirit is jealous for complete sovereignty within us. Only to be had when we deflate on the outside, and let him inflate within. My decision today is sorrowand mourning. Yes, I feel so far from where I’ve been. And just like the breakup song that inspired that line, I should embrace the ending of a relationship. But if I breakup with myself, the promise is for a far truer relationship than that which I was holding on to, to begin with.
Let freedom ring! What a beautiful thought; a joyous sound of no longer being enslaved, indebted, controlled and in captivity. But it’s much more than the history of a country, it’s the history of humanity. The bible speaks very clearly about our freedom.
John 8:32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:36 “So if the son sets you free, you really will be free.”
We are no longer a slave to sin. We’ve been given a new name. Yes, good things. But freedom comes with cost. Being “bought out of slavery” doesn’t come cheap. Our freedom that we have been given – well, it was undeserved. We have been redeemed, but not for our own sake.
When is the last time you purchased something costly? Was it a vacation – maybe Disney World, or a cruise to the Bahamas? Not me… no rollercoasters or boats, thank you. (In fact, they both give me the same queasy feeling.) Perhaps it was a new tech device. Giant TV? Anyway, it could be as simple as a gumball purchased from a candy machine. (Yup, they still have those… but I seem to recall a different price point, holla penny candy!) Whatever the purchase was, there were expectations on the buyer’s end. Vacation = good times and memories. Tech device = functionality. TV = Awesome movie/ sports experience. Gumball = duh. And as the buyer of whatever it was, why wouldn’t you have expectations? You paid the price, you put in the purchasing effort. You made the commitment. As did our God.
So why do we seem to think that the freedom, the actual transaction of our salvation, was the destination? God didn’t bring the Israelites out of slavery and say “well, off you go, you’re free”. No, he tookthem somewhere. He had a destination in mind – the promise land.
In Isaiah 61, the same passage that Jesus reads in the temple and says that it is fulfilled by him (Luke 14:17-21), it lays out the purchase arrangement. Verse 10 gives an interesting picture:
“I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Think of it this way: you get all decked out for the marital transaction. But the point isn’t the ceremony, it’s the commitment and the lives to be fully lived out together. The belonging to one another. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the devil wanted them to stay where they were. Naked, ashamed. But God clothed them and continued to bring them out to a new place. Yes, it was a place of consequence, but he didn’t smite them. He didn’t throw up his hands and say, “You ruined everything!”, no. He tookthem somewhere. The same God who gave us free choice never intended us to sit down in the emptiness of that freedom. The Israelites received their freedom and God had a kingdom in mind. The wilderness was part of the transaction, the freedom that they journeyed through in order to get to their destination. The kingdom they were heading to was one of belonging. True fulfillment of being purchased by the Lord and changing their identity. He said, “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ex. 6:7). So that ringing that you hear? It is the bell of freedom, reminding us to usher in the Kingdom – the true destination of our redemption.
This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine! Ahh, the season of VBS is upon us. I have memories of learning this song complete with hand motions. The image then was a bright shining light that no one could blow out; and it would shine so bright that you couldn’t hide it if you wanted to. Well, just as real life isn’t the same as Summer vacation… real walking with God isn’t the same as a week of VBS. Sometimes the flame flickers. Sometimes life lowers it and weighs it so heavy that it is just barely a blink. Sometimes we want to put it under a “bushel”, just so that we don’t have to keep tending the flame. How do we as Christians deal with always having to have our “lights on”?
For starters, can we all just get on board that there will be variances? I mean, even in modern times, power surges happen. Think about water pressure. Unless you forgot to pay that bill… the water is always available. But if everyone in the house is using the faucets at once, someone’s full shower head blast beating on their back is going to suddenly slow to half-power. And let’s not even talk about if the toilet is flushed… yow!! But when those things happen, they are expected. Its not a secret, and if you have guests over, you aren’t embarrassed about your water pressure. It is just seen as a part of having water that is always on. So why do we, in our purposeful walk with Christ, feel we need to “hide’ the variances? Why do we let the devil shame us into thinking that if we flicker, even in the slightest, we would “lose” our Christianity?
If we are to be the city on the hill (Mt. 5:14)… and our light shining for all to see (Mt.5:15)… the only true failure would be if we decided to go “off-grid” out of embarrassment for inconsistencies. And guess who wants us to do that? Hint: starts with “d” – ends with “evil”. God’s strength is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). God is the source; God is the consistency – its all to His glory. So stay atop that hill, dimly lit in the storm, flickering in the difficulties, barely hanging on. Besides, it has been said that a flickering flame attracts the most. He sees you there. And your willingness and intentional faith brings Him glory… and I’ll bet a swell of emotion and love.
As I listened to the sounds around me in my home, I was suddenly struck by how many of them were water noises. I noticed the turbulent whirring of the dishwasher, the trickle drip from the coffeemaker, and the gushing from the pipe as the washing machine filled. It was very peaceful, and it made me think of other water-noises, including this great app that I started using called Calm. They have several background options, and one of them is rain falling – very calming, lol. So, as I contemplated these things, it occurred to me that although the initial sound (stick with me, no, I’m not trying to make you feel like you have to pee!) of falling water in my home was similar, it does not compare to the fullness of the experience of hiking to a waterfall and looking out over the nature that surrounds you.
I tend to generalize things that I read in the bible – Moses went up “a mountain”, Jesus prayed in “a garden”, David was king of “somewhere”, and so on. In doing this, sometimes I am missing out on the fullness of the beautiful over-arching picture that God has presented as a love story to us. Just as a pizza shop in Uptown is nice (or at least usefully convenient if you are hungry), it means something much more as you look into the window with your husband and reminisce of his proposal to you on the dance floor when it used to go by a different name. Sometimes living in the same place for a while is like that, you have all these amazing memories of incredible meaning that are important to your story. I have heard from people who have journeyed to the “Holy Land” that it is a huge experience for their faith to visit and walk on the same spots that our Lord and Savior walked with his feet. Now for some of us, probably most of us, we will never physically make that journey. But there is another way.
Remember the Yellow Pages? If you are of a certain age, then yes. But for the others, let me try to elaborate. The Yellow Pages was a phone book – I know this is hard to imagine, but try – for the purpose of, well, letting everyone know your information. Funny enough, there was a time in which if somehow you were overlooked in the Yellow Pages, it was kind of embarrassing. It was a huge ordeal to get an “unlisted number” so if you weren’t in there on purpose it was an accomplishment. There were white pages for the residential-giving your name, number, and address, and yellow pages for the business providing the same info. Now on the front of this book was their logo – two “walking” fingers which sufficiently represented their tag line of “let your fingers do the walking”. Instead of walking around town, your fingers could walk down the page and find what you were looking for. Take this concept straight to God’s Word. Now don’t just meander, but go with purpose. There is such a reward in getting the fullness of the picture of history that the Living Word paints when you see that the same mountain on which God gave the ten commandments to Moses (Ex. 20:1-17) was also the mountain on which Jesus gave his first sermon (Mt. 5:1- 7:29) – “sermon on the mount” – yes that mount! The one where Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Mt. 5:17-19)! Or, that the same river God had the Israelites stack stones of remembrance after parting the waters to take them to the “land of promise”(Jos. 4:1-9), was also the same river that John used to baptizepeople (including Jesus!) (Mt. 3:13-17), the symbolic act representing the repentance and rebirth with a new “land of promise” in mind.
These moments of recognition are transforming, faith-forming. The kind of thing you can read about in a love story… oh wait, that’s the point.
Do you ever look around and wonder, “where am I”? Not so much a question of physically… maybe you are in your living room… but mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Where are you?
There is no coincidence that God asks this question in the garden of Eden. It’s not as if He doesn’t know where Adam and Eve are physically located. It’s not like He was keeping tabs on them from His phone, then… arghhhh, lost connection. SO what’s with the question? And if God does “know all” above our perspective (Is 55:8-9), and “sees all” from a timeline not our own (Is 46:10), why does He ask something that is in complete opposition of what could be described as “calling them out”? Momentary pause, if I caught my kids in heartbreaking disobedience, I would be very soap-box style, “Oh, Oh, you know where you are…. What’s up with that?! Whatcha dointhere? I SEE YOU!” -in my defense I did just watch Men in Black 3… feeling a bit riled up. But the point being, my hurt would cloud my reaction to the disobedience. And the God-perspective is, His view is NEVER clouded. He is never caught off-guard, never surprised by a sudden turn of events, and incapable of losing command of the heavens and earth, held in place by His Word.
(BSB) Surely My own hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand up together.
(NLT) It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
He summons; they stand up. Calls out? They order themselves. So again with the question. The hurt is the human perspective. The Godly view is ordered, secured, and substantiated by His good will, His character, and His purpose. Just before this inIsaiah he specifies, our redemption is for His own namesake. It is not tied to our “messing things up”, but tied to who we are inHim. He will not be made a fool of. Harsh and scary? Yes. But freeing truth? Absolutely. HOWEVER: do not confuse this with God owing us. We are not the child of a CEO, behaving badly, and yet our name is somehow kept out of the press because it would taint the “family name”. God gave us free choice to go it on our own. It is not a game, no wagering here. When we stray, we hear our Master’s call. We know our Shepherd’s voice.
So today, don’t look around and think, “where am I”, instead, listen for God’s call, and stand up.
School is out, the weather is warm, and the Chick-fil-as are even busier than before. We must be nearing Summer. And as we do, I sat to ponder what my days should look like in this new season. I have several commitments that are just beginning, but also many that are wrapping up. In the next few weeks of transition, I started thinking of some of the bigger occasions that are quickly approaching. Maybe you or your family have some upcoming events as well- graduations, vacations, birthday parties, camps, relatives visiting, and so on. I have one particular annual work commitment that is weighing on me, same as it does every year. In reflection, at least since this will be the 5th year of dealing with it, I now know what to expect. In that 1st year however, I was a wreck. There was lots of paperwork involved, spreadsheets and all the fun business records, and I had no idea what was needed and what wasn’t. I was terrified of lacking the expected documentation, and yet also nervous that perhaps I was providing too much, and subsequently would irritate the person whose charge it was to examine it all.
Thankfully, in our faith, this is a non-issue. We cannot prepare enough, nor would it do any good if we got all of our stuff in order, for the inspection of righteousness. Paul gives his own perspective on this in Philippians 3. Allow me to paraphrase… He was the most Jewishly awesome of any Jew out there. He was born into the right family, received the proper education, he taught others how to be awesome Jews, told off un-awesome Jews, gave the traitor Christians the what-for, and looked awesome doing it. Mic drop. Oh, but wait, then he met Jesus and realized what Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 64:6.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Paul continues his letter to the church at Phillipi saying this:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil 3:7-9)
The beginning of Matthew 22 talks about a parable of a wedding banquet. The king was throwing the banquet for his son, and long story short, none of the invited guests were coming. In fact, they were out and out evil in their response (read it for yourself... their whole villages get burned down), and so the king gave word to find anyone who would come and invite them, both evil and good. And so, the servants filled the halls of the banquet with the next batch of invitees (us), those who missed the first cut (although the king later declares that the first string didn’t deserve to come). Yay! We have been invited into salvation through the righteousness of Christ! Let’s get our wedding party on! But before we throw down to the Christian version of Cupid’s Shuffle, there is one more thing to this story.
Matt. 22:11-14 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
So, yes, we are invited to the party. But so were the others. And we are each responsible for accepting that invitation, regardless of what we have or have not done. But we cannot forget to give the proper respect to the King, dressing appropriately for that which we were called. Christ found us in our filthy rags… but he has given us his Robes of Righteousness. Why would we ever wear anything else?
My family and I recently watched the newest “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, or new “Toothless” movie as my kids call it. There is a central idea in the movie, that a secret dragon land can be found where the earth ends. I am always fascinated by how movies depict the “ends of the earth”. In the cartoon movie“Sinbad”, yup, eons ago w/ Brad Pitt pre-Angelina, the movie showed an actual drop-off from the ocean wherein the boat that they were sailing on the water essentially began to float in the emptiness. But in this movie, I found it interesting, that they chose to demonstrate the end as a waterfall-pit. Basically, it was like a huge toilet bowl flush, and upon entering in, you were then float flying to the secret land of the dragons. Where am I going with this? Well, Matt. 28:19 tells us to go and make disciples of all the nations… and Acts follows up on the same concept –
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Do I think that this means we are to go on a quest to “the ends of the earth”? No. But I do think that this might just mean something larger than, as the song says, “Go Tell it on a Mountain”. This is not a one and done scenario. We are instructed to repeatedly, consistently, and demonstratively echo the message of Jesus to All. Those. Around Us. Pressure? Yes. Helper? Also, yes. We have the Holy Spirit (see verse above) and note that we are not commanded to do anything we are not fully equipped by God to do. He does not set us up for failure. The only failing is if we choose not to do it.
Luke chapter 8 tells about the Parable of the Sower. It begins like this:
“Afterwards he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God.” The “he” here is Jesus. So… lets pause for a second and think about what that would look like today. If Jesus was walking on this earth, here and now, in all the emotional, socio-economical, and political chaos, what would that look like for him to travel from one town and village to another telling the good news? My thought is, he wouldn’t plan his visits around certain “bad parts” of town, nor would he spare talking to those he considered to have “strong” political perspectives. There would be no concern for him in sharing the good news with those struggling, hurting, confused, or disillusioned, and he wouldn’t limit his conversations to the optimal convenient time. Well? Neither should we.
The Parable of the Sower and it’s following explanation (Luke 8:4-8 and 8:11-15) isn’t to give cause for whom we should share the hope of our faith with, instead, it is to express that once the seed (aka word of God) is sown, the cultivation of that seed varies. Not that it admonishes any further action on our part – “Well I already told them once so that’s that”, but to encourage the sowing of seed despite the appearance of cultivation. It is our job as followers of Christ to actually follow his lead and speak hope and life and the promise of God’s Kingdom unto the ends of the earth. Our obedience cannot depend on whether we (in all our flawed judgement) think the receiver is “good ground”. We must choose to be the good ground ourselves, and thus in producing fruit, we in turn sow more seed. So, remain in Christ (Jn 15:1-8). Bear fruit (He is the vine; we are the branches). Leave the gardening to the ultimate Gardener.
This morning, my daughter was using her coloring pencils to make an artistic creation. After completing her work, she gave me an explanation of her drawing as she typically does. This time though, instead of the conversation simply being about what she drew, she also told of how at a certain point she felt lost in her direction. Sounds deep for a 5 yr old, but I was reading between the lines. I think what she said was something like, “And all of the sudden I was like, ‘what am I doing?’, so I stood back, looked at my paper and decided to turn it around and then it was like, ‘Ohhh, so that’s a rock, and this could be like a turtle or a hedgehog’… and then I saw that I could create a beautiful field of flowers right here!” Now imagine this being said with an eccentric head bob and tonal inflection, and it was really quite comical. But also, sooooo telling. How often in our own lives do we look around and feel the same loss of direction? What amI doing?
Brian often reminds us that repentance requires a Uturn. We must change and go in the opposite direction, away from our fleshly desires and toward the Kingdom of God. (see well, the bible.)
Matthew 4:17 tells us of when Jesus began preaching, and his message was this: “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He then goes on to preach his Sermon on the Mount and give a very specific account of what all this looks like. Side note, I recently participated in a bible study by Jen Wilkin titled “Sermon on the Mount”, where the focus is the sermon as a whole and gave great depth and insight to some areas I didn’t even know I was struggling to understand. I super recommend it!
Back to the point, and with a fresh metaphor, imaging driving. Where are you headed? Destination is key – duh. But, have you ever thought you were going toward something and found out you were going entirely in the wrong direction? Many moons ago, my husband-to-be and his sister headed out on a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with their mom in Florida. Their plan was to drive through the night (youth, lol) and get there bright and early to make the family meal. I was at my friend’s family’s house when I got the call. It was a large group, so I had to step out and make him repeat everything. Nope, they weren’t in Florida, they were in South Carolina. Apparently, someone, ehem, had taken a wrong turn while Jason was getting a little shut-eye. When he woke up, they were practically back where they started. Seriously.
SO my question is this: at what point, or better yet, how often do we need to take stock of our surroundings and adjust our course? The truth of the matter is, you can tell that you are heading to the beach when you are on the way. 74 and 211 have looked the same for decades and are recognizable in their monotony. But seriously, you can look around and know where you are heading. Same is true in life. Look at your surroundings… places, people, description of the area…. Are you heading toward the Kingdom of God? Not talking about salvation here, just goal and getting to where God has promised. Jesus’ ministry did not begin with, “now go out and be nice to others..”, it literally started with “Repent”. And I do not think this can be boxed up as a one-time decision. Just as when you head to the beach you don’t simply decide where you are heading and sit back inactively (maybe in the Cars of the Future, lol), you are constantly making turns, changing lanes, and readjusting for detours and traffic. We must be doing the same on our “Christian walk”, lest we end up expecting to get to Florida, but waking up to find you having to call your mom to say you won’t make it for the meal. We can’t miss the meal… Jesus said he was setting a place for us. For you, for me… he promised he was going ahead of us with the expectation we will follow. That’s a promise worth making a Uturn for.
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.