Thursday, July 28, 2011

Walking in Love

I heard a rumor the other day.  It was about one of the members of our church.  It’s not that I felt one way or another about its truth, I was just sickened by how much damage a rumor like that can do. 

Imagine struggling to correct a situation that has somehow gotten out of hand.  After all, isn’t that the way most sin creeps up on us?  Satan is no slouch; he’s a saboteur.  He starts with a small lie, a grey area, and before we know it – BOOM!  Our sin has gotten a lot bigger than we are.  So think about confessing to someone you respect and consider a possessor of Godly wisdom.  You are embarrassed, scared, so sorry for your family and the painyour sin  has caused.  You surrender – to whatever methods you and your counsel are led by God to establish, in order to restore you and keep you from falling back this way.  You will do anything to make it right; you have laid yourself bare, and relinquished privacy and control -- things most of us take for granted – all for the sake of renewal and healing.  And then… you hear the whispers.  You see the looks.  They know.  Betrayal.  Defeat.  Fear.  Confusion and doubt.  Heart sickness.  

Really?  Is this what we do to a brother or sister who seeks forgiveness, and repentance, and healing? 

And if the rumor isn’t true?  What sort of damage can we do with an unfounded story or careless supposition?  Just how cruel can we be and still call ourselves the “body of Christ?”  I know why God is God – because were it I looking on this, my children causing one another such harm, those who bear my name acting so recklessly?  I’d vomit.  I’d wretch and seize in disgust. 

But still He looks on us, his children with love.  The gossip, the backbiting, the jealousy, the arrogance and judgment.  Our sins are vile to Him, but we are not.  And as those who have been sanctified, sin should be just as vile to us.  Especially when it leaves our brothers and sisters wondering who they can trust if not the Family of God.  And yet, we engage in such putridity. 
And yet... He still loves us. 

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Keep On Truckin'

Yesterday started out a little rocky for one of my drivers.  He was running late, left something at home that he desperately needed, and he was hitting the road for three days with another driver who, let's just say, tends to be a little difficult to warm up to.  To add insult to injury, "Ken's" lateness and the difficulties he was experiencing just seemed to poke at that big old bear sitting in the seat next to him.  Now, make no mistake, our drivers are equipped with roomy, relatively comfortable "sleeper tractors" -- but this is no "Trick My Truck" operation here.  (Think 9 PM argument with your spouse and no sofa to sleep on, or eight hours of summer rain with six kids stuck indoors and no bathroom for retreat!)  Three days of clashing personalities on barren highway, fighting through weather and construction traffic, trying to sleep in a bunk while someone you don't even like -- much less trust -- drives you to some "passable" truck stop for a shower and artery-clogging chow, checking in at a building where a sleepy guard wants nothing more than your paperwork so he can go home and enjoy his weekend like the rest of civilization, then turning around and doing it all over again -- can leave you feeling a bit... lonely.  Talk about your wilderness experience!  As they left the yard, I told Ken I'd pray for him.

We've all been in the wilderness; we've all had times when we felt completely alone.  But what do we do with those opportunities when we have them?  Yes, that's right, I said "opportunities."  Being alone sometimes is easy for most of us, but feeling alone is an opportunity.  It's a chance to turn to the One who never leaves us or forsakes us.  When those we love are far away or have turned their backs on us, God is with us.  When we have no one else on whom to rely, we can rely on Jesus.  Feeling alone can break us down in frustration and fear, turn our hearts to Him, leave us willing "to do anything" to change our circumstances.  Once we see the power of God to rescue, restore, even give us more than we'd ever imagined, we will never be the same.  The wilderness will never look as lonely and barren as it did when we first entered.

"I know you'll be back soon, but Ken, don't waste your days in the wilderness."  And I'll be praying that none of us does! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Really Got a Hold on You

Proverbs 29:13 (NLT)

"The poor and the oppressor have this in common— the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both."

Matthew 5:45 (NLT)

"In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike."

What wonderful words of comfort are these!  In our good days and bad, God loves us all.  There is nothing we have done to earn the love of God; He gives sunlight, rain, and sight to us all, regardless of our deeds.  If there is nothing we can do to earn His love; there is nothing we can do to lose it.  If we have not earned His affection in anyway, there is no period in life so trying, so lonely, so rebellious in which we should ever wonder if we have lost our God to our own sinful acts.  A frail, sinful father remains in love with his children regardless of the way their lives have taken them; Our perfect Father in Heaven treats us to His love and spreads wide His arms if we will but fall into them, or not.  Imagine if the prodigal of Luke 15 had seen his father, arms outstretched, and had turned away, headed back to his degenerate lifestyle.  Would the father's love have been any less?  Or would his heart have broken for the relationship he and his son might have had?  Would he have grieved for all that his son might have become, if only he had love and hope for himself half that which the father has for him?

Oh, Child.  Return to your Father in Heaven, the Father that loves you as no other can.  Lean into His arms; feel the warmth of His light.  Open your eyes to all He can do for you today; receive the perfect vision He offers, and drench your heart beneath His cleansing rain.  Surrender your efforts to the Lord and abide in His care, for nothing you can ever do will loosen His grip so long as you acquiesce.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stay Out of It!

Proverbs 26:17 (NLT)
"Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears."

It really doesn't get any clearer than that.  And yet...

I just had a talk with my son a couple of weeks ago.  I explained to him that, while I am still his mother, I still love him dearly, and I still enjoy his company, the specifics of my job took on a very different dimension several years ago.  I am no longer his mommy.  I don't care what others say about him.  It is of no consequence to me what he does for a living, with whom he spends his time, or where he hangs his hat.  Our relationship is based solely on how we relate to one another.  Hence, the term "relationship."  I love him; I pray for him daily -- or more.  I want the best for him, but wanting and praying are all I can do.  The rest, is up to my son -- my adult son.  If he comes to me for advice, help, comfort -- whatever, it is with my discretion and God's wisdom that I act, or not.

Believe it or not, I have encountered an entire group of people who would override me.  Who will get between a parent and a child.  Sign of the apocalypse?  I don't know, but it amazes me that "older folk" are supposed to have more sense, and yet, they do it all the time.  Grandparents who just can't stay out of a family's business.  Grandparents who insist on stepping in when a relationship between a parent and child is not what they believe it should be.  Grandparents who will take up for a child who is being forced by loving parents, to face the consequences of his or her actions.  Grandparents who will meddle in the affairs of their children and "grands" even to the point of telling their grandchildren not to tell Mommy or Daddy what's being said or done.  I'm not talking about slipping Little Johnny a fin like my uncles used to do; I'm talking about deliberately defying a parent's rules and gloating about it!  Morals aside, do these mature (?), seasoned (?), allegedly wise individuals possess any common sense whatsoever?  Is even the older generation so wrapped up in making themselves look good, they can't see they will get the worst of it in the end?

"Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears."