07 October 2012

The Object of our Gaze.

I was recently in a small group of women who were, in beautiful vulnerability, confessing sins to one another.

One confessed to thinking too poorly of herself and her skills; of not taking herself seriously in the work that God's called her to. Another confessed that she thought too much of herself, finding herself taking pride in gifts and revelations from God, as if she had earned them. Another confessed that she is too sensitive to any criticism, real or perceived, and finds herself too often trying to justify and defend herself.

I was one of those women. Okay, while we're on the topic of confession, I was the middle one. But like confession does, there was healing in it. And I thought it was remarkable how an unplanned theme of our confession emerged: wrong views of self.

This is a big issue for the woman who follows Jesus. And there is a temptation for the prideful person to remedy her sin by remembering her brokenness and her faults; or for the person with low self-esteem to remedy her sin by focusing on her positive traits. But I think those remedies can often be like an overcorrection in driving, just taking us from one ditch to another.

I remember Pastor James MacDonald saying once that the problem with both self-esteem that is too high and self-esteem that is too low is too much focus on self. The remedy for either of these isn't to try look at yourself differently as much as it is to look at God. It is there that the prideful person and the self-deprecating both find their remedy. Knowledge of who God is and what he has done necessarily shows us who we are. Gazing into God sets everything else in order, including our self-identity.

This inevitably leaves us in state of humble gratitude; the recipients of immeasurable goodness that we did nothing to earn. We intuitively feel grace: unmerited favor: we are without merit and we are favored. We're able to hold those two concepts in effortless tension when we're gazing at him with open hands. And that humble gratitude is the remedy; the way; the path between the two ditches - we find it by looking onward and upward, to the Way we're following.

 "let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith" 

26 December 2011

"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."

Lately I'm so aware of how the gospel can be offensive.

Part of me really wants to think that if only people could see Jesus for who he truly is, nothing could stop them from loving him. But then I remember that he walked the earth, and people did see him, unhindered, for who he is. And many hated him, and maybe worse, many were apathetic toward him. Even after he rose from the dead. He also assured his followers that people would hate them.

So, who am I to think that if I could only give people a clearer picture of Jesus, they would surely embrace him? I am called to give people a clear picture of Jesus. But I need to let go of my expectations of how they will respond. And I certainly should not measure myself by people's responses.

20 December 2011

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do.

Natalie shared this with me, and I love it:

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” (Ecc 9:10)

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.” One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do-”do it with thy might.” Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.
But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.
-Charles Spurgeon

22 November 2011

Talking with a visible Someone.

He had a face that could be looked at.

Eyes you could look into.

Here, on earth.

God with us.

The Word, wrapped up in flesh.