Posts Tagged: sin

Dark Side Lightened

I benefit from this anguish.
Your judgment that finds faith
lacking. You reveal secrets.
Pull truth from my heart like
a colorful magician’s scarf. I choke
on the hate. Vomit anger, and
bite down on the bitterness of repulsive
slavery. I weep.

And still,
you empty me.

Remember my image to me, the
heart you canvased in my mother’s womb.
Calmed,
Loved,
Purposed.
Brushstroke light, concealed in
despair. Display
a masterpiece through the shadows of my suffering.

Dedicated to the many children who experience abuse.

Accepting the Lifeline: God’s Yoke is Light

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

If you’re a Christian and His yoke doesn’t feel light, why is that? I used to think a light yoke meant my circumstances weren’t heavy, but clearly my circumstances are extremely heavy. Our yoke becomes light when we know God’s gentleness and humility so well that the yoke is nothing in comparison. Paul touches on the difference of our earthly weight compared to the heavenly yoke, in Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. If my yoke still feels heavy, it is because I am the one still carrying the weight! I don’t know or trust God’s character; giving him full reign of my life. The yoke becomes lighter and lighter when I love Him completely and recognize his complete love for me. Have you ever been secure in that kind of love? Can we accept that he carried our burden on the cross, and therefore, find rest (relief) in the yoke of our savior.

Much of faith is getting to know our master’s character so well that we trust him implicitly. Think of it this way. We are drowning in sin, sin we are doing, and sin that someone is enacting on us. We are exhausted and God has thrown out his life line. We must choose to grab the line before we can rest and allow him to pull us to safety. Now I can keep attempting to save myself, or allow others to pull me under in their misguided attempts at saving me, or I can trust the character of God. This is so much easier when we get to know his character. We read his love note (scripture) over and over. We witness that he has rescued others, we ourselves might have thought hopeless, and we act on his character over and over. I’ll grab the lifeline of the certified swim instructor who has swum the channel! Jesus swam the channel of humanity! He tells us his yoke is light, because he wore the yoke of his father, and knows it to be true.

Observe His gentleness and humility throughout scripture. Don’t discount his love for mankind in the Old Testiment as well as the New. From the birth of creation he has loved and called you by name. We have to decide, will we take His yoke upon us? Will we accept the lifeline and rest?

 

 

I Have Never Been Stranded on Mars, but if I were . . .

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” –Mark Watney (The Martian)

I have had a multitude of troubles thrown my way, but I can honestly say, I have never been stranded on Mars. In the early days after Jonathan’s death a friend asked, “How are you doing this? How are you able to function?”

My answer, “I’m not.”

I knew several things almost instantly the day Jonathan died.

  1. This was hell on earth.
  2. I could not stand in this furnace alone.
  3. I would grieve with hope.

Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I live, because Christ lives. The more I am crucified with Christ, my fleshly desire to have Jonathan alive dies. So many of us do not get over losing our children because it is a way of keeping them alive in our minds. God does not say, “Just get over it.” He mourns with us! At the same time he invites us to the realization that God will be glorified. We cannot stare longingly at the grave of our past and expect to resurrect what is not within God’s will. We must keep our eyes fixed upon the cross if we want to live.

I wrestle with this aspect of God’s character, but I also know he did not spare his own son. When Jesus started talking to the followers about “eating his flesh”, many walked away. (John 6:53) This is a hard teaching! Will I leave Jesus because I cannot fully get my mind around what he is asking of me? No! Who else in this world has changed my life. Who else has loved me like you? You are the Christ and my salvation is in you alone.

I am finding that the cross is the juxtaposition of Christ! Opposites collide on the cross– life and death, pain and pleasure, law and grace, sin and holiness, shame and glory. On the cross Jesus understands, both my deepest sorrow, and the heights of his fathers glory. And as I die my spirit is revealed more and more. I pray that I too, one day, can fully state. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” I don’t have to scramble, alone, to solve enough problems to get home. Christ already solved them for me on the cross. I’m already home!

 

I’m Guilty of Passing Judgement

Colossians 2: 13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.…

James 3:9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

James 4:12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

“Who are you to determine who I decide to invite to my table?”

It is always strange to think, the prodigal son just as easily can become the older judgmental brother. But, that is exactly what I became as I struggled with my ex wanting a larger role in Jonathan’s life than he had previously attempted to have in 7 years. He wasn’t asking, he was demanding it. And the quote above are the exact words God spoke to me while I paced in the back of the church during a sermon on the Prodigal Son Parable.

“But, he is not even repentant!” Was my argument with God. There are so many people in this fallen world that it may be easy for us to pass judgment upon. Forgetting how much God has forgiven us. My response may be like yours to the horrid actions of Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby, and Jared Fogle. They are not even repentant Lord! When I hear the harm has been done to children, and for the record, I have been that child, well I–I want to cast the largest stone. That God died on a cross for these men, and for those who hurt me, is hard to comprehend. But he did!

In taking a look at almost all of the scriptural situations where Jesus gave forgiveness for sins, it wasn’t after repentance, it was before.

The adulteress woman–caught in the midst of her affair and no indication that she asked for forgiveness

The paralyzed man brought to Jesus to be healed–not looking to be forgiven, he was looking to be healed

The disciples–all would fall away as Jesus was being arrested, yet he chose them!

I think that our world has a very messed up, hypocritical and condemning perspective on sin, particularly sexual sins when it does harm to others, especially children. But, we hold those very same sins up as freedom of expression and dare I say rights when we think that it affects no one but ourselves. It is my body is our mantra! My thinking changed drastically when a second heartbeat began beating under mine. I knew that my drinking could do harm to him, so I stopped. Instantly I became aware that my actions were transferred to a baby who had done nothing to deserve the consequences of my sin. What was happening inside me was a microcosm of Christ’s actions for the entire world. But here is the kicker, Jesus pursued me before I hit rock bottom and finally cried out to him, not after.

While you and I didn’t even realize we needed him, Christ died for us. It isn’t based on our deserving it, it isn’t even based upon any of us ever getting grace figured out. He who knew no sin, became a sin offering because Josh Fogle, Bill Cosby , Josh Duggar, Karisa Moore, _____________, are loved by their creator.

What these men have done is clearly wrong, and they will be judged rightly by God. We too can clearly call sin, sin in order to restore those around us to a right relationship with God, but what we cannot do is cast the first stone. Only the one who knew no sin can condemn rightly. So where does that leave us?

  1. Remove our own logs (sin) (Matthew 7)
  2. Pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10)
  3. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13)
  4. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James1)

The bottom line is this: “Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice.”–Matthew Henry

The Shortest Route through Grief

Turn the Page:

Proverbs 3:5-7Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

Simple is a loaded word. It carries the weight of my desires, failures, and pleasures. I have complained a lot, through the years, when things break down, or seem to take too long. “Why can’t things be more simple?” Obviously, grief is no exception to the rule. We must go through it if we want to live life to the fullest. If there were a short cut through suffering and loss, I’d take it.

But scripture states clearly that there is! The shortest route between two points is obedience to God. For all of my complaining I am my own worst enemy when it comes to simplifying life. What makes my life more complicated is sin. I don’t want to go through suffering, so I have tried to avoid it, medicate it with alcohol, bad relationships, and running away or fighting my way through. None of which have ever worked. God has offered all of us a shortcut through Christ.

Since the moment the officer arrived on my doorstep with the nightmare of Jonathan’s death I have had a choice. Do I go through grief my way, or God’s way? He told us we would suffer and grieve in this life, but he also promised us that we would be comforted. The short cut is to love the Lord my God with all of my soul, heart, and mind. To lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge him in all my ways. God will make my paths straight!

By no means have I fully accomplished this, but it is my goal. When I accomplish the above command, I will go through this grief the shortest route possible and be comforted along the way to boot. Grief will be but a speck! It is when I disobey God and go my own way that things get more complex. Just ask the Israelites who spent forty years wandering through the wilderness when they had had God himself leading the way! If I want a shortcut through grief then I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith.

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