Friday, January 18, 2013
Haters gonna hate.
Timing is a funny thing. It always surprises me that you can go from a total "high" moment at the beginning of a week, only to tumble into disappointment at the end. I suppose its good in a way, it keeps us leaning on the wisdom of the Lord. Trusting His purpose makes it all a little easier to stomach.
The last 9 months have been a roller coaster. No doubt about it. But the learning and growth we have all experienced has been so worth it. I look at every moment of life differently now. When I am in a funk of course, I think of all the mistakes I have made, and say "what if", "if only". But when I am in my right mind, I just see all that God is doing to show who He is. A God who loves us, who wants to SAVE us from ourselves. A God who wants to be connected to us and change us. My peanut brain just can not grasp it all.
I was reading in the gospels tonight, and it just kept striking me that Jesus truly did come to change the way we ARE. The book of John was the very first one I ever read- even before I became a Christian. It's dog-eared, and worn but it still confuses me sometimes. Chapter after chapter, Jesus explains who He is. Clearly, directly. But I still don't understand Him or know Him fully. Because I am still a sinner. I get angry, and jealous. I can be bitter and use my tongue to hurt. I am far too opinionated and I eat too much. But He loves me in spite of me. Crazy.
I got to a passage in John 8 that just gets me every time. Click on the link and read it. It's the story of a woman caught sleeping around. Nowadays, it doesn't seem very shocking, does it? I think every one of us knows someone who could fit this woman's description. But back then- it was certain death. It breaks my heart when I picture her, face down at the feet of GOD, all her shame and sin laid out for everyone to see. I just want to run to her and hug her, to wipe her tears and tell her she is still valued. But the church wanted her stoned. They wanted her to pay for her sin. In blood. (And please don't think I am trying to do a correct interpretation of this passage- I understand that the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus with His response. Trying to find a way to catch Him disobeying God's law so they could condemn Him. I just relate more with "Pharisees" now, as I am part of the "church" and a "religious" person. This is just thoughts on how I see it sometimes.)
As we face people who can't move past the sins of this last year, it reminds me of this story. I always read it and thought the "Pharisees" looked angry- red faced, raging MAD. Now sometimes I picture them with concern, with indifference, with an air of wisdom. Sometimes...I picture them as just men- who didn't want "dirt" in their "church". I don't feel irritated with them anymore, I just feel more sad.
When I think of the woman, I imagine her relief when Jesus rescued her. When she heard him say, "Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” I imagine her tears. Did she clean up right then and there? Did she never again sin- never again give in to the flesh? I wish I knew. I use to think so- but now I'm not so sure. I wonder how hard the road was to rebuild her life. I know she did it, I just know it. But what were all the consequences she experienced that John didn't tell us about?
I look at my daughter and her little family, and I thank God that she trusts Jesus with her life. I love that no matter how hard it gets, she refuses to quit. Her choices- good and bad- are out there, for the whole world to see. She experiences the hurt every day for her mistakes, while I know so many people- her friends and adults- who walk in their sin and just haven't gotten caught yet. Drugs, sex, immorality. Getting drunk off their butt on Friday and worshiping on Sunday. They get to stand where the Pharisees did. Pointing, whispering. Making decisions that only hurt, because their sin is secret. I feel sorry for them because they don't know that the damage is still being done, even if they still get to sing and worship on Sundays.
I am so proud of Jasmine and Spencer. They keep getting hit, but they keep getting up. I don't agree with them sometimes, but I LOVE the people God is growing them into. I love that they have come so far in so short a time, and that even when things are hard, they are learning to CHOOSE to submit to the authority God has put over them- not just to make up for past disobedience. But because they WANT to see God do big things in their lives.
We were confronted yet again with the hard consequences of sin this week. In theory we can say "you are forgiven in Christ" but in reality, people don't do that as easily. We all have principles to live by, but it's interesting that no one has any suggestions on what that looks like in practice. I guess for me- I'm tired of doing church and life the way "it's always been done". I want to be a person who can show grace even when it's hard. The kind of person who accepts others the way they ARE right now, rather than waiting until they clean up and put on their best dress. Lord, help me to find the balance between the love I have for your Word and Law, and the love I have for your broken people. Make me more like You, Jesus. A God who eats with sinners, saves the prostitute. A God who can love someone even like me.
To leave you on a much happier note- I might not like the "church" very much right now, but I LOVE God's people! Jasmine's friends had a baby shower for her this last Saturday and it was too perfect! All the pictures just give a tiny glimpse of the way these ladies blessed my girl, and showed her how much she is loved and cared for. It was overwhelming to see, and even more wonderful to watch Jasmine and Spencer process the kindness when they got home.
My favorite story was a surprise gift. One of my patients, who I worked with for over a year, is a dear sister in Christ and shares our love of horses and life. She heard about Jasmine and her shower through a co-worker, and wanted to do something special, "because I respect so much her decision to choose life" even when it's a hard road. So hundred of dollars later, Brielle has her crib, and all the accessories- from a complete stranger. This woman has never met my girl, I haven't seen her in months, and yet she wanted to share the love of Christ...the GRACE of Christ, just because. Now THAT, was a great day.
"whole spirit, soul and body may be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24