Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lady's Lizard... (from the Archives)

Journeying through Holy Week, I was brought back to these thoughts I wrote many months ago.

Today would probably have to qualify as one of the most beautiful days of the year. Taking full advantage of the clear skies, light breeze, and radiant sunshine, I was outside walking and playing fetch with Lady, my puppy. There is a large grassy area with a big hill right behind where I live, and it is one of Lady’s favorite spots to run and play. Several days ago, Lady found a dried up dead lizard in her "play yard," and proudly brought it to me clenched in her tiny jaws. Disgusted, I made her drop it and took her to another part of the hill to play. The next day as we were out walking, Lady found her lizard friend again, and smugly brought it once more to my feet. Still grossed out at this stiff, desiccated reptile, I once again let out an "Eeeewww!" and we promptly retreated to another part of the field, leaving behind her dead and shriveled friend.

Well, Lady is a persistent little girl. She is 5 pounds of pure energy and determination. So, of course, when we went out to play today (hundreds of yards from the last spotting of her reptile friend, mind you), Lady once again made her way to her lizard. Shocked that she found this one tiny little lizard in the midst of the huge field, all I could think was "For the love of God, how do you keep finding this guy?!"

As gross as that lizard is to me, I got to thinking that for Lady, it is just in her nature to hunt and sniff out things like that. That is what she will always do. It is her instinct to sniff out and track down things that are dead, that are dirty, and she will for the rest of her life bring those dead and dirty things to my feet in pride.

Perhaps each of us could learn a lesson from Miss Lady. As Christians, isn’t it supposed to be a part of our nature to go seeking out the spiritually dead and wounded? It is far too often that we stumble upon people who desperately need the forgiveness and love of Christ, and instead of proudly taking them to the feet of God, we grimace and cry out a prideful "Eeeewww!" as we leave their desperate and withered souls in the dust.

Even around such holidays as Easter, THE resurrection celebration, how quickly we forget that God is in the business of bringing life into dead things. May we always take the dried up and dead, the wounded and missing, to His feet.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

He Knows

The nursery for our little one has finally moved into the stage of being ready for assembly and decoration. The closet has been cleaned out, the office furniture relocated, the walls have been primed and painted a beautiful shade of barely there turquoise-blue, the light fixture changed, and the drop cloths removed. Before my very eyes, this room has become THE room. The nursery. The sanctuary where my precious little one will be sleeping and napping and playing and crying out for mama. Each time I stand in the doorway of that near empty nursery, it takes my breath away.

Sweet Jesus, how is it that tears of joy come with such freedom at the thought of this miracle who I don’t even know yet? How is it that there is such profound love swelling inside of my heart with each passing day as I anticipate his arrival? How will I ever be able to contain my love for him when I finally meet him face to face?

And then it occurs to me: Lord, you already KNOW him. (Lucky you).

If I love him so much, even before knowing his face, how much more must our Creator love and adore this tiny miracle growing inside me? He already knows him. He has already assigned his future and his purpose.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

For 14 more weeks, I will wait to meet my son. But Jesus already knows him well.

Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Unloading the Camel

I have a great appreciation for the story of the Rich Young Man (found in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18). Many of us who are familiar with this story have often heard it equated to a love for money and sacrifice for the Kingdom of God—which I am not denying. But, as I read it recently for probably the 100th time, I gathered something else from the words of Jesus to this curious man.

The man wanted to know what he must do to inherit an eternity with God. Apparently, he was a man who obeyed the Law and also possessed great wealth. This is important because riches in that day were thought to be an indicator of God’s favor. Wealth was said to be an index of a person’s spiritual state. Therefore, the man had probably until this time bore his wealth quite proudly as an assurance of his salvation.

And then came the unexpected announcement of Christ: Sell it. It’s worthless. It’s not what I’m looking for.

In fact, Jesus went so far as to say that a camel could more easily pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter his Kingdom.

There is much debate about this analogy, but I find it quite interesting that the “Eye of the Needle” was also a phrase used to describe a small entrance in large gates for passengers on foot. The large gates were opened only for pack-bearing animals (i.e. camels carrying a large load). For one of these animals to even have a hope of fitting through this small, single-person entrance, it would have to remove all of its packs.

The Rich Young Man had loaded his life with his own idea of “spiritual indicators.” He was like a camel, bearing his hefty load with pride. Much like him, we often stack our backs high with good deeds, the “right” words, and dutiful devotion times—packing for our self-navigated trip into the Kingdom of Heaven. We compose man-made indications of our spiritual relationship to God, and we follow them like a script. We put on our suits and ties and our best Sunday dress, we set our timer and pray until it dings, memorize our bible verses, and promise to save one more soul. With our checklist, we dutifully pack our bags for eternity.

And then God says, “Unload the camel.”

It’s not the way in. The loads we attempt to bear are often endured in vain, and to get through the eye of that needle, we have to let it all go.

I am not discounting the relevance of spiritual discipline, nor the importance of intentional sacrifice for the Kingdom. But I have to wonder at times if we have mistaken these things as a means to an end. When we unpack our camels, what is left? What are we without the things we do? To be more clear, what is in our hearts? What is our heart’s attitude towards God? What is our heart's attitude towards the ones we love... and even those we don't?

Do we love from the deepest corners of our heart... or do we spend our time looking for more self-serving novelties to pack away in the luggage of our soul?

God has really challenged me to unload my camel and examine my heart underneath. More than anything else, I want my heart to be pure before Him. And even if it means stripping my devotion to everything else, I want to be able to fit through that door.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Reposted from my original blog:


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