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So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Poetry, not Procedure

I have claimed Christianity for quite some time now--over twenty years. As anyone who knows me or has read this blog realizes, it has not been an easy journey for me. The "how" of it all has always frustrated me. Goal-driven by personality, reconciling the grace of God with the rules of behavior has been a continual struggle. In the parable of the prodigal son, I am the elder brother, hurt and angry at the grace shown to the other brother, the one who screwed up and now gets a party.  Even as I have tried to understand grace and love, so much of my own performance-driven nature paired with so much of my religious experience has caused me to miss the miracle.

I'm reading a book right now: "He Loves Me", by Wayne Jacobsen. Skeptical by nature, especially skeptical of anything that sounds too "lovey-dovey" about God, I approached it with some trepidation, despite a glowing recommendation from a dear friend. I'm a few chapters away from the end and. . . I feel like I might finally be getting it. I feel like the mystery and the poetry and the story of the love of God through Jesus have been given back to me.

I love to read. I love a good story. Words are like music to me. Before I became a believer, I had read a lot of books which pointed to God's love for me. Books about lost people being found. Stories about sacrificial love. The tales I love best are those where good wins and evil loses and the lovers unite and the endings are happy. There are people(many of whom I cannot give credit to by name) who believe that every good and worthwhile story is the story of God redeeming His bride, the Shepherd finding His sheep, the sacrifice of perfect love to save sinful people. Think of the stories you treasure. Why are they dear to you? For me, it's the idea that love will win. That someone would search until the lost are found. That there is love strong enough to defeat death.

I, too, believe that all redemptive tales are God whispering and calling to us. There is a mystery in faith, a poetry, something that we long for but can't understand. I owe much to the churches that I have belonged to since I became a Christian. I have learned much of love and acceptance and community that I could have discovered nowhere else. However, most of the teaching and theology that I have heard has, paired with my performance-oriented bias, tried very hard to remove the mystery and the poetry and even the love from the salvation story.

In many cases, salvation is explained like a legal transaction:  Man is sinful (true). Man can never enter heaven or a relationship with God because of sin (also true). God wants us to be in heaven and in relationship with Him (true again), so He sent Jesus to pay our consequence and rescue us from His punishment (kinda true but not the whole story). Jesus died, we believe, we go to heaven and can know God (again. . . kinda yes but falling so short of profound mystery of it all).

That rendering of my salvation leaves me cold. It always has, and I always felt guilty about that. I should be grateful for Jesus paying the price for my sin (and I am, though this analogy doesn't lead me there). But this reduction of my salvation to a legal procedure fails to stir my heart.

In this book, Jacobsen explains the cross in a way that restores to me the poetry, mystery, and love of it all. Jesus' sacrifice for me, for you, for all of us was not a mere legal transaction or fulfillment of the letter of the law. It was an act imagined by a loving and creative Father determined to restore the relationship that was forfeited by Adam and Eve. Jesus didn't just pay for our sin. He became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."). He didn't do it just to balance some cosmic scale, but because He loved us and wanted us to be free from the power of sin so that we could live a life glorifying to God and a life united with God.

There is no performing that I can do to make God love me more. The Lord doesn't want my obedience done to earn His favor. I have His favor, wholly unearned:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7)
 God doesn't want slaves or soldiers. He wants children and friends (John 15:15). As I learn to "live loved" by trusting and following the Lord's lead even as I don't understand, I will live the life that I am meant to live. Do I understand this completely? Nope. Am I excited to relate to God in the way that He meant for me to, the way, that, indeed, He sacrificed everything to make possible? Yes!

10 comments:

  1. Really, you should just read the book. Because I can't re-write it here. . . really good explanation of the cross and what happened there.

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  2. Thank you again, Edna. I have felt the same... Why do I not feel more grateful or why am I not more able to grasp His love for me? Exactly right... That explanation of salvation, although conveniently put in a nutshell, just never quite touched me. I have used it before (a requirement in order to complete a structured Bible study), but I always felt that I could not communicate God's love in what He did on the cross. It probably left my hearers feeling cold too. Maybe I should check out this book. I need a breakthrough for my cold, heart of stone! I always look forward to your insights. So often, they express just what I feel.
    Eve

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  3. „As I learn to "live loved" by trusting and following the Lord's lead even as I don't understand, I will live the life that I am meant to live.“ Oh my, I think I may have just received an answer to my questions tonight, arising out of a very dry session with the Lord.
    Eve

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  4. Thanks for reading--you should try the book. It has been helpful to me, and I often struggle with a hard heart, too. God is at work, whether we realize it or not!

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  5. Amen! I am so glad I found your blog. Truly an encouragement and blessing to me.
    Have you read articles or books by Carolyn McCulley? I've many articles and books on singleness, and she is refreshingly different.
    Looking forward to reading "He Loves Me"! Read an excerpt and it already speaks to me!
    Eve

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  6. Oops... **I've [read] many articles and books... :)

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  7. Eve--

    Thanks for the encouragement! I do like Carolyn McCulley, too. Both her books "Radical Womanhood" and "Did I Kiss Dating Goodbye" were very good.

    Let me know what you think about "He Loves Me."

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  8. P/S Of course! That's how I found out about her. Through your blog list! :D Looking forward to reading her books too. :) Have a good week ahead! -- Eve

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  9. One more thing :) -- have you read this? I will soon. Apparently it is "the best thing out there on singleness".
    http://www.pureintimacy.org/piArticles/A000000444.cfm
    --Eve

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  10. Chanced upon it via https://www.cbmw.org/the-best-thing-out-there-on-singleness/
    --Eve

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