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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.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Wonder of It All

I am reading through the Bible this year, and trying a new approach. Usually I have done the plan that has some Old Testament, a psalm or two, a proverb or two, and some New Testament every day. The end is rough (prophets and Revelation for a few weeks), but the rest of the time it's a good mix. This year I am doing it chronologically, so Old Testament only for months and months, and not even many psalms yet. A benefit I am seeing by hanging out in the Old Testament is that God is helping me to see how radical and strange and amazing Jesus was.

A few weeks ago, in Deuteronomy, I read these verses: 
 You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it.  And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement.  Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. (Deut. 23:12-14)
Because God was so holy, the people were commanded to cover up all of their bathroom activity so that the Lord would not "see anything indecent among you and turn away from you." Rule after rule after rule in Leviticus and Deuteronomy about how to do everything, and the consequences if you do it wrong, much of it hinging on the holiness of God. People back then, I would assume, were probably a lot less squeamish than we are about personal hygiene and dirt and blood and all that "ick" of human life that was much more front and center thousands of years ago. Yet, down to the bathroom, there were directions about how to act to honor God.

No wonder the Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy. Imagine your whole life's context/story of God being how you should be oh-so-careful to try and be holy for the Lord, and then comes a man telling you He IS God. The God whose eyes were shielded from a latrine is now walking among and living with everyday people. Jesus fully participated in all human activity. He was a baby. A kid. I work with young children. They, also , are not very squeamish about basic bodily functions. He was a teenager. A man. He spoke with, laughed with, touched unclean people all the time.

Reading the story from the modern vantage point, we don't get it--at least I don't. I have intellectually seen the divide, but am just now getting a teeny glimpse of how revolutionary Jesus was. He was a game-changer. He broke all of those "don't touch, don't look, don't listen" rules. The Pharisees and other religious leaders weren't just mad because Jesus threatened their power. They couldn't even comprehend Who He was, or that God would act in such a way.

I will never be able to fully grasp how radical and amazing the coming of Jesus was. What I desire is to understand more in my heart why God acted in such a crazy, upside-down way. The God whose prophets told people to hide the latrine left His throne to be one of us. Never will any of us comprehend how Jesus, "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:6-7) bound up His deity into flesh.  The God of the universe, who spoke it into existence and sustains the earth and all that is in it voluntarily came to earth as a man. 

Why? The most simple and most profound answer lies in that God loves us. We hear that so much, but understand it so little. He wanted to be with us. He wanted us to be able to be with Him forever. He became Emmanuel, God with us, so that we could be with Him. Even the disciples who knew Him best didn't really get it, not until after the resurrection. My prayer is that I, and you, and, really, everyone everywhere, will get, really, really GET that Jesus walking among us and dying on the cross for us all boils down to God's love for us and desire to be with us.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dead Men Walkers

One thing I love about God is how He uses all of life to show us more about Him, including both popular shows about zombies and Christian concerts (one perhaps more surprising than the other). I was fortunate enough to get to go to the Chris Tomlin concert at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis Saturday night. The experience was great--8000 people all worshiping the Lord together. Near the end of the concert, Chris Tomlin remarked that sin doesn't make us more bad, it makes us dead.

I have probably heard that before. I know very well Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Yet the way Tomlin worded it struck home. I am not a good person who sins and therefore is now a bad person. I am a person whose sin is killing me, and I can't do anything about it.

As those of you who know me in real life have noticed, and those of you who read the last blog post may remember, I am slightly obsessed with "The Walking Dead" right now. I have watched 15 episodes in the last two weeks. Basic plot, for the uninitiated: For an unknown reason (and if you find out later, don't tell me yet), people have become infected with something that turns them into zombies. If they are bitten or scratched or killed, they come back as "walkers"(also known in the zombie genre as the undead) whose only goal in life is to eat (and they eat people, if you were unclear). 

Across the zombie world, the theme is consistent that once you are a zombie, there is no hope. The goal of the surviving humans is to avoid contamination (and death) from the walkers. As I thought about the truth that sin makes me dead, it brought to mind the walkers. Part of what is terrifying about zombies is that they can contaminate us, and that once they do, our life is over. There is no cure. You are doomed to a shadow life of knowing only one thought: Hunger. The goal of survivors is to avoid contamination, because there is no way to escape once you have been bitten. To avoid contamination requires never-ending vigilance, because the zombies are relentless, and there are scores of them. You can kill them, but there are always more coming.

Think of how the shows/movies/graphic novels about zombies turn out if a cure is found. Think how desperately you would search for one if zombies were real and if you were infected. Imagine the gratitude you would have toward whomever found the cure. It would be miraculous. The whole plot would change. A happy ending would be possible.

I want to see and understand that Jesus loving me and offering me a cure for my sin changes the plot of my life. It gives me a happy ending. It relocates me from the camp of the walkers, destined only for death, to the camp of the survivors who will live forever. I no longer need to fear the infection of evil, and I can focus on something other than hunger. 

Walkers don't injure you. They doom you.  Sin doesn't make us bad. It kills us. Jesus doesn't make us good. He saves us.