Friday, February 25, 2011

Hearing and belief

This month I've been learning about hearing God (that's good since I'll be teaching on it in two months). I thought I had this down, but I'm realizing that just hearing Him is not enough. Tonight, I got an e-mail devotional that included this little gem:

"He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. And because of Abraham's faith, God counted him as righteous." Romans 4: 21-22

Ouch. When our dog,Cindy, died, God specifically told me as I drove away from the Vet, that He would take care of her. There isn't anything in the Bible that says He would or wouldn't. It meant a lot to me at that moment, but I just couldn't bring myself to rely on His Rhema because I didn't have the logos, even though I knew His character is honest and that He cares about the things that touch my heart. I would like to say that I couldn't trust that I had heard right, but I don't know that it would be truthful. I heard Him loud and clear but it didn't make it better. I want to think I am "fully convinced" but I'm not always there especially when its important to me.

I have been able to trust that He will take care of us as I lost my job and started a new business. I've had emotional ups and downs, but mostly I've been excited to see what He's doing. Maybe we're just used to crisis. Maybe I'm just being optimistic and idealistic. Maybe I'm just used to over-functioning when things go wrong and you can't really do anything about a losing a dog. You just hurt. Maybe I know that God will have a plan that will bring Himself glory through what happens to me and it's hard to see how a dog's life or death would be of any interest to Him.

I can say, after the experiences of this month, I know what touches us touches Him and He is far bigger and more careful than I am. Maybe it just takes time to learn trust. I envy Abraham, but I'll admit he was older than I am and maybe it's just something you learn with time. I hope so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toy Story 3 and the Gospel

I loved Toy Story 3 (ok, the pack rat in me loved it). What I thought was the neatest thing was how the two outcomes for the toys so beautifully encapsulates our worst fears and best hopes. What the toys dreaded most was to end up decaying in a trash heap, forever useless and unloved--rejected by their owners. Getting donated to a preschool seemed like heaven--forever played with and loved by endless streams of children, fulfilling their purpose forever.

Over the last few days, I've had the focus between guilt and shame clearly brought into focus by a great speaker. Brene Brown is a researcher and storyteller that focuses on shame and vulnerability and how facing these things are the doorway to community. In one of her recent talks, she highlighted how children brought up in a shame focused (you'll never be good enough) environment are more prone to suicide and depression while children brought up in a guilt focused environment (you did something wrong) are driven to do better and thrive. PJ and I have both struggled for years with depression because of a genetic condition so I feel compelled to provide him with all the tools I can to help him fight it.

So this morning, I went over the things I was processing. We are made in God's image and that makes us inherently valuable and acceptable. We were made to know and love Him and those He made in His likeness and to care for the world God gave us to manage. We are broken by our self-orientedness (sin) and that sin separated us from God. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and so we are made acceptable in His sight through the His death on the cross, so that we could do and be all that we were made to do and be. Every person you know will exist forever--either living with God and for God in that reconciled relationship fulfilling everything we were made for or choosing to live for ourselves without God or His rescue, never fulfilling anything we were made for--a thirst unending on a cosmic trash heap.

The catch is that unlike the toys, we can choose our ending. When we admit that we need Him to pick us up--we can't do it ourselves--and rely on His sacrifice to remove our guilt and grime, we can live and love for Him and His purposes forever. If we frantically try to save ourselves, in our own pride we doom ourselves to worshipping a the one who saved us--ourselves--and that is unspeakably horrid.