Sunday, February 26, 2017
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7
My turn had come. What seemed like a great idea suddenly got personal. Our Bible Study teacher on the Power of Words asked us all to individually look at ourselves in a huge full length mirror, and say who we are in Christ. It was a powerful moment. Class members looked at themselves and said, "In Christ, I am a patient mom and a supportive wife; In Christ, I have forgiveness for people who have hurt me; In Christ, I am loving. After every single person went, I awkwardly stood in front of the mirror, everyone had gone so they weren't focusing on what they were going to say. I know that in Christ I have every spiritual gift and that I have all the resources of a King's daughter but I still need His help. I see the flaws not only in the mirror but also in my heart and mind.
So I stood there, stared at the mirror and said out loud, "In Christ, I am organized and I have it all together." Being organized seems like such a simple thing, I have lots of friends who are naturally organized. Maybe I have so many because opposites attract- they are fascinated by my carefree attitude and I aspire to learn from them. One of their favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 14:33a "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." I like this verse too- it gives me hope and reminds me that when I am seeking God's will and His way there will be peace and a sense of order.
That I would have it "all together"- is even harder for me. I have moments when I seem to get done what I need to do, dinner is made, house is neat, presents are bought, writing is flowing, finances are in order, kids and husband have what they need, my roots are blonde, my car is clean and my heart is focused on the Kingdom of God. These moments are brief, measured in the hundredths of second at a radioactive isotope like Ununquadium exists before disintegrating into nonexistence.
I don't have it all together. As I get older, I have realized more and more what I don't know, what I can't do and where I fall short. Romans 3:23 points out that all of us have made mistakes and fallen short of the glory of God. We need His help because we can't do it on our own. If we humble ourselves (which is simply admitting He has got it all together and we don't) by asking for his help, we can be perfect because he is perfect and all together lovely. I love Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose".
God has got this. He takes big mistakes like my ordering the wrong size water heater- who knew we had a fifty gallon water heater instead of the 75 gallon one I ordered from Sears, it had the highest rating - and small mistakes like not being able to put my leaky kitchen faucet back together after taking it apart while the water was turned off and turns it into a blessing for a plumber who was able to sell me a new water heater and a blessing for me because he helped me fix not one but two leaky faucets. God even used my Mom who lives two hours away to deliver the missing faucet part because she planned to visit a friend near my house.
In spite of my lack of organization and mistakes, I do have it all together because I have Christ in me who holds the whole world in His hands. He's got you and me sister in His hands. He's got the whole world in His hands.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:16
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary with an amazing trip to Curacao in the Caribbean. It is a beautiful island off the coast of Venezuela. I met many wonderful people on the island and enjoyed a million shades of blue as the sky met the tropical sea.
Soon after arriving we met a nice couple from Chicago who invited us to go snorkeling with them. My husband thought it was a great idea. Curacao is a popular snorkeling and scuba destination. I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to it. I have foggy, miserable summer camp memories of learning to snorkel with a leaking face mask in a pool. After my first snorkeling experience in a crystal clear pool, I couldn't help but wonder, "What's the point of snorkeling? I can see everything I need to see without the face mask and snorkel." That attitude had served me well and kept me dry for over 30 years but I wanted to be a good sport so I agreed to the expedition.
When we arrived at the Tugboat dive spot, pictured above, I thought it was pretty but not remarkable. The blues and greens of the water washed up on the shore that consisted of millions of pieces of sun bleached coral. I put on a wet suit because I am a wimp, booties and grabbed my gear. It was pretty early in the morning so there was a chill in the air as I waded into the water. It was cold and I couldn't figure out why everyone was so excited. After I slowly acclimated, we started swimming toward the sunken tugboat just 75 feet or so from the shore.
As soon as I put my face in the water, I was amazed. All around me were hundreds of different types of fish. So many different sizes and colors. It was like the movie Finding Nemo but rather than watching it- I was actually in it. As I floated just on the surface there were these long thin fish basically at my eye level, Our snorkel guide said that these fish are found all over the world yet until I was in the water, I couldn't see them at all. As I swam around the hollowed out tugboat that was sitting just 15 feet below on the ocean floor, I was amazed that I had stood on the beach, and looked at the exact spot where the boat was laying and I had no clue that it was there.
After I got out of the water, I was humbled and amazed. My perspective of the coral covered beach and the water had completely changed. I now knew there was an entire world, in a sense, a whole other dimension, right before my eyes, that I had been completely oblivious to until I waded out into the deeper water, put on the mask and snorkel, and stuck my face into the water.
Just as I was oblivious to the life that was so evident once I put my face in the water, there are a lot of us who are Christians that are oblivious to another dimension in the spirit. We are happy to stay on the surface. We don't see the point of getting deeper and honestly, we don't want to get our hair wet. One of the most eye opening Bible studies I did was to simply underline in red everything Jesus said in the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What struck me most was the sheer number of times demons and Satan were mentioned. Try it- you will be amazed. For added fun, look up the angels who talked to Mary, Joseph and then walked Peter out of prison. There is another dimension.
Just as I was unaware of the life that was just below the surface of the water, one of the consistent criticisms of God's people is that they have eyes but don't see and ears that don't hear.
Isaiah 42:20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears.
Jeremiah 5:21 'Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes but do not see; Who have ears but do not hear.
Ezekiel 12:2 "Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.
Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'
Romans 11:8 as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see, and ears that could not hear, to this very day."
What we see, hear, touch, taste and feel is not all there is to this world. Paul writes to the Ephesians information on how to spiritually protect themselves and gives an explanation for some of the struggles that are going on in their lives. He writes, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."12 As my simple Bible study with a red pen revealed, there is another dimension where the fight is not against other people or even what we can see.
Pray and ask God to give you spiritual snorkel gear so that you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Then as Ephesians 6 explains,put on the full armor of God so that in Jesus name and His power you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Dear Jesus, Please open my eyes and give me ears to hear your Word and your Truth. Please show me when the struggles I am having come from the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Protect me with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Word, the breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, and my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. Amen.