Waves of complacency

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Jul 272012
 

I recently visited the beach that my family frequented when I was a child. I saw a house that I remember admiring as a little girl, which is now for sale. Part of me thinks how amazing it would be to live at the beach, in this beautiful home. Serene, tranquil sanctuary. But then the Spirit reminds me how detrimental that thought process is.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

Comfort does not lead to happiness, it leads to complacency. If I am comfortable here on earth, then my focus becomes about me, and my comfort. As comfort becomes my idol, as I continuously seek it, then I slowly become increasingly complacent until I cannot see past my own life. Suddenly those in need around me can cause me to turn my head and avoid acknowledgement.

Except, we don’t have to own a million dollar home on the beach to become complacent. Living in a first world nation makes it all too easy to live our rich lifestyles (Approximately 56% of the world’s population lives on $730/year or $2 a day so we are, in fact, rich in comparison), focusing on topics such as style trends, celebrities and latest electronic devices, turning our proverbial cheek to those in our own neighborhoods, our own country and around the world struggling to get through the day. In 2010, approximately 49 million Americans were living in food insecure households. In 2011, there were approximately 635,000 homeless people in America. Approximately 885 million people worldwide do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. According to the Christian Orphan Alliance, there is currently 153 million orphans worldwide.

We are called to find our comfort in Christ. The comfort we find in a delusional reality of riches is sedating and deadening. The comfort we find in Christ, and serving Him out of love to reach those in need, is enlivening and uplifting, not because it is easy but because it is worthwhile.

 

Crossroads

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Jun 052012
 

I have come to realize that my life, as I know it, is crumbling. There is an earthquake occurring in my life right now and everything is being shaken to its foundation. Not that every building is crashing, but somehow you tend to only notice those that are. Now, I have to say at first when these “buildings” started crashing around me I immediately thought it was warfare as a result of taking a major step of obedience. Really, my first major step of obedience. But as I looked at the bigger picture today, stepping back to surveillance the damage all around me, I realized that although it is warfare, it is also God allowing all of this to transgress simultaneously. He is definitely stretching me and bringing me to my knees as I am not strong enough to handle all of this on my own.

It’s like these buildings collapsing have revealed a crossroads in my life. A fork in the road. Initially, I thought there were three possible paths because the world trains us to think in black, white and that there is also a grey area. I tend to think grey. I tend to try to blend the black choice and the white choice to suit what is comfortable or safest for me. But there really aren’t three options in my scenario. There is only stepping out in faith and obedience or disobey and stay stagnant.

“And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” Matthew 14:29 KJV

Peter had the choice to stay on the boat or step out and walk to Jesus, in faith and obedience. There was no option to step out of the boat but hold on to the boat, like a handrail, while walking to Jesus. No, he had to step boldly. He had to trust Jesus with every fiber of his being and walk by faith.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor who aided in the escape of many Jews, said “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.”

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:30-31 ESV

This completely explains my grey area. My grey area of trying to choose both the white and the black is my doubt. Not being bold enough to choose white and yet knowing black is disobedience. And yet until now I never took the time to examine why I would sink. Why I would then need rescuing. But it is because of my doubt and my failure to step boldly in faith that would lead to my feeling alone and helpless. It is only because of His love for us that He reaches out his hand when we are sinking because of our own sin. He teaches me with such grace and love when really I deserve harsh reprehension and rebuking.

And, of course it is only by His allowing demolition into my life that will then make it possible for His rebuilding.

A Season of Affliction

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Jun 052012
 

In looking back on my seemingly short spiritual journey to this point, I realize that most of “my” seasons of suffering have involved watching everyone around me, family and friends that I love, suffer while I could do nothing but pray. The worst of these times was right after committing my life to Christ and, probably due to my inexperience, I did not even recognize what was happening until it was almost over. Yet this time it is like standing on a trail in the darkest part of the woods, with the trail leading back to where I was, to my place of comfort and security, blocked with no chance of reentry. I am presently squinting my eyes to see God’s path for me lit up. However, I have this suspicion that I am supposed to be suffering during this time and so therefore I will not see a path until I have endured this according to His perfect timing.

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”
Isaiah 42:16

“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:6-7

Reflecting on my time before consigning my life to Christ, I recognize difficult times that altered who I am today and forced me to grow as a person, so I should know by now that this time will produce growth as well. But in my sinful flesh I am impatiently awaiting the happy ending because, in my selfishness, it involves my being uncomfortable for a period.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, andhope does not put us to shame, because God’s lovehas been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

Charles Spurgeon said, “Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.”

Out of my appreciation I should be joyfully taking up my cross to bear, because my inconveniences in life, whatever quantity piled on simultaneously or however big they may seem at the time, are minuscule in comparison to Jesus taking on the past, present and future sin of the entire world. All while being mocked and tortured as He paid our debts. Something I, in my limited capacity, cannot even comprehend.

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?” Isaiah 45:9

So who am I to beg to be rescued and be made comfortable again? He is the potter and I am merely the clay. I should be begging to be formed. After all, doesn’t it show His love for us? I am not a potter but I cannot imagine spending lengths of time making and molding something to my liking and not loving it. And yet the analogy of a potter and his clay only goes so far. For although we are molded like clay, we are loved like sons and daughters. A love that defines what love is, a love that is so pure and undefiled we cannot accomplish loving the same way.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may beperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

So while I am in this place of blindness I will keep my eyes and heart on Jesus and try to be joyfully patient..