"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:29

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beautifully Imperfect

Ok, I'm about to admit something that sounds pretty pathetic. Bear with me.

I used to think I was a really good person. Well, even more so, a really good Christian person. I had the whole Christian walk down to a tea- I said all the right things and stayed away from all the wrong things. I served at church, prayed during lunch, read my Bible faithfully, spent my time with other good kids...you get the picture. And I really thought God was pleased with me. As long as I obeyed all the rules and regulations, I thought I was in and I could look down at all those other people who did not have it together like me. I was the "perfect Christian girl" and that became my identity.

Fast forward to college- my whole perspective of this perfect little Christian world changed. The past several years, God allowed me to experience many trials and circumstances that have revealed how imperfect I really am. In many ways, I feel like I fell flat on my face. I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt people I really cared about and I used circumstances to promote my own gain. I lied, cheated, and slandered others. Spent way too much time being prideful and self-centered. I cried, confessed, asked for forgiveness, and was sincerely humbled time and again. And, you know, the more I grow to understand myself, the more I see how deceitfully wicked my heart and my motives really are. It's quite frightening.

Nevertheless, these past several years, God's grace has become so much sweeter to me. I now understand my own sinfulness and how I can do absolutely nothing apart from Him. I am not a good person on my own. In fact, left to myself, I can do some serious damage. I have had so many friends and family members walk away from Christ or fall into sin recently, it is staggering. And each time, I am shocked and am determined to think that will never be me. Yet, the more I understand of my depravity, I am aware that could easily be me. I could mess up my whole life in an instant. It is only through my connection to Christ that I can have victory over my sin. I am being comepletely naive if I think I can do any good apart from Him.

So, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I am imperfect. And it is beautiful. Beautiful only because Christ shines through those areas in my life where I am so desperately in need of Him. It is a good thing to know our weakness.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where is the Love?

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to love someone. And, to clear the air, I'm not talking about that sappy, chick-flick, palm-sweating, heart-pounding, puppy kind of love. I'm talking about the kind of love that requires sacrifice and pursuit. The love that truly "don't come easy" but is worth fighting for. The type of love Christ demonstrated on the cross and calls us in turn to show towards others. Not a fleeting feeling but an obedient act on the part of the lover. A force that defies all odds and breaks all barriers. The type of love that never gives up or fails, chooses forgiveness, celebrates in joy, and weeps in sorrows.

Many of us, myself included, run away from love because it is so very vulnerable and requires so much of us. To truly love one another we must give up the self and be subjected to possible pain. I see this consistent theme throughout the Scriptures- it is only through pain and death to self that one can experience the joy of God's strength and presence. "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it"; "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:" There is a part of the spiritual walk that requires difficulty and pain in order to bring us into Christ-likeness and blessing. Learning to love others seems no different.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
C.S. Lewis

Much-Afraid shrank back. “I am afraid,” she said. “I have been told that if you really love someone you give that loved one the power to hurt and pain you in a way nothing else can.”

“That is true,” agreed the Shepherd. “To love does mean to put yourself into the power of the loved one and to become very vulnerable to pain, and you are very Much-Afraid of pain, are you not?”

She nodded miserably and then said shamefacedly, “Yes, very much afraid of it.”

“But it is so happy to love,” said the Shepherd  quietly. “It is happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is pain too, certainly, but Love does not think that very significant.”
Hinds Feet on High Places

I'm learning that loving others is difficult and I cannot do it apart from Christ. It is scary and vulnerable and heart-wrenching. I have been hurt and dissappointed and wanted to simply give up. But it is worth it. God's Word is true and it does not return void. In those painful moments of heart-break, God was faithful and honored my obedience. It has been tested- Love really does conquer all.

"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."
1 John 4-21

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dead to Sin

"Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life...Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive in Christ Jesus."   Romans 6:4;11

"Paul expresses in the most decisive and emphatic way the truth of our having died with Christ; for burial is the seal set to the fact of death- it is when a man's relatives and friends leave his body in a grave and return home without him that the fact that he no longer shares their life is exposed with inescapable conclusiveness. So the death which we died in baptism was a death ratified and sealed by burial, an altogether unambiguous death."  C.E.B Cranfield