Monday, January 30, 2012

Jesus at the Center

It's amazing how easy it is to lose focus, to get off-kilter in the busyness of life.  Here's a post worth reading that reminds us of the Focus and how to get there:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Worm-Eatin Time

I've been wanting to write something warm and fuzzy, something to bring encouragement and smiles.  I wanted to write about the strange young man who snuck up on our 10-year old and I from behind the garbage bins at the convenience store but didn't knock on the window until after the door was locked.  I wanted to write about the beauty of singing "I Know Whom I Have Believed" and praying in Swahili/English with my friend, Joy, from the Congo.  I wanted to write so many things.  But what has circled me like a relentless vulture is my sin:  my impatience, ingratitude, self-will, unkindness.  Day after day, encounter after encounter.  Don't try to make me feel better.  It is what it is.  And you, no doubt, have sensed it too.

The encouragement is certainly not in my actions or  words.  After three disheartening interactions the other morning, I pulled into the parking garage at the hospital and considered winding my way right back out again before visiting the family I'd come to see.  At the rate I was going, I would cause more damage than good.  In that moment God prompted me to ask--okay, beg--Him to squelch my natural tendencies.  Only He knows the measure of His work.

My failure and need are not wasted, but they are painful.  They soar and peck at wounded flesh, piercing and tearing.  But God is faithful.  And as I am reminded of my sinful self, I am grateful for a sufficient Savior.  As I consider my sinful state, my eyes are opened to others who are no less thirsty for forgiveness.  As I live out the consequences of my sinful choices, I yearn for a time of perfection. 

This morning I confessed sins against my husband, under no duress but the screaming and clawing pride of my own heart .  But what a blessed relief and generosity of heart poured over my soul in his forgiveness! 

Each day, as I am convicted of and confess my sin, I hear the refrain, "Work, for the night is coming, work in the setting sun.  Work, for the night is coming, when man's work is done."  And Scripture reminds me that I am forgiven, redeemed and set free to live in a way that pleases the Lord (Hebrews 9:14, Colossians 1:10). "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again" (Proverbs 24:16). 

Above all, it's not about what others think about my failure and sin.  It's all about God, which means I won't be eating worms anytime soon, though at times I'm tempted to.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.  (Jude 24-25)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm Not Tired--and I'm Not a Sinner, Either

The holidays have come and gone.  And one thing I started hearing from the mouths of children New Year's Day and continue to hear in the classroom is this, "I'm not tired."  Adults look into those droopy eyes, see irritation flare and know that, regardless of what they say, the facts are the facts:  tired children need rest.  To say, "You're tired," only brings an argument.  There is no remedy but sleep.

It struck me that many of us approach our spiritual lives the same way,  only it sounds like this, "I'm not a sinner."  But the facts are the facts.  Broken relationships, unfulfilled commitments, and stinky attitudes cause us to point the finger and say, "You're a sinner," but there are not exceptions.  And there is no remedy but Jesus.

But day after day, when I'm honest with myself, I see the sin: brusque words, impatience, thoughtlessness, selfishness.  And that's when I'm learning to look for Jesus.  A tired child doesn't look for a bed until he's desperate.  A sinner doesn't look for relief until he's desperate.  And my prayer for this year is that I will look to Jesus apart from desperation; that He will remind me and draw me and satisfy me based on the facts:  that He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Today, as I look into those little faces during rest time in the pre-kindergarten class and see them rolled up in their blankets on the floor, may my heart echo, "I'm a sinner...who has a great Savior."