Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fighting Centrifugal Force

"Carl leaned into the center of the merry-go-round and no matter how fast I pushed, he traveled in a tight circle," Naomi said of her 4-year-old. "But James is only two. He leaned out and let go with one hand, fighting to stay on. The farther he was from the middle, the greater the centrifugal force!"

How true, how true! She likened it to our walk with the Lord. Life is traveling, moving, changing. The closer we are to Christ, the more He is the center of our lives, the less we are affected by difficulty and instability. The farther we are from Christ as the center, the easier it is for us to feel pulled away, suffer emotional crises, and flail about, off-balance.

This last week I was blessed to counsel 4th-6th grade girls at camp and found the above metaphor incredibly helpful. With the change of schedule, setting and responsibility, it was challenging to find daily time to spend alone with God. Just the two of us. But how very important that is!

In the book, The School of Christ, T. Austin Sparks explains it this way, "How altogether different [Christ] is from ourselves.... The disciples had to learn it.... They would urge Him to take a certain course, to do certain things, to go to certain places. They would seek to bring to bear upon Him their own judgments and their own feeling and their own ideas. But He would have none of it.... No, all the time He was putting them back and showing them how different were His judgments; altogether different.... Catch that and you have got something helpful. 'Lord, why is it that I am always caught out, always making a blunder? Somehow or other, I always say or do the wrong thing. I am always on the wrong side! Somehow I never seem to come right in line with You; I despair of ever being right!' And the Lord says, 'I am teaching you, that is all; deliberately, quite deliberately. That is exactly what I am teaching you to see... We move in two altogether opposite worlds" (p. 12-13).

Not only was I able to find daily time alone for Scripture and prayer, Naomi's insight helped relieve me of a recent struggle. Lately I've been challenged to evaluate my life--have spiritual disciplines become my goal and measure of success? Or are they simply the means to an end? And as I recalled the two little boys on the merry go round, I was encouraged that the disciplines of daily Scripture reading, prayer, fellowship, and service are tools God has given as gifts to keep me stable; close to Christ, the center. Without these established patterns and habits, I flail and struggle against myself, my emotions, and circumstances. Oh, how good God is to give of Himself 24-7, generously, abundantly, according to His riches in Christ Jesus for my every need!

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” Isaiah 55:6-13

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

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