Friday, 31 January 2014

God as Director in Life’s Play

As the Creator of all living creatures there is no doubt that God has handpicked His cast.  He picked Abraham as the father of the Israelite nation.  He selected Moses to set the captives free from Egypt.  He tapped Joshua on the shoulder to take the Promised Land.  Gideon was slotted to free the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites while Nehemiah was selected to rebuild the wall.  The Apostles were given the role of Church planters while the Son was given the leading role of Savior.

We are but actors and actresses on this globe we call earth.  Each of us has been given a part.  Some of us refuse to play our parts, some refuse to learn our lines while others of us thrive in the role we have been given.

Let’s zoom in for a close up.  God created you and your husband/wife in His image.  The moment you said your wedding vows you took on a significant role as a married couple.  This is no bit part.  Married couples are to reflect, more than any other relationship on this planet, the relationship between the Father and the Son, the relationship between Christ and his bride the Church.  To the extent that we follow the script, i.e. the roles and behaviors as spelled out in Scripture, we can expect a few curtain calls.

In this analogy a curtain call would be the equivalent of having someone who is not a believer seek you out because they recognize something very special in the way you and your spouse communicate.  They see joy in the way you interact with one another, they see affection and warmth and they perceive a genuineness.  They are inquisitive and you have the privilege of telling them about your Lord and Savior.

Those who refuse to learn their lines might be nominal Christians.  They believe what the Bible says on an intellectual level but it doesn’t affect the way they live their lives.  They show up to most rehearsals and enjoy hanging around with the cast, but it just isn’t worth the effort to change the way they live to learn their lines.

The worlds a stage
For those who refuse to play their part, they may be agnostics or seekers, who sincerely wanting to learn about Christianity.  They are confused by what appears to be hypocritical behavior of so-called Christians. They try to live a reasonably good life excluding what most consider as “respectable” sins such as impatience, discontentment, unthankfulness and a lack of self-control.

Ironically God does not insist that those who have been given a role in life’s play participate.  In some ways there may not be huge difference in the quality of life between those who choose to learn their lines and those that don’t, until the end of the play.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Is it a Matter of Choice?

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." -2 Corinthians 7:10 

As someone who grew up in what I perceived to be the idyllic home, I have been saddened by the number of people who are carrying with them incredibly deep wounds from ten, twenty, thirty years ago.  I have also been perplexed by the number who have claimed Christ as Lord and Savior.  I recognize that in some cases the stories are horrific, i.e. stories of rape, incest, physical abuse, etc.  In many other cases it has been the lack of love and affirmation from one or more parents that becomes the baggage they continue to carry.

It has become less surprising to me that these individuals are unhappy in their marriage.  In many cases they were subconsciously looking for someone to fill the void left by their pain. They want love, compassion and understanding. Or they actually marry someone who has the same dysfunctional personality flaws as the person who induced the wounds.

Christ died that we may live.  That might sound like a glib remark to someone who is carrying deep wounds of rejection, abandonment and emotional pain.  But the words are true none the less.  Do you think Christ forgave those who spit on him, whipped him, and pounded nails in his flesh?  You say of course but He is God.  I say at that time he was man, and the pain, suffering and humility that he endured was every bit as hurtful.  His own Father temporarily turned his back on his Son.  His own people disowned him.

Through the Holy Spirit that same person who endured the cross resides in you, if you have been born again.  Jesus is not asking you to forget what has happened to you but he is asking you to forgive.  The pain that you are carrying with you is undoubtedly hurting some of your relationships and is definitely like a poison in your system.  The perpetrator of your wounds may or may not be suffering in some way but you can be set free.  Tell God that you have been unable to forgive (name the person(s)) and that you want the help of the Holy Spirit to give you the grace you need to forgive.

If this has described you ask yourself if it is possible that your current relationship with your husband or wife has suffered as a result of the baggage that you brought with you into marriage.  If so, perhaps you need to ask them to forgive you, for you have been looking to them to provide what only God can provide.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Truth Hurts

“Impatience is a strong sense of annoyance at the usually unintentional faults and failures of others.”  Jerry Bridges

Guilty as charged!  I’m actually annoyed at the definition because it is so condemning.  There are several troubling pieces of this definition.  The first is the phrase “usually unintentional”.  Though I hate to admit it Jerry is probably right at least as it pertains to my brand of impatience, I’m usually impatient with someone for something they have or have not done and most often it would have been unintentional.  Which brings me to the second troubling phrase “faults and failures.”  They are only faults and failures in that they don’t align with my values and beliefs, the people are not playing by my rules.  

So basically I become impatient with people who are going about their business in such a way that they unintentional offend me because their way is different than mine.  Which makes me feel like a self-centered jerk in addition to being impatient.

Fortunately my impatience is usually directed at those that I don’t know or don’t know very well.  They are the people who fail to use turn signals, who habitually come to meetings late, or who lack common sense.  I get impatient with people in the retail industry who react to me, the customer, as if I am an inconvenience. Often my impatience revolves around someone not adhering to my code of ethics, code of conduct or common courtesies.

Time to connect the dots.  Some of you suffer from this same malady except you get impatient, frustrated and irritated with your spouse.  They don’t put things away, they never say thank you, they don’t empty the dishwasher the way you think they should, they can’t remember things that you think are important, they seem a bit lazy, they regularly let the gas in the car get too low, the house is a mess, the garage is a mess, etc., etc.  We impose our standards, beliefs and values on someone who never accepted them to begin with and then get impatient with them because they don’t adhere to our specifications.

The sad truth is that often the reason you (and I) are impatient is because we don’t get our way.

The Fruit of the Spirit includes patience, Colossians 3:12 tells us to put on patience, and Ephesians 4:1-2 tells us that we are to live our life with patience.  My impatience comes not from outside of me but from within.  With the help of the Holy Spirit I am seeing myself becoming a little more patient each year.  If that sounds as though I am getting impatient with the slowness of the process you would be right.