Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Kelly!


Not often does one need look no further than the walls of their own home to find a best friend. I am one who has been so blessed with a sister who encourages me to righteousness, laughs with me, cries with me, puts up with sharing a room with me, delights in the things I delights in, defends me with all that she is and oh so much more.
Today our family counts 29 years of great blessing.
Happy Birthday, Kelly!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Supposed to fail...Phew, what a relief!

I am a "hands on" kind of person. Read instructions? Haw! Oh, well...uh...I learned my lesson. It really is easier to read the instructions first. How many times have I failed because I didn't. And yet it seems I live in the try-it-without-thinking-it-through quadrant. Part of life is trial and error, but it shouldn't be my priority mode of operation. Have you ever gone through a storm of life and didn't like the results on the other end? You think back and say to yourself, "How could I have succeeded? Impossible! There is no way I could have foreseen that situation being what it was. I wasn't equipped!" Yet you wrestle with the guilt from the failure. That little guy on your shoulder says, "YOU are the one responsible. Now you have to clean up the mess. Remember to rejoice in the consequences." You can almost hear an evil laugh, "moowaaahahaha!" You come back with, "I did everything I could, everything that I knew, and still the results weren't what I wanted." So why the huge trial and failure? You wanted the best and strove for it. Why the black mark on my record, so to speak? How does faith work?

I finally came to the conclusion that God never intended for me to succeed on every mission. He actually put me in over my head on purpose, so I would have to rely on Him or fail...

Did I rely on Him? On and off. When I did turn to Him for wisdom, progress was the result. When I unknowingly took the wheel in my own hands and made choices based on my own wisdom, (what wisdom? I don't read instructions) all the prior progress was lost. So the conclusion is, "Total surrender. Do it His way." His burden is much lighter. Find out which way is His and then act on it having faith it will work out.

But which is His way? As I matured in my Christian life, I saw how important it was for me to fail. I would be called to a task and I would know the results needed. I would work for them the best way I knew how and fail. Then I would have the opportunity to try again and success would be the result because I attempted it a way that scripture called for and wisdom dictated it should be done. Not the way I would have thought it would have worked out.

I then had the two modes of operation to compare. How obvious it became to take the lighter burden. How obvious it became which was the way of faith. I would have never guessed it was the lighter while standing afar off looking at the duty to be done. But when I got into the middle of the labor, it was obviously much easier. I would have thought my way was easier to achieve success for Christ. And this is pride. Who is free from it? How much more beautiful to God is humility. Is it possible to please him without faith? No, it is not. He instructs and gives us the grace to do it and because of this design, the glory rests on Him. He brought it to pass. Only after I strove and I failed and surrendered did I discover this.

Below is an excerpt from Matthew Henry's Commentary on II Corinthians 3:5

"Such are our weakness and inability that we cannot of ourselves think a good thought, much less raise any good thoughts or affections in other men. All our sufficiency is of God; to him therefore are owing all the praise and glory of that good which is done, and from him we must receive grace and strength to do more. This is true concerning ministers and all Christians; the best are no more than what the grace of God makes them. Our hands are not sufficient for us, but our sufficiency is of God; and his grace is sufficient for us, to furnish us for every good word and work."

I in no way mean to suggest to go ahead and try it your own way. Our immaturity at times manifests gnostic tendencies which tell us to "just use common sense" when it comes to practical application. I mean rather this to be an acknowledgment that often as we seek to build our worldview our immaturity and the flesh we battle daily keeps us from understanding which is the way of faith and what it is to surrender.

In the early days of your Christian life, while shedding your secular humanistic skin to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, it is often confusing as to which way is His. What does it look like to handle this as a Christian? We've had little example and the side-effect of taking dominion of our minds and and our world surrounding requires a pioneering spirit. One who will fall but rise again.

God calls us to mature, but only on the testing grounds will you discover your faith. So fail, but learn and move on. Do I post this to commend myself? Not at all. It is a joy to know it is God's hand on my life and not another and tomorrow I know I will have to surrender again several times in everything that tries me.

My promise, if I surrender and choose to stand on the Word for faith and practice? The character quality that I am learning will become my stronghold. The vexations of today will vanish a little each time as the flesh is subdued.