This rose is much like us as humans. What did you see when you first saw this picture? The rose? The blood? God made us humans as one of His most beautiful creatures. Like the rose, we have such a delicately balanced beauty. He made us strong like the rose, strong enough to withstand a very cold barren winter and conversely and blistering hot summer. God provided us ways to protect ourselves from those who would interrupt our growth, as with the rose, one may come retrieve a thorny bloody hand. God also made us fragile. With nothing more than a strong wind, the most beautiful part of us, our petals, can be blown away. Then our unsightly pistil is exposed, naked and our growth and reproduction stopped. True harm can be done by unseen forces, such as the wind. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our real enemies are not the other humans in our face, but powers of darkness. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Despite our contentions with each other, it is not really the human that is the root of the harm coming our way. The human bringing the harm certainly has some responsibility for their behavior. But the ones motivating and deceiving that human are our real enemies. The devil and his demons and his ideas, philosophies and lies are where the destruction originates. That is incredibly hard to remember when faced with someone yelling at you or ridiculing you or even abusing you. There is a place for anger toward someone who harms you. There is a place to use our thorns to protect our growth and beauty. If we can get to a safe place, then we can also use the sword of the spirit. We can pray against the real enemy that is disrupting our lives. Satan seeks to kill, seal and destroy. God has a future for us. We have to trust Him to bring us to that future, to keep His Word. Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
I have trouble with that last line…”when you search for Me with all of your heart.” I cannot know if I have done that or not, for I cannot know my own heart entirely. (Jeremiah 17:9) I do know that I came to God out of selfishness. I wanted Him to save me. I also know I largely stay with Him out of selfishness. It is only in Him that I can find any safety at all. It is in Him that I do have hope for a future, a future in the place He has prepared for me, a forever place where there will be no tears, no more sorrow, no pain. It is in that I place my hope. That is the only place I find to place hope. I see the blood all over the rose when I look with my eyes. I see all of us and our world bloody and pain filled. But in faith, I believe that God did create us beautiful, in His image. It is because of the war between the enemy and God and the subsequent introduction of sin that everything can feel pain and experience sorrow. Sometimes that sorrow is more than we can bear.
Some say the God will never allow us to go through more than we can handle. The scriptures do not say that. The verse referred to is 1Corinthians 10:13 where is says that God will not allow you to be tempted to sin above that which you are able. But if the interpretation were true, that God would not allow us to bear more than we can handle, then all the martyrs would still be alive. There are wounds that can be inflicted to us, spiritually, physically and emotionally, that are more than we can bear. But even in the even that we suffer such a wound, God STILL has a plan for our future and plan for good. I believe that promise means that He plans for us to be in our home He is preparing for us. Our suffering here on earth fulfills some purpose, but it is often one not visible to us, just as our true enemy is not visible to us. We must strive to keep the picture of God’s promise and our own beauty in mind as we walk through each others thorns. Actually, now that I think of it, thorns were not given to us by God as protection. Thorns were a result of sin, of the curse. It was not until the enemy deceived us into disobedience that we needed any form of protection. How I long for the day that we will be safe again! Even so, come Lord Jesus. This world is more than we can bear Father.
Monthly Archives: October 2013
I often wonder about whether or not God is pleased with me. I foolishly compare myself to others. I try to measure myself and my accomplishments and contributions to figure out how bad I really am. Even though I know it is a total waste of time that is destructive, I do it often and I cannot seem to stop. No matter how “good” I am or how much I get done, I will NEVER measure up. It is impossible. The reason for that is because God is not comparing us against each other, but against His standards of perfection, which are sinless. I can NEVER measure up.
No one can. That is why Jesus had to come. He was the only One who could pay the price for our lack, our sin, our evil, our sin stains. He is the only human who was perfectly sinless. Now He was able to do this because He is also God. He was not born in sin, like the rest of us, yet He was tempted to sin by the devil. He overcame that temptation and lived a sinless life and then He volunteered to go to the cross for us, to pay the price for our sin.
But, since He did pay the price for our sin, why do I wrestle with my inadequacies? Why can’t I leave my ugliness at the cross, with Jesus? Why am I so tormented with guilt, shame, fear and hopelessness? God has done His part. Why can’t I do mine? Why can’t I just accept what He did as sufficient? Why can’t I walk away from my mess and walk in the freedom that Jesus’ death bought for me? Am I really so horrid that I can not forgive me?
I listen to many preachers and other people who talk about why we humans need to do this or that. My trouble is I do not know HOW to get it done. I want to walk in freedom. I want to walk in Truth. I want to stop wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing, but I do not know how. I read the Bible sometimes, I pray often and I ponder… and ponder… and search, but I am approaching old age now and I am still battling the same issues, most of them are internal. My worst enemy is me.
Maybe Satan helps me be my worst enemy. Maybe he is supplying me with some scotomas and other roadblocks to freedom. But at some point, it is my responsibility, right? I have to find the Way out. But didn’t Jesus provide it already? And if I accept Him as my Saviour, which I have done, then isn’t that also accepting the Way out of my own prison? If so, why am I still bound?
Life is cruel. My family largely rejects me. The Christian part of my family rejects me because I am either too emotional, or because they think I lack character. Well, I am very emotional. I understand how that can tax someone’s energy. I am exhausted almost all the time because I have to live with me. SIGH. I do not think rejecting me is a very charitable thing to do, but it is practical. In short, I understand the family members who reject me because of my emotional volatility. I do not think it is what Jesus would do and I do not think it is what Jesus wants them to do, but I understand it. I regret it and I miss them very much. It hurts to be cut off from them because I am too emotional. I am unacceptable to them as I am. I do not measure up to their standards of acceptability.
The other segment of my Christian family members reject me because they think I lack character. I am not disciplined enough. They question my integrity, my honesty. They do not question my love for them. They know I am honest with them. I highly value honesty and truth in relationships. In fact, I do not see the point in having personal relationships with people if both parties are not being honest about who they are and what they are. Deceptive relationships, where someone is masked, are worthless, in my opinion. They are necessary sometimes in the workplace, where the purpose is to fill a certain role and how you feel or what you think about that role is irrelevant. You do what you are paid to do, as long as it does not conflict with your moral values.
But in personal relationships, I value knowing the real person and having them know the real me. That requires honesty and openness. So, I am honest in my personal relationships. I do not lie to people to achieve some agenda to get my needs met. In fact, I have done without getting my needs met when the other (non-Christian) party requires I lie. So why is it that this segment of my family rejects me exactly? Because of things like my credit rating. My credit rating is poor because I do not pay my creditors. I can give you reason after reason as to why, but that is irrelevant to this topic. Part of my family sees this as stealing. While I can see their point, I do not concur. In addition, is this an adequate reason to reject a family member? I do not think so. Jesus does not reject me because I have a bad credit rating. He does not approve of some of my methods of surviving, I am sure. I am not proud of those. But He still accepts me. Why can’t they?
They are angry that I am needy. They are angry that I am not consistent and stay the course when I set a goal. You know what? Me too! I am angry that I do not reach my goals. I am angry that I am sick. I am angry that I get so overwhelmed with life that I cannot get out of bed some days. I disappoint me often because I depend on me to get some things done and they do not get done. But my family who rejects me because of my character, they do not depend on me. How are my inadequacies disappointing them?
Or instead of disappointing them, perhaps they are ashamed of having me as a family member? Maybe having a family member with a mental illness and several physical illnesses is embarrassing to them? Maybe they just want to distance from me. Maybe they just want to pretend like I do not exist, so then mental illness does not exist so close to them. Maybe rejecting me is their way of rejecting my illnesses too?
I dunno. I am good at raising questions. I am not so good at finding answers. Jesus and Questions is what I have. Jesus and pain and shame. Even so, I am rich by comparison, because many do not have Jesus. I have a friend who loves me no matter what. I am grateful for that as I carry my questions around.