Half-hearted Creatures

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

 

>C. S. Lewis

Day 8

You know what’s beautiful? When you love someone for who they are, not for who you would like them to be, and certainly not for what they do for you. It’s a beautiful feeling to extend and accept grace. To look at that person who has treated you miserably and experience that moment where you almost physically exhale, and you let it go. You pause where you stand with that measuring tape, mesmerized by yellow and black marking the inches and millimeters, and you finally set it down. And when you set it down your arms finally stop aching and you want to cry from relief.

I was listening to a woman share a story on the radio. Growing up she had a terrible father who treated her and her siblings ill, and her mother deplorably. But something her mother said once when she was in her twenties stuck in her heart- “Oh honey. If he knew Jesus, he wouldn’t be that way.” And as she continued her story, the woman said her mother, “loved him into the Kingdom of God.” When her father grew irate, demanding his notebook as he usually did one evening, she answered him in gentleness, “I know right where it is, just a moment.” She quickly fetched it, and handed it to him, saying, “here it is.” And Her father stood still for a moment, captivated by a spirit of grace instead of confronting an attitude of retaliation and anger.

And as I was driving home from my brother’s house, listening to this woman, I felt peace. I know what it’s like to wearily hold onto my measuring tape, and then have Christ, that King of Glory, roll away the door to his tomb and stand before me, allowing me to trace the marks left on his work-worn hands. Not that he cured an unbelief, but to prove that I had been forgiven. And that was His pursuit.

To search for mercy and grace. You guys, you have to understand this. Why is gentleness so startling? How does grace contain the power to check anger and subdue envy, strife, and bitterness? I wonder sometimes how it could all be true. This God thing. That Jesus guy. It seems to fantastical and absurd.

But then I am shown mercy, and something within me softens and is compelled, and I know. Just like the clay remembers who molded and shaped it, I know. It’s like recognizing your own handwriting, and then knowing the One who taught you to write at all. It’s incredible. The human soul is incredible the same way a fine work of art is incredible – not because of the color of the paints or the quality of the canvas, but how the artist rendered them. On their own they are nothing.

And grace.

Hmmm. . . grace is His paintbrush.

15 Minutes

I’ve got 15 minutes until the cupcake shop closes, and I’m kicked out.

You know what I think is amazing? That we don’t matter (No, not like that. Don’t be silly. Sheesh).

Our good works don’t matter. Us being perfect doesn’t matter.

Us making mistakes doesn’t matter.

It’s God. Our holiness and righteousness is completely and totally dependent on God, and He never fails. God, the one that makes us beautiful, righteous, unified and sanctified never fails. We rush about like so many little ants, moving our motes of dust around, and God is there saying, “I’ve got it. I can handle it. Relax. Trust me.”

I never have to worry about my righteousness, because it’s possessed by God, and He never fails. I’m never going to be trapped by sin, or left unable to pick myself up, because I’m walking hand in hand with God, and God never fails me. How many times do I have to say it.

It only hit me just this morning, praying for a friend who’s struggling with some sin in their life. I was interceding on their behalf, and it hit me in the gut like a sucker punch, but not unpleasantly. Their righteousness, my righteousness, is not dependent upon my piousness or spirituality. It’s dependent upon God, and He never fails me.

Oh, this is good.

 

 

An inexplicable currency

I have a full container of hummus in the fridge. I’m not one to take a spoon and eat it like oatmeal, so this evening I decided to make some pita to go with it:

Yes Ma’am. Beautiful, rustic pita bread.

This isn’t my pita bread, but mine did turn out just like this photo, and really saved me the effort of buying a camera and taking artistic shots of my bread. I found the recipe at Simply Scratch. I love her recipes, because they come with sublime PHOTO INSTRUCTIONS. I love it. I keep wondering why I always am going back to her site for more recipes, and that is why.

Pita bread is funny.

After you allow it to raise, you roll it into a log and cut it into 8 equal pieces. The most crucial part is that you roll each piece into a ball; if you don’t, the pita will not develop the air necessary for the ‘pocket’ part:

Isn’t it neat? They puff up like crazy. You preheat the oven at 500 degrees, and after you roll out your little pita patty you place it on a cooling rack and pop into into the furnace. 5 minutes later, you have your very own magical pita pocket. Immediately after you take it from the oven, you have to cover it with a damp cloth to cool. That’s the part that keeps it soft.

So in the midst of all this pita building, as I’m taking the 6th or 7th one out, I look down and see a dash of crimson on my beautiful, fresh pita. I wonder for very short while before I remember I had taken off my band-aid. I realize the finger I had nipped while making dinner is dripping blood ALL OVER MY PITA. Gah. I go to the bathroom, rinse my hand, apply another bandage, and set out to clean my poor pita.

At this point I’m a little unsure. I pick up the bread and start wiping the blood of with a wet washcloth. It starts coming off fairly easily, and I’m beginning to feel a bit more optimistic about the whole thing. But the motion of my hand slowly comes to a stop, and I noticed how bright and deep the hue of red that had seeped into the pita, and I just couldn’t. I tore it in half, and threw the sullied part away. It was all too much.

It was my life that I was scrubbing out of that bread, and I just couldn’t look at it any more. Not that I’m squimish. It brought me back to the cross, where Christ shed his life to cover my sins. It was ironic that I had spilt my blood on bread. Blood and the Body. Every time I nick or cut myself, I’m always captivated by the vibrancy of what spills out. Life. And I’m always reminded that that is what Christ shed for me.

I finished my Pita with the reminder in my heart of what had been done on my behalf, of how I was purchased. The inexplicable currency of my freedom.

11:30

It’s nearly midnight, and I’m still awake. Up until two weeks ago this might not have been worthy of mentioning, but habits indeed change.

I have a work interview at 8 am tomorrow. I should be snug as a bug in my bed. It’s so quiet in the house right now. with the lights having all been put out, and the TV has at long last been turned off, it’s noxious glory fading swiftly in the silence. When everything is at rest my mind allows me to remember things.

Recently, being a Christian has become so hard to explain. How do you explain sunlight to someone who does not know warmth? How can you tell a person how a hug feels if they’ve never been touched? Living in this world is like walking a crowded street with  pale, sensory deprived, starving souls. I’m not much of a powerful evangelist (not yet, anyway), but I have been a witness through my lifestyle. I know what the Bible means when it tells us that our faith should not be like the waves of the sea, being pushed back and forth by every wind. My house is built on the Rock.

My co-worker once offered, “Lucy, you’re never in a bad mood. You’re always cheerful.”

And that is the place where I reach too many forks in the road, and I cannot tell which avenue is the one that doesn’t preach, but does not compromise the strength of the Spirit I carry. My mind quickly becomes so busy with potential words, that my mouth fails to offer any at all.

And I say this not to be vain in any conceit. I am simply plum tired of people hiding the good things in their life behind the face of ‘humility.’ because they mistakenly confuse God’s hand for their personal performance. I joyfully proclaim my cheerfulness because I know it comes from my Father! How do you explain why you are cheerful without someone rolling their eyes? And should them rolling their eyes matter? Where is the line between not pushing them away, and adoration for your Creator? And somehow as I write these words I know that I am  not thinking as a child. My mind is so convoluted with maturity. I pray for the faith of Stephen, and the authority of Paul, and for the servant-hood exemplified by Christ.

When my motivation for my Faith is questioned, I want to look intently into their eyes and ask, “Has anyone ever died for you?” I think the answer would most likely be no, and then I would understand how they don’t know what love is. They cannot know what love is. “Greater love has no man than this, than that he would give up his life for his friend.”

I remember reading the verse about how a man cannot know what love is without Christ. I was confused, because it seemed people loved each other all the time. But the longer I am a Christian, the more I find myself expounding my actions with, ” because Christ died for me.”

Why do I not judge? “Because Christ shed His blood to clear the judgement held over me.”

Why do I not fall into depression? “Because Christ gave His life so that I may have the Holy Spirit, a “sure anchor for my soul.”

Why do I not complain? “Because Christ made my cross, my burden, His own, and He carried it to His death.”

Earlier last year, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my tongue, my ‘ring through a sow’s snout;’ my idle, judgemental words. I realized that I had been a pig who covered her countenance with a sparkling jewel, like some distasteful joke. The more I decided to keep my mouth shut, the  more I realized how much I had been forgiven. When I listen to gossip and judgement, I feel like a recovered alcoholic seated at a bar with a horde of drunken louts; it would be far too easy for me to join in with their ringing tongues, I am much too practised in the art of indiscretion, but then there’s that still, small voice that asks me, “And what did I die for, dear one? How much blood was spilled to cover your tarnished heart and guilt? Who has made you beautiful, and why? And did I not lay down my life for them, as well?”

And I want to climb the highest mountain and proclaim to the world what Christ has done! I want them to understand love and forgiveness, and freedom! I want desperately for them to know God. I want to grasp their shoulders and make them understand a hug, and sunlight. It’s right before their eyes! I don’t even fully understand the vast goodness of our God, yet I know far more about it than most of the people walking this earth He created! His creation, the vessels of God’s goodness, sit untouched, empty and void. They reveal the craftsmanship of their Maker, yet they are listless.

If I had answered my co-worker’s comment honestly, I would have been in tears. I would have completely broken down from trying to explain warmth.

It is not until they believe our saviour  has died for them that they will understand love.

And people ask me why I pursue mission.

A Negation

“‘In the midst of life we are in death,’ said one; it is more true that in the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow–a word for that which cannot be–a negation, owing the very idea of itself to that which it would deny. But for life there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing. Not even nothingness preceded life. Nothingness owes its very idea to existence.”        —George MacDonald

It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?

I once performed a narrative for my church about a Christian student debating with his atheist professor. I won’t share the whole thing, partly because I simply can’t remember, but the highlight of the main discussion was the argument the student proposed: you measure temperature by the amount of warmth, not by the cold. Cold is only there because of lack of heat. You can measure darkness only by the absence of light. We don’t measure light by how much darkness there is. You would not have darkness if it weren’t for light.

In the same way, Evil is not an independent force; the only way we can recognize evil is because of Good. Evil is the absence of Good. The only way we can see it is because we have a point of reference, a comparison, to Good.

And what would the atheists say to that? I know there are some out there who prescribe to the thought that existence is a completely random process, and that there are no forces of wrong and right in the universe.

Everything boils down to science and rock and chemicals and hormones and survival.

But how do you explain the way we can recognize that beating a child is inherently wrong? If there is no God, no structure, no moral obligation, why do we believe and act on those principals? If something doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist. It’s simple math. Why do we strive to reach a standard that never existed to begin with? I often pull myself out of what some have called my ‘fundamentalist bubble,’ and really tried to imagine a world without God. I tried to explain to myself the reason for what is right and what is wrong without a Being who dictates what those things are to to start with. I couldn’t do it.

If God does not exist, and there really is no intrinsic value to life, and no moral laws…where did they come from? You can only measure how much you have by comparing it to something else. You can only know how cold it is by first experiencing warmth. For someone to say there is a wrong, there has to be a right.

The fact that we can recognize that there is a moral right and wrong at all proves that we have been exposed, and have experienced, moral, absolute truth. If that were untrue, we would be incapable of  distinguishing right from wrong. We would not even care. That is the only thing that can explain why we perceive the difference between the two. If you live by rules you must concede that there is a rule-setter.

And that is all I have to say…well, for now.

It’s nice when something finally clicks in your head, and you get it. 

Is God good?

Yeah He is.