Friday, April 20, 2012

Who is lighting your life?

I love how interconnected things can get sometimes. Just thought I'd mention that.

I just finished reading a book lent to me by a friend; it is titled Redeeming Love and it is by Francine Rivers. The entire story is an allegory of the story of Hosea's love for Gomer from the Bible, which in turn is also an allegory of the story of God's love for His people. I came away from the novel with many, many thoughts and take-aways floating through my mind, but here is one that I feel compelled to highlight: Trying to go it on our own and do everything from our own strength is deadly.

Let me try to unpack this for you, Reader, because with not sleeping as much as I would like to lately, I tend to make statements that are a little weird and don't make sense at first because my mind jumps train tracks like a crazed dog jumps around its owner when he or she is carrying some sort of food item...

The basic definition of sin is "missing the mark" (literally taken from missing the bullseye in archery, coming to mean missing the mark of God's perfection and what He would have for us). When we go about our own ways every day, doing everything in our own power, not having what God would rather us have...yeah, technically that's sin. It's a hard concept to face sometimes, especially because I would rather believe that my way is always correct! Furthermore, every sin is a drop of water poured into a vast ocean that separates us from God, because ultimate perfectness and holiness cannot mix with imperfectness without being made less so; in other words, the continuous giver of life becomes separated from His creation, giving us the phrase that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

While this eternal separation issue was solved when God became man (Jesus) and took upon Himself the entire weight of sin in order to restore our relationship with Him, we still have daily choices to make. Just because Jesus died doesn't mean we are now impeccably perfect and can do no wrong, not at all! In fact, we have free will. God doesn't make us love Him; He doesn't force us to choose Him, to go His way, to accept His life, any of that. He loves us too much, and wants us to freely choose Him. Because of free will, we have the choice to go our own way. We have the choice to sin. We have the freedom to choose to go at it alone, to die a little each time we do things that we think will give us real life, to refuse to accept a God's help, to be our own god.

When we light our own fires to try to see in the darkness of our futures/lives (see Isaiah 50:10-11) and try to lead ourselves (see previous post), we walk down paths different from the one that God has for us. He would like us to allow him to be the light instead (see John 8:12), knowing us better than we know ourselves and having our best interests at heart. He loves us and doesn't want us getting lost in the dark.

For me personally, this is also a reminder that my role is not to light my own torch so that everyone can look at me and see me and follow me in the dark like I know without any help where I'm going. Rather, my role is to follow Jesus's light and encourage others to do so as well. This is such a humbling reminder for me. Furthermore, I have been redeemed and am no longer the person of my past; I am not to stay chained to that, for I have been given freedom (see John 8:36). I have a testimony to share and a cross to bear, but I take it up willingly in light of the fact that I am following a new Light. I need not be held back any longer.

Dear Reader, you may disagree with me on one level or another, and I'm okay with that. This is what I believe, and the loveliness of it was too much for me to keep inside. I'm not one to hide a lamp under a bowl in an unlit room (see Matthew 5:15), and so I will not hide what I believe to be true, no matter your level of discontent with my spiritual beliefs. And you did read all the way to the bottom, so I must not have offended you that much, right? (This is where I would wink at you and smile good-naturedly if we were together in person.) But let's talk about this more if you would like.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


When a couple do some sort of Latin or ballroom dance, the female partner must let the male partner do the "leading" and show her off, while she does the "following". For me, I know I have always had some trouble with this. Sometimes it's because I catch on to the choreography faster than the other person. Sometimes it's because I think I know the steps when I actually am doing them wrong, but I think the other person is so I just ignore what he's trying to do and keep pulling him my way. Eventually it becomes tense and uncontrolled, and doesn't look good. And my partner will keep telling me, trying to get it through my head, "Let me lead you!"

I feel like God is this way with his people all the time. He keeps trying to do this dance of life with us, and we keep trying to do our own thing, and all the while He keeps pleading with us, "Let me lead you!"

Isaiah 48:17 = "This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'"

Reading this verse today, I am reminded of the fact that I surrendered my life a while ago to knowing Him and following Him, not trying to lead He who cannot be led, because He is the ultimate leader and dance partner. Yet I inevitably find myself time and time again trying to do things my own way, or even someone else's way, because I think I know best, or I think someone else's way is better than mine or God's.

But honestly, do we really know ourselves as the One who created us from the inside out, who knit us together and imagined us before we were born (see Psalm 139:13)? Are we really so prideful as to think that we have it all together and we know what's best for us, more so than a God who created the universe? And I need to be reminded of this daily, because I'm human, and I make mistakes, and I forget. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't need to be reminded of the fact that we're only human, and yet that we are divinely loved and we are constantly being romanced by a being who loves us enough to bless us with free will that allows us to make the decision of whether or not to love Him back, or to even acknowledge Him. It's the kind of love that pursues and heals and cherishes and cares even when we turn and run our own way over and over and over.

May we have the courage to surrender and not keep trying to lead this dance, Reader, a dance we do not know even half as well as we would like. We can have hope in the notion that He knows what He is doing, even if we don't. He knows the steps.