Friday, April 4, 2014

Bowl fulls of Grace

I can hear the fridge humming away, the computer making little noises. My unwashed bowl sits here, and in my mind I try to make it disappear. If only that worked on dishes, among other things. But, they don't, and in some ways I'm glad that I can't make my messes disappear.

Living life surrendered. Well, it's a beautiful thought. And one that many people say can't be done. At times, I have to admit that I kind of agree. When have I really surrendered? And actually lived that way for an extended period of time? The idea seems laughable. Sometimes, a lot of times, I feel that God has to lift my face - to lift my eyes up to his. And when I actually lift up my eyes without fear, the eyes of grace that meet mine - they tell me that I am made worthy.

"The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down." Psalm 145:14 ESV. The LORD, my Yahweh. The one of power and love. YAHWEH of the old testament, and of the new. The creator of my very soul and heart. He is the one who catches me as I fail, and raises me. 

A precious little girl in my life, only two years old, has this concept down. She lifts up her little hands to me, completely trusting, relaxing in my embrace.

If only we could look to God with those eyes of trust, relaxing into the grace. Oh to have childlike faith!!!

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; on them he has set the world."

Do you realize dear one? Do you understand dear heart of mine? The Lord picks us up, those who come to him in our brokenness, and he puts us in places of honor. The foundations of the earth, the very things he has set in place, on those he has set the world. And even though our world has it wrong so much of the time, honor does not belong to those who have it right all of the time. But to the humble and broken who come in humility - those are the ones who truly have it right.

And a laugh raises up in my throat and I look around. This mess...I certainly don't have it right. The confusion in my heart and mind, no there is no order and correctness here. But our God, he loves this. He loves me in my mess. And His beautiful grace abounds all the more. 

I picture his grace all around me, tangible in this mess. The grace of a dirty dish and the food he has provided. The humming of the fridge is music to my ears. And it's not because of what I have. It's the very fact that it pleased God to give it to me. I am not grateful to have more than others. I am grateful because God presented me with a gift. 

He sees my mess, he sees the way I can not contain all these gifts he has lavished. And He knows that I was made for eternity, so how can I truly understand how to live inside of time? He never meant for me to. And the fact that I am okay with that - okay that  I can't do it on my own and lift up my hands for him to carry me through...that's what life surrendered looks like. 

This is Life Surrendered, God? My eyes burn. He never asked too much of me - in fact all he asked was that I receive the gift of his son shown through all these gifts around me. And that in excepting these little gifts, I've in fact accepted his son. It's so simple, and so beautiful.  

I have believed him, and in the moment I hold this dirty dish, this grace bowl, and accept it as gift, I have accepted his son.

And just as a small child is grateful for the smallest trinkets her father gives her, so I am thrilled with the gifts my Yahweh has placed in my hands. And through this lens of grace I see the smile spread across his face.

This is the Beautiful Surrender.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A society without pain or a life with choices?

Dear reader, you may be aware that my goal for lent was to strip my life of the things that distract me in order to focus on this question : Is God really real? Seeing the movie God's Not Dead brought me face to face with this question. And so I ask again, and I search.

When I talk to an Atheist, main topics include the question 'If God is real and good, then why does he allow horrible things to happen? If he does, he has horrible moral standards!'

My friend, does he have horrible moral standards, or are we at odds with our desire for freedom of choice and relief from any type of hardship?

Let's consider this in depth. You may be familiar with a book called The Giver. You may be interested to know that they are coming out with a movie based on this story. In this make believe society, all inhabitants conform to a way of life that they agreed on long ago, and of which they submit their children. In an effort to be unaffected by any type of pain, they agreed to live in a world devoid of anything that could cause discomfort. This world they created had no weather changes, so they would never be too hot or too cold. They were given jobs to do, so that no one could be without purpose. Assigning each family a boy and girl child, no mother and father would feel the pain of having no children, and no child would be homeless. With the elderly and unwanted going to 'another city', they would never experience the pain of death.

Would you want to live in this society? Before you answer, you might like to know what this cost them. With no weather changes, there children would never build a snowman or play in the sun. With no choice in jobs, they could not dream and explore. Being given two children, these parents would never experience the joy of a unique family of their own flesh and blood. With the elderly gone, they would not grow old watching their grandchildren grow up. These fabricated livelihoods protected them from immediate threats that seemed life ending, but stripped them of the day to day joys of living life to the full.

Even though we see this scenario in books and in movies, and are appalled by what we see, we still blame God for not creating this seemingly perfect society for us. Why does a good God allow all these things to happen? Why doesn't he protect us from all these things that plague our world? Using the same logic, I must ask, if God indeed created this society for us, would we be calling foul for all the things we were missing out on? We will have to sacrifice these experiences if we want a life devoid of pain.

We are asking God to essentially take away the pain, but in some way leave the experience. That is like going on a water ride to cool off, but requiring that you don't get wet. Or wanting to build a sandcastle, but not get your hands dirty. Every experience is made up of lots of little pieces in a puzzle, and when you start taking these pieces away, you will never have the whole picture.

God allows these experiences because he intends to leave our free will intact. He will not create a society like the one in The Giver, because rather than forcing us to conform to a belief and lifestyle, he invites us to freely choose his love. And when we freely choose, and allow our hearts to truly experience the world he has given us, then we will truly embrace the experience of his love.

Now it's time for you to choose. Would you rather a society without pain or a life with choices and experiences?