‘Day One’ Blog

Free From Everything

Through this man (Jesus)
forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
and by Him everyone who believes
is freed from everything from which
you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Acts 13:38-39

I’m struck this morning by what must have been an inconceivable proclamation to the Jews in those initial years following Jesus death and resurrection. How much of the life of a Jew was constructed around making certain one kept the laws of Moses? How much time and energy was expended to keep oneself “clean” or to make amends for transgressions of the law? Wasn’t the bulk of life about maintaining right standing with God?

I’m trying to imagine then, how significantly disorienting this message Paul was preaching would have been. Jesus was now offering the forgiveness of sins through belief in Him. The entire construct of the life of a Jew, since Moses introduced them to the law at Mount Sinai, was changed in an instant (for those who believed). The words that leap off the page for me this morning are freed from everything. I’m trying to envision being there in the synagogue and hearing Paul’s oration. I would understand the words all right, but I would be at a total loss to know what a life freed from the law might look like. I would have exactly zero frame of reference for living in light of that.

What would one do with his or her time, talents and energies, now that they no longer needed to be spent securing and maintaining right relationship with God? For the first time in the history of the nation of Israel, those who ‘believed’ could look beyond themselves. In other words, the painstaking attention payed to one’s standing in the eyes of God, would give way to a new pre-occupation, namely, joining those who were proclaiming this exceedingly good news. Easier said than done! My compassion for those who lived in those very early years deepens as I struggle to live in the freedom I have been given.

I am led to stop and ask God the Spirit (who lives in me) if there aren’t aspects of my life where I’m living as a bound person rather than the free person I am in Christ. Because bound people are impeded people. Bound people are inward focused people. Bound people tend to their bondage like a wounded person tends their wounds. In Christ I am freed from EVERYTHING, but know full well I can and often do live as if I’m not. I don’t think I’m alone! What a coup for the adversary, that the Church would be full of bound-up, free people.

We were buried therefore with Him
by baptism into death,
in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Father, the Kingdom stakes are too high for me not be on the field of battle. Those influenced by our culture and the world’s system of belief will NEVER find freedom there. I know it. How tragic that I, a freed person, would continue to live bound. Help me to walk in the freedom you paid so dearly to give me. Then give me Your eyes to see those about me who need Your good news.

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Stones of Remembrance


And Aaron shall bear their names

before the LORD
on his shoulders
for remembrance.
Exodus 28:12

Two onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold filigree, each having 6 names of the sons of Israel engraved on them, in order of their birth. Aaron was to bear these before the LORD on his shoulders… for remembrance. I was asking the LORD who this was for. He wanted their names facing upward, toward Him. And why? Who needed to remember? He doesn’t forget His sons and daughters.

As I’ve been happily plodding through these chapters in Exodus, transcribing for myself all the detail of the constructing of the tabernacle and now the priestly garments, I’m amazed over and over again by the specificity of the instructions God gave to Moses. But this particular detail, these stones of remembrance… my heart is struck by the tenderness of God toward the sons of Israel.

Aaron bore their names before the LORD. This was God’s idea; His instruction. How highly personal. As Aaron would move about within the tabernacle, performing his priestly duties, those names would be in “view of God.” The LORD would “see” them… always.

The names were on Aaron’s shoulders, facing upward. He was literally bearing them on his shoulders. Visions of a shepherd carrying a lamb come to mind. Or the command to bear one another’s burdens… the part we play in each other’s lives so that we are not solely burdened with the full weight of our cares.

And finally, the names were before the LORD, on Aaron’s shoulders… for remembrance. For all that has been pondered about this over millennia, here is the life-giving thought for me this morning: As God peers “down” He sees His children, not in mass but singularly, recognizing each of us by name. He sees us as we carry the burdens of one another; as we carry “upon our shoulders” the names of those who would be driven to the ground were they to have to bear them alone.

I have many stones of remembrance on my shoulders this morning, facing upward so God can “see.” I have loved ones laden with cares who I bring before Him. Their names are engraved on the stones. As I slip into my priestly garments, in view of the Living God, I praise Him with renewed passion and vigor. God sees. God knows. God acts. The LORD has asked that I bear their names before Him, on my shoulders… for remembrance.

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In the Hearing of a Fool

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.
Proverbs 23:9

I was thinking how often I’ve been frustrated with God for not giving me a direct answer to a question, not being keen on waiting. I would process those times by thinking He was being silent about it. As I read this proverb and reflect back over the years, a couple of thoughts percolate. The first is: I’m not sure God remained silent as much as He was tending to “first things first.” The picture that comes to mind is of a toddler having asked for a cookie and their mom leaving the house rather than giving them one. They don’t understand mom had to make them from scratch and needed to go buy flour. They just assume she’s ignored them (cue tantrum).

The second thing I’m thinking about is how often, as a parent, I was determined to enlighten my young son to things that were simply too much for him to comprehend at that time in his life. The picture that comes to mind is a mom strapping her toddler into the drivers seat and being aghast that they weren’t able to drive. Hmm.

God not only knows exactly what He’s doing, but He knows when to do it. He knows precisely when to enlighten me because He (and only He) knows when my ears and heart and mind are ready to receive. Fools aren’t destined to always be foolish. God is kind to hold off in telling me a thing if I can’t yet comprehend it. He doesn’t waste words or opportunities to deliver them. He just has impeccable timing, (note to self).

A word fitly spoken is like
apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

 

 

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He Who Hesitates

He called them,
and immediately
they left the boat and their father,
and followed Him.
Matthew 4:22

“He who hesitates is lost.” Oxford Dictionary categorizes this as a proverb and defines it this way: Delay or vacillation may have unfortunate or disastrous consequences. A good Biblical equivalent might be these words from Proverbs 1: For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.

For many weeks I’ve been pondering what it is I do when I hear a voice behind me saying this is the way, walk in it. Specifically, I’m thinking about my initial response to that Voice. Jesus says, in John chapter 10, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. My part, as the sheep, is to HEAR and to FOLLOW.

The part of that equation that I can’t escape for now is the timing of my following. It seems that generally there are two responses when I hear His voice. One is very simply that I hear and follow. I don’t question or hesitate. But that, I find, is often NOT my default response. More often, there is some kind of hesitation, some period of time where I might do a number of things leading up to actually acting. But of those possible variations, I most frequently pause to make my own assessment of my surroundings… to in essence, validate God’s directive. Hum.

Is that assessment period a form of hesitation? And if it is, what might the implications of hesitating be? What might I be risking? What might I lose in that moment?

  • Abraham gets giant kudos for his unquestioned response to God’s life-altering directives. He simply did what God told him to.
  • Moses argued after God gave him his marching orders. God got seriously miffed, but mercifully allowed Moses to express the “flaws” in God’s idea.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, is lauded for her immediate acceptance of God’s plan for her life.
  • Zacharias wanted some substantiation after the angel Gabriel informed him of the son his wife would bear. That didn’t go so well for him.

I see a pattern of God’s grace offered to those who hesitate but eventually comply. But, as Zacharias discovered, there was also a price for that hesitation.

On the cusp of a new year, I’m asking God what He would want me to pay special attention to. This idea, that I would mature in the immediacy of my responses to Him, is definitely on the front burner.

I wonder if there aren’t gems that can only be discovered through prompt obedience, gems that go by the wayside when I hesitate. I want the blessings that accompany an immediate “YES.” I want to honor God whether or not I understand the implications of His direction. His word should be enough for me.

My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them
and they follow me.
John 10:27

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‘Day One’ Archives – Structure, Systems & Duplication

Today I’m contemplating cycles of behavior and what it is each person within that cycle holds to in order to keep the cycle… cycling :/ – and because my mind explodes with tangent thoughts, I jettisoned back to this post from the Day One Archives. While God is most certainly a God of order, the “cycles” He creates always and only serve His purposes to advance wholeness, life and purposefulness. Human cycles usually serve a far lesser cause.

In any case, it helped me get out of a negative stream of thought, to re-read and remember how magnificent my God of structures and systems is. And when I’m tempted to create or extend a cycle of behavior I know is not ultimately promoting life, I CAN reach for God for fresh perspective and insight into a new approach.

I hope this re-post encourages you as it has me. – Anne


SolarSystem
Structure, Systems & Duplication

I would never buy a book with this title!

I’m musing about the systems God invented and put in place when He made the universe. He designed earth to essentially look after itself. Geology, astronomy, chemistry, these are all systems. Our physiological body is a system. God made them all.

Humans like to make systems too. We crave predictability and control, doing what we can to project into the future, creating structure (the system’s 1st cousin), to minimize discomfort and maximize our life experience. We do it on a global scale toying with climate control and we bring it to the household in the form of robotic vacuum devises. We devise systems to educate our children, to mass communicate, to take the individual around the world without ever having to leave their desk and laptop or smartphone.

I’m drawn to systems. I like efficiency. I create structure and lists and cubbies for every little thing and I use them for what they’re intended. What’s on my mind these days is my tendency to lay siege to the structures I’m familiar with, so that they become the focus of what I think will bring me what I want, be that safety, comfort, success in my work, spiritual pursuits…pretty much anything that translates into forward motion, (my definition of it). It’s right at this point that I find myself on a precipice, teetering on the verge of out right idolatry.

If I’m not very, VERY careful, I find myself inviting God into the familiar structures of my life, giving him ‘permission’ to use what I know works. But the deal is this: God compares me to a sheep and refers to Himself often as Shepherd. A sheep finds his sense of wellbeing solely in his shepherd. The shepherd may use a staff, a fence, a salve, a grassy field, a stream……. any manner of things he chooses to care for his sheep. But there is no question that the shepherd is the source, providing structure and systems as he sees fit.

A sheep never mistakes a fence for his shepherd. But I do. So God teaches me to hold very loosely the forms I have seen Him use before. Will God use the form again? He is no way bound to. And it’s ludicrous to believe He should because of how well it served Him in the past. Form, structure, systems…… they’re VALUELESS if not contracted by, sanctioned by and inhabited by God. He doesn’t duplicate. He doesn’t have to.

Behold,
I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road
in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

~Isaiah 43:19~

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