Thursday, April 28, 2011

How could Peter forget?

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. Not because of the Bunny, because of the Cross. There is so much purpose in it. Christmas and the 4th of July have purpose, to be sure. But Easter begins with Good Friday, which was good for us, but I doubt Jesus would list it as one of His favorite memories. Yet, He allows us to call it Good Friday. Because this holiday is for us. His love for us. Divine love, stooped down from heaven to take the blame and shame for humanity.

As I read the Easter story, I can’t help but wonder about Peter. Peter was warned during dinner that satan had demanded him, to sift him like wheat. He didn’t believe it. Yet just hours later, he did just that. He denied that he even knew Christ. And again. And again. Three times. Scripture tells us that when he heard the rooster crow, he remembered.

Remembered? How could he have forgotten? And so quickly? Was this what Jesus’ words in the garden were about? “Keep watch.” Keep watch so he would be ready when satan would attack? Ready to defend his Friend? Ready to even die with Him? If Peter had been watching for the time he would be in a situation that called for such a decision, possibly, would the 26th chapter of Matthew end on a different note?

It’s easy to question Peter from where I stand, but if he was here, I have the feeling he would question my life too. We have to live in the here and now; there’s always laundry, work, obligations, and responsibilities. But while we live in the here and now, our mind set can be to keep watch…pray continually… focus on the things above. And be ready to admit with each action and word that, yes, we have been with the One from Nazareth.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who Do I Think I Am?

When my daughter was 2 she was a demanding child. Her bark was bigger than her chubby little 25 pounds. Barney was her show of choice and her perspective of choice was that if she wanted to watch Barney, then she should get to watch it NOW.

One afternoon while at my parents house, my dad was watching a show. Little Laura entered the room, pointed to the TV and said, “Grandpa,…Barney…NOW!” She added a stomp of her foot for emphasis.

It was hard not to laugh, it caught us all by surprise. Who did she think she was? The center of the universe? The main attraction? Apparently, yes and yes. Proper discipline showed her otherwise and brought some submission and respect for authority to her heart.

As I look back on this memory, I can’t help but notice the parallel between that little heart years ago and mine. I enter the presence of my Heavenly Father, point to my life and lay out my demands. I even add a little foot stomp sometimes. Who do I think I am?

We live in a society that encourages freedom of speech, speaking your mind, being yourself. Ecclesiastes 5:1 however, calls me to approach Him differently. With respect, reverence and awe. God tells us in regard to approaching Him to guard our steps, go before Him to listen, which is quite the opposite of my game plan. He tells us don’t be quick with our mouth and to let our words be few. And stand in awe of Him.

Stand, as in not stomping our feet…as in stillness. Awe as in awe struck by His majesty, His glory, His holiness, His goodness and the fact that He allows the likes of me to even be in His presence. Wow. That brings a change of perspective. A respect. Gratitude. He is God and I am humbled as I look at Him.

It’s hard to get me to be quiet (Just ask my mom, she used to offer me a quarter if I would just stop talking for 5 minutes!) And as long as I insist on keeping the attitude of a 2 year old, I will feel God is unfair and felt the need to demand my own way.

But, when I quiet my mouth, let my words be few and stand in awe of the One who saves, my soul is satisfied as well and my demands lose their urgency and fade. It can feel scary to let my demands go. Somehow they feel like the answer to my needs but the Creator knows what I need and promises to provide. So I can let go and stand in awe and receive a new look on life, one focused on the Father. Awestruck.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life Interrupted

I attended a Priscilla Shirer Simulcast this weekend. I’m fairly certain that God told Miss Priscilla what to say just because I would be there. Even the words of the songs and the words Anthony Evans spoke I’m sure were divinely orchestrated all for me. How does He do that?!

The topic was “Life Interrupted”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like interruptions. If I have exactly 30 minutes to pick up a few items and then get home to have supper ready, I’m not too thrilled inside when an interruption happens. Someone calls out my name… and wants to chat. Or the car won’t start. Or there is a line at the store.

Sometimes the interruptions appear on a larger scale. Loss of employment. Chronic illness. Financial struggles. Strained relationships. Or when God overlooks your plans and sets His own in motion.

These interruptions can leave us feeling anything from annoyed to abandoned. Jonah 2:8 offers a warning to us in the middle of our whining. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” (NIV) When this verse was read this weekend, it caught my attention, as if she had said “Sharon, when you cling to worthless idols, you are turning away from God’s love for you.”

Worthless idols? What do they have to do with interruptions? I don’t have any worthless idols… do I? And you think I cling to them? Oh…. You mean the stuff I’ve been whining about… The things I want to change. The to-do’s on my list I’d rather not have to do.

I kick and scream and pout and whine and run away from the interruptions God places in my path but I forget one thing: His stuff is a whole lot better than my stuff, as Miss Priscilla put it. I think I have good ideas to solve all my dilemmas, but I forget His ways are higher. I forget that He has the big picture. I forget that His purposes are good, even when the circumstances don’t appear so. I forget that I must obey God’s word even when it is not convenient.

I cling to the expectations I have drawn out for my days. I try to ignore God’s direction and walk my own path, hoping He will change His mind and agree my way is best. I hang onto certain things that I feel I must have in order to be happy and secure. These things, while so precious to me are worthless in reality. And the truth is, when I cling to them, I forfeit the grace offered to me.

It’s like saying, “No thanks, God. I don’t need your help…unless you want to do it my way… I only want it this way…” (It’s actually a bit scary typing those words… I do hope God knows that was just an example…)

The biblical equation with which we can identify these instances, no matter their size, is: interruptions = divine interventions= invitation. Situations placed, without notice, in our paths divinely arranged for the purpose of inviting us to draw closer to God, and to be a part of His work.

Jonah responded to the interruption of assignment to Ninevah by purchasing a ticket for a cruise and was interrupted by a big ol’ fish. Seems to me he could have avoided one messy interruption if he had just obeyed on the first one.

So, what’s your interruption? What has God placed in your life that isn’t on your game plan? How are you going to respond?