Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Not Myself Lately

So recently I had the experience of spending time around an invidual who I just for whatever reason am not myself around.  I think we all have people in our lives who for whatever reason seem to draw the worst out of us, and I believe the majority of the time it has much more to do with us than it does them.  But the point is, I was not feeling like myself at all, instead I was feeling like the worst version of myself and couldn't seem to snap out of it.  And that alone drove me crazy.  What the heck was wrong with me?  Why couldn't I just be my normal, generally happy self? 
This question was still niggling at me Sunday morning as I arrived at church for our pre-service rehearsal at the crack of 7 am, bleary-eyed and struggling a bit to wake up (side note:  thank heavens for DD's ice coffee!!).  And I was still feeling somewhat out of sorts from wrestling with the question and being irritated with myself. 
One of the songs we were singing that day was "Lead Me to the Cross".  As I was listening to Caroline lead us in the song, one of the phrases hit me like a lightning bolt...."rid me of myself, I belong to You".  Whoa.  Right then and there it occured to me that my problem was not that I was not feeling or acting like myself.  Quite the opposite.  I was feeling and acting EXACTLY like myself.  The self that exists outside of allowing God to fill me and lead me. 
I don't need to be more like me.  Left to my own devices, I am not naturally gracious or kind or patient.  I am, to be honest, a miserable person to be and to be around.  I don't need to be more like me. I need to be more like Him.  John 3:30 says "He must become greater; I must become less".  And the more I pondered it, the more it occured to me how backwards I had it.  I am fallen, a sinner, and on my own not a lovely person.  But every time I allow God to fill me, to "clean house" on any area of my life He chooses, I become more like Him.  He is gracious.  He is kind and merciful, patient and forgiving.  If I want to be those things, I don't need to be more like myself.  I want to be more like Him.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Playing in the Middle

I was driving my car to church Sunday morning, listening to Air1 on the radio (now that I've figured out what it is) and I heard this little snippet that's been rumbling around in my brain the last 48 or so hours.  It has to do with playing in the middle of the road.
We all know it is a dangerous thing to play in the middle of the road.  Especially in a busy street.  Take downtown where I live....busy almost all the time, and fairly narrow for a road that sees as much traffic as it does.  Add in several downtown shops, a couple restaurants, a school, couple of churches, etc.  Now add in all the people who walk up and down the sidewalk all day...taking kids to school, running errands, paying their oil bill, whatever their errand might be.  Nobody in their right mind would ever think to walk down the yellow line of Main Street to get to their destination.  Frankly, they wouldn't reach their destination because the odds are extremely high that they would be hit by any manner of, van, even a tractor trailer truck.  And even if they were fortunate enough to get missed, the fear of being hit alone can be crippling.  Nobody would purposely choose to do that (unless they were certifiably insane).
But what of our spiritual life?  In Revelation 3:15, Jesus says "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish you were one or the other".  In our spiritual life, how often do we play in the middle of the road?  Sure we believe in God, but we're not really so sure we can trust Him, and we still aren't convinced that walking His way is the only way.  We know we aren't supposed to walk with the world, but we aren't 100% walking with God either.  So we play in the middle of the road, thinking that we are smart enough to see or hear the car bearing down on us  and surely we can get out of the way on time.  And God is gracious, of course He will take us back and heal our wounds.  So off we go, playing in the middle of the road even though we know it's a dangerous place to play.  Our parents taught us to pick a side to walk on.  God told us He'd rather we be hot or cold than lukewarm.   Yet we go on playing in the middle of the road.
The saddest thing to me is how we have it all worked out in our head how God is gracious and we'll turn back to Him and He'll heal us and it will be fine.  But if we are honest most of the time when we inevitably find ourselves either grazed or hit smack dab with disaster, that plan goes out the window and we blame God and ask Him where He was, like He was the one Who let us down and didn't protect us, when we were the ones who chose to play in the middle of the road.  He told us not too.  We didn't listen.  Yet we blame Him like it's His fault.  Sure, He could have stopped us from playing in the middle of the road.  He could have forced us to walk in His paths.  But then again, if He forced us, He would no longer be a gracious God but a dictator.  He is kind enough to give us the choice.  And we blame Him when the consequences of not obeying strike us.  Even though we were right where we were told and warned repeatedly not to be...playing in the middle of the road.