Last night, around 7:30, I was sitting in a chair by my window up in my second story bedroom. Our home sits up on a hill that is about 7500 feet high, and we look out over tall Colorado pines with the mountains not too far in the distance. As I sat amidst the peace of my darkening room, I looked out on the horizon and across the sky, once again, the Lord had painted the most vibrant sky--luminous, "screaming pink"--(the color of shirts my mother used to love to buy for me!)--seemed to be dancing across the sky for those who would see it! Then fading into hews of orange and finally darkness. I was reminded again how present God is in all of our moments yet wondering how many people in my little town took the time to notice Him and His art. I was pondering some of the dilemmas of modern, Christian life---way too many choices. Choices scream at us and block out the simplicity of Christ and His love and His voice. We live in a time of so many voices that represent so many choices--republican, democrat, independent; theologies--charismatic, reformed, catholic, baptist, emergent church, Bible church; public, private and homeschool; whole book, curriculum, or classical; pro-Shack people (referring to the book)--anti-shack people; is it acceptable to watch the dark knight or it is sinful --good imagery or poor imagery--dating or not-dating; what movies are acceptable; universalism or limited atonement; whole foods or MacDonalds, soccer or piano lessons; t.v. or no media at all; infiltrate culture or draw back and seclude, spanking or grace-based parenting; and on and on and on. And then there is the busy-ness associated with getting it all right and reading all the blogs and books and reviews and making all the choices--frenetic that we might make the wrong choice--yet confused in the midst. There is such a pressure to be involved in all that is relevant and the pressures of our modern Christian culture cultivates insecurity and fear and isolation. Lots of head focus, not so much heart.
So much wrangling over words and so much judgment and pride and finger pointing--what is the right way to believe? So many who are involved in these issues have a heart that desires to find what is best and to do what is right. Who is the right authority? Such choice overload obscures the simplicity and presence of God.Satan can use the frantic searching and frenzy to obscure what is essential--loving God and knowing Him. So many I talk to long to be close to Him, but find Him illusive. No wonder there exists so much shallowness in our culture--we are seeking so hard after the answers and He wants us to seek Him.
Now don't get me wrong, I am orthodox in my beliefs and trust in Jesus for my salvation and am so very grateful for this. I have a strong foundation of ideals for my home and children. But the older I get and the more countries I have seen and the more people I have worked with, the more I see that it is the heart--where love and faith and beauty and humility exist where the life of Christ flourishes. It is in Him and His presence that I find peace that transcends "getting it all right." I have learned that God is much bigger than I originally thought and that He understands and has compassion for many outside the comfort zone of my own ideals and beliefs and values and that I would be wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak and even slower to judge. His purposes and ways transcend time, history and cultures and I would be wise to focus on Him above all else.
I find rest when I ponder the One who took small children into His arms to bless them; who gently and lovingly washed the disciple's feet, who threw the vibrant colors into the sky for me to enjoy last night. Jesus, came in simplicity--not a man of titles or authority--but the authority that comes from within.
I ponder His messages--admonishing us to give cups of cold water; taking care of our enemies as did the good Samaritan; parenting in such a way as to have the heart of the father looking every day for his prodigal son to return; encouraging us to be like the gentle, humble Mary who chose the "good part"--to sit at his feet and rest in his love and be filled with the life of His words--not being like Martha who was "worried about so many things."
It seems His priorities were for us to be anchored in character and deeds of goodness and kindness--the simplicity of being a good neighbor, giving grace and forgiving as we have been forgiven--making bridges of peace--not walls of separation.
Often, with the media and so many "experts"--(everyone is an expert if given the opportunity to blog!)--I see people laden down with the voices that seek attention in their heads--seems that with all the conflicting messages and so much media in our face, pleasing and finding God can be complicated, confusing and overwhelming and impersonal--more about knowledge than personal in an intimate relationship. Wouldn't Satan just love for us to confused and insecure--since God so clearly wants us to be secure and stable in the knowledge of His love, His calling and His grace.
Jesus had great scorn and condemnation for the Pharisees who "tie up heavy loads and lay them on men's shoulders," --those who were so dedicated to defining every jot and tittle of the law. Just this morning, I was reading in Matthew 23:23 where Jesus says to them, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."
Then I read in John 14 and 15, some of the last chapters recorded of Jesus's personal messages to his disciples. His desire and heart to comfort and encourage his precious disciples is so evident throughout these chapters. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled or let it be fearful."
He comes not to give as the world gives to us--but peace--restful, filling, assuring peace--that keeps us from being troubled or fearful.
There is so much more. But, the God who told us the most important commandments were to love Him and love others, is the gentle shepherd who will not judge us today if we get all the answers and choices right, but if we abide in Him, love Him, rest in Him and walk in the abundance and security of His love for us and His redeeming love for those needy in our lives who need not just answers and words, but love, forgiveness, healing and peace.
Lord, let me today and every day, abide in you, see you, rest against you--"not being concerned with things too difficult for me, but composed, like a weaned child rests against his mother, so will my soul be within me." (Psalm 131)