Don’t you love it when things feel like they come full circle? Even if it is a tiny circle? When all of the parts seem to come together in some semblance of completion with out any loose ends dangling or gaps or breaks? It is a good feeling. Probably because there aren’t very many things in life that feel like they are complete. It feels like no matter what we do something is always left half-done or un-done or done “shoddily”… or eventually has to be redone.
Maybe that is why I like to mow the grass…or thoroughly clean a room…or put away laundry. Because it feels like I have done something and I can see the results. But it never lasts.
Follow with my train of thought this morning (if you dare try…and good luck in advance.)
When I woke up today I thought that I should write about how people are afraid to be “found out.” How we go to great lengths sometimes to only show others the part of us that we think that they want to see…the parts that we think that they can handle knowing. That of course made me want to write something for you that would “expose” me most!
I want to be authentic for you. I don’t want pretense with you. I want to tell you how I am… the good, the bad and the ugly so that you can know that I am real. Like you. Like everyone whether they want to admit it or not.
Consider the way that people in the public eye will wisely head off a “story”. They will think about all of the things that others might be able to dig up about them and harm them with…so before they let the “spinnners” begin to make a mountain out of a mole hill, they tell on themselves. They introduce the story themself before it gets blown way out of proportion for ratings…or for journalistic ego…or for spite…or to stir the pot and cause controversy.
Enemies will use a story as way to besmirch our name over and over …and they will use their ill-intended knowledge to try and control or coerce …or to deflect anything negative that comes their way by being able to point a finger and say…”But look what he did!”
So, what would I want to tell you.. what would someone hold over me that could be made into something huge and horrible if it got into the wrong hands or was spun just the right way?
And why would I WANT to tell YOU or anybody about my most scariest/ most stupid/ biggest trouble that I ever got into? …
…yes, because I am real and have made mistakes… and because mistakes are universal. You already know that I am not perfect and that I make mistakes.
So since that is a “given” then why does it matter that we are willing to admit that we are not perfect to each other? Because we all try so hard to appear perfect… and that is exhausting.
Our fear of imperfection takes away from the loveliness of our uniqueness!
How stupidly traumatic can a bad hair day be?… Or wearing something with a big stain or a hole? or tripping up a flight of stairs…or down a flight of stairs …or running into a glass door…Or the huge pimple that sprouted right before picture day, prom, your wedding or your biggest business meeting ever? We believe that imperfection in the middle of our chin/ nose/ cheek/ forehead is the only thing that people see. And sadly, it does end up affecting how we are seen. Not because of the bump, but because of how it skews our confidence.
When we try to cover up our mistake, often it just makes it even bigger and more noticeable.
That is a good analogy for why we must find peace with who we are…awkward, frizzy hair, zits and all.
We can’t feel like who we really are…be who we are meant to be or project to others who we truly are when we are caught up in things that are “mole hills” and not mountains. We can’t change past mistakes. But we can learn from them and move forward and away from them and pray not to repeat the same mistakes again.
God isn’t seeing the imperfections of our skin. When God looks at us He is looking at our heart. Do we have a heart that feels? … a heart that cares? …a heart that knows that it has done wrong and is mightily sorry? … a heart that wants to do only good…even if sometimes it falls short? And when it does fall short do we have a heart that knows that it has fallen short? Do we have a heart that prays for help to be stronger or wiser or kinder?
We are afraid of rejection for our imperfections. And it isn’t a baseless fear. People can be cruel. And people do reject other people…all the time. Sometimes because of big things (REALLY TRUE irreconcilable differences) …sometimes for seemingly nothing. If we compare God to what we know of man then Father God would be fickle and Jesus would be judgmental and jealous and the Holy Spirit would get tired of hanging out with us.
But God is not any of that. God sees us more clearly than we are willing to see ourselves. And we are loved unconditionally ANYWAY. What a friend that is INDEED!
And this is how it all comes together: my last blog post was on rest; in the message on Sunday morning Pastor Scott said, “The Sabbath was made for man…God made a place of rest for us… God wants us to work out of our rest.” When we rest, God can fill us back up.
Consider this, even though Jesus had a limited time to share His message…even though he was intense and he had an urgency in his days to get done what he needed to do in a very limited amount of time… even though there was a busyness in all of his teaching and preaching and healing that we will never fully appreciate… EVEN JESUS took time away.
Being still. Even Jesus stepped away from all of the demands that THE WHOLE WORLD had on him. Even Jesus has to spend personal time with God to get back in “a good place”…to be rejuvenated…to be “filled back up”…so that Jesus could go back into the world and pour himself into his work.
We can not pour out if we are parched.
My last article was about rest…specifically resting because it is a gift from God that He knew from the beginning that we would need…His plan has always been for us to have rest.
So, how does rest relate to the topic of God knowing all about us?
As God is very good…He put both of these things together in the verses that He led me to today.
Let me show you how cool God is…and how He always brings things full circle without any loose ends dangling off or gaps or breaks!
(Hebrews 4: 6-13)
“Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.’
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
God’s people long ago were promised a place of rest from their slavery and captivity. God safely saw them exit Egypt…guided and fed them in the dessert. And after all that God did to show his love, power, ability to provide, willingness to be their Father…the Israelite people… even after EXPERIENCING first hand….still did not trust God to take care of them!
People today still experience God first hand…but it is rarely in the magnitude of a parted sea… or pillars of cloud and fire…or bread and meat dropped from the sky.
We experience God all the time…if we are paying attention and if we are willing to acknowledge who provided the experience and not explain it away as coincidence or something random.
Rest and trust are inseparable. We must have one to experience the other.
People can know about God, but that is a very different thing than knowing God. God and the Bible are not meant to be visited on occasion to check in with or make a request of or find an appropriate quote to support our cause.
Knowing God means using the Bible as an explanation for who we are and why the world is how it is. It gives hope that there is meaning and a reason for why we alive. It is an explanation and an entreaty for us to learn from the past and accept our place in God’s plan.
Jesus spoke to his disciples (and to us) “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28: 18-20
God does not make us follow or trust Him. We are not puppets. He does not demand our love. He wants us to see that His way is the only way that we will ever know true peace, true joy, true rest, true love and life.
Why would we not want to know Him? How could we not choose Him? How could there be anything that we would ever want more?
We don’t lose anything in the bargain.
We gain everything.
The Bible is not a quick fix manual. It is not a “For Dummies” book. It is not abridged or “Cliff notes”.
The Bible is an Epic Novel.
It has everything: Love; hate; murder; intrigue; wars; famine; escape; betrayal; rejection; redemption…
And a happy ending…good overcoming evil. We obviously have not seen the last days, friends. But it is our amazing privilege to help usher in God’s Kingdom…to set captives free. To heal broken hearts and share the Good News. It will come. Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will will be done regardless of whether you choose to live like an ostrich with its head in the sand.
We live in a violent world…and sometimes bad things will happen to us. But our “becoming” the person that God wants for us to be is a life-long, on-going process. Our soul might be saved in one day by one profession…but our faith and our trust must be used daily to grow. Like with any other muscle…we must use it or it will waste away.
Trust in God must be REAL. It must be a daily prayer and a daily walk… “I believe in your love for me, God. I believe in your promises to care for me and protect me and provide for me. Use me, God! I surrender my fear. I lay down everything that is not useful for my life or your work. I want “less of me” and “more of You” in my life…
This is me. This is my conversation. This is my desire for the mind of Christ to be my mind.
Letting go the things of the past…handing them over…placing them on the alter…knowing that they do not need to be my burden. I am covered with imperfections still…but God does not see them. All He sees is the work that Jesus completed on my behalf to make me God’s child…God doesn’t see my mistakes that were scary or stupid or that people who wish me harm could potentially use against me. God sees my heart. And He knows that above all else, I love him and I want to KNOW Him.
We must get to know God and His Word so that He can be active in our lives with his “double-edged sword”. We must DESIRE to let God use this tool “which cuts deeply and lays bare the ugliness we might wish to keep hidden. He cuts away what is keeping us from displaying the beauty of His presence in our lives. And the cutting away can be painful -initially.” (Nancy Guthrie Hoping for Something Better).
Consider the words of Paul in Romans 2:28-29…a “new”circumcision…not of the flesh but of the heart. Remember the heart is what God looks at, what God sees…not that we keep the rules and codes but the condition of our heart. Is our heart too hard to care? Is our heart too broken to believe it will ever be whole? Is our heart haughty and self-righteous…proud of our good works? Or is our heart humble…thankful…repentant…wanting God above all else?
…and because of this desire to know and hear and be with God, that heart is at rest. Waiting. Listening. Seeking…and then when given the understanding of the task to be done…doing.
See how this comes full circle?
How can we know God? How can we trust God? How can we let Him and His Word make the changes in our lives that will lead to the Life that we are meant to have?
Rest. Rest in Him. Experience Him. He is Good. He is Love.
I am attaching the sermon from this Sunday that was similar to my post last week. I couldn’t help but smile the entire service. Those confirmations in truth are like “God winks”. God smiles a lot. Did you know that? It is a beautiful thing. When you know Him…really KNOW Him… you will see how beautiful He is. Nothing else could ever compare.
I wish that for you. Make time for Him today…and tomorrow…and forever.
Awesome Sermon 🙂 Contemporary 2-8-15 http://www.ctkbham.org/#!sermons/ccs3