Tuesday, November 30, 2010

seeing mercy and love in the midst of God's wrath

I've got so many questions about this particular Psalm, but seeing as it's 10:00pm and I need to get some sleep for my exam tomorrow, I'll have to save those for later. They mostly revolve around my lack of understanding of the original text. I have to wonder, did the Bible in the original text really have the meaning and implications that is shown in English translations? You probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but you can ask me about that later. Hopefully the rest of this blog is makes more sense..

Brief summary: Psalm 2 talks of kings of the earth who gather together to reject God, and God's subsequent response.

The tidbit from this Psalm that caught my eye is this: "Then he will speak to them in his wrath..." (v.5)

The question to ask is, why would God speak in His wrath rather than destroy or obliterate?

I see it as an indication of God's patience and mercy. If He is perfect, good, always right and just, not to mention omnipotent, then the natural result I would expect is that God would immediately punish and destroy those who reject Him.

But He is all loving and merciful too. How am I any different from those kings? On those days that I don't want to spend time with God, those days that I don't acknowledge His Presence in my life, I am choosing to reject God as my King. Yet He wants what is best for me, which I believe is to love and know God Himself. So instead of destroying me immediately for the sin that is in me, He waits for me to choose Him each day.

The thing is, sometimes His love for me, His desire to show me what's best for me, comes in a form that doesn't make sense to me, or in ways that I think show God's anger rather than His love. The second part of verse 5 says, "... and terrify them in his fury..." That is a blatant yet truthful statement of God works. I've grown up believing that if my life was all good and dandy, God was showing me loved me, and that He didn't if I was unhappy with anything in my life. But that is a lie that Satan will use to cause doubt in those times when I'm struggling. But the verse seems to say that God speaks in His wrath to terrify us back to Him. Sounds like an oxymoron I know, but I see it as God shouting to get my attention, to remind me of what's truth, and to bring me back to what's best.

Listening to someone talking on the radio this morning, I was reminded of it again, that God's perfect and loving will for me may not come in ways that I like. This person on the radio had called to share about how someone in her family had been sick for years. Still waiting for a miracle, she said that she still will trust in God's faithfulness, even if she doesn't understand the form in which God's faithfulness comes.

That's an immense kind of faith that I'd like to have. That I will trust God's unconditional love and faithfulness to me, even if by choosing to follow Him, He leads my life down roads I may not like.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Psalm 1

[Decided to do something a little different with my devotionals. I'll be going through the book of Psalms, mostly one chapter a day (maybe take a couple days for the really long ones) and to keep myself accountable I thought I'd briefly share my thoughts about them here.]

I memorized the first Psalm a few years ago, and through it I am always reminded of a true God-seeking heart. Verse 2 says, "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day at night."

There are so many times in my life when I struggle to seek God daily simply because I don't find joy in it. I feel like it becomes a chore, and I trudge through the time I spend with Him, or more often than not, I choose to ignore Him that day or week or month.

But in this passage there are only two types of people. The man who is blessed, and one who is not.

The one who is blessed is the man who meditates on God's Word day and night. I can hardly say that I am that sort of person 99% of the time. But in that 1% of my life, when I am wholly devoted to God every moment of my day, I see how God works in me. I am filled with peace and joy and love, despite the circumstances in my life, and I see God using my imperfection to do His perfect will. And seeing this truth in my life, it is only a confirmation of verse 3: "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever He does prospers."

So I trust that when I am delighting in God's Word (delighting, not forcing myself into), He uses me as an instrument for His glory. Especially when I'm not seeing the results, but that's okay. It's enough that what I do pleases Him; the rest is up to Him.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it is better to love..

It's 11:40pm and I'm very tired, but I feel compelled to write this post, as I have had this thought for the past several days. I know that if I don't take the time to flesh out whatever seed of an idea is in my head, I'm missing out on the opportunity for God to bless me with whatever He wants to show me through that idea. Without a thoughtful response, the idea will fade and I will have forgotten about it a week or so afterwards.

"It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Is that true? Maybe, maybe not. I would like to hope that it is, but I don't know what it's like to have lost someone that I loved so deeply to the point where I might question if it was worth it. A particularly good friend of mine passed away when she was just 20 years old more than three years ago. When I saw the pain that her mother suffered through, I wondered if she ever, even just for a moment, wished that her daughter had never lived so that she could be spared from the pain of having lost her.

But what I never thought of until now was that with this statement, there is an assumption: that loving someone was worth it because the person who loved received something in return.

It is a romantic notion, that one is better off now than before because they loved. You experience, you grow, you learn. But what about the other person? The one that was lost? I don't think the quote necessarily means the second person died. Maybe they left the relationship, or maybe it was a mutual agreement between both people that it was time to part ways. But the point I'm trying to make is that people who are willing to accept this quote probably do so with the premise that the person who loved has gained some benefit.

So I present to you an alternative statement: "It is better to love."

The first question that comes to my mind is, "Better for who?"

Taking a different track here, let me share what it means for me to love someone.

It means that I am opening myself up. Not just to have tender and caring emotions for someone, and not just to enjoy their company and presence.

Love for me means that I am opening myself up to pain and rejection. The love that I want to have for others is like that of Christ. He loved. And what did He get for it? Pain, rejection, and hell. Yes, He rose again. Yes, He conquered death and is seated at the right hand of God. Yes, He has been glorified and is now exalted as King. But He would have gotten that anyway. If He is King no matter what happens, ever, He doesn't need us, and He doesn't need to love.

But He chose to love anyway. If it is better to love, in this case, it was better for ME. Not for Christ.

So as difficult as it is, I ask God to teach me to love as He does. That He will give me a love for others that continues even when it causes me pain and heartache. Not because it's better for me, but because other people can be healed and moved and changed when they are loved unconditionally, as I have been by the perfect and amazing love of Christ. I want the conviction that the potential (and probably eventual) pain and rejection that comes with loving others more than loving myself is worth it. Worth it for someone else. And I would hope that the love they see in me, imperfect as it is, would show them a glimpse of the love of Jesus, which I believe is better than life itself. I am staking my life on that.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.