Made To Reflect

Recently I found myself in a situation that had me trying to determine what my response and behavior needed to be toward someone.

Do I just stay quiet and reserved?

Do I stay quiet and act like nothing had happened?

Did I choose to address the situation? If so, were my words needing to be just sympathetic and spoken to validate them?

Or was ‘tough love’ what was needed? Hard words spoken with care and tenderness?

While I was mulling this over I was doing some reading and I was reminded that I am to be growing more like Christ in everyday situations I find myself in.

James Boice put it this way,

“According to the Bible, men and women are made to know and enjoy God, but when they turn their backs on God, as the unregenerate do, they isolate themselves from all that is spiritual in life and operate on a physical level only… It is a man’s calling to look up to God and become like God, in whose image he is made. But if he will not look up, the only place he will be able to look is down, and he will begin to behave like an animal.”

We are confronted a hundred times a day to look up and see the glory of God and act according to the beauty of that glory, which by the way, is in us (remember He said in John 17 that the glory God had given Him He has given to us so that we may be one as Father and Son are one.)

His glory is in us and it is ours now. And because of this we are able and called to reflect that beauty to those around us. So my earlier questions weren’t really the ones I need to be asking.

Instead I need to be asking myself how do I show God’s mercy in this situation?

Am I displaying graciousness to this person?

Am I being slow to anger?

Am I being steadfast in my love for them? Being faithful to forgive?

If I seek to answer these questions correctly the other questions will be answered rightly I think.

It also has the benefit of keeping me from looking down, as Mr Boice put it. I can not be wallowing in my fear if I am focusing on reflecting God’s glory. I cannot be rooting around in the muck and mud if I am looking up.

Words and Meaning

nscnksdhfaeuhfowh fhorkphdswelw fwhfew.jf.al    fjakdhhduwewxvsherif ls;;pio  

That’s just ridiculous isn’t it? A row of letters randomly typed with no meaning, just a bunch of jabbering and gibberish. But those same letters can be moved around to create real words.    

neck   dance   if   her   fawn   fade   flower   jade   vex   shade

I’m sure I could pick out a few more but the point is that we have twenty six letters with unlimited potential to be used to change the world…my world…your world…your neighbor’s world…the world down the street and the one on the other side of the globe.  

Words, and what they mean, are important.  Sometimes we hear a word and think we know what it means but in reality we really just know the connotation that has shaped our current society’s understanding of the word. Over time a word will have a specific definition that is somehow lost or overrun with the cultural use of the word.    

Take the word gay for example.  The word originally meant happily excited or bright and lively. But obviously that is not how the word is used today.  

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Another such word is meek. We hear that word and probably think of someone who is extremely quiet, easily coerced or run over. And if not exactly a coward at least a pacifist. We equate meekness with weakness.         

If that truly is our understanding of the word then I think we can file it under the I-don’t-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means category. It doesn’t help that most definitions reduce its meaning down to a lack of a willingness to fight or be assertive.   But I think that if we look at the word from a Biblical perspective we will find something much different. The real meaning is embodied by Christ who is our example and we would certainly not say that he was weak or deficient in any way.  

There are two ways the word meek is translated in the Greek. One is prautes which has the connotation of a total lack of self interest. It is a willingness to submit oneself for the good of others. It is the complete opposite of self-will  and can you think of a single greater act of meekness than Christ and the cross?  

Another component to this word in the Greek is praus which is the idea of showing patient restraint ~ someone who is able to remain calm even with great provocation to respond otherwise. Is there any better example of this than Christ standing before Pilot? With one word the wrath of heaven could have come crashing down on all of mankind yet God chose meekness as the means of carrying out His plan of restoration.

It fairly boggles the mind to think of the word meek in that way. When we are called to meekness we are not being called to cower and give way to the other guy out of fear. We are instead called to act on behalf of others and to stand firm with resolve and courage. We stand with the conviction and strength of Christ as our model.  

2021 is already shaping up to be a humdinger of a year. May we meet all of its challenges embodying the meekness of Christ in all that we do.  

 

Hello 2021!

Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

For some reason that was one of the first thoughts to come to mind this morning before I had even gotten out of bed.

Wherever you are, be all there.

I think for most of the world we may have started saying it in jest and somewhat tongue in cheek, that we just couldn’t wait to see the last of 2020. But somewhere along the way, as everything began to really pile on, I think we began to believe that if we just wished it so the turning of the calendar page would hold some kind of special magic that would ease the brittleness and uncertainty of life right now.

This morning I put up a brand spanking new calendar. I alternate years between Ansel Adams and some kind of folk art theme. I didn’t do it on purpose I just sort of fell into the habit. Last year, Rob gave me a beautiful large calendar of some gorgeous Ansel Adam black and white prints. This year we did a “time” theme for one of our 12 days of Christmas and everyone got a new calendar (except Emmy who didn’t need one so she got a lovely hourglass) and while I was shopping I bought my folksy art one that hangs just outside the main kitchen area.

And in a way there is something promising and magical about all of those blank squares. Opportunities seem to abound. Birthdays and anniversaries and other celebratory moments lay ahead. But the reality is dark days wait too. Bad things will come mixed in with the good and if all we marked time by was the freshness of a new year, the hope of this year being better than last year, then we are doomed to a miserable existence.

Because Covid is still a fact in our lives right now. Mask mandates, limited gatherings, and all the other craziness caused by the world’s reaction to the virus is still here.

The political landscape is still as divisive and unstable as it was on December 31, 2020.

The tension between you and whomever is still there.

The hard situation didn’t just poof away at the stroke of midnight.

Obviously a case can be made for what you need to let go of in the new year. But I’m not writing a blog post about how to step into a fresh new beginning. I’m writing one, probably as much to myself as anyone else, about not just marking time, waiting until whatever the heck 2020 was runs out of steam and we get our lives back.

We don’t get our lives back. This is our life. Now how are we going to walk in that? Just keep trudging along with the same weariness? No. We walk into this new year with Jim Elliot’s words ringing in our ears.

Wherever you are, be all there.

Not because we can somehow muster up enough strength to move the mountain or summon enough inner peace to sail calmly through the panicked seas.

But because He has promised that His mercies are new every morning, not just on January first.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion”, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” ~Lamentation 3: 22-24

You are, I am, exactly were God has called us to be. Because His love is steadfast, because His mercies know no end, because He is faithful, repent where you need to, forgive where forgiveness is needed, and ask God to give you new eyes to look at the people around you with kindness and humility, and a right perspective about your situation.

Wherever you are, be all there. Don’t live in limbo just waiting for something to be over and done. Don’t live as if the world is going to hell in handbasket.

Live rejoicing that the Light has come! God’s people, more than any others, should be walking into this new year hopeful and smiling. Our God is faithful even in the midst of utter havoc.

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.