Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Being Responsible

Responsibility-The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone. 
The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something. 
The opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.
Recently I have been dealing with a 4 1/2 year old that is trying out the effects of lying to make self look better in other peoples' eyes.  At least that is what the enemy tells us it will do.  It is amazing that a child will say something right in your face and then say they didn't say it.  The other is when you say something to them and they try to deny you said it. Yesterday I asked this little one how many times I had lied to him.  He thought and thought, then looked at me and made a zero with his little hands.  I said, "Yes, zero.  So why would I start lying to you now?"  That took care of the problem of saying I hadn't said what I had said; at least for the day.  Later on I explained that lying and saying he had not said something he had did not make him look smarter or better in any way, but rather made him look ridiculous, as he had said it to my face.  That put an end to that as least for the day. 
Taking responsibility for our own actions and admitting mistakes is not easy.  However, God promises us freedom if we do so.  He is always correct and always keeps His promises, so why do we still struggle with this so?
Psalm 8:4-6 tells us: "What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet, (NASB)
All creation has been placed under our authority.  As part of His creation, that places us under our own authority, yet we try to push blame for our mistakes: war, abortion, hatred, jealousies, theft, rape, murder, incest, homosexuality, divorce, and so much more onto Him by saying that a loving God would not allow this.  Such a conundrum does not phase God.  He gave us the answer to it before time began: Give ourselves over to His authority and He will gladly take the responsibility for our actions.  Not only that, but He will repair damages done, heal our broken hearts and change us from lost and wandering sheep into shepherds. 
Many times in a department store you can hear a young child cry out, "but I want it!" or something similar.  Sometimes they simply throw themselves in the floor and pitch a fit.  However, they handle it, they are screaming to be in control and for their parent(s) to take control at the same time.  If the parent gives in to their whims, it makes it necessary to try it again and again just to see how far their parent(s) will allow them to go; how many "things" they can get away with.  If the parent chooses to say "NO!" and refuses to give in to the whim of their child for no other reason than to teach them that is not how to get what they want, the child learns quickly to change tactics.  It may take a few trials, because some are stronger willed than others (trust me, I know!!) but it is well worth the effort on the parent's part.  One day they will be amazed that their child sweetly asks for something rather than demanding it, and then understands when you say you can't afford it at this time; that is IF they do not give up and give in.  It takes much love and perseverance.
This is essentially what we have done with God.  First we tore ourselves away from Him and "divorced" Him as our parent because we wanted what we wanted - to do things our own way.  Then we started doing whatever we wanted, yet began screaming out for Him to take control.  We don't want Him as a parent, yet we are angry that He isn't?  Makes no sense to me.  All we have to do is ask Him to forgive us and take us back and He will do so with open arms.  The catch is, He will expect more of us than we do ourselves.  He will expect us to emulate Him rather than self, which is exactly what a parent tries to teach the whining child - emulate me.  The difference?  Parents can only do their best and make many mistakes. God, on the other hand, sets a perfect example of humility in strength, mercy in judgment, discipline in diversity, and love amongst hatred.  Whose example do we choose to follow?  The imperfect example of our earthly parents, our own fleshly desires or a perfect heavenly Father who will never lead us astray?  Does this mean we must be perfect?  Yes and no.  We cannot be perfect in our own strength, but Jesus in us IS perfect.  We just have to step aside and give Him full reign.
Just last Sunday I had the joy of sharing with our class that it doesn't matter what anyone in this world thinks about us, including ourselves, our friends and even our parents.  It only really matters what God thinks about us and He says we are His special creation, but we have to accept that designation and allow ourselves to truly be His.  Then He will make us into the person He originally designed us to be. 
Father, thank You for being the perfect parent that always sets the perfect example.  We, as parents, have made many mistakes, giving verbal direction without succumbing to the discipline ourselves.  You, however, loved us so much that You became human in the person of Jesus in order to reveal to us how to live by Your own personal example.  Thank You for loving us even though we turned our backs on You and walked away.  Thank You for coming and drawing us back to You through Jesus. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

In Fear I Run To God

I rise each morning as Job must have done with the question of how my family has been behaving hounding my heart.  This morning I felt drawn to read Psalm 56, where the first verse I ever deliberately memorized  is located.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.  Psalm 56:3
Such a simple and short verse, but one that has had a powerful impact on my being.  I learned this verse as a very young child.  I used to fear simply walking down the street to my best friend's house.  At the time it seemed so far away and as if anything could happen to me along the way.  My childhood best friend (who has gone home to be with the Lord) and I met when I was two and she was three.  She had an older sister who was the same age as one of my sisters and the two of them became best friends as well.  Needless to say, we were all at each others' houses frequently, almost daily.  The times it was our turn to go to their house were great, as long as my sister was able to go with me.  However, there were times when I was allowed to go and she wasn't (and other times visa versa) when I had to walk that seeming mile and a half by myself.  During that time I would say this verse over and over again until someone answered the door and said Susie could play.  If that didn't happen, ie: they weren't home or Susie had chores to do, I had to walk back, muttering this same verse all the way home.  A few years back I made a trip to see the "old homestead" and discovered that the trip was actually a few hundred feet rather than miles.  Funny how perspective changes as we grow, not only physically, but spiritually.
When I was fifteen, we moved away from that home to Herculaneum.  It was here that I received Jesus as Savior and Lord, was baptized, and married.  When I accepted Christ as Savior, I decided to make Him Lord as well.  Simply Savior was not enough.  I had too many fears - fear of walking down the street alone, fear of lack of accomplishment, fear of meeting people, fear of going anywhere new, fear, fear, fear....So, I decided that if I wanted to really be all I could for Jesus, He had to be Lord of my life, so I gave Him me.  I told Him I wasn't worth much, but that He could have me and use me as He saw best.  I began to crave to know Him better and so asked Him to help me study.  Over the years He has taken me to places in His word I never knew existed and has brought more excitement and confidence to my life than I ever dreamed possible.  However, I discover daily that I still have fears. 
As I mentioned above, the fear that my family may be displeasing or disappointing to Father God grieves my heart excessively.  There are times when I witness a hurtful event with one of them that I feel my heart will burst with grief.  There is both spiritual and physical pain in this, which may seem odd, but is true.  A few days ago I witnessed some angry and hurtful words being spoken between one of my children and a grandchild.  They both said hurtful things that I know they did not mean literally, but I immediately felt pressure in my chest as tears tried to push their way to the forefront.  Our child made the comment, "Don't speak hatefully to me!"  The child made a curt reply of similar nature and I could not help but say, "You are BOTH saying hateful things!"  It quieted them at least momentarily. 
When I think about how grieved I become, how literally pain and grief-filled it makes me to see and hear such things, I am reminded that God feels all of this on a much deeper scale than I, as He sent His Son to pay the price for those sins.  At the very moment we are committing them, we are turning our backs on His sacrifice and saying we want to do things our own way, because we know what is best for us.  He knows where such sin leads us.  Can You imagine the grief He must feel, knowing that He placed His only Son on the cross for us and we still have moments we reject Him?  Even so, He loves us so much that He waits patiently for us to come to Him in repentance, holds us in His arms, wipes away our tears and says, "Forgiven and forgotten my little one." 
When I sit in fear of my children being disobedient to God, or fear of my husband not eating properly and so asking for health issues, or fear of going distant places alone (and by distant I mean anything over ten miles away), I am saying, "God, You can't handle this.  If I don't try to change my children, my husband's eating habits or find a way to do all I need to do as close to home as possible, everything will go wonky."  So in effect I am saying, "God, I am more powerful, more wise, more loving, more capable than You."  It is this that I speak to the world rather than the faith I want to speak to them.  So this morning I make the following my heart cry before God:
My enemies (Satan and his dominions) hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High.  Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.  In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.  .....  You number my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book?  When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me.  In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.  Psalm 56:2-3 and 6-11