Monday, September 19, 2011

Snot & Sin

In the brief but wonderful 13 months that I’ve been a mom, I have seen that parenting lends itself to perpetual parallels between the Spiritual and the natural. There are so many lessons I’ve learned about God’s nature hidden in how I feel about Eden. This is one of them.

Note: This particular blog entry contains some graphic descriptions that may be disturbing to people without kids, and people with kids who have an aversion to snot.

Last night I found myself following a trail of chocolate bunny snacks to where Eden sat, attempting to play with some of her favorite toys, with snot all over her face and hands. (I know of at least one person, Ashley Siner, who would be gagging just at the thought. I, however, grew up in a family that staunchly believed in the use of Kleenex -that was before Puffs Plus Lotion was available-, and a Mom who couldn’t handle when kids sniffed back their snot. In short, snot doesn’t really gross me out. Leave me alone in a room with a kid whose not my own and their dirty diaper, and that’s a different story.)

All that to say I felt terrible for Eden because I could have cleaned up her mess so much better than she. Since this cold set in, she’s all about trying to wipe her own nose, and to be honest, she is just not very efficient. She makes it worse every single time, and she ends up getting everything around her contaminated. As I was cleaning her off yesterday, and she was screaming her little heart out, I started to laugh just thinking about how similar we are sometimes. (Or maybe it’s just how similar I am.)

Don’t we frequently walk away from where our Spiritual Daddy sits, to go wander off and inevitably we make a mess of ourselves? And then, when we’ve made the mess, we try and clean it up, but we only make the whole thing even worse? So often I find that one “little” sin leads to so many more, and it just gets all over the people I love, and all over me. I let myself think discontented thoughts early in the day, and when I realize what I’ve done I end up so disappointed in myself that I can’t find the guts to spend time with God, and those thoughts slowly turns into me being easily irritated with the people I love, or selfish with my time, or I grumble and complain, and by the time I crawl into bed I’ve made my husband, my friends, and whoever happened to call me on the phone feel like I’m a perpetual little rain cloud.
I was reading something the other day that talked about how eager God is to meet us, even in the midst of our sin. He longs to set us free, and He looks at us graciously, like a Father with compassion. I wonder if He feels anything like what I felt last night finding Eden all messed up with her own snot. I felt so bad for her; all I wanted to do was get her cleaned up so she could enjoy the toys that I’ve given her to enjoy.

Since the beginning though, since Adam and Eve, its innately human to run away from God when we sin. Isn’t that the silliest thing? It’s as if He didn’t know we had it in us, as if His arm is too short to wipe our proverbial noses. But God’s desire, from the first moment we sin, is to get us clean. He wants to help us, He wants to set us free to go and enjoy life and not wallow in guilt. There is a verse in Proverbs I love that says, “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord.” Somehow, whenever I sin, I start to feel like God must not want anything to do with me anymore, and that I ought to somehow get myself straightened out before going to see Him. But He is nothing like us, and His logic isn’t our logic. He knows the secret, that only He has the perfect way to clean us, and that we do a pretty shabby job of it.

And sometimes when I sin, I start to identify myself with that sin, and think that God must hate me because I have sinned. God’s heart towards us and His heart towards sin are two different things. When we know Jesus and have invited Him into our hearts, He declares us His sons and daughters, and His heart towards us is pretty much summed up in Psalm 23, with the final verse adding the best part: “Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He doesn’t lose sight of us in the middle of the sin- He doesn’t start identifying us with our sin. I don’t suddenly think of Eden as one big piece of snot just because she’s covered in it, I still see her worth and value in the middle of it. I just want her clean. I just want her to be able to live a better quality of life in the middle of her cold.

If I’m just Charis, a 24-year-old girl who helps out her precious daughter just because I adore her, don’t You think an ageless God has a much better understanding of the human spirit, a much better method of cleaning “noses”? Jesus says if we think we’re good parents, we should see God. “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11

“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins- and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:1-2
We know that Jesus literally stands in Heaven and makes intercession for us (He prays on our behalf) and we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) So instead of running away next time, hiding in our corners leaving a trail of uneaten mess, and sitting in a pile of our own self-wiped snot, let’s do the wiser thing. Let’s run to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to wipe our noses, get us clean, and set us straight.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"A sound heart [is] life to the body, But envy [is] rottenness to the bones."
Proverbs 14:30

I've always loved this verse. Isn't it true that when we begin to envy or grow jealous we almost feel crippled inside? I have grown to hate the presence of jealousy, and to despise it when I start to feel it knocking at the proverbial door in my heart. I know to be true what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6: "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Have you ever been going about your business, only to suddenly be accosted with the realization that someone has something that you need? And what was once at peace inside of you becomes a restless anxiety, one that won't be quieted until you possess whatever it is that you are missing? It doesn't have to be a "thing" as in a material thing, it could be a way of thinking, it could be an intellectual achievement, it could be a manner of talking or carrying oneself, whatever that "thing" may be, it can take whatever peace was in you and create total chaos. It's like that verse in Proverbs says, "anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?"

During my quiet time this morning, I tried to figure out what the word "sound" meant, and why having a sound heart is life to my body. What I found was so encouraging, I just have to write about it! It means "health, healing, cure" and comes from the root word rapha, which is actually one of the names of God, Jehovah Rapha "The Lord My Healer".

For some reason, the idea that a sound heart means it's a healed heart makes having a sound heart so much more attainable! If sound heart meant it was something I had to innately possess, I'd be rather discouraged. I don't wake up every day feeling content, feeling perfectly happy. Some days I do, and aren't those wonderful mornings? Yawning yourself awake happily, with sunlight dancing across your room? But not every day is like that. Wouldn't it be so nice if we all were born naturally content? If it wasn't in our nature to want what we can't have or don't have or won't have? Even Eden, at 13 months, would rather have the "off-limits toys" than play with her own, ie: the trashcan, the glass pitchers, etc. She knows what it is to look beyond the wonderful world of pink cars and pink building blocks to the unknown area of the kitchen, and think that she'd be happier if she could play with what she hasn't been given. It's an innate part of our hearts to long for things that aren't supposed to be ours. But God came to heal those parts in us.

And if I'm faithful to present to Him the parts of me that aren't content, He can heal my heart and fill it so that I'm not busy looking around and hurrying to attain whatever I can. For what profit is it for a man to gain the world, but to lose his soul? God is the great soul-calmer, our soul's very best Physician. He's never turned away a patient yet. Isn't that good news? We can have a heart that is sound, giving life to our bodies, because He heals us.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" by Helen H. Lemmel

We would see Jesus; other lights are paling, which for long years we'd rejoiced to see, the blessings of our pilgrimage are failing; we would not mourn them, for we go to Thee.

"We Would See Jesus" by Anna B. Warner

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's been a rather depressing shade of gray here in Indiana all week long. I've traded in my sandals and shorts for skinny jeans and boots, and I haven't had the best attitude about it, to be honest. I did decide, however, to have a better attitude about the cold in the winter-- just as long as winter doesn't try to steal my warm weather moments, and vice versa, we're going to get along just fine. Today, however, I woke up to the sun shining through our window and I nearly leaped out of bed. What is it about the sunshine that makes life so much better? On every level? Naturally, the minute Eden went down for her morning nap I threw on a tank top and the shortest shorts I could find (no nosy neighbors here)-- and ran to our backyard lawn chair to have some time with the Lord...and here I sit...typing away on the computer screen that I cannot read because the sun is so bright. Praise the Lord.

The point of writing all of this, (let's hope I have a point), is that a few moments ago I had the most wonderful reminder of such a simple truth. I walked back inside of our house to retrieve some cookies from the oven (because when I'm happy, baked goods inevitably are produced in huge quantities- heck, if I'm sad, the same thing happens). And when I walked in to get them, I suddenly felt blind in my own home. I couldn't see the tray, the oven, the oven mit...etc. But I was so tickled by it, so delighted that the reason I was blind inside was because outside I was sitting and soaking up glorious September sun-- that I didn't care if I burned my hand. Or that I couldn't tell if the cookies were burned or mushy or what. It didn't take long for my eyes to readjust to being inside, and as I was shoveling cookies onto a paper towel, I kind of panicked thinking I wanted to get back in the sun so I would think inside was dark again.
Just then it was like the Lord reminded me of that verse in Matthew 6:22-23:
"the eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye us clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"
I experienced this principle just this week- maybe it was because of the weather too, but I just didn't invest much in finding time to spend with God. I made myself busy doing who knows what, and entertaining my brain with Pinterest, or friends on the phone, or Eden's most recent antics. But by Thursday, I felt really stupid. I felt really irritable. I felt really ugly and insecure and as all of those thoughts started lowering into my mind like the bazillion layers o f clouds outside-- I realized that the key to all of my mental distress was my lack of intimacy with God. So i dedicated an hour to reading yesterday and talking to Jesus, and it was so wonderful. I felt so relieved, so much more alive. And what was most interesting was that the negative thoughts I had been marinating in only moments before my quiet time looked totally ridiculous and unthinkable just after it. It was like my spiritual eyes had adjusted to a new standard of brightness- and the junk of my flesh looked really unnappealing. Isn't that how it is supposed to be though?
When we were little, I can't tell you how many movie nights were ruined by Mom's incessant complaining about anything in the movie wasn't absolutely pure or above-board. At the time, I was so annoyed that she didn't think we could handle a few cuss words or a romantic scene-- but now that I am older, and even more, now that I am a mom, I understand exactly where she was coming from. Mom spent so much time with God that her conscience was really sensitive to anything that was anti-the Gospel...and she just wouldn't tolerate it. It is amazing how what we behold is what we become, what we look at becomes the standard of what we look for. When we look at comparison and jealousy, discontentment or complaining, we become someone who is insecure, jealous, discontented and sad. But if we look at Jesus- that great Light of the World and the great Light of eternity- the darkness looks just like what it is: dark. So be careful what you look at, be careful what you allow your eyes to be adjusted to. And if its sunny outside where you are- be grateful, for my sake.