Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holding Fast and Pressing on in Thanksgiving

     I LOVE this time of year! It is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the chill in the air and the smell of cinnamon, baked goods and coffee. I so enjoy fellowship with my family and others. This time of year gives me a chance to spend time with people and to show them the love I have for them through fellowship. I enjoy having a day that is dedicated to Thanksgiving! God has been teaching me so much about having an attitude of thanksgiving over the last year. 
    This time last year I was very ill and had Home Health Nurses coming to my house daily as we got ready for Randy to leave on deployment.  I was so frustrated and could not reconcile how this illness was "....a light and momentary affliction,"  and I certainly could not see how it was going to be used to God's glory!  I was struggling so much internally with the whole situation.  I was teaching the book of Hebrews during this time and God was speaking loudly to me through it.  We were to look at II Corinthians 4 and look at the "treasure we have in earthen vessels."  I read that and then I read he whole chapter.  I read that we are "...afflicted in EVERY WAY but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed..." because our power is from God.  Then I got to a verse I do not remember ever reading before, II Corinthians 4:15 "For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God."  I realized that my illness was for my sake and the sake of those around me, as they showed me grace and cared for me I was to be thankful and this is how God would be glorified in the situation.  God receives glory when we have our attitude right.  Whether that attitude is one of showing grace to those afflicted or as one afflicted being thankful God receives the glory. 
    If you read on in that chapter it talks about how these things "...that are for your sakes..." are "...light and momentary afflictions."  They are producing a weight of glory.  The word for weight and the word for glory in Hebrew were the same root and it is believed that this influenced Paul to chose these specific words in Greek that make up this phrase according to the Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the New Testament.  The use of these words together implies a prolonged process or a working out.  Our afflictions accomplish a purpose that glorifies God whether by a change in us or a change in others and that process takes time.  In our microwave generation we want to see the reason now, we want the why's answered and to know the purpose.  God does not always share that with us; we may even have to wait until eternity to discover the reason. 
   The other dilemma many have with being thankful in their circumstance is that they don't appreciate the idea that what they are experiencing is for others.  We are a selfish people and we want to know why things are happening to us.  If God told us that what was happening was for the benefit of our Christian brother or sister many of us would become angry and bitter.  If God told us it was strictly for our benefit than we would could become victims who feel helpless.   C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called The Weight of Glory.  He states
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.  The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken...All day long we are in some degree, helping each other toward a state of worship or corruption..." 
     I love this reminder that we are not here for ourselves.  We do have a responsibility to others and God in how we behave and most importantly in our attitude.  There are so many people I could thank for helping me move closer to a state of worship.  This Thanksgiving season I give thanks for those families whose table we have sat at or who have sat at our table and encouraged us to thank God for the blessings He has given.  I am holding fast and pressing on because of the help of those who spur me toward worship and thanksgiving.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holding Fast and Pressing on as a Romantic

I am currently taking a Ladies Bible Study Lecture Series by Beth Moore.  This week she talked about how God is a Romantic.  We are studying Revelation 19 where God prepared the bride in fine linen and perfection and the Groom has anticipated her arrival they enjoy the beautiful marriage supper then Christ mounts his white horse and gathers the Bride and they ride to avenge the earth. It is a beautiful picture.  While she was teaching she asked the question, "Are any of you Romantics?"  I lowered my head and thought, "Unfortunately, yes."  She went on to contrast the Romantic with the Cynic.

As I have pondered the lesson and expanded more in my mind on what a Romantic is, I will tell you that I have suffered much at the hands of being a Romantic and I thought how much easier life would be as a Cynic.  Let me just share with you what I mean.  What makes me a Romantic you may ask.  I see other people through the lens of their ultimate potential.  I see who they can be and hope that is contained in them.  I look at my relationships and believe the best of the people around me.  I do not default to how some one could harm me or betray me.  It never occurs to me to think that way about them.  If I become concerned about my relationship with someone I assume it is me.  I default to reviewing in my head, "Did I say something wrong?, Am I misjudging them?, Do I have an unrealistic expectation?"  I believe in happy endings and that everyone can chose to look at life positively and even difficult things will be made easier.  I want everyone to get along and respect one another. I am in love with my husband because I look at him through eyes of love and self-sacrifice not what he owes me.  I am not saying I believe that things are all rosy and wonderful but I do see the potential for good.

I have been called idealistic, Pollyanna, naive, unrealistic, innocent, not very smart and way too trusting.   I have been ridiculed for my outlook on life, betrayed without seeing it coming, hurt by unkindness, and shocked and baffeled by those around me.  I care deeply, I want what is best  for others and yet it does not always work out well to live life that way.   I began to ponder what it means to be a Cynic and whether that would be a better way of life for me.  A cynic may be smarter but they do not trust. They are protected but are suspicious and believe the worst of others.  A cynic is not disappointed because they believe everything is going to fall apart anyway so why hope. A cynic gets ahead in life because they believe they must look out for number one.  A cynic does not allow people close because they only see here and now and do not believe in potential.  The world if full of Cynics. 

I tried to live as a Cynic after one particularly shocking hurt but I was miserable.  I suffered from anger and depression.  Thinking the world is a miserable place and the people in it not worth my time was not a beneficial way for me to live.  I will continue to live as a Romantic.  I believe that is what God wants for us.  He wants us to see our potential in the way those around us view us and that is why we are to fellowship with one another.  We are to speak the truth in love and allow that love to cover a multitude of sin.  Christ did it for us and life is much more fulfilling for me when I live it with love and forgiveness.  I can view things realistically without being cynical. I am willing to risk hurt and betrayal and pain and disappointment because my love for another may the thing that helps them hold on to their faith and helps them to press on to maturity.   My prayer is that God strengthens me as I Hold Fast and Press On to live as a Romantic. 

Holding Fast and Pressing On,