Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Real Repentence is Hard February 26, 2010


The thing about change is that it requires you to give yourself over to God’s intent for you and forces you to let go of some things you might feel entirely entitled to otherwise.  Giving yourself over and loving like God requires, in fact, that you give up many of what society tells you are your rights. This morning when I woke up — again in a funk and with the last vestiges of anger clinging on when I rolled out of bed — I happened to run accross this article when I opened my email:  Anyway Love.

I’ll take you to the heart of it:

In Luke 6:32-36, Jesus says we shouldn’t love because. We should love anyway. If we love someone because that person is good to us, or gives back to us, or is kind to us, we’re acting no better than anyone else. In essence, Jesus is saying you don’t need the Holy Spirit to love a man who remembers every anniversary – not just the anniversary of your marriage, but the anniversary of your first date and your first kiss. Any woman could love a man like that. Or if you love a wife who lavishes you with sports gifts, who goes out of her way to make you comfortable when you get home from work and who wants sex anytime you do – well, you’re doing what any man would do. There’s no special credit in that!

But if you love a spouse who disappoints you, who can be a little self-absorbed – now you’re loving anyway. In doing that, you’re following the model of the heavenly Father, who loves the ungrateful and the wicked.

This is so true. It is perfectly right. There is no arguing it. And yet, it is so, so hard to take from your head to your heart.  And this is where I find much of my walk falls down.  Sitting and reading this article my whole being resonates with the rightness of loving as God has loved me.  As the article puts it:

Christians are called to anyway love. That’s what makes us different. That’s what gives glory to God. That’s what helps us appreciate God’s love for us, because God loves us anyway. He gives and gives and gives – and we take Him for granted. He is eager to meet with us, and we get too busy to notice Him. He is good to us, and we accuse Him mercilessly when something doesn’t go just the way we planned it.

But God loves us anyway. To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

Every fiber of my being knows this is true. But when I stand up, when I walk through my home, past messes, through rooms that overwhelm me, and listen to requests from the people I love, I sometimes want to stop and cry or scream. Sometimes I DO stop and cry or scream. And I know in my head that this flies in the face of how I should love and how I should respond. But getting from knowing to doing is hard. Right now I feel trapped between “SO HELP ME…!” and “Oh, Jesus help me.”

And I need Jesus’ help. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul talks about “taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ,” which means to me that our thoughts can be disobedient to Christ when we do not work to bring them into line with what we know to be true in God’s word.  Right now my thoughts and my heart are very undisciplined.  Can you think, for any of you who are perhaps struggling in a place of resentment and anger as I am, of the last time you felt at the end of your rope?  Can you track back your thoughts and their course?  I can because I’m in them right now.  I won’t detail through them again — it’s the last thing I need.  But I can tell you the general course:  I begin to fume and fester over whatever has made me upset that time and then, like a magnet attracting metal shavings, every other resentment comes to the fore and I find myself attaching the worst intentions, the greatest wrongs, remembering old hurts and seething until the entire situation is blown completely out of proportion.

I used to think that some of Paul’s language was a bit overblown in passages like these but here, thinking and asking for God’s help in understanding, I begin to see that facing my own undisciplined thoughts really IS like facing an army arrayed against the truths of Godly love seeking to make their way from my head into my heart and out of me into the way I deal with my family and my home. I’ll be honest, if that were the only hope I had, my ability to overcome my own sinful heart and desires and actions, I’d throw up my hands in despair and I’d have no reason to hope that this will change.

But I don’t only have myself to rely on.  I have the Holy Spirit, and I have the faithfulness of my Savior to trust in.  My hope is not in my ability to get up, let it all go and move on by the power of my own strength.  Rather, I am reminded of my real hope, the hope the author of Hebrews wrote about in chapter 10:

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

He who promised is faithful.

I don’t sit here needing to find the perfect exercise on my own. Rather, by His grace, I’m reminded of God’s grace and that changes something in my heart, even now as I write this. It doesn’t mean I get to just sit. But it does mean that as I look toward some of the things I need to accomplish today, and am reminded of who it is I really serve in serving those I love, and whose love causes me to love…it all seems less onerous. And that means something has changed for me today.

The end of that passage from Hebrews says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” So as I get up to make my way into my day, my responsibilities and relating with my family, I urge any of you with whom this resonates to plead with God to touch your heart and remind you of all he’s done for you. He did it while we were undeserving. He did it while we were lost in sin. He did it while we resembled nothing good, nothing worthy, nothing beautiful. Ask him to make that the starting point for your heart change.

Nothing around me looks different. But that isn’t the point. The point is Jesus. I have dishes to do.

 

How’d I Get Here? February 25, 2010


Here I am at the end of another long break and when I read my last post in the middle of the 30 day challenge, I chuckle.

Why does huge transition seem to happen in September? That’s the last time I posted here. Maybe it’s the pattern set up with school — a new year starts in September.  For me, another birthday rolls around and everything feels new and ready to happen.  That was certainly the case this year.  We had family out from out of town for a few weeks, suddenly October was upon us and then, low and behold, we found out to our great delight that I was pregnant.  And we found out when I had swine flu, and while our son had swine flu too, and…uh…you get the point.

And I’ll be honest — this has been a rough few months.  I actually sat down tonight with no real intention to write.  I actually sat down to mope.  I am tired, my bones hurt, my stomach is queasy, and…did I mention I was tired?

But beyond the physical, I am also emotionally tired and overwrought.  What I really sat down to write was a rant to my husband.  An ungodly, poorly thought out, ungracious, and self-focused rant.  Only, much to God’s grace, I was very aware before I even started that what was in my head and in my heart was not what needed to come out of my mouth or the tips of my fingers.

I loaded up Mozilla anyway, gritted my teeth and grumbled, and then had to stop and chuckle (if darkly) when I saw in my start page a link to a post on Radical Womanhood called, “The Sacrifice of Silence.”  Even as riled up as I’ve gotten myself tonight, I couldn’t ignore a sign THAT blatant.

So here I am.  I have put my son to bed with a grumpy kiss and a half-hearted read of a chapter in the Big Picture Story Bible.  I then glared at my napping husband while I loudly slammed last night’s laundry into cupboards and drawers and only got more angry when he didn’t respond to my bad mood.  I stomped through a shower, so caught up in my mental tirade that I think I am more tense after taking it than I was when I got in.  And here I lie with my laptop, aware that I have nothing to show for my temper tantrum tonight but a heart sick at the knowledge of my own sin.  And on top of that, I’m afraid that tonight isn’t a lonely instance of these moods of mine.  This hasn’t really been a good few months.

I’m a little lost as to why I’m writing this in a public forum like my blog where I usually blather on about gardens, food, and my son.  But honestly, I felt compelled to write here tonight.  I’ve been clear in the past about my faith:  I am a Christian.  And I guess I’m left wondering, what use are my declarations if I don’t also share the times when I don’t live up to them?  Why go silent when I don’t look pretty if I write about where I really am?  I am a broken, selfish, sinful woman in the process of being redeemed.  And sometimes it feels like a very slow, arduous process indeed.

God is faithful when we are not and tonight I am aware at this low point that he is speaking softly to my heart, asking me to trust him and seek my sustenance in him.  I feel let down and angry right now because I’ve been leaning on so many other things to fulfill my needs and, as all created things do, they’ve let me down.  The biggest perpetrator of that is ME.  I cannot be who I need to be without Jesus.  When I trust in my own strength, my own charm, my own smarts, my own logic to be okay, I will not be okay — as shown in the dismal state of affairs in my own home right now.

I will wrap this up because I have some repenting to do, some praying to do, and some seeking to do.  But I just…I don’t know why — I felt like I needed to be honest tonight.  I felt like I needed to break the silence and tell you where I am and where I’d rather be.  If any of you reading this feel a bit like I do, I will lift you up in prayer tonight even as I lift myself — because He who promises to keep us and sustain us is faithful, even when we are not.

I will write about this more clearly some time soon.  Just no more tonight.

 

 
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