Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye, 2012.

Goodbye 2012. I can't say I'm going to miss you.

Let's be honest...we weren't exactly friends. I would say it was more of a toleration, like my relationship with exercise and steamed vegetables. I know I needed you. I know that everything that happened was for a reason, too. But, steamed vegetables stink and exercise is only something I do because I have to. I’m ready to part ways.

You can keep the layoff, two moves, thrice-broken down car, and four different jobs. You can keep the stress, complacency, and frustration. You can even keep most of my wardrobe. Honest.

But, hey. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you, too.

If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have finally walked off the edge of comfort and fallen into the unknown. I may have never pursued being a missionary in Scotland. I might have still been living in complacency, working at a job I didn’t love and living in the same town I grew up in.

If it weren’t for your directive push, I may never have heard the Lord’s voice and been able to obey His calling. I wouldn’t have had any reason to rely on Him in my times of frustration and hurt, and I certainly never would have had a reason to pursue a ten-year dream.

So, even though I can’t say goodbye fast enough, I can’t help but admit that our relationship was a necessary rite of passage. I am thankful that your bitter was mixed with sweet.

Because, after all, bittersweet chocolate makes the best kind of cookies. And, much like the year I am leaving behind, if I'm going to be eating steamed vegetables and exercising, you can bet that I’m going to want some cookies as a reward.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Throwing away the white paint

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead [men's] bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28 NKJV

Buying a can of white paint to wash over some old decaying eye sore is like putting a smile on your face while feeling anger towards a fellow believer. It’s equal to posting verses on your Facebook while ignoring your daily quiet time. It’s the same as teaching a bible study or Sunday School class, but not realizing that the lessons are for you as well.

It’s living plastic in an organic world: it may look real, desirable, and good, but it is fake. And how many times have I lived this way?

"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 NKJV

How, with this professed desire to LOOK one way but ACT another, can I perfect? I fail at obeying the Lord’s commandments every day. There are days I wake up and, instead of washing myself pure in His Word and Promise, I pull out my white-washed paint brush and touch up the parts on my life that look run down. I create an exterior for people to see.

I am not perfect.

It is God who is perfect and by Him I can be sanctified. Not by my works. What I do – what GOOD I do, should be an overflow of His love in me – and my encompassing realization of His love. His love in my life must be realized before any good can be done-not the other way around.

Looking good and acting good result in nothing but a whitewashed tomb. Living in the realization that God is good and that He embodies goodness results in letting people see me as a clay vessel, broken and needy, as Christ lives His goodness through me. And on the exterior, they may look the same, but I will know the difference. He will know the difference.

Lord, let me throw away my white paint.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV