Monday, August 27, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

We all have heard stories of heroes. Oftentimes what defines a hero is that they continue on in face of unimaginable circumstances. If we're blessed we know someone who not only preserves in horrible circumstances, but who looks at them as opportunities to be grown by Christ. This is not merely an acceptance of a tough time; this is someone who recognizes that while the mountaintops are nice, the valleys are what define us. They realize that they can't ever really experience the Father of Lights unless they've held His hand in the darkness. Just as trials show you who your friends are, they also reveal your faith. The fire burns; what is genuine remains.

Kierkegaard suggested that every circumstance, whether good or bad, was a gift from God. The good times are reminders of God's bountiful blessings. the bad times are a reminder of His faithfulness. Each type of circumstance reveals something how God is, and who were are in Christ that would never be demonstrated otherwise. It is easy to see the good times as beneficial because they are by definition "good". If we could view the hard times in the same way, it would probably chance our perspective on both.

"O Lord, let thyself be found with a good gift to everyone who needs it, that the happy may find courage to accept thy good gifts, that the sorrowful may find courage to accept thy perfect gifts. For to men there is a difference of joy and of sorrow, but for thee, O Lord, there is no difference in these things; everything that comes from thee is a good and perfect gift."
... Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)


Counted Cost

I have a friend who says I think too much. Although I would like to argue with him, I know that he's probably right. I do think too much. I'm the girl who will make back-up plans on what to do if the plans we are making fall through. I'm also the girl who will put your birthday in my calendar as soon as you tell me when it is to make sure I don't forget it. I consider the consequences of even my hypothetical actions. It short, my friend has a very valid point. I count the costs - maybe sometimes a bit too much.

Sometimes, however, I think we approach life in the opposite way. We think we should abandon plans in order to live for the moment. Sometimes, maybe especially so, this is true in Christian circles. We hear that we need to be abandoned to Christ and that sounds an awful like we should follow Him without consideration of the consequences. And while I agree that we should follow Him regardless of the outcomes, it doesn't mean we need to go into it with our eyes wide shut.

I recently heard a preacher share that Jesus went to the cross and didn't even consider the cost. I don't think that's the case. The anguish and grief that He experienced in Gethsemane were because of the cost that He was going to pay. He knew full well that death meant separation from His Father. He anticipated the pain that our sin was going to bring upon Him. Its not that He went to the cross without considering the costs. He counted the cost - and went anyway.

I hope that in at least some small way I live my life accordingly; that I know the sacrifice that God asks of me, and I make it willingly.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Serious as Sin

I laugh at myself often. Revealing my foibles is not something that I have a lot of problem with. I'm a messy eater, a sometimes klutz, and I can't find my way out of a paper bag. In addition, I can be an obsessive planner, I apologize too much, and I'm confusing as all get out. I'm not proud of all these things, but it's definitely who I am.

Because I'm so willing to laugh at my foibles, I think I'm sometimes a little too willing to laugh at things that cross the line from foibles to mistakes. Both in my own life and in the life of others, I tend to try to see the humorous it situations. Sometimes these situations compromise what I believe is the difference between right and wrong and I still laugh. The sad thing is, the consequences and harm done by wrong choices is no laughing matter. Additionally, when people act out of accordance with God's mandates, it hurts Him. As my Lord and Savior it should hurt me too.

I've come to realize that when I laugh at sin its because I'm trying to make an uncomfortable situation more comfortable. But sin should never be comfortable to me. I least I hope not.


A Great Grace

My friends are great. They are often the source of the biggest blessings in my life and it seems like every day I find a new reason to be grateful for them. It is wonderful to know that I have people who I can turn to in good times or in bad; friends who will be there for me even if I don't know what I need. We have fun together and just generally enjoy sharing life with one another. We love one another and they mean more to me than I can ever say.

One of the best things about my friends is that they are rarely difficult to love. Sure, we all get on each other's nerves from time to time, but when push comes to shove we know that we'll be there. This is something that we value and cherish, and I'm grateful that it is this way. I've come to realize though loving these wonderful people is nothing to be commended for. It's easy to love them. They contribute to my life, and I genuinely enjoy their company. It's the people who aren't so easy to love that pose the greater challenge.

Thomas a Kempis stated, "It is no great matter to associate with the good and
gentle; for this is a naturally pleasing to all, and everyone willingly enjoyeth peace, and loveth those best that agree with him. But to be able to live peaceably with hard and perverse persons, or with the disorderly, or with such as go contrary to us, is a great grace, and a most commendable thing." It's easy to love those who love us; it's harder to love those who make life difficult.

I plan to continue to love my friends fiercely. They deserve nothing less. But I hope that as Christ showers me with His love, I will become a reservoir of His grace to others. After all, He couldn't have found much that was lovable in me and that didn't stop Him from dispensing His grace.

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Better Things Ahead: August 2007

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