Monday, September 20, 2010

drift away

D.A. Carson writes:

One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift. In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy, and effort to bring about reform. In the grace of God, sometimes human beings display such virtues. But where such virtues are absent, the drift is invariably toward compromise, comfort, indiscipline, sliding disobedience, and decay that advances, sometimes at a crawl and sometimes at a gallop, across generations.

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

I post this quote for myself more than anything. Over the past few months, God has been revealing this truth to me with increasing clarity. I think so many times I have prayed for God to reveal His love to me or for God to allow me to have a close relationship with Him.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a seminary graduate to realize how grossly I was missing the point. A close relationship with God marked by intimacy, love and freedom doesn't "just happen," much like a close romantic relationship doesn't "just happen" (newsflash to all you "love at first sight" people). As the quote states, it takes time, energy, reform, discipline, if you will. The scriptures clearly tell us to pursue righteousness:

Proverbs 21:21
He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Proverbs 15:9The LORD detests the way of the wicked but He loves those who pursue righteousness.

1 Timothy 6:11
[ Paul's Charge to Timothy ] But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

1 Peter 3:11
He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

If we are charged to "pursue" something, how have we misconstrued this into something just happening, by either praying or attending church? By definition, pursue means to carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in; quest for: go in search of or hunt for. Do any of these definitions imply that an apathetic approach is appropriate in our pursuit of Christ?

At the risk of being redundant, I can't even count how many times I have wished I felt closer to God. Hmmm...let's just ask a few questions: had I been discplining myself to spend time reading and meditating on the scripture? Had I set aside specific increments of time to be still in the presence of the Lord and thank Him for His hand on my life? Had I devoted myself to love and serve others? Had I been pursuing Him with every breath that I took? A relationship takes work - a lot of work. Why should it be any different when cultivating a relationship with our beloved, our bridegroom?

The quote couldn't be clearer: we, as sinful and imperfect humans, will never naturally "drift toward holiness." Everything within our being and everything in the world around us will serve to act as a current, dragging us away from holiness and away from the abundant life promised to us through Christ.

Monday, September 13, 2010

oh glorious day.

Labor Day weekend marked my triumphant return to the Kingsland Manor and my formal introduction to my precious second cousin (?), Sophia Rose. The weather was absolutely picture-perfect, and although there wasn't much boating time, it was an absolute dream to be back at the lakehouse and reunited with some of my dearest fousins.

Truth be told, the weekend primarily consisted of a few jumps in the lake, countless hours of bananagrams (the best), a mimosa or two (natch), a nap in the hammock, ping pong, a rockin' dance party on the boat ("I throw my hands up in the air sometime, sayin' eh-oh, gotta let go"), quality time with my old married cousin (j/k) and her little "Sophers," the return of ghetto sangria and a lovely Labor Day lunch at The Grove.

Here is the weekend in pictures.

I am blessed beyond measure to have family who constantly show me the love of Christ. It doesn't hurt that they know how to dance and share my affinity for games and Andre. Such a match made in heaven.

Twas a glorious day, indeed, to be back with my dear family on the peaceful water of the lake, where every cloud in the sky points to our mighty Creator. The stars speak of His wonder and I am moved every time I am amongst His creation at the lakehouse. I wish I could accurately depict the majesty of the sky at night. It is such a testament to Christ's love for us and I can only say holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. May I never cease to marvel at the beauty you have given us and may it always point me back to you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

impossible to grasp?

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been praying and meditating on this scripture. Paul was writing to the Ephesians and detailing his prayer for them. It is my current prayer that I might truly know the love of Christ and that I might grasp how "wide and long and high and deep" His affections are for me. Sometimes I feel it is impossible to grasp, and to some extent, that is certainly true. I do not think, in my humanness, I will ever be able to fully comprehend "this love that surpasses knowledge." I think this is why it is so hard to process and accept because if we are reliant on our own understanding, nothing about the love of Christ makes sense.

We are a fickle people, consumed with our own hurts, habit and hangups. We are far too easily pleased with the temporal pleasures of this earth. We consistently compartmentalize our lives, only allowing God to move and work in certain areas, but careful to retain control of specific things, be it our finances, job, relationships, etc. In terms of our devotion to Christ, we wouldn't put up with our kind of behavior from another human for one day, much less a lifetime. This is why it is utterly unfathomable that God not only "puts up with us," but He pursues us with unrelenting desire to be with us. What kind of human loves like this? What kind of human even comes close? What kind of human would endure rejection upon rejection, only to whisper that He longs for us to come back to Him? It makes no rational, logical sense. It is simply not lucid...

This is precisely why it has become my prayer. I know I cannot and will not understand it using my human knowledge. I must seek it with all my heart and desperately pray for Christ to help me in my finite grasp of His love. I know Jeremiah 29:13 tells me that if I seek Him with my whole heart, I will find Him. I think this applies to His love as well. I know if I desire to grasp His love and I seek it through His word, His creation and His people, He will reveal it to me according to His will and purpose.

I pray Ephesians 3:16-19 over you, dear reader, because I know if we were to grasp even an ounce of His love for us, it would change everything.