The Gift Of Self-Forgetfulness…

god lives in yu - treo_062809_002_web
God lives in yu (Photo credit: kevindean)

Yesterday i met a searcher; someone who is searching, seeking to understand God. She asked an interesting question, “i find it hard to understand why is it that every good thing we do needs to be attributed to God. Isn’t that putting down humanity? i mean, there is good in us, you know. WE  can do good.”

How i wished i could answer her… but we were at a Bible study (studying 2 Corinthians) and running short of time. Our discussion leader promised to pick this up again at another time.

The truth is i used to think like her. i used to think that everyone started with good intentions, yes even the murders and horrible criminals. i believed they all were good or at least wanted to be good or strived to be good for the sake of their loved ones, that it was just their bad luck that the path they chose led them to terrible things.

That was before i found out that people could be cruel just because they wanted to be. That was before i accepted the fact that Man has fallen short of the Glory of God. That Man really is so flawed and selfish and self-seeking. That was before i saw how much Man needed God in him.

Our modern society often tells us that we need to constantly look at ourselves; how we can better ourselves, how we should be finding ways to improve ourselves; and we need, should and can do these things on our own. This thought pattern has filtered into our Christian lives too. We are constantly looking at how to be a good Christian, what to do to become a better Christian, which behaviour we need to change to get into God’s good books.

i wrote a post a few weeks ago about the dangers of trying to please God and my opening line was “Being a Christian is not an issue of doing…”. This is further expanded here to include our obsession with how well or how bad we are doing in our Christian walk, our fixation on the good things and the bad things we are doing, our need to talk about how much or how little we have grown in Christian knowledge.

Once again, our focus is in the wrong place. The Bible is not about us and our lives. The Bible is about God and how He purposed and sent His Only Son to die for us upon the Cross. My favourite line from the article (see link below):

…the more I focus on my need to get better the worse I actually get-I become neurotic and self-absorbed…

i have noticed how when i try on my own strength to do better, such as trying to control my explosive expressions of anger and frustration. The more i try to hold it in or keep it under wraps, the more it boils over. Then i become more frustrated with myself and it becomes a vicious circle. But when i submit my problem to God in prayer, the control is there… not my control but God’s.

How does that happen? Well, we need to see that

…the focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. The gospel frees us from ourselves. It announces that this whole thing is about Jesus and dependent on Jesus. The good news is the announcement of his victory for us, not our “victorious Christian life.”…

Once we get that point, relying on Jesus for everything in our lives is much easier and is what will get us to live the Christian lives God wants us to live. When and where we are weak, God will be strong for us because where we should have died for our sins, Jesus came and died and was victorious for us.

The author of the article expresses it so much better than me. Have a read.

The Gift Of Self-Forgetfulness – Tullian Tchividjian.

So in answer to the searcher, “We, humans, are messed up. Even when we try to do good, especially on our own strength, we focus on the wrong things, we mess up, we get too fixated and we, inadvertently, will ask ourselves, “What’s in it for me?”. The self in us is… well… selfish! There is no way around that one. We are selfish creatures who would always look out for ourselves first and not our fellow humans. Yes, maybe you know a few people whom you feel are saints but do you truly know their hearts? Do you know for sure why they do what they do? Only God knows their hearts. And God looks FIRST at our hearts, our actions come down the line. Our hearts are just not where it should be … yet… and we need God to help us. We are not yet self-less as Jesus is, we do not put the needs of others before our own in every single situation as Jesus does. If we want to be good, do good, then let’s aim for 100% living for others and not do a half-hearted job of it. We attribute good to God, because the good stuff comes from Him, our Creator; and He is the only one who can help us to get to 100%.”

Dependance on God is not denying that humans can do good. Dependance on God and praise to God for every good thing is acknowledging that we are in need of help; we can not, on our own, put our self aside. It says, “i recognise God as the only one who can get us to where we should be.”.

syc

Take a Leap of Faith…

It’s Leap Day today. So i am asking you to take a Leap of Faith. Now i am no theologian or preacher. i am merely a Bible-believing Christian who would like to talk about faith today. So no big words, no big idea – just this… God is in the little things.

God is in that little Bee and those little Flowers.

He truly is. People often talk about the “big” things of faith, hope in the things unseen; have faith in God that He will provide that job or that house or that desired result etc… That’s great and good and is certainly a fantastic demonstration of faith. But i submit to you today that the little things matter to God as well.

Small matters such as when we pull into an obviously full parking garage, i often ask my little boy to pray, “Pray that God grants us a parking space.” And God does, it would seem everywhere we looked there was not a free spot and then hubby would turn a corner and there it would be, our parking spot. It may seem trivial but it is an answered prayer – we prayed and God answered. You may say, “Oh that’s just a coincidence.” Maybe. However, i believe that having faith means believing that God is involved in every aspect of your life, everyday, every hour, every minute and every second. So in that minute we needed a parking space, we asked and God provided.

Here’s another little example: i was once on my way to a seminar and was on time. Or i thought so. i walked towards the train station in our little village and was some distance away when i saw the train leaving! i was like, “Oh my God, no! i can’t be late!” i checked my watch, i wasn’t and i didn’t understand why the train left – Swiss trains are almost always (99% of the time) on time. So i doubled back and headed for the bus stop, hoping to catch the bus, but i knew that i would be late for catching the connecting train to my destination cos the bus would just take longer to get there. i asked God to help the bus get there faster. i managed to catch the bus but saw that the bus would not get there on time. i got off the bus and crossed the road, thinking who i should call to inform them i would be a whole 30 mins late (the trains run on a fixed timetable here). Then i looked up and there was my connecting train, still at the station! i ran for it and got on just as the conductor whistled for the train to leave. God answered my prayer; He didn’t make the bus go faster, He had the train wait for me 😀 (i later found out that the train i saw leaving my train station earlier was the train for rush hour which i never take so didn’t know about – it was not the train i was supposed to take.)

Here’s an unexpected one: i was in the supermarket checkout line on Tuesday, at the basket only lane (where trolleys are not allowed). i had a very full basket and had piled all my purchases onto the conveyor belt. Then i noticed that the man behind me was buying only 2 items. i offered to let him go first. He looked at me, smiled and said in German, “No worries. i have time. i can wait. We all need to learn to be a little patient, isn’t it?” It was a simple exchange which brightened my otherwise ordinary day (and truth be told, i was a little impatient that day too.) cos someone had said something small but nice to me. i didn’t ask for this and certainly had never seen the man in my life before. And if you have lived in Switzerland, you know that you seldom get more than a nod and a couple of words with strangers in a line. But God knew i needed that one little word and He sent it.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

God cares for even the birds in the wild and the grass in the fields. He feeds them, He waters them, He provides for them. If He can care with such attention these wild things, i am sure He cares for us and our small issues too.

Cover of "Simple Wonders"
Cover of Simple Wonders

i have a little book called, Simple Wonders by Christopher de Vinck, one of my favourite books. It tells stories about God and how He is in the simple things of life; in the lives of everyday people. In there are stories which are heart-warming and show that God truly cares for us, even in the little things, i think especially in the tiny details.

In there is a story called Simple Wonders (the book’s namesake). In this story, it tells of a person who found a ladybug in his/her bathroom wall. The ladybug stayed there, on the wall, in the same spot for more than a month. Everyday the person would check on it and one night the moonlight shone on that very spot the ladybug sat, it was beautiful.

“God created the universe! He created the stars! The heavens! He created the Grand Canyon! Niagara Falls! The Alps! All that is spectacular, God has created. But we can easily forget that God also created the single blade of grass and the smallest piece of dust that floats in the sunlight of your room.

We should not forget that God is the Creator of all things great and small, even the ladybug.

Take a moment out of this day and see if you cannot recognize God’s handiwork in the smallest thing: a single strand of your hair, or a drop of water on the window.If you look closely enough, you will discover His thumbprint.”

So take a leap of faith – believe that God created every little thing on this earth and trust that He will also take care of every little aspect of your life, down to the tiniest details. May you see God in the small matters of life today.

syc

The danger of trying to please God

Being a Christian is not an issue of doing but being… you don’t do this or that and viola! You are a Christian!

No, being a Christian is about being… being who God created us to be – His Child!

God loves us. Period. God loves each and every single human being who ever lived, who is living now, who will live in the future. The Good, The Bad, The Rich, The Poor and everyone in between.

Tobias at 5 months
Just as you look at this baby and can't help but love him, so God looks at you and can't help but love you, just for being you.

Like a parent looks at his/her child and loves the child, just because he/she is his/her child. It is the same with God. We just have to be His Child. We have to accept our position as His and His alone.

Just as a parent wishes and is most pleased when a child is obedient, so God is glad when we obey His Commandments. But it is not our obeying which makes Him love us, just as it’s not the child’s obedience which triggers a parent’s love. The parent loves the child even before the child is able to obey.

So here’s the order it should go in… at least, here’s the order i believe it should go in:

God Loves Us. We accept His Love; accept that we are His Children – this is Faith. Then we respond in Love, and this is where Obedience to His Word comes in and following the leading of His Holy Spirit and the rest, they say, is HIStory 😉

Sounds easy? Well, its way harder in reality because we have our human natures working against us. The human nature which says that if we do not do, then we are not moving forward and moving forward is very important. It says if we do not do, then we are not. False.

What is true is that we are, simply, because God made us to be… to be His, for His Glory, to worship Him and live in harmony with Him and the wonderful plans He has for us. And we are not helpless, He sent us His Spirit to guide us; all we have to do is listen and follow.

Below is the article which inspired these thoughts.

The danger of trying to please God | Rick Thomas.

i know i have reduced it to rather simplistic terms but in my mind that’s how i got it worked out.

syc

PS: i’m not the “Sandra” in the article… in case u misunderstand, but i am (to borrow a friend’s words) a recovering people-pleaser.

PPS: That cutie in the photo is my beloved son at 5 months. 😀