Mercy for the Independent

Independence…it’s a good thing, right?

I’d like to think so.  My natural tendency is some odd combination of fiercely independent and people-pleasing rolled into one.  Neither option is healthy or God-glorifying, unfortunately.  (Oh, how I wish they were sometimes!)

Isaiah 30:18 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time.  As is normal for me, I returned to this chapter to let it sink in more; as is normal for God, He encouraged me through His Word.

The rest of the chapter is not exactly birthday songs and party hats.  God’s people had forgotten/ignored Him, tried to solve their own problems, and experienced trouble because of their choices.  Their biggest problem may have been their ardent desire to be independent.  He is still God, though.

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

In the midst of their independence and consequential trouble, God’s people heard truth based entirely on God’s character in the face of their abundant issues.

Maybe the reason this verse gets to me is the overwhelming kindness of God expressed here. In the face of my issues, His character remains.  He is gracious, compassionate, just, and patient, and He is the One I need!  Where I desire to be independent, He longs to be gracious. Where I want to have it all together and not need help, He is compassionate.  When I want things done yesterday, He blesses those who wait for Him.

Maybe dependence is a good thing…

All truth…

is God’s truth. So I love to read different (usually highly-recommended) books and see how God’s truth and spiritual principles pop up in random places.

One of my latest reads, Good to Great, is actually about business and how to make a company great.  However, a few paragraphs on the motivation behind great leaders struck me as pertinent to life outside an office.  This quote begins with a sub-quote.

‘We’re just never satisfied.  We can be delighted, but never satisfied.’

Those who built the good-to-great companies weren’t motivated by fear. They weren’t driven by fear of what they didn’t understand.  they weren’t driven by fear of looking like a chump…

No, those who turn good into great are motivated by a deep creative urge and an inner compulsion for sheer unadulterated excellence for its own sake.

What if that excellence is the glory of God?  What if the deep creative urge is the expression of God’s character in His image-bearers?  What if I was consistently motivated by passion instead of fear?

Thankfully, God has been revealing where I am motivated by self-induced pressure and fear instead of joy and passion for His name.  The freedom in revelation and restoration bring delight and excitement for the future!  While there is a measure of satisfaction, as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s complemented by deepened hunger and anticipation.

Meandering Thoughts

For sunshine and 66 degrees, I am grateful.

For peace in the midst of mystifying my doctor– losing my voice with beautiful vocal cord function– I give thanks.

For a microphone that makes me look like an aerobics instructor or pop star, depending on who you ask, provided by the school district for my teaching amplification, I am glad.

Because Jesus died but didn’t stay dead, I am alive, too.  That makes everything else look like small potatoes.

Slavery to Fear

Sometimes I read something in the Bible, and it’s as if it was just added.  I know that’s not true, and that phenomenon is evidence for the living nature of God’s Word.  In any case, it happened yesterday morning.  I was in Hebrews when I came across these verses:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.  –Hebrews 2:14-15

The author is discussing how believers and Jesus are all children of God.  Jesus, as the Son of God, came to earth to share life with us but also to defeat death.

That was all well and good- great, actually- but not necessarily new to me.  It was the whole bit about freedom from the fear of death and the slavery.

The good news of Jesus is much bigger than freedom from one of life’s greatest fears: the fear of death.  If Jesus can take care of that fear, is there any fear that He can’t conquer?  More on that tomorrow…

Forgiveness

“Who do you need to forgive for not being God?”

The question stuck me the first time I read it in a book on spiritual direction…and the second time I read it…and the third time.  On one hand, it is clearly ridiculous; why would we assume that anyone could live up to the divine?  On the other hand, it is all too easy to subconsciously presume that another person should surely, well, do better!

The temptation to impose expectations on others which are best reserved for the only One Who can fulfill them leads to all sorts of unhealthy things.  In this case, the irrational nature of the question points out our own faulty thinking.

The Beauty of Holiness

is the beauty I want.

Straight from your holy place
Lord make us holy
As You are holy
Lord send it down
Just a little bit of heaven here on earth
Lord send Your glory

Lord, we need You,
Lord, I love You,
Thank You Jesus.

-Sara Groves, “Glory Come Down”

Holiness- a bit of heaven here on earth- His glory!  It seems crazy to think that this has been His plan since before the world began.  Despite the intense lack of holiness that has permeated earth for millennia, He keeps doing it: buying us back and setting us apart, sending bits of heaven to earth and making things right.

Lord, we DO need you.  May we always welcome the passionate and pure fire of Your love, no matter how uncomfortable the heat at times.  Thank You for making Yourself at home here on earth and in us.

He knows!

“My Jesus knows just what I need…He satisfies, and every need supplies.  Yes, He knows just what I need.”

The words drift through my head, comforting me with their truth.  It could be well-argued that my individual satisfaction is not the ultimate goal of God’s work in the universe, but His kindness to satisfy my soul makes me smile to think of it.  When the lies of the enemy mount and the injustice in the world seems overwhelming or simple loneliness strikes, He knows.

So in the vein of His knowledge of not only what we need but also what we experience, here’s a favorite quote:

You told me about Jesu who came to live among the fisherfolk, and was nailed to a tree by the skalds and Romans and hung up to die.  And I remember thinking, this Hanging God is unlike any of the others; this god suffers, too, just like his people.

-from p. 862 of Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead

So when I pray for brothers and sisters around the world and my heart aches for their pain, I too find comfort in the truth that He knows their plight.  He is unlike any other.