Thursday, July 24, 2014
It sounds obvious, and therefore simple, so it should be easy to implement. I don't have to defend my character. God can take care of that.
So I just stop, right? Or even better, I don't start. I don't have to make someone realize what a great person I am. God can take care of that.
Oh, wait. That's not what He said. He didn't say he'd convince my adversary of anything, did He? He didn't say we'd be at peace. Did he? He didn't say that at all. Wait a minute.
He said I would be what? Persecuted? OK, but this isn't that. My life's not at stake. My family's not being tortured or killed. I'm not on the run. So I don't need to call this "persecution."
Oh, gee. Hold on. Let me get this straight.
I don't have to defend my character because . . . I am a sinner, and I have no character.
Alright, let that sink in for a while. Just sitting here breathing.
But He's made me new, right? And I'm His, right? And I'm trying really, really hard to do what He says, right?
Then I hear him speak: Be still.
I have no character. All my works are as filthy rags. Ok, wait. Gosh. You mean even when I'm trying . . . really, REALLY hard? Aw, gee.
Mmph. Keeping my mouth shut, trying to listen.
Ok, so . . .
- Not yet.
My goodness, I'm like a bug in a mud puddle. I keep wiggling and paddling and trying to get out of here. You aren't going to help me unless I get still, are You?
- I can't help you unless you get still, dear one.
And I guess all my work is just muddying the water, huh?
He smiles, and the twinkle in His eye reminds me that He adores me, and I remember that He loves me enough to lay down His life for me - and that He did just that.
So I don't have to defend my character. So when someone says, "I've known Christians like you before . . . " and spits out the word, "Christians," as if it's a vile curse . . . or when someone who doesn't know my whole picture, who doesn't know all I'm defending, accuses me of lying . . . or when someone implies that I am failing at the one thing on this earth I'm trying hardest to do right . . .
Gee, I could have saved a lot of money on blood pressure medicine and doctor's visits if I'd heard this earlier.
- Were you listening?
I talk too much, don't I?
- I love you.
I'll stop trying to deserve that. OK?
He smiles that way that wraps all the way around me, even to the tight place at the back of my neck where I get sore because I'm so stiff-necked in my self-righteousness.
- Be still and know that I am God.
I need to pay more attention to what that means. Every single word of it.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Exhale? But what if there’s no air left to inhale? Isn’t it better to hold my breath, concentrate on staying alive without breathing? There’s too much in the air, too much discouragement, too much pain, too much disappointment, too much negativism. It’s so polluted, I’d rather not breathe.
I guess it doesn’t make sense, though, never to breathe at all. But where? Where can I let out this breath, pour out the fear and anger and bitterness I hold inside, without polluting someone else’s air? I’m not sure it’s wise or responsible to exhale.
Where can I inhale, too? Where is the air safe to breathe? People depend on me. I can’t run around not breathing. I have things to do. They need me. Where can I go, or we go, or they go, to be able to breathe? Exhale?
Inhale. Exhale. It sounds so simple. It’s not even conscious. For most people, I guess.
I’ve held my breath for most of my life, though.
Do I let it out in one brief, fierce scream of exasperation? In a long, low moan? I’d prefer it to be an exultant song, a praise to the Creator Who allows me to live and share in the joy of His being. If I’m singing, too, the breathing is easier, in and out in rhythmic phrases.
So even my breath can be a testimony to God’s goodness?
Yes, Lord, my breath came from You, and I will trust You to manage even that.
I . . . will . . . I will choose, intentionally . . . I will exhale.