Here is a video we made based on one of my previous blogs. It’s an illustration of how futile an effort it is to try and fill our life up on our own and then how God can take the broken pieces of that life and shower us with blessings we never thought possible.
I sat in my chair, laptop in front of me trying to stay focused on writing this post. I had the basic idea formed, but Christmas songs kept breaking into my train of thought. I persistently pushed them aside. I had managed to write a whole paragraph when I heard a knock on the front door. I inwardly gulped, it was just past noon and I was still in my pajamas; spotted cow, footie pajamas. Brett wasn’t home, he had gone out to run a few errands. I was too embarrassed to answer the door wearing spotted cow, footie pajamas and I won’t even bother to describe what my hair looked like.
I love sunshine streaming through the windows so I had already opened the blinds to the front window and I hoped I hadn’t been spotted…in my spotted cow, footie pajamas. I put down my computer and slipped off my chair scooting along the floor below the window. I whispered to Aspen not to open the door! I rationalized I could tell them later, whoever they were, that I had been in the shower and unable to answer the door. I would like everyone to believe that I get a shower before 8am every morning. Being a stay-at-home mom, however, I generally get a shower sometime before noon. If someone drops by before noon, Brett usually answers the door and I disappear to get the shower I’d like everyone to believe I get before 8am every morning.
If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how very different our ideas of beauty would be……
I saw these words on a meme a few days ago and it won’t let me go. What if? What if when I was walking down the street others saw my soul, saw into my heart and who I really am instead of my outside shell? Isn’t that thought just a little scary? I make sure I look and smell acceptable before I leave my house or answer my front door. I get a shower, brush my teeth, and wear appropriate clothing for the occasion. If my face has a break out or two I throw on a little cover up and my complexion goes back to looking nearly flawless.
What if (and I’ll make up a few scenarios) when I went to work at the office instead of seeing the great outfit I put together along with my bright, ultra white smile and my friendly “Good Morning” my co-workers saw that, behind their backs, I was conspiring for them to lose their jobs? Or what if when I went to church and instead of seeing the pastors perfectly coordinated suit and tie I can see the lies he has told, the affair he is having with a church member and what he watches on his computer after everyone else is in bed?
If others could see past my exterior would I spend more time with God begging Him to replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh? If I could see past others exteriors would I have more compassion? The second half of Numbers 32:23 says, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Eventually the evil in our hearts that at first holds up the good exterior becomes stronger than our exterior and crushes it exposing the truth behind the lie.
A heart that is divided can not stand. The constant pull of good against evil will cause it to fall. Today is a good day to give your whole heart to God. Tomorrow will not be easier. God says in Ezekiel 11:19, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” God says. “I will”. Will you?
I opened my knife drawer searching for the biggest knife. I carefully shuffled them around, then I spied the perfect knife, my cleaver. The cleaver would be perfect to hack open the massive squash I had bought at the apple orchard. I’m usually too lazy to bother cutting open a squash or pumpkin before I bake it, I just put it in the oven and bake it whole. But I had waited until almost too late to put it in the oven to have it done in time for lunch. My plan, in order to enjoy the tastiness of fresh-baked squash for lunch, was to cut it into smaller pieces in hopes it would bake faster.
I have some experience with a cleaver opening fresh coconuts so I had delusions I could whack this massive squash into smaller pieces in no time at all. It didn’t work out quite like I had imagined. It was a big, hardened squash. I whacked, but my aim left much to be desired. If I wasn’t careful I would end up with soup before I even baked it. Finally I hacked the thing in half, after putting it on the kitchen floor and using my foot to brace it while I pried it apart with the cleaver.
I think our hearts are like that big, hardened squash sometimes. When we see the Holy Spirit approaching us with the sword of truth we do our best to avoid him. The Holy Spirit would love to open up our hearts with the sword of truth, dividing truth from error and spilling out the seeds of goodness He placed inside us to grow and produce fruit for Him. But our hardened hearts are resistant and we twist and turn to avoid the aim of the sword of truth the Holy Spirit wields.
Rather than trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit we should be trying to avoid the flaming arrows of temptation the enemy shoots at us. Ephesians 6:16 tells us we can put out the flaming arrows of the enemy by using the shield of faith.
But where can we find a shield of faith? You can’t just run down to the local Wal-Mart and pick one up. Any shields you find at Wal-Mart will cost you money, but all you need to acquire a shield of faith is to accept God’s love, and we all know that God’s love is free.
We all love a bargain and if something is on sale we want it. God’s love is even better than a sale, it’s free and it is the most important thing we can accept from God. Yet most of us don’t really seem to want it. We all say we want love, but when it comes to accepting the most perfect love of all we turn away from it in favor of the love of this world that cheats on us. Why are we so resistant to accepting God’s love? Because when we have God’s love it requires us to love others like He does, no strings attached. The loves of this world always have strings attached. We live on the planet earth and it makes sense to us to follow its rules. We have grown up with the concept that the most important people go first. We want to be first in line so we don’t have to wait. We want to be first to win the race. We want to choose the first piece of pie so we can enjoy the biggest slice. Who is the most important person in my life that I always look out for first? Me. Let’s represent “me” with the letter “I”. Take a look at the letter “I” it is tall and strong, it stands straight and inflexible. If it did anything else it wouldn’t be the letter “I”.
When I truly accept God’s love I will no longer put “I” first in my life. I will put “U” first. Take a look at the letter “U”. It’s flexible. It lets me be flexible and accepting, not rigid like the letter “I”. When Jesus came to this earth and died for our sins He put the letter “U” first in His life. If He would have put the letter “I” first in His life He wouldn’t have loved you enough to die for you on the cross. Accepting God’s love in our lives leads us to the next step; humility.
We are all familiar with the phrase “I heart u”. When you add love to the letter “I” it becomes a flexible “U”. When I accept God’s love I become humble enough to believe that I and what I wanted in this world is nothing. I now believe and live God’s love for me to everyone and every situation I meet. All those little times during the day I’m annoyed by stupid people and tempted to lose my patience and get angry. All the times I’m tempted to participate in just a little gossip or tell just a little lie. Accepting God’s love and the resulting humility results in faith. The kind of faith that believes God’s promises. The kind of faith that believes He has given me the power to resist temptation. God has promised us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist.
Ephesians 6:16 tells us to take up the shield of faith to put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Our shield of faith will protect us from the temptations that satan throws at us. Our shield of faith is activated by our humility, which is activated by God’s love. It is pride that deactivates our shield of faith. In John 5:54 Jesus tells us, “How can you believe, who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?” To paraphrase that Jesus is asking us, ‘How can we believe, or how can we have faith, when we seek praise from men and don’t bother to seek the honor that only comes from God.’ It is in seeking the praise of men, essentially seeking to be first in the values of this world, that we deactivate our shields of faith with our pride.
My squash resisted my attempts to do the work I chose it to do for me, basically I wanted it to feed me for lunch. Rather than resist the work God has chosen us to do, let us humbly accept His love and share it with others.
“Hey Brett,” I said when I saw him ironing clothes in the bedroom. I had a captive audience and took advantage of that fact. “I have a new idea for a blog,” I told him. He graciously asked me to tell him my new idea. I sorted through my thoughts and pulled them together as best I could verbally. I proceeded to ramble on about a sieve, sand, and sin. When I finished I looked expectantly at Brett and waited for him to confirm what a great idea I’d had, instead he looked confused. Immediately I went into internal panic mode, ‘maybe it wasn’t such a great idea after all, where did I fail to make the connection, maybe……’ Brett interrupted my thoughts, “Well,” he said, “it might make more sense if I knew what a sieve was.” Whew, my internal panic subsided and I explained how the sieve in my analogy was the round piece of plastic that fit on the top of Aspen’s sand bucket that had holes in it and you could sift the sand through it, sort of like a colander. The confused look left Brett’s face. He knew about colanders from draining pasta in the kitchen sink.
Last spring Brett, Aspen and I spent a month at grandma’s house in Charleston, SC. We took every opportunity we could to visit the beach even on the cold, windy days. I loved reclining on my beach chair and squishing my toes in the sand, while Brett and Aspen built sand castles and moulded shapes with the large sand moulds that came with Aspens beach bucket. I never really understood the need for the sieve that acted as a lid to the bucket because there never seemed to be anything to sift out of the sand. I got to thinking about it though and a sieve is designed to sift out unwanted matter. By definition: “A utensil consisting of a wire or plastic mesh held in a frame, used for straining solids from liquids, for separating coarser from finer particles.”
Every time we go to the beach Aspen finds a broken shell, or a rock she thinks is pretty and wants me to put it in our beach bag so she can take it home. Now, that rock or broken shell is entirely useless, but she thinks it’s pretty and wants to keep it. Aspen’s mental sieve of what she needs has much bigger holes in it than the mental sieve I have of what little trinkets and treasures I think she needs.
We all are in need of a sieve to sift our actions through. The Holy Spirit acts as a sieve in our lives sifting out the good actions from the bad. But sometimes, just like Aspen, we want to hold onto the useless rocks and broken shells the Holy Spirit is trying to sift out of our lives. We want to keep them. They are special to us. The Holy Spirit recognizes them as useless and tries to sift them out of our lives. At that point in time we can either let the Holy Spirit get rid of it, or we decide to throw away the sieve and keep the rocks.
Only humility, our belief that God knows best and we don’t, will allow us to hold onto the sieve so that we end up with nothing but the good soft squishy sand in our lives. The kind we want to walk on with bare feet, not the kind with rocks that will hurt our feet when we walk on them.
If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2Chronicles 7:14