Thursday, January 29, 2015

Someone Else's Baby

The dream was disturbing.
There I was, in beautiful fellowship with my husband,
enjoying God's creation by the sea.
Something separated us.
Wolves came in, and tore my baby out of my arms,
biting into her, and flinging her off the pier I was on
to the rocks and water below.
The wolves chased me, trying to bite me, too.
I couldn't get to my baby.
They were stronger than me, faster than me,
and used the very beauty of the place I was in
to the destruction of my child.
My husband returned, the wolves fled, and he held the baby in his arms.
I woke up to the sound of her screaming.

Today I read, "Beware of dogs.
Beware of evil workers. Beware of the mutilation."
And I remember Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders
about the wolves who would come,
the false prophets who would come out of their own midst,
not sparing the flock, and drawing away disciples with perverse teachings.
Then he commended them to the word of His grace,
which is able to build them up
and give them an inheritance among the sanctified.

And I thought about Jesus' words in Matthew 7,
about the hypocrisy of trying to judge and cleanse a brother
while in a state of crippling blindness and under judgment.
And the application of the law has never removed a plank from my eye,
nor can it remove the speck from my brother's.

And all they did couldn't bring them into the kingdom.
Not prophecy.
Not exorcisms.
Not mighty works.
Jesus said you would know the tree by its fruit,
and all the fruit of human effort is rotten.
But the fruit that comes of connection with Him is holy.
"I never knew you," was the judgment.
The fruit was illegitimate.
Someone else's baby.
Because the law cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit.
And what is holy is not for the dogs.

The holy fruit, the precious treasure, is for the askers.
It isn't the work of the doers.
It isn't for the dogs, but for the sons.
Not for proximity to holiness, but relation to it.
A good gift from a good Father.
Sustenance offered to a child.
Not an attainment of the flesh.

There is a big wide gate that lots of people walk through,
and it leads to a road of human achievement.
And it is the way of destruction.
But Life is down the narrow road. 
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
No man comes to the Father but by Me."
"I never knew you," was the judgment.
He called them workers of iniquity.

Paul traded his vast resume for one thing and one thing only:
the blood of Christ.
The connection.
The relation that bears fruit.
He traded his circumcision, his law-abiding status,
his zealous pursuit of Biblical theology,
his heritage, his family tree,
his prestigious education,
his religious superiority --
all of it --
for the knowledge of Him.
Because the one left him working iniquity.
All the works of righteousness achieved through the law
are a damning record of the unrighteousness of the doer.
They are hypocritical.
They are clean words from unclean lips.
They are coming to the marriage bed pregnant with someone else's child.

And the teaching of the works of the law as the means to grace
is the perversion of the gospel.
There's no inheritance there.
It's unclean. It is destructive, evil work. And it mutilates our souls.
It does not spare the flock of God.
It tears it up.
It is the result of separation from Christ.
It casts the fruit of union with Him on the rocks.
And it chases down the Bride to destroy her, too.

And it is the word of His grace that is able to build us up,
and give us an inheritance with the sanctified.
Are you worried about sanctification?
It is ours through His grace.
The inheritance of the holy is only born of His holiness.
And all our efforts are wood, hay and stubble apart from union with Him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stars and Sand and Every Hair

Grains of sand and all our hairs.
A friend posted a link to a photograph NASA released
that focused in on one quarter of the Andromeda Galaxy,
which is a very small section of the visible universe to us, here on earth.
It is 2.5 million light years away, and the sharpest photo NASA has.
100 million stars individually recognizable in it.
My son and I watched the video that spanned the photograph.
It took a video to look over the image, because it is a huge image.
Part of the galaxy was so densely starred
that it appeared more light than dark.
"It looks like sand!" my son exclaimed.

"That's an interesting comment," I said,
"because stars and sand
are what God promised Abraham's descendants would be like."

The stars.
Whenever I felt troubled as a teenager,
I would go out in the dark and look up.
So vast.
It reminded me of how vast God's knowledge and His power are.
How the choreography of the heavens is His handiwork.
How His mind comprehends all these things I cannot fathom.
The heavens declare the glory of God.
He sees the big picture.
Bigger than we have yet comprehended.

Ah, but the sand...
From the vastness of the heavens to the grains of the earth.
Details I'm too big and important to take notice of.
I walk on it.
But I don't get close enough to count it.
The sand touches me, but I don't know it.
Not like that.
I've seen so little of it.
Those things that are so out of my reach,
and the ones that are so easily touchable,
are both unknowable to me,
and intimately known to Him.

Surely if human beings can zoom in
on a galaxy 2.5 million light years away
and recognize individual stars clustered like sand,
He can see me.
I'm a lot bigger than a grain of sand, and He has counted them.

"You comprehend my path and my lying down, 
and are acquainted with all my ways."
I am not even acquainted with all my ways.
I have talked in my sleep and not known it, but according to Psalm 139,
"There is not a word on my tongue, 
but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether."
The sum of His thoughts toward me is more in number than the sand.

"The hairs of your head are all numbered," Jesus said.
"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
Do you need that reminder?
I often do.
Why not fear death?
Because He is Life.
Because He was raised from the dead.
Because connection with Him will raise us, too.
And those who serve and worship darkness and death
cannot snuff out Light and Life,
no matter how many they put to sleep for a little while.