Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Right or Redeemed?

Tonight I realized that many major decisions in my life that I thought were completely right might not have been right after all.

Lost in thought today, I contemplated a major decision I made last August involving the sale our minivan and the purchase of a new one.  At the time, I looked at the many positive events surrounding the purchase - the location, description, and price of the new vehicle, and the interest of a friend in purchasing our old one - and used those events as justification that my decision was "right". 

But tonight, while driving in my new van and lamenting that I didn't wait an extra few months to purchase a van that may have better met our needs, I began to question the rightness of my decision.

I realized that I used the seemingly positive circumstances surrounding the purchase to convince myself that I was on the right path.  What if, instead of signs of MY right decision, those circumstances were actually GOD working my poor decision into something good.  What if the decision wasn't right, but instead redeemed?

God is in the business of redeeming - receiving the wrong and making it right.

Take Israel for example.  They wanted a king to rule them so they could be strong like all the other nations.  He warned them of all the negative consequences of having a king and yet they persisted in demanding one.  So God led Samuel the Prophet to select Saul as the first king of Israel.  The circumstances looked good - a strong, tall, capable man, in just the right place at the right time.  Requesting a king had not suddenly become right, instead, God was being gracious to Israel.  He was working the circumstances for their good, despite their wrong pursuit.  When Saul disqualified himself, God didn't back up and remove the monarchy, but instead provided a new king, David, a man after God's own heart.  And when David died, God chose Solomon to reign as the wisest man ever.

But God didn't just take the choice of demanding a king and turn it to good by providing quality kings.  God used the office of king to foreshadow and prepare the nation for the coming true King in Jesus Christ.  God redeemed the wrong choice of wanting a king by using that path to bring about the true King.  And that King, Jesus Christ, redeemed us all, bringing us from spiritual and eternal death to life through his death on the cross.

It seems I behaved a bit like Israel last August.  I wanted a van, and I wanted it right away.  I did care about what God wanted to provide, but the urgency I felt outweighed the counsel of God.  In hindsight, our purchase was probably a foolish choice.  But yet, thanks to God, our situation ended up good.  In my urgency I could have ended up in a big mess, but God, knowing I am but dust, provided a good vehicle, at a good price, in the right place.  My choice wasn't right, but God's redeeming it made it work.

What is humbling for me is realizing that the seemingly positive circumstances and outcome are not guaranteed proof of the rightness of my choice.  Instead, I am now convinced that the good things that did happen occurred through the redeeming power of God.

I am overwhelmed tonight thinking about a multitude of times in my life when I was sure I was making the right choice when in fact God was simply redeeming my foolish choice.  That is amazing grace.

I am humbled.  I am thankful.  It gives my heart peace to be reminded that acts of faith and acts of foolishness can both be worked for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Lord as I end my day, forgive me for the foolish choices I have made, both choices made knowingly and choices made in simple human ignorance.  Lord thank you for your redeeming power.  I pray that you take each step of mine, steps of faith and steps of foolishness, and redeem them to your glory.  And Lord, keep me humble.  Continue to gentle remind me that apart from you I can do nothing. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Current Contemplation... Keeping Covenants

During deployments, when I don't have my husband to keep up half the night with my rambling thoughts and random contemplations, I have some pretty hefty things that sit on my mind.

My current contemplation is how to best "keep covenant" with my husband when he is on the other side of the planet.  We, by being married under God, are in a covenant relationship with one another.  Keeping covenant means much more than just being faithful, it refers to the daily actions of the heart, body, and mind that maintain and nurture the covenant relationship.  Unfortunately, during a 6 month deployment, it is tempting to disregard the covenant.  Now, I don't mean I want to run off and have an affair.  I mean that it is challenging to figure out how to maintain and nurture the relationship.  I want to just say... "Hey, go have a nice 6 months and we'll catch up when you get back."  While that choice may be convenient for the moment, it is obviously unwise.

As I've contemplated my marriage covenant, it has forced me to consider my holy covenant with God as well.  He brought me into covenant with Himself, adopting me as His child, through the death and resurrection of Christ.  This covenant relationship, while permanent, requires covenant keeping on my part in order to experience the fullest blessings.  It requires daily activities of my heart, body, and mind to maintain and nurture the relationship.  But, like my husband, God is not exactly here right now.  So, until Christ returns it is tempting to say... "Hey, go have a nice time building the house in heaven and we'll catch up when you get back."

My relationship with God, and my relationship with Mark are both covenants, covenants that need constant maintenance to be kept strong.  I could ignore God and Mark for the next 6 months -- I would still be a Christian, and I would still be married, but I would lose all the blessings that come with "keeping covenant".

So how do I keep covenant with a husband on the other side of the planet and God on the other side of reality?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Update

It has been a long dry fall and winter in West Central Texas.  Dry outside, and dry inside my heart.

But God is gracious, and when we ask for wisdom, He comes alongside like a kind father and gives us guidance.  And the wisdom has been pouring down now for several days like a good steady tropical rain.

An update on us... Mark, after being mostly home for the past 18 months is officially deployed again.  He left in January and will return in July.  Emma will turn 2 tomorrow and speaks new words every day.  Jordan is 4 and is a bundle of energy.  Kaiden is 6 and amazes me daily with her intellect.  And I am busy playing Super Mom, and not always doing it very well.

Which brings me to an encouraging thought for the day.  What brings glory to God?  Is it a clean home, obedient children, participation in every possible religious activity, recycling all our boxes and cans, and evangelizing our neighborhoods?  No.  What brings glory to God is when we accomplish the work He gives us to do.  Nothing more. 

Jesus only had 3 years of activity ministry.  His life ended with only 11 disciples, and a couple dozen other followers, most of whom hid away in his final hours.  Yet, in his last prayer, he said ""I glorified You (God the Father) on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do."  He never did eradicate leprosy, He never did free all held captive in demonization, He never did convince Judas to have faith.  Yet He glorified God having accomplished the work which was given Him to do.

It is freeing to know that we are not measured by our own to do lists - which are often far longer than the day allows.  We only need to do what we have been given to do.  And graciously, with God's strength, we will always be able to complete it.

That is encouraging, like fresh rain on a dry earth.