Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On Love and Jealousy

Hooked on phonics worked for me.  I know that the technically Jealousy starts with a J, and often a capital one.  But here is the thing…

Jealousy starts with a big fat L.   

It starts with Love. 

Jealousy is an emotion you simply cannot feel unless you are madly, deeply, truly, and wholly in love with something.  You may have felt its petty counterpart, envy, but it shouldn’t be confused with jealousy. 

Envy is about DESIRE.  Jealousy is about LOVE. 
Envy is about THINGS.  Jealousy is about PEOPLE. 
Envy creeps into your heart, tempts with desire for the things you want but don’t have.   Jealousy is when the people you love are in love with something else.  You don’t want them.  You want their heart.  

I once heard Oprah say that should could never get behind the “Christian God” because she read in the Bible:

“For the Lord your God is a consuming Fire; a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24

Should I really be surprised Oprah was wrong?  I mean, really?  We do have a jealous God, but why? 

He is jealous for me because He loves me. 

I am his beloved…

And he should be mine.  Too often though, if I am honest, he isn’t.  Many things steal my love from him, and because he is so madly, deeply, truly, and wholly in love with me, he is jealous.  Jealous that like a harlot I throw myself into the arms of another.  The one I lean into as he whispers into my ear.  Each of his words, each of his promises, comes with a hiss.     

He is Jealous, but not because He wants my blind allegiance.  He wants my Love in return.  And what Father, who has given everything for the child He loves, and I do mean everything, to the point of death, wouldn’t want that Love returned?  What loving father would be ok with his daughter sleeping around?

The lover of our souls doesn’t want anyone to get the attention we should be giving him.  So stop.   

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pain and The Harvest

God has been gracious to me.  He has seen it fit in His sovereign grace to send me a good friend named Bobbi.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for a conversation that flows easily between spiritual truths, gun control laws, and motherhood.  Every other topic under the sun is fair game. 

Recently we lounged on my back porch while our kiddos played.  I pointed out a tree to her that I think is dead.  It looks mostly dead.  I think it might be just hanging on. 

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She told me this story.  

A family friend of hers owns a beautiful orchard.  One year after the harvest he noticed one tree that wasn’t bearing much fruit.  So, after some consideration he went to the tree with a baseball bat. He whacked that tree into near oblivion.  A long winter passed, then spring came, and that tree that had been whacked close to death started to bloom.  In fact that tree started to produce more fruit than any of his other trees.

I confess-I empathize with the tree.  Here lately I feel like I can relate.  I feel like God has been whacking me with a metaphorical baseball bat.  There are two particular desires of my heart that God seems determined to wretch from my hands.  I am trying to let go. 

But I hold my heart out and clutch it too.  I seemed determined to hold on to the things I should let go of.

Some might wonder why God would even care.  I mean, doesn’t have more important things to do? 

I am just one tree.  He has plenty of others.  I have felt that way.  Kind of annoyed with God, actually.  I have pleaded with God just to leave me alone for awhile.  Seriously, spiritually I am barely hanging on here.

But He is lovingly relentless. 

You see, this process isn’t one I would choose.  It hurts too much, and I don’t like to hurt.  I can’t tell you of anyone I know who really enjoys it.  Don’t we all avoid emotional pain if we can?  Why would He do this?  

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

But what I want isn’t sinful.  Some would even say it’s a good thing.  Why won’t He just bless it and be done.  Must it always be His will and not mine!!?? 

Yes.

This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8

All of this is being done to the Father’s glory. The fruit I bear in being a disciple will glorify God, but it will also bless me in eternity.  When I cannot see his hand I must trust its shadow. 

It hurts for a season, for one long winter.  Spring though, is coming, and the harvest I pray will be fruitful. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stucco and Faithfulness

The patterns on my ceiling do this weird optical illusion thing.  We have classic suburban stucco.  Its white, spikey, and I am pretty sure a big style no-no.  If you stare at it long enough it looks like it goes inward rather than outward. 

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Things aren’t always as they appear. 

Lately I have been staring at the ceiling a lot.  Most of the time Jeff is snoring softly beside me and our room is blanketed by night.  I stay up, thinking, and staring at the ceiling. 

I think about a myriad of things.  Nothing pressing, but everything overwhelming.  If you have been there you understand.  Silly things like the grocery list, or the blog post, or the youth trips consume me and keep me awake. 

There are also those two big requests that I have laid at the altar.  Neither have been answered according to my will.

Ahhh, thing 1 and thing 2.  Now we have unearthed the matter at hand.  Neither request sinful.  Neither request granted. 

Cue disbelief. 

There are things I know to be true though.  God has not put before me, or any of us, more than we can bear.  He has not allowed any temptation to seize us that is uncommon to man.  He will not leave us unable to stand up under the trial we face.  We often look at others and long for what they have, but if you are a believer in Christ you will be tried. Why?  Because trials are what make us more like Him.  When we are tried we are refined.  When we are refined we become more like the one who made us. 

It is the process of completing a good work He began in you, but it takes time.  God is being faithful to us through these trials.  Only good is in Him, so what Satan means to harm us he uses for our sanctification! 

Things aren’t always as they appear. 

It is easy in a world, where a mans word is no longer his bond, to doubt the Word of the God who has overcome the world. I know that in His word I am told that He is good. I am told that He is faithful.  I am told that He will complete the good works He has begun in me.

So tonight, as I stare at the stucco I will remember.

Things aren’t always as they appear.